Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Mike De Luca doesn’t think blow job jokes are funny, and other truisms

After two days on the screamfest, and three on a commercial ( I don’t want to type about it.. my ex, Satan, was one of the honchos – he kept trying to get me fired, but my boss held his ground), I’ve been back on “Zathura” for the past two days.

Wow.. what a comparatively nice show.. the chaos is still there, and the brass are getting tense because it’s down to the wire and they’re worried about finishing on time without blowing the budget, but there’s a conspicuous absence of screaming and yelling, which is refreshing.

I was ‘off production’, which means I was on one of the crews that were going behind first unit and cleaning up the sets that are wrapped.. When we went out to lunch, the waitress asked me how we all got so dirty and bedraggled looking – I told her we had been trapped in an alien spaceship all morning, and man were those guys pigs..

I forget that not everyone thinks I’m funny.

While we were at crafty (located directly under a set which may or may not tip over – construction aren’t sure) getting coffee, one of the guys was asking who Mike De Luca was (he’s one of the producers of this movie), we all started giving him the back story, including the whole blow job tale.. as we launched into the wisecracks, one of the production people came up and said “Mr. De Luca doesn’t appreciate that “, and told us that we should change the subject immediately or dire things would happen to us.
Wow. A threat. I spent the rest of the morning humming the theme to “The Godfather”.


#1. “Mr. De Luca”? When the fuck did that happen? I remember when that guy was…. oh, never mind.. the minions are watching everything, you know!

#2. Never, ever, ever, say anything interesting when anyone from Production can hear you. Bad me.

One of the set electricians blew something up (I didn’t see it, but there was a loud bang, shouts followed by a big cloud of smoke), and someone dubbed the poor guy “Kablooey”. It caught on, and I think it’s probably going to follow him for a show or two.

Rest of the day went smoothly, except that I fucked up and stood on the wrong part of a greenbed, and the Sony safety lady saw it and came down on me like a ton of bricks.

Filed under: Work

Screamfest part deux

Day two on “The Island”

Today we shot at Downey Studios.. they filmed Van Helsing there, parts of T3, and god knows what else.. It used to be an aviation facility, and they built one of the space shuttles there, or parts of it.

There’s a story circulating among the crews:

When the pit was dug out of one of the stages (which is an old airplane hangar), the mound of dirt that was removed from under the floor glowed green and cost the management two million dollars to have removed, cleaned, and then dumped.

How true this is, I don’t know.

Michael Bay is still a bad, bad man – but he screamed a lot less today. I think it was because the Dreamworks brass were on set all day and perhaps he felt the need to tone it down.. he only called us all ‘assholes’ twice.

Call – 9 am
Wrap – midnight
Minor injury – I cut my hand open. It hurts like hell, but it’s not bad.

Maybe I’ll go back and edit this when I’m less tired.

Filed under: Work

Michael Bay Screamfest

Today, I worked on a movie called “The Island”.

We shot at an active DWP generating plant in Long Beach – that’s an electrical generating plant.. huge turbines spewing steam, puddles of toxic waste (no, I’m not kidding), caustic chemicals, live power everywhere, etc..

When the plant went on line about 9 am, the temperature inside shot up to about 100 degrees, and the noise level went well over 100 decibels.. We had been given hard hats and ear protection, but with the ambient noise, it was impossible to hear anything anyone said to me.. either over the walkie talkie or standing next to me. Condensation formed on the metal grating that was the flooring for the upper levels, making it hot, steamy, noisy and slippery.. I found myself wishing I had a bigger CF card in my camera, though, because it was really cool looking inside.

I’ll post pictures later.

The bottom floor of the plant was covered with liquid which looked like water but was, in fact, a slurry of caustic chemicals which we were warned not to walk in unless we had to – of course, that’s exactly where the director staged a shot..

One of the guys slipped on the metal grating and cut his shin really badly.

The director of this particular movie is Michael Bay. Michael Bay is a screamer. He screams ALL day long, even when he doesn’t have to. For example:

Normal Person: “What’s the holdup? This set up seems to be taking a very long time.”

Normal Person: (to D.P.) “I’m a bit antsy to wrap, and I’d like to just roll without that additional light you wanted.”
Michael Bay: “NO NO NO NO NO!!!!! Take that fucking light out of the set! WHY DON’T YOU LISTEN TO ME? I TOLD YOU MOTHERFUCKERS NO THREE TIMES!!!!”

You get the picture.. That guy’s at Defcon 5 all the time. Near the end of the day, he got tired of trying to scream over the 100 decibel drone of the turbines, so he went and got a megaphone, and screamed at people using that. That’s better, though.. I’m told that he used to grab a walkie talkie, and randomly scream into it.. until the production staff got wise and hid all the extra walkies from him.

I called a friend of mine to dish, and he told me that crew members have been quitting because he’s being such an asshole.

Call time: 7 am.
Wrap time: 10 pm.

I have to be back at 9 am tomorrow, and I have two loads of laundry to get through before I can go to bed.

Filed under: Work

Black holes and aliens in West LA

Came in as a hired gun on “Zathura” today..

I had to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), but what I can tell you is that shoot’s a godawful cluster fuck.. three stages, four crews (all shooting at the same time), and principal photography has to be finished in two weeks. It’s hillarious, actually. First and second unit are on the same stage, and they have to take turns rolling sound. It’s impossible to sneak in any work or a conversation, but it’s worth it to watch the A.D.’s go batty trying to co-ordinate.

The film industry in LA is really busy, which is unusual for December.. it’s normally dead around the holidays, but it’s beyond crazy now – whomever scheduled all this, I’d just like to say…..

Thanks. I need the dough.

Also ran into a guy that I used to, well.. not date.. we had a thing for each other, hung out some, slept together a few times, but he was so hostile and angry that I couldn’t deal and bailed (he was doing way, way too much blow).

I tried, I really did, but I just couldn’t deal with the crap he was flipping at me (this was several years ago), so I did what was best for me, walked, and that was that..

Anyways, he looks good, he’s off blow and booze, and has a serious girlfriend. There’s a part of me that’s really happy for him, and a part of me that just wants to cry. I still have feelings for him.

After we wrapped, I went over to a porno shoot house in Bel Air (yes!) and shot some video of The Blonde doing makeup on a not porn shoot.

I got two hours of sleep last night, and I have to be on location in Long Beach tomorrow at 7 am, so I’m off to bed.

Filed under: Work

Drag Queen Chaos!

This is my first post – a bit about me before I start..

I’m an ‘independent film maker’ (there’s not really any such thing any more, but it’s a handy dandy label) here in Los Angeles, and I’m presently shooting a project with a friend of mine. I guess it’s ‘guerilla filmmaking’, as we don’t have permits, and most of the time it’s just the two of us with a borrowed camera.

I pay my bills by working as a crew member on a lot of non independent (i.e. actual, with a budget) productions.

The Blonde, my friend with whom I’m shooting this thing, is a makeup artist and does a lot of theatrical and TV work.. last night, she was doing makeup at a drag revue, which her cosmetics company sponsored.

The Blonde happens to think that drag queens are endlessly fascinating subjects and that she can build a show around them.. I think they’re kinda over, but I suppose what I think doesn’t matter – it’s what some 20 something development guy who didn’t get “drag queened out” in the 80’s thinks – so we spent last night backstage shooting her doing makeup touchups on a bunch of drag performers..

I was hoping for someone to be really bitchy, but most of them were just bored. Bored and nice. One of them slammed a dressing room door in my face, but immediately and profusely apologized.


I got some good shots of Kathy Griffin’s entourage, backstage chaos (we got thrown out of the ‘good’ dressing room because KG’s people wanted it for her, there was a sound problem and the performers [some of whom weren’t ready] had to go on in different order, no one seemed to be able to find anyone else), the show, and the audience before my batteries died.

The ‘free’ bar ran out of alcohol (but everyone was really polite about it. I was hoping for at least one screaming fit), the gift bags were totally weak, and The Blonde’s boss got really drunk and started telling everyone about the time she had sex with a guy backstage at a fashion show while she was supposed to be working.

We got invited to shoot another drag queen’s drag show next week.

Filed under: Uncategorized

December 2004

Flickr Photos



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