Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

My phone explodes!

Normally, May and June are slow months. The television shows are on hiatus, the pilots are done, and any movies left in town are already crewed or haven’t started yet.

Movies – especially the ones that shoot in the desert – like to wait until it’s really super fucking hot to start principal photography.

So, just like January, I curtail my spending as much as possible, and use the time to complete some projects around the house, reorganize the dresser drawers, brush the cat, sell unwanted stuff on eBay, etc..

But this May has been different. Not only have I been working pretty consistently, I’m getting calls for multiple jobs the same day at least once a week.

It’s freaky. Not bad, mind you, but not expected.

Of course, I’m answering ‘yes’ to every call I can.

Sadly, this means I’ve had some very short turnarounds the past few days, as minimum ‘off’ time rules don’t apply when one is moving from one show to another.

Tomorrow, my call is 11 am – an hour drive from my place, which means I’ll work until 11 pm and be home by midnight – at the earliest , and then I have an 8 am call on another show Friday morning.

It’s all wonderful – work while it’s available and rest later.

Filed under: crack of dawn, locations, long long drives, Work, , , , , , ,

I haven’t spent an entire day lifting cable in some time.

This is both a good thing and a bad thing.

It’s good because, well, I haven’t had to lift cable in quite some time, and bad because the only thing that gets one fit for lifting cable is lifting cable. Last I checked, they don’t have a 4/0 machine at the gym.

I got a call from the union hall (haven’t had one of those for a while) to wrap a location yesterday at one of our local sports arenas. Arenas are great because they have nice wide ramps and large freight elevators, but bad because most rigging gaffers feel the need to run cable all the way around said arena.

As most arenas are not small,  that’s a lot of cable.

I don’t have any problems pulling (rolling the stretched out cable into a coil – it’s called pulling because one straddles the cable and pulls it into a coil while it’s flat on the ground) cable. I can use the overdeveloped swimmer’s muscles on my back all damn day – plus it increases my sprint speed in the pool, so everybody wins.

What hurts me is lifting the cable – and moving cable from one place to the other is just about the same as it’s always been.

One picks up the 100+ lb coil of cable. One deposits said coil onto some sort of wheeled contraption. Then, one wheels the cable to the truck and lifts it again.

Coil, lift, drop. Coil, lift, drop. Coil, lift, drop. Lunch (light, unless you want to puke while you’re lifting), then repeat.

We were very, very lucky that the temperature stayed relatively low at 78 degrees, so the heat wasn’t the factor that it will be later in the year.

After we finished loading the truck, the best boy asked me if I wanted to unload the truck at the lot today.

I was sore, but work is work – and these are really nice guys that I’d love to call me back again, so of course I said yes.

The sequence for unloading the truck is just about the same for loading it, but without the coiling part.

Lift, drop, count, lift. Lift, drop, count, lift. Lift, drop, count, lift. Lunch (light, unless you want to puke while you’re lifting),  repeat.

Someday I’m going to produce a ‘Get Fit With Cable’ exercise video and make a mint.

Or not. The shipping costs would kill any profit margin.

Since I haven’t been doing many cable lifts lately, I started to hurt a little bit before lunch on Thursday, and really, really started to hurt before lunch today.

Right after lunch, we found out we had to rig two sets, which was a bit of a relief as it would allow me to use different muscles for a couple of hours.

By the time we were dismissed, I was filthy, smelly and sore. I briefly considered going to the Korean spa and soaking myself in the hot tub, but settled for  take-out (I am so not cooking tonight) and got the side-eye from just about everyone in the place.

Fuck them. I’m eating dinner after enjoying a very hot shower and a smearing of the biceps with ointment.

Filed under: crack of dawn, locations, long long drives, studio lots, Work, , , , , , , ,

Have yourself a busy pre-Christmas

This has been an odd year. Totally dead, and then a completely frantic fourth quarter. I might have work between Christmas and New Years, which almost never happens.

No, I’m not complaining. Work is work and there’s nothing like an 8 month dry spell to really make one appreciate that paycheck (and the qualifying hours so I can keep my insurance. That’s nice, too).

I’d originally been booked (on a TV show featuring a former movie star who understandably likes the TV hours better) for three rigging days this week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday), which then became two (Tuesday, Friday). It happens. Things change.

Then, I got the call at 6 am Monday morning to come in and cover someone on first unit (the shooting crew) who had called in sick.

The only downside was that I’d been out the night before, and thinking I wasn’t working the next day, had a bowl of spicy ramen with extra garlic (and then grated more garlic over it – after all, the cat was the only one who was going to have to smell me) and sake.

The sake wasn’t the problem. It was the garlic. It was coming out of my pores, and whenever I exhaled, a malodorous cloud hung in front of my mouth.

So, I made my apologies about the way I smelled as soon as I got there, and then tried not to breathe on anyone for the rest of the day.

Originally the plan had been for me to work the rig Tuesday, but since there was still a sickness related opening on the crew, I stayed on the production unit and someone else was called in to rig.

Which was fine – the shooting crew are wonderful nice folks that I really enjoy working with, and we were on a stage – which, although overheated (our actress gets cold at any temperature below ‘brimstone’), is still nice.

Out of the sun, actual flush toilets handy, and a set that pretty much lights itself, so my biggest problem was finding power drops for the stinger-related needs of the crew.

My sick co-worker got better, so I was off today.

I rode the bike to the garden, did some digging and some hand-wringing over the raised-bed wood replacement I’m going to have to do very soon, and then headed home.

I’m off tomorrow, so I’m safe to eat garlic tonight.

Filed under: studio lots, Work, , , , , , , ,

All or nothing

Sunday night, I got a work call, which is really unusual. Most of the time, best boys fill their Monday calls by Friday, unless someone gets sick or there’s some extenuating circumstance.

It took me almost an hour to return the call, as I was in the pool and didn’t bother to check my phone (hey, it was Sunday), but when I got out I texted back that I would love the day if he still had it available.

Lucky for me, he did, so I got booked to work on the rigging crew.

Most of our day was spent sitting around waiting for equipment – it’s still fairly busy out there and since most of the rental houses sent astounding amounts of gear out-of-state, it can be a bit of a scramble to get certain things, even when it’s only moderately busy, as it is now.

Apparently it’s been such a scramble that one-day rigs have been getting turned into two-day rigs just because of equipment delays.  Although this rig should have taken about 10 hours, we were only going to be able to complete the cable runs due to not having… stuff.

So we sat, talked, taped cable, sent what we had up into the perms, went to coffee, taped some more cable and then, right before lunch, the rest of the order showed up.

While we finished our cable runs, I got four texts to work the next day. Four. Right in a row. Since I’d taken the first one, I had to turn the other three down and made the joke that I probably wouldn’t get anymore days this week as they all came in clumped up into one.

After a shortish turnaround (day exteriors in winter – early calls to get as much of the light as possible), I worked a 10 hour day on an insert unit where we only had to light the last few shots, so I was fully awake by the time I actually had to do any work.

Sure enough, I didn’t get any work calls for later in the week, but I wasn’t expecting any.

Filed under: studio lots, Uncategorized, Work, , , , , , ,

Friday Photo

When working up high, it’s very, very important to stay safe and be certain that nothing falls. Even something seemingly harmless like a roll of tape or a pen can cause problems if it plummets 40 feet.
So, everything is either kept in a container (a box, a milk crate, etc…) or tied off to the rails.

Like this:

20131004-191306.jpg

Normally, one wouldn’t bother to tie off a can of iced tea, but this happened to be in a high traffic area (near the ladder) and clearly someone felt the need to stay safe. And keep their tea out of the cardboard box of water and soda we’d brought up with us.  Anything in the main drink/snack stash is community property and subject to drinking by anyone at any time. But a can, tied off to a railing is clearly private property.

Filed under: Photos, studio lots, Work, , , , , ,

Oh, crap! A job!

Yesterday, as I was frantically sending out “Got any work” texts, I got a call from someone I’ve only worked with a few times.

“We need a dimmer board operator, and I got your name from (mutual friend). it’s three weeks of work. Do you want it?”

Do I want it? I’ve never heard such a silly question. Of course I want it.

Downside? It’s a console I haven’t had a lot of practice on, but apparently all the other dimmer board operators are working as they’re willing to be patient with me while I figure it out.

I’ve got a one on one booked at the company that makes the console, I’ve watched all the video tutorials, and I have a friend who knows said console on speed dial. I might not be ready, but I’ll sure as hell be able to fake it.

Sweet.

And it’s on  a stage, so I’ll have some air conditioning, which is awesome as it’s currently hot as ass here in LA.

Filed under: studio lots, Work, , , , , , , , , ,

A delicate balancing act

There’s an art to work calls (texts these days, but the same rules apply).

One needs to contact various best boys often enough to maintain contact, but no so often that one becomes a nuisance.

This contact/nuisance threshold varies with each individual best boy. Some folks get annoyed if they’re contacted more than once a month, some folks forget you exist if they’re contacted once a week.

I’ve yet to figure it out beyond just remembering it, mostly.

I try to open with some variant on ‘hows the family’ so if I fuck up I’ll get something along the lines of ‘same as they were Tuesday, why?’ instead of accusations of stalking followed by not getting hired.

The worst thing one can do is appear desperate (unless it’s a close friend, and then beg away). Desperate means that one isn’t getting hired by anyone, and that’s pretty universally seen as a personal failing, even when it’s not.

And we all thought we’d left high school.

Not appearing desperate, though, is sometimes difficult, especially in years like this when it’s been slow for over 6 months and that 400 hour requirement for health insurance is dangling over everyone’s head like some kind of Greek sword.

So, I send out “Hey, hope you’re doing well! I’m available if you need me, but really, how are the kids” texts, hoping that I’ll get the 300 hours that I need before October.

It’s just starting to get busy, so I’m still very optimistic.

In other news, the cat is still alive. She’ll turn 17 in November. Lately, it’s been a battle to get her to eat enough to keep weight. I’ve now resorted to egg-shaped bribery, but I’m not proud, so it’s all good.

Angry kitty

Enjoy the fuzziness while you can, kitty.  Soon, there will be a trip to the groomers followed by, well, more anger.

Like that’s a change.

Filed under: Non-Work, Work, , , , , , , , , , ,

Good news, everyone!

Normally one likes to ease into work after being idle for months.  It gives a chance to adjust to the hours, the early rising (which I do anyways, so no change there), the heavy lifting and the bad air from construction and paint.

Most of the time, that wish isn’t granted and one just gets thrown into 50 hours per week of whatever it is one’s not used to (heights, heat, cold, smelly air, Michael Bay).

One goes from wondering if there’s ever going to be any work to wondering if it’s possible to survive the week of work.

It does make it easier with wonderful nice co-workers and a boss who’s the greatest guy on earth, but still.

Monday was my last day (bonus day! Hooray!), and after a Tuesday of doing nothing and swallowing aspirin like there was no tomorrow, today I went to see Dr. Dreamboat to assess the shoulder and my general well-being after 11 days of paint fume-fueled upper body workout.

Turns out, the shoulder’s not bad. It’s ouchy, but it’s  not as jacked up as I’d feared.  Which is good.

I know you’re waiting for bad news, but there isn’t any. The shoulder is doing well, and I’m very pleased.

Next mission is to try to get a day at the end of the week – or, failing that, next week.  Yay work!

Filed under: studio lots, Work, , , , , , , , ,

What? I can’t hear you

At the same time we’re running cable in the perms, construction are, well, constructing.

Although there’s no video, this is audio of three different saws plus the shouts of co-workers desperately trying to communicate.

Oddly enough, the one saw that was making me insane (teeth grinding, ears ringing) seems to be outside the decibel range that the phone can record. It’s that very low rumbling noise.

Welcome to the rigging crew. At least we managed to get the really loud radio turned off.

Earplugs aren’t an option as I have to be able to hear my co-workers and rigging crews don’t have walkies (on The Island, we had earplugs over the walkie headsets and those heavy-duty headphones for shooting ranges over that. Still didn’t work, though).

I ended up wadding up napkins from the cafe and shoving them in my ears, and they worked surprisingly well. The noise level went from “I’m going to kill someone” to “It’s loud, but I’m okay”, and I still managed to hear my boss, so all was well.

Have I mentioned how super happy I am to be working?

In much more important news, the cat is fine.  She’s holding down her overpriced cat food with overpriced quail eggs on top (don’t judge – she’s the kitty equivalent of 90, so every calorie counts and a chicken egg is too much since I don’t want to scrub down the litter box every day), and walking on my face while I’m trying to sleep.

Filed under: studio lots, Work, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Finally, some good news.

This has been a bad year for work.

Actually, it’s been beyond bad. It’s been an unmitigated disaster – I’ve worked approximately 10 days since January 1st.

Mainly I’ve just been trying to fill my time in between wringing my hands and wondering what’s to become of me.

Texts to various best boys about if they’ve got anything have been met with either “I’m out-of-town” or “I’m looking for work, too!”

The irony is that there does seem to be a fair amount of work out there, it’s just not with anyone with whom I have any sort of professional connection. Guess I need to start attending mixers or that annual bowling party that’s a 90 minute drive east or something.

I’m certain I’ve had a year this bad before, I’m just hard pressed to remember it.

On the bright side, I’ve shaved almost 10 seconds off my 50 meter freestyle.

But starting Monday, I have two solid weeks of work.

It’s rigging on a multi-camera sitcom, and I’m beyond pleased to get it.

Two solid weeks.

It’ll be 100 hours into my health insurance (I have to work 400 hours per semester, and I have until October 10th to get the remaining 300), a paycheck and  a badly needed injection of optimism.

Today, I went to the grocery store and splurged on some chicken, veggies and various goodies (apples, grapes, those teeny little packages of trail mix) to pack  for lunch so I don’t have to eat the overpriced slop at the commissary (in all fairness, calling the commissary food slop is an insult to slop).

I’ll also enjoy working with some wonderful folks that I really like, and I can take public transit and save both the wear-and-tear on the car and the rage-inducing miz-maze that passes for parking on this particular lot.

Except on Mondays – I have swim on Mondays and I’m not going to give up that hard-won 10 seconds.

I have to take the victories where I can get them.

Filed under: studio lots, Work, , , , , , , , , ,

July 2014
S M T W T F S
« Jun    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Flickr Photos

The space between the cells

Hallway in the afternoon

60s phone

More Photos

Categories

Random Quote

"If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." -Anne Lamott

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 674 other followers

Twitter Updates

Blogroll

Not blogs, but cool

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 674 other followers

%d bloggers like this: