Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

An election season repost

I don’t usually repost things, but this is still relevant. Just change the name from Jian Ghomeshi to Donald Trump, and ‘BDSM’ to ‘vanilla flavored sexual assault.’

Original title was “Money, Power, and Silence”.

Anyone who works in media in any capacity keeps secrets.

Most of them are harmless: the vegetarian who eats bacon, the studio exec with an 8th grade education, the erudite gangster rapper.

But some people do very, very bad things and get away with it. For years.

Because they’re powerful. Because they’re rich. Because if you dare challenge them they’ll litigate you into a special kind of hell from which you will never re-emerge.

Even if you do win, you’ll be demonized by the unwashed internet masses because how dare you speak ill of Mr (or Ms.) Perfect? They make great media!

Since he’s Canadian, you’ve probably never heard of him, but Jian Ghomeshiis rich, powerful, beloved, and an alleged serial date-beater.

The accusations span a decade, and the women in his media circles have beenwarning each other to stay away for about that length of time.

But no one went to the police, because apparently the police in Canada aren’t any better at dealing with this sort of thing than the police here in Los Angeles, where they warehoused rape kits for years.

And that’s women who were assaulted by the hoi palloi, not the rich and powerful.

Here in our little Southern California media community, there is at least one serial rapist – not a sad sack who confuses BDSM and battery, an actual rapist – who has been at it for at least 8 years. Maybe longer.

No one that I know of has gone to the police because this person is very, very powerful and, well, that’s why. Even those who are raped by poor people face victim blaming, accusations of being liars and whores who secretly wanted it, etc..

Imagine how that gets magnified when one’s claim involves part of the city’s economic elite, or very, very famous.

Is it any wonder that we just quietly warn each other to stay away from Mr. (or Ms.) Nightmare?

Glances get exchanged, texts get sent, private messages fly around – stay away.

But it’s not a perfect system. Some don’t get the warning. And they have to suffer through the cycle of shame, anger, grief, guilt.

And said abuser walks free.

Because the abuser is above the law. And will likely never face the consequences.

And one could lose faith in the human race, except that Jian Ghomeshi is, finally,  facing some (admittedly mild so far) consequences.

It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing, right?


P.S. For fuck’s sake – no comment guesses at any names, even if you know who it is. I can’t afford that kind of lawyer.


Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

Power problems

Back before modern technology, the gaffer used hand signals to direct the lighting techs, which  meant that said techs had to stay on set and pay attention.

Now, with the advent of communications technology, we have walkie talkies – we can hear the gaffer talk, to we don’t have to stand at attention all day – we can go get coffee, go play Candy Crush, read a book, whatever. As long as we’re back in the set when it’s time to light.

Handy? Sure. Even with the side effect of deafness caused by  that one person on every crew who is super loud and won’t move the damn mic away from his or her face even after being asked a thousand times.

We always get the same type of walkie – heavy, but with  a decent battery life. If there’s a lot of chatter on the channel, one may have to change at lunch. When the battery gets low, there’s a beep in the ear.

Out work today was what’s called a Pilot Presentation. It’s what you shoot before you shoot the pilot, so you can shop the show to the sort of people who will hand over wads of cash to create some fine, American-made entertainment.

On this particular day, production have tried to save money by using non-standard walkies. They’re much smaller, and have a fun feature where an actor’s voice announces  “channel one””channel two”, etc… If you spin the dial really fast, you can make him say “chanchanchanchan”, which is kind of fun.

It also announces when the battery is dead with the same actor saying “low battery”. Which is nicer than the beep, but happens way too often. By lunchtime, I’d had to change twice. Oddly, the voice did not let me know that battery death was imminent. Seems like a feature they’d want to add.

Other than fun with the walkie voice guy, it was a quiet day. Most of these presentations are only a short bit so once we’re lit, we’re sitting and waiting for wrap.

Tomorrow will be our long day, as they’ll shoot for 12 hours and then we’ll have to wrap the stage after that.

Filed under: locations, Uncategorized, , , ,


Once upon a time, I bought a dress.

I was working for a now defunct prime-time celebrity gossip show who were known for throwing a lavish Emmy (TM) party, to which they invited the entire crew.

Because the crew were invited, we got a memo stating that this party was a formal affair. No jeans, no T-shirts, no flip-flops, no cargo shorts. You know, the things film crews wear all the time.

Tuxedos if you were male, gowns if you were female.

No exceptions.

I was not about to pass up a chance to attend a genuine Hollywood Soirée (TM), so I skipped over to the local branch of Dior (TM), figuring I’d pay maybe a grand for a killer dress and have the night of my life.

It’s okay to point and laugh. That’s what the salespeople did.

After realizing there was no way in hell I could afford anything really nice, I went to the department stores, who stocked two styles of dresses. Matronly, and Teenage Prom (TM).

Next stop, outlet malls, stocked  with the overpriced dregs of whatever hadn’t sold the year before.

Look, I don’t mind shelling out (within reason) for something well-made that makes me look fabulous, but last season’s dregs which smell of armpits and broken dreams aren’t worth  the cleaning bill.

Dejected, I called The Blonde, who was my plus one.

“Why are you wasting your time?” she asked, in between popping bubble gum “Just go to Ross (TM)”

I contemplated this advice for at least 7 bubble pops.

“They have some okay stuff. Just check it out. You have nothing to lose”

“What are you wearing?”

“I dunno. Something a stylist gave me for free. With flats”

I went to Ross (TM).

And, surprisingly, found a fairly nice dress.

It was a classic black satin number with spaghetti straps,  a nice drape, and a built-in bra.

It cost me the princely sum of $10.

I got my hair and makeup done, threw on my bargain dress and had a great time.

When the night was over, the dress stayed in the closet until the next time I needed to look presentable, and then it came out again. And again, and again.

Over the past decade I’ve pulled it out biennially, and it still looks great.

So, when I got an invite to the Magic Castle tonight (formal attire required), I reached for The Dress.

Something looked off.  Before the cat passed away, she left me with the parting gift of a clawed-to-shit dress.

Either that or I have a poltergeist (TM) offended by bargain fashion.

I managed to patch it up with hem tape, and if anyone asks, I’m going to tell them I’m rocking the Derelicte look.  Maybe I should put paper wads and cigarette butts in my hair for the full effect.

 Tonight will be the last appearance of The Dress (TM).

I guess I got my money’s worth.



Filed under: Uncategorized

Short and sweet

The past I don’t know how long has consisted of 12 hour rigging days, which leave me so exhausted I can’t do anything other than shower and limp to bed (yup. Getting old), so today was going to be nice.

A day of doing first unit. On a stage. With air conditioning.

I love air conditioning.

About two hours into the day, the best boy asked me if I’d mind going to the other stage to work with the other unit, since they were short-handed.

Of course I didn’t mind. I’m paid the same no matter where I am, and the other stage had even better air conditioning.

I was actually cold.

It was fantastic.

As the day continued, it seemed to me that the other unit were going to have a longer day, so I might get a few more hours in the air conditioning before going back to my sweltering apartment, but when the first unit wrapped I was called to help them load the truck and then dismissed.

So I got eight hours, which is also nice. I figured I’d go for a swim and then go home and watch a movie on the streaming service of my choice.

Only to find my wi-fi DOA.

The hard line to the desktop works fine, but no wi-fi, so no Netflix, no Hulu, no news feed, nothing.

At least I can look at cat pictures on the internet until the tech gets here tomorrow at 5 pm to fix it.

Tomorrow. At five fucking PM. And I was informed by the customer service agent I was lucky to get service that quickly.

At least I got to enjoy the cool air today.



Filed under: Uncategorized

Friday Photo 

A shaft of light 

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , ,


There are two months of the year where work is usually scarce for me – January and June. I always know it’s coming and prepare for it as best I can, but near the end of the month, with rent and bills due, I panic.

I know that there will be more work (and soon), but still. I panic.

I worry that I’m going to drain my bank account on the first of July, never work again, lose my apartment and have to consolidate into a shopping cart.

I worry about not being able to pay my bills and trying to live without electricity.

Or even worse, the internet.

I start looking around for stuff I can sell, even though I don’t own anything of any value.


So today I’m in panic mode. I have to pay rent, cell phone, electricity bill, gym, car insurance and union dues all this week.

Yes, I know I’m over-reacting, but I can’t stop myself.

It’s like this every single fucking year.

You’d think I’d learn.


Filed under: Non-Work, , , ,

Hearing and Lady Problems

Normally, the gaffer is the head of the lighting department, but on shows with anything more than a passing resemblance to theater (operas, concerts, ice shows, ballroom dancing), there will also be a lighting designer, who is responsible for the theatrical lighting.

Anything that’s part of what would be the theater rig falls under the authority of the lighting designer, so since I was working a follow spot today, I was on the channel with the LD, and not the gaffer.

Normally, the LD sits in a sound proof booth and during the performance, will call out directions to the spotlight operators. The spotlights are given numbers to simplify things, so instead of having to remember names, the LD can just call out “spot 3, pick up downstage left”, or “spot 4, pan up to get the drummer”.

Which is great, when it works.

For this particular show, there was no booth for the LD, so he was sitting next to the monitor, and when they turned on the playback, all we heard over the walkies was something like a radio not quite on the right channel.


Since the venue in which we were shooting is not known for stellar acoustics, none of us could even hear what we were thinking.

The LD, once we explained that we couldn’t hear him during playback, sighed and just gave us direction in between takes.

Lucky for all of us there wasn’t too much movement on stage.

The main problem was that our spotlights were on a catwalk that required steep stairs and a ladder to reach – which was fine, except for the lack of a loo.

At this point, I’m sure someone is going to suggest I just pee in the chain bag.

First, eeew.

Second, I have my period, because of course I do. And trust me, no one wants to find that in the chain bag.

I got lucky today that the periods of inactivity coincided with when I needed to slip away, but tomorrow I might be fucked because the call sheet has performance numbers all day.

I’ll have to double up (tampon and a giant pad), and bring up a plastic bag and some wet wipes.

Good thing this show is requiring we all wear black clothes.

I’m back tomorrow and Friday.

Filed under: locations, mishaps, Work, , , , , , , , , ,

Friday photo


Back side of the Fox lot facades under a cloudy sky. Lucky for us we beat the rain and drove home dry.

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

Time for a rest.

Pilot season – when, unsurprisingly, the pilots for next season’s new TV shows are shot – is officially over.

Since I didn’t get a spot on a crew, I bounced around between three shows, sometimes only getting a few hours of turnaround before guzzling coffee and going to work another job.

Also, there’s a 5 am mental barrier for me.

Getting up at 5? Fine. No problem.

Getting up at 4:30? Anxiety about oversleeping which results in sleep so fitful I’d be more rested had I stayed up and shopped for shoes on eBay, especially since one of these shows was with a gaffer I love working for, but who is absolutely intolerant of anyone being even a nanosecond late to work.

In production world, 15 minutes before call is on time, and exactly at call time is late. Well, not late, but…frowned upon.

So I got there 20 minutes early every morning. And I worked. And then I worked. And I worked some more. And when I didn’t have work, I called our union hall and got send out on a job immediately, because there was so much work.

I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy going out on hall calls. I get to meet new people, who may hire me in the future, and in fact one best boy who had me as a hall call recommended me for full-time spot on a show. I didn’t get it, but it’s the thought that counts.*

Now it’s all over.

The pilots are finished, and the established episodics are ending their season within the next week or so, so it’s down time.

Which is a really good thing for me, because over the weekend I had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic and am now covered in hives.

Since I can’t seem to do anything that’s not excessive, these aren’t normal hives. They’re super hives that have spread into giant weeping mats of  blisters.

I can blame the initial upper respiratory infection on what the newsbots are calling the worst allergy season in 30 years, combined with working in a junkyard (which may or may not allow toxic waste if you slip the right person a few hundred bucks), and the city deciding to jackhammer the alley behind my place presumably for the sole purpose of coating the entire neighborhood in dust from the Yorty administration.  You know, for the lulz.

Of course I had to go off the antibiotics, and I have to wait until the reaction subsides before I start anything new.

So I’m itching, oozing, staggering around like a drunk, and coughing like a tubercular Victorian poet.

The elderly woman three apartments down keeps bringing me matzoh ball soup, which is great, but it’s 90 degrees and I don’t really want anything hot.

On the upside, WordPress has brought back the built-in spell check, so I can be lazy when I type.


*It really does count, because a bad referral usually reflects badly on the person who made it, as in “What the fuck with that guy? You said he was good. You must be smoking shoelaces.” So any time anyone throws my name in for a job, I take that as a huge compliment even if I don’t get the call.

Filed under: california, crack of dawn, cranky, hazardous, locations, Los Angeles, mishaps, toxic waste, Work, , , , , , , , , ,

A nice Tuesday on Stage.

Wait. It’s Tuesday, right? I had to check.

After getting home about 9 last night (90 minutes to get to work, just under 60 to get home), today I got to work a set on a nice air-conditioned stage with guys I really like.

Lucky for me, because I’m not sure I could have lifted more cable.

We walked lights around, talked about college basketball, and the heaviest thing I had to lift was a 2k, which was about all I could lift after yesterday. The older I get the more that 4/0 hurts me – and I go to the gym to try to stay in shape. I can’t imagine how horrible I’d feel otherwise.

During a break when one of the actors had to go to the other unit, some of us started talking about our least favorite places we’ve worked. The standards came up – The Ambassador Hotel, Kaiser Steel, Downey Studios, Pick-a-part junkyard, or any of the movie ranches during the summer.

Two of us – simultaneously – said shitters alley. Shitters alley was downtown (not the nice new downtown. The old, foul, nasty downtown) and it was, natch, the place were all the locals relieved themselves. Production would shoot in it because sometimes your script calls for a shit-splattered alley, and minimal set dressing was required.

They’d usually steam clean the ground, but the worst of the filth was usually about 24 inches up.

More than once, I threw away my clothes and drove home in my underwear.

Two of the younger guys couldn’t believe it. Turns out, shitters alley hasn’t existed in quite some time. I think it’s now a private gated park for high-end condos.

Fine with me.

I got a text right before lunch that my Wednesday call would be 5 am. A 12 hour day on a 9 am call with a one hour lunch means we’d be released at 10 pm, and I wouldn’t get to bed until about 11.

Since 5 am really means I have to be there about 4:45, I have to get up a little before 4 tomorrow, so I swapped with one of the guys on the unit that got dismissed after 7 hours.

Yes, I missed out on big money day, but I’ll be semi-human tomorrow. I hope. It’s already 8:30. I need to go to bed.

Filed under: hazardous, locations, Los Angeles, toxic waste, Work, , , , , , ,

October 2016
« Aug    

Flickr Photos


Origami bird

Window view

More Photos



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 850 other followers

Twitter Updates


Not blogs, but cool

%d bloggers like this: