Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Rule #1 – Don’t get killed

The official last night of shooting on “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”.. This is just stunts, there are no actors (they were ‘picture wrapped’ last night).

The night started off badly – we had a 5 pm call, which meant that we all got stuck in the horrible traffic on the way out to the Ikea in Puente Hills (our location, on and off, for the past few months. It will thankfully be torn down as soon as we’re done with it).

The “best boy” (sort of the second in command) set the tone by -right at call time – announcing over the walkie talkie “Rule number one is this: Don’t get killed by the helicopter”. This set off the inevitable wave of John Landis/Twilight Zone jokes, but everyone was very, very nervous.

The first fuck up was that one of the ‘condors’ (these are lift platforms that go about 80 feet up in the air – there’s a light in the basket and a guy up there with it to make any changes – it simulates moonlight) was in the flight path of the helicopter which, during the shot, will be swooping down, chasing our stunt doubles who are running for cover into the building.

To move the condor required that locations secure permission to move it into the parking lot of a business about 100 yards down the road from where it was initially set up – not an easy thing to do at 6:30 pm in a largely industrial area. When they finally got ahold of the guy who owned the building, he said “NO”. Finally, they got permission to use another lot and got the condor, all it’s cable and the generator that was powering it moved.

To move the generator, transportation sent a ‘stake-bed’, with some of our lights in it, over to the condor (which was about a quarter mile away from the Ikea). Needless to say, while the truck was over there dealing with trying to hitch up the generator, our boss decided that he just had to use one of the lights that was in the stakebed. They had to unhook the generator, put the condor move on hold, and send the truck back over to us so we could offload one light – we then sent the truck back over to finish the move.

The second fuck up involved one of the other condors (we had a total of six- only four of which were ever in the air at the same time) that was placed in the parking lot of the Best Buy next door. Each condor weighs about 16,000 lbs, and they have big tractor tires on them. The asphalt in the Best Buy parking lot started to crack under the weight of the condor – while the basket (with big light and guy) was in the air. Once that was down, and moved (to a spot that the D.P. didn’t like as much, but had firmer asphalt), we started to shoot – until the main generator went down.

The entire production staff was getting very, very tense, as all the shots were outside at night – which means that they can only shoot until the sun comes up, and then they have to stop. Since the director is the slowest fucking person on the planet, this delay sent production into a tizzy.

As many bad things as I’ve said, typed and thought about this particular director, he did put the petal to the metal and make up for lost time. We ended up getting our last shot just as the sun came up.

After we did our hour or so of work to get everything ready, of course we got stuck in traffic. I slept in the back of my truck for two hours and then went home, where I passed out until I got the call to come in on Friday (Good Friday – it’s a holiday so it means double time) and wrap the truck.

Sweet.

Call time: 5 pm.

Wrap time 6:15 am

We were out at 7:15 am

Filed under: Work

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