Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Oh, look! A whole week!

Although I was light on the work last week, this week is busy.

I got Monday, Thursday and Friday on some cable show I’ve never heard of (as long as the check clears), and then got a last-minute call for today to cover a friend on the dimmer board for one scene.

That’s only an eight hour day,  but since I didn’t have to be here until after lunch, I managed to go to the gym and run a load of laundry. Sweet.

I’m working with a really nice group of folks I always enjoy seeing, and, as a bonus, I got called for tomorrow on a totally different show with another group of really nice folks.

That one will be 12 hours, too.

That’s five days out of five. That doesn’t happen too often in day-player world.

 

Filed under: Uncategorized

It never rains without pouring

It’s been extremely busy, which is always good.

This year has been odd – there was no work at all for almost three months and my expenses are currently on the high side (for me), so I ran through my savings faster than I wanted to and panicked. Being busy is like a security blanket for my bank account and my soul.

I’ve been getting at least three or four days a week every week, except this week. I started out with today and Thursday. Two days lets me beat unemployment, which is great, but it’s not enough to pay the bills and save for the inevitable period of anxious unemployment.

But weeks fill up, and sure enough, within a space of 45 minutes,  I got calls from three different shows for Thursday and then had to turn them all down. Because I was working Thursday.

An hour after I turned down all those calls, the best boy texted me and  told me Thursday was moving to Friday.

Because of course.

Dammit. Hopefully I’ll pick something up.

Filed under: Uncategorized

A good deed never goes unpunished

The producers of this show figured out they could save money by not having much at craft service. It’s usually just coffee with that wierd powdered milk, some fruit fly infested bananas and whatever chips were left over from the day before. They have items with which to make sandwiches in the truck, but they keep the truck locked so we can’t use any of them.

I understand – they can only offer what fits in their budget and they’re doing the best they can.

Our lead actress came on set one day, looked at the table and got upset. About us. She went to the producers and told them they needed to get us better crafty and right now. It was an incredibly noble gesture, as she gets whatever she wants brought to her trailer so whatever is or isn’t on the table doesn’t really make a difference in her world.

The producers, wanting to keep their star happy, proceeded to bring in much better crafty – actual milk for the coffee, fresh chips, a few more healthy options. Plus, for about a minute, they let us make sandwiches on the truck.

Until our actress had a day off. Then it was back to not having anything.

Then the actress came back, and it was great.

So, lead actor who complained about the treatment of the crew gets us better crafty, but only when she’s there. When she’s not…

Today, we’re running two units and we had her for two hours. As soon as she left, so did the coffee machine and the cheese and the yogurt and everything except the same bowl of fruit that’s been out since the beginning of the show.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Special Science Glasses

After a half-weekend (wrap at 6 am Saturday), I wasn’t really upset about having today off.  It’s nice to have one zombie day, and one day to do things while one’s brain is functioning.

So, I headed over to the garden to plant the last tomatoes of the season and do some weeding while waiting for Southern California’s lackluster version of the eclipse.

I’d planned to do the old-fashioned pinhole/cardboard combo that we used back in elementary school for the last eclipse, but as luck would have it, a show was shooting in the community garden and they were handing out special eclipse glasses. I didn’t get a pair, but the garden master who was working that day as the site representative did, and was more than willing to share.

Holy crap. Why didn’t they have these things back when I was a kid? I might have cared more about that eclipse if I’d been able to see that kind of detail instead of a fucking fuzzy blur on cardboard.

Even through the heavy-duty lenses, though, my eyes still started to hurt after a few minutes, so I was happy to hand them off. Since we didn’t get totality, it didn’t get dark, the light just looked…weird for a few minutes.

Since I didn’t know anyone on the crew, I headed back home to drop off the tomatoes I’d picked and then headed to the pool to swim before doing laundry while being crashed into by a sugar-addled second grader trying to run top speed while wearing eclipse glasses.

Turns out, they gave the kids the day off. Not so much for learning, but due to the fear that the teachers wouldn’t be able to stop the kids from staring at the sun.

Sounds reasonable.

I’ll make work calls tomorrow, and should get something by the end of the week.

It’s busy out there.

 

Filed under: california, life in LA, Los Angeles, Non-Work, Off-Topic, , , , ,

Looks can be deceiving

Sometimes you can look at a set and figure out right away if it’s going to be easy to light or not. Generally, the smaller the set, the worse things go for everyone. Like cramming 10 pounds of shit into a 5 pound sack.

Today’s main set was large,  lots of room, multiple doorways, all the windows opened (sometimes on sets they don’t), etc.. It should have been a breeze.

Except that it wasn’t.

We thrashed around for two hours trying to light it.

For some reason, this particular set was built without any ‘wild’ walls, and a hard ceiling that doesn’t move.

Wild walls are designed to be easily removed from the set, so that one can get certain camera angles or lighting, and a set really needs to have the ceiling raise up (or come off in small bits) so that when we need to have a light, say, in the middle of a room we can just drop power down from the grid and not have to worry about camouflaging cable that’s run right through the middle of the shot.

Of course, since we couldn’t run power up to the grid through the ceiling that didn’t move, we lit an entire scene from above and saw the whole fucking world, every single shot. The grips managed to drill some holes for us, but mostly we used a metric ton of tape and more time than we should have taken to do a fairly simple lighting set-up.

By the time it was over, my boss was rocking back and forth, muttering to himself while clutching his light meter to his chest.

We ended up having to move one scene to tomorrow, which will be nice and refreshing to end our day in the air conditioning, because we’ll be spending most of the day outside in the heat and humidity (okay, it’s Los Angeles humidity, which is dry compared to say, Texas).

Also, work has been so slow that my work shoe calluses went away, and now I have blisters on my feet. Guess I’ll be stopping by the drug store on the way to work to buy a metric ton of moleskin.

 

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

Stress and time to enjoy it

Work is slow right now. Very, very slow. Part of it is just the time of year. The episodics are on hiatus, the pilots are over and nothing will really start happening for another month or two.

I’m feeling it more than usual, though, because the show that I worked on fairly steadily for over a decade is gone. Done, over, kaput, never coming back, sets in the garbage, misty-eyed ‘remember when’ Facebook group formed.

I didn’t really realize how much of my income came from said show until I started wondering why I was so broke in April. I should be doing okay this time of.. oh, wait. That.

So now, because my expenses are now above what unemployment will cover, I’m worrying. Not just about the slow month, but about a potential writers’ strike.

If they strike, all production will grind to a halt and we’ll all be unemployed – potentially for months.

I simply haven’t got the cash reserves to survive extended not-workingness.

Sure, I could get another bunion surgery, but it might be better to get a job. A real job.

Except what I’m able to get via temp agencies won’t cover my expenses, either.

So I’m waiting. And breathing deeply, while trying to quell the rising panic about something that hasn’t happened yet.

But it’s hard, because the last extended work stoppage was bad. I barely squeaked by, and ended up with a shitload of credit card debt that I do not want again.

Today, I went to the Actor’s Fund and did the intake meeting so I can go to the resume classes and get career assistance – mainly in the form of resume classes, financial planning classes, and job listing.

I found myself in a room full of people just like me – all panicked about different things, and all wondering how we were going to survive.

I was the only jerk in the room to actually mention the strike, and everyone around the table tensed up.

At the end of the meeting, we all shuffled out, planning which workshops to come back to – I’ll have to ride my bike, though, as I’m not sure I can afford to pay the parking, or buy gas.

It’s better to knuckle down sooner rather than later, right?

 

Filed under: life in LA, Non-Work, overspending, , , , , ,

At least I was out of the sun

Normally, the heat comes slowly – getting slightly warmer and slightly warmer every single day, like the frog in the pot of water.

But it’s gotten very warm in about 72 hours. Monday, it was in the 60’s, and today it was 90 on the (un-airconditioned) lamp dock where I was pulling gear for a TV show.

I’m not going to work on said TV show, I was just an extra guy to help pull equipment from the shelves and lay it out so they could test and count it.

Normally, this is not the most exciting thing in the world to do, but it was made more interesting by the lamp dock being organized by someone I’m pretty sure was on crack, so it was an adventure trying to find all the parts of the lamps.

The guys who work there all the time are used to it, but my heat-addled brain wanted to make sense of things, so I just kept wandering around with scrim bags in my hands, saying “Why?”

No one ever answered me.

Tomorrow, I’m going to be outside in the sun all day. I’m afraid.

 

 

Filed under: Uncategorized

The shit zone

I haven’t worked in a shit-covered alley in quite some time. Not because people aren’t shitting in alleyways nowadays, but because Los Angeles has gentrified the shit out of most alleys. The human shit, anyways.

Most, but not all.

Today I got a last-minute call to go help out on a rig for a movie, which is really strange since I didn’t think we shot movies here any longer, but I haven’t worked in a few weeks, and the call was with a group of guys I really like, so off I went.

Our set was an alleyway between tenement apartments in a part of town that’s never seen skinny jeans, horn rim glasses, or pour over coffee – a real honest to God slum instead of a fake hipster slum.

You know what I mean.

No matter how much they steam clean alleys, they never get all the.. material. There’s still a smell, and since most people who shit in alleys do so leaning up against a wall, the walls and gates have to be cleaned about 2 feet up or there’s still a nasty surprise for the person running cable.

That brown crusty stuff on the bottom of the gate? It’s not rust.

The good news is that it’s been cool enough that the smell of baking excrement wasn’t as bad as it would have been in, say, July.

But still. The smell hangs in one’s nostrils, and as I was trying to tie some DMX cable up out of the shit zone, the soles of my shoes got a good soaking in a puddle of what I desperately hoped was water, but realized my error when, at lunch, the smell of piss wafted up from my shoes. Since I’m almost positive I didn’t pee on them, I have to assume the puddle was part of the alley which received insufficient steaming.

I’ve never been so happy to have a nice hot shower.

Tomorrow, I’m at another location with less pee but more toxic mold.

I’ll take it.

 

Filed under: california, crack of dawn, hazardous, locations, movies, toxic waste, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

All night, all night, all night

Night work is never ideal for me, the ultimate morning person.  One night is usually a pain, but doable – I just take a short nap, power through the rest of my day, go to bed early and I’m fine.

But multiple nights are much more difficult, since that pesky body clock thingy insists on waking me up at 7 am every single fucking morning, no matter how late I’ve been up the night before.

I have to get some rest, because I’ll have to function for the rest of the week and even I can’t manage to not sleep for more than a couple of days.

Last night went fairly quickly as we were running around the whole time, and I got home about 6 am, where I miraculously managed to get about four hours of sleep. That’s making me feel, well, not chipper, but semi-human.

I’ve got a 4 pm call about 40 miles away in the high desert, and they’re going to put us up in a hotel somewhere in northeast bumfuck, because driving back home through rush hour traffic and then driving back to work trough rush hour traffic would mean no rest for anyone, even the people who need it.

I normally prefer to sleep in my own bed, but this time I’m glad to have the hotel. Plus, it has a pool so I can get in a swim Wednesday morning before work.

Tonight, I’m going up in the condor, so I might manage a nap or two, which would be nice, but with this gaffer it’s unlikely.

Also, did I mention the doctor wants me to stop drinking so much coffee? Something about acid something. Whatever.

Filed under: distant location, locations, long long drives, Work, , , , , , , ,

A bird in the hand

Pigeons love old sound stages.

I don’t know why, but there’s almost always one or two lurking up in the perms, crapping on our cable and doing whatever it is pigeons do when they’re not crapping on everything.

Sometimes they get trapped on the stage when we’re shooting and fly around, bumping into things and crapping on everything until they either find their way out or we call cut and open the doors.

Today, right in the middle of a very long, very complex scene requiring concentration from the actors on the dead-silent stage (this show has a really serious AD staff) – the song of the flying rat.

And they kept singing (or cooing, or telling each other where to crap next) during every single sound take.

We tried everything. A laser pointer, a light aimed at them, luring them towards the small door with a trail of bread crumbs, throwing things at them, you name it.

They’d be quiet for a few minutes and then as soon as the stage got nice and quiet  would resume their conversation.

Eventually, the exasperated sound guy decided that it wasn’t worth the headache and they should just ADR the whole thing, and we moved on.

As soon as we opened the big doors of the stage for lunch, both birds flew out.

Filed under: studio lots, toxic waste, Work, , , , , , ,

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