Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

The Marathon Mentality

There’s a particular mindset held by endurance athletes, to help them get through long races.

Don’t think about the entire event at once, just concentrate on the next few steps, the next mile, the next whatever – this helps to keep the athlete from getting demoralized and overwhelmed by whatever it is they’re about to do.

One approaches shoots the same way, especially when said job is obviously going to be a complete peel. Don’t think about being here for 14 (or more) hours. Just think about the next set up, the next turnaround, the next little bit or you’ll never escape the pit of despair at the concept of such a long day followed by another long day followed by, you guessed it, another long day.

That was the rhythm of life. A few steps and then a few more steps and then a few more steps, and then we’re done for the day. See you tomorrow.

But then, COVID happened, everything shut down, and everyone was off work.

People got to see their families. People got to enjoy the homes that they worked so hard to afford. People had a life.

Personally, the shutdown was the first time in my adult life that I have ever been on a consistent sleep schedule. It was amazing. I’d forgotten that you’re not supposed to be fighting fatigue all day. I’d forgotten how it felt to be rested.

When we came back to work, there was an informal agreement that the production companies would keep the hours down, as being worn out can make one more vulnerable to illness, which seemed to be a bad idea in a pandemic.

And at first, the hours were a little shorter, but not for very long. Soon, we were back to the same old grind, with short turnarounds, and now COVID testing. Swabbing an entire crew takes time, so of course the hours got longer so we could still get the work done.

You understand, right? It’s just a few more hours.

The first AD on this show announced, during the safety meeting today, that “we’re going to be working really really long days, so don’t be afraid to ask for a hotel.”

In that moment, the entire crew was completely demoralized. You could see people’s hopes just sort of collapse.

Because now we’re thinking about the whole marathon, not just the next few steps.

Filed under: hazardous, long long drives, studio lots, Work

Armistice

People, for whatever reason, sometimes feel the need to take a stand.

Most of the time this isn’t about anything really critical – a parking space, which way the toilet paper is hung, what you really meant when you said “fine” the other day. It escalates to a point and then deflates.

But sometimes said stand will take down an entire production.

Actors and directors disagree about stuff all the time, and usually the one with more clout on that particular day wins fairly quickly, unless someone decides not to back down.

Today, our director and our actor (also a producer and said director’s boss) started arguing about what seemed like a fairly insignificant line of dialog, and it kept escalating as both of them decided they were right and weren’t going to back down over this newfound noble cause (totally worth dying -figuratively – for).

While all of us just stood there, doing nothing and waiting. Except now, under the rules of a pandemic gripped city, we couldn’t even grab a cup of coffee and retreat to the staging area to play Candy Crush and wait it out.

Crafty is set up too far away to get there and back at a moment’s notice, and we can’t be close together, so the staging area party is not happening.

So stand there we did. For an hour and a half. While they argued over one word.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find that the sooner I’m off the stage, in my car, and out of the really uncomfortable PPE I have to wear for 12 hours a day, the happier my ears are.

So the arguing went on until they reached a compromise. They’d do it both ways and see which one worked better later.

Which, of course, was the suggestion we’d all thought of an hour earlier, but, you know.

Filed under: Work, , , , ,

The Memo

I have, for the entirety of my career, managed to largely avoid corporate America and all the office-related shenanigans, but sometimes worlds collide.

This show is on a lot, which is owned by a studio, which is owned by a multi-national corporation, which is probably owned by some musty old white guy or 30.

Still, since the dirty toolbelt people stay on the stages, we don’t have to deal with too much corporate silliness.

Except this week.

On lots, golf carts and bicycles are the preferred method of transportation, and usually they’re pretty tame. Most of the golf carts have a device on them to hold the speed down (which sucks on a big lot like Universal), but how fast does one really have to go?

Apparently, fast enough to hit someone and knock them over.

The story varies as to who hit whom, but one of the involved parties worked for Human Resources. In corporate zone – but no one really knew about it because all of us had other things to do. Like work.

Until the entire lot got THE MEMO.

A corporate passive-aggressive missive about how we all need to be super duper careful about not hitting people with golf carts, intentionally or otherwise. And how we shouldn’t talk on the phone while driving and shouldn’t drive drunk or stoned or whatever and how we have to all have drivers licenses, etc..

THE MEMO was printed out onto paper and handed out to every single person entering the lot. Including the people who were just there for the day, or people (like my department) who do not have access to golf carts.

The HR elves also taped THE MEMO to the windshield of every single golf cart on the lot, which seems a lot more… targeted to me than the random paper-wasting on a lot which advertises itself as being ‘green’.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not actually expecting efficiency or anything. I think I did, once, long  ago and was sorely disappointed.

 

 

 

 

Filed under: humor, mishaps, studio lots, Work

Some old vacation photos of a lost monument

I was very lucky to be able to visit Notre Dame during the off season when there weren’t so many people there. It was cold and drizzly, but there was no wait and enough space to take some pictures:

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , ,

An avalanche of tiny checks

Due to a contract change, I got a retroactive pay raise on some shows, which is great, but as of now, I have eight checks, all around $20, mostly from the same show – I guess it was a check per episode and it was too much trouble to send out one.

Which, again, is great. Money is great.

Because I have direct deposit and am a lazy, lazy, bum, I usually don’t look that hard at said checks and trust that the best boy did his (or her) job and got everything right.

So now, I have to go back through the pay stubs and see how many more are real checks.

Serves me right. Happy New Year.

Update: mail just came. It’s now 12 checks.

Filed under: Uncategorized

You Don’t Make Noise When You Sweat

On most stages, the air conditioning is set to arctic tundra, and the red ‘rolling’ light, when activated, cuts off the air, as blowing  air makes noise and sound people hate noise.

We’re  currently shooting on a converted warehouse stage, and they did a good job with it, but they don’t have the air conditioning tied to the light system and the noise was…problematic, so at some point, production just decided to shut off the air and not turn it back on.

In Northridge*. In August. With the outside temperature at a balmy 108.

Remember that story about the slowly boiled frog?

At first it wasn’t too bad, but as the temperature outside climbed, inside it just got hotter and hotter, but we’re always hotter than the important people because we’re moving around, so no one really pays attention to a sweaty crew.

At some point, someone brought a box fan from the office, which, to be fair, did move the hot air around a bit directly in front of video village.

By the time someone remembered to turn the air back on, it was too late. We were the boiled frog.

As the air grew increasingly stale, second meal arrived, and crafty set out Korean food, which is delicious, but doesn’t smell good in a hot room with no air circulation.

Don’t get me wrong, I like kimchi, but the burps aren’t great even when there’s ventilation. I guess it’s just lucky we wrapped before the farting started.

At wrap, I stepped outside and the 98 degree evening seemed cool and refreshing.

I’m going to sleep tonight with an ice pack behind my neck and a fan aimed at my head.

 

Northridge , a neighborhood in the northwest San Fernando Valley, is Spanish for “Jesus fucking Christ it feels like a goddamn oven outside.”

Filed under: long long drives, Work, , , , , ,

It’s getting hot out here

In theory, Spring is the short season between winter and summer – where the temperature gradually warms up, stuff blooms, birds and bees do… things (or so I’m led to believe), and we ease into summer.

Except this year. The weather in Los Angeles went from high 60’s to mid-90’s. Overnight.

Which would be fine, except that it takes time to get used to the heat, and guess what I did yesterday? That’s right – I stood around outside all day for day exteriors. In the sun.

I’m never really ready for the heat.  The older I get the more I suffer in it, but I’m usually, well, not okay, but better when I’ve had some time to acclimate.

It’s a damn good thing I checked the weather report before coming to work, otherwise I’d have worn long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, then would have boiled alive. Or something.

We had three different locations, and had to wrap back to the truck after each one, so we spent a lot of time pulling cable in said heat.

Our second location had no shade at all, and of course that was the hottest part of the day.

On the bright side, I managed to not get sunburned, which is awesome.

It seemed almost cool when I drove home in low 80’s.

After an 11 hour day working set, I felt exactly like I usually feel after 14 hours of wrapping heavy cable – achy, sticky and stiff.

A cold shower has never felt so good. Thankfully we’re on stage today out of the sun.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Everything is burning

Yesterday, I lost a day of work due to some schedule changes. This is unfortunate, but does happen sometimes.

The city is surrounded by fires, so the drive home was eerie and didn’t help my mood.

I was still anxious when I went to bed, as I’m trying to work as much as I can while it’s busy, in an attempt to save up enough money to get through the slow season without selling everything I have on eBay (I’m kidding. I don’t own anything anyone would want to buy).

This morning, I was still anxious.

Until I turned on the morning news.

Had I been going to work, I wouldn’t have checked the news before I left, so  I would have pulled onto the freeway and then been trapped in traffic surrounded by  the bonus fire that erupted in the Sepulveda pass last night.

Suddenly,  not having to leave seemed terrific, even more so when I realized that not only were several of my co-workers stuck on the freeway for hours, but the ones who got through had to breathe smoke all day – and they were making rain. In the wind. And the fire. ‘

If you’ve never been anywhere near a large fire, it’s not a pleasant experience. The sky is a weird color, it’s hard to breathe, one’s eyes burn, and the damn ash sticks to everything. It can’t be easily removed with just a dry cloth – it has to be washed off. I’ve had to do the same dishes three times today, and that’s with the windows closed.

The good news is I’ll be on an air-conditioned stage for the rest of the week, hopefully up wind of the fire and that damned ash.

 

Filed under: california, hazardous, life in LA, mishaps, Non-Work, Work, , , , ,

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

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