Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Uh oh.

Work has slowed down, finally. It always happens in the summer – this time of year, I’m lucky if I get one day a week. When I called the union to register as being out of work, our call steward said “you and everyone else all of a sudden”. So, I’m stuck having to do all those things that I normally don’t have time for: taxes, cleaning the closets, any redecorating (I have a painting in my living room that’s been there for years – it’s recently started to bother me, and I’ve decided it must go), and really getting those hard-to-reach dust bunnies out from under the back of the couch.

This also means that I have more time to spend with Mr. Movie Star, who’s been kind of sulking at my being too busy for him (you think he’d understand, but apparently not).

I went over there last night (to make up for my being in Vegas Monday night), and he was really happy that we got together, but..

I don’t even know if I should type this.

The sex was bad.

I don’t mean bad like “you freak” bad, it was just lame. He was sort of doing his thing, and not really paying attention to me at all.

I feel like.. I don’t know what I feel like. I just sort of lay there for the rest of the night thinking “Why?”

I cut out of there really early and came home. As soon as it gets late enough to call a girlfriend, I have to bounce this (no pun intended) off someone.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Viva Las Vegas!

I’ve just gotten back from an impromptu trip to Vegas with The Blonde for her ‘friend’s’ (nudge nudge, wink wink) birthday. He said we could crash in his hotel suite, but it turned out that there were about 5 other guys there, and a couple of bimbos that he’d picked up somewhere on the strip..


We ended up getting our own room (in “New York” – complete with screaming baby next door), blowing off his birthday party and just hanging out the next day before we drove back. We went to the shark reef in Mandalay Bay, snuck into the hotel’s pool (Mandalay Bay has a terrific pool) and stayed there until it closed (the pool, not the hotel). We had dinner, saw the lions at the MGM Grand, and then headed home Tuesday night.

Due to homegirl driving like a bat out of hell, we got back in about three hours – we left Vegas at a little before 9pm, and I walked into my house at midnight.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Still no internet. Damn you, SBC!

Once again I’m posting from an internet cafe, drinking weak coffee and listening to bad rap while I type (There is good rap. They just don’t play it here).

Friday night was fun – James Beach was packed! It’s a nice room, although I wasn’t really impressed with the food. It was the birthday party of one of the actresses in the short film – as soon as her friends found out that I’d directed, they started buying me drinks – not a bad thing, but I had to do some driving. Nice bunch of folks, and I had a great time!

Went from there up to Mr. Movie Star’s house, where I….

Fell asleep on the couch in front of the big, romantic fire – hey, I’d been up since 4:30 am, and even I can only chug so much coffee in a 24 hour period. I’m okay as long as I’m moving, but when I sit down… zzzzzz. I’m sure the alcohol didn’t help either.

I feel really bad, as he’d clearly gone to some lengths to create some sort of mood.

I woke up Saturday morning, to a note saying that Mr. Movie Star had to go to a ‘photo thing’, and would be gone all day, but would call me later that night.

I poked around, jumped in the pool, ran on the beach (damn, I forgot how running on sand works your legs. I can barely walk today, and I have to keep telling people that no, that’s not the reason), showered and came back home.

What’s really surprising is that Mr. Movie Star actually did call me later that night. He was busy last night, I’m busy tonight (party at The Blonde’s – we’re looking at the rough cut of the short, so everyone’s coming over), so we’re going to try to hook up Monday night.

I’m not working Monday, and I’m going to try to get into the doctors so he can look at the foot.

Filed under: Non-Work

Ah, Friday.

I’m posting this from an internet cafe, as whatever company Pacific Bell became has decided that DSL lines don’t really need maintenance on the weekends, after all – I probably won’t have access until Monday, or that’s what the customer service rep said.

I’m used to having one of those fancy ergonomic keyboards, and I can feel the standard PC keyboard here giving me carpal tunnel as I type this, so I’ll keep it short.

Today was my last day on “Emily’s” – they finished shooting last night, and we just came in to wrap the lights and do the returns. The first unit boys showed up for a few hours and wrapped their personal stuff, and then split, leaving us to organize a ton of equipment that had just been thrown everywhere.

That’s more of a problem than it sounds like – aside from the obvious cable tangle (also known as ‘spaghetti’), lights have more than one part (some have more parts than others – I’ll explain later when I can type without munching my wrists), and if the parts aren’t all kept together in some semblance of order, things get lost and then I have to spend an hour looking for one tiny little thing that’s missing. Usually it’s not a big deal, but we’ve had the set guys pulling out all the furniture as well, so we spent the entire day tripping over one another.

I usually wear work boots (I step on a nail about once a year, not to mention dropping heavy things that sometimes land on my feet), but because of the toe I’ve had to wear tennis shoes this week. They’re more comfortable, but offer much less protection. Luckily, I haven’t stepped on a nail, but I’ve definitely stubbed my toes a bit, and I’ve dropped a few things on my feet as well.

I’ll be happy when I can get back into my work boots, and I never thought I’d say that!

Tonight, I’m meeting some friends for a birthday celebration at a bar in Venice (James Beach – it was terribly trendy about two years ago), and then I’m going up to Mr. Movie Star’s house to ‘hang out’.

I think “hang out” is a euphemism for “have sex”, and it’s past the third date, so I shaved my legs just in case.

Filed under: Non-Work, Work

The dangers of thinking, and the consequences thereof.

Call today was 8 am (1+ hour in traffic to Sony), and we had a stage move (moving from one stage to the other) right at our call time. First Unit set lighting came in on a ‘pre-call'(you get a pre call when you’ve got to do something that will take extra time before shooing – like moving from one stage to another) at 9:30, and the rest of first unit came in at 10:30 am.

We got there, saw the list of stuff we were to take over to 26 (Joan of Arcadia’s Stage), and started moving..

Looking at the call sheet – we thought that there was about three hours work on 26. Since this director is slooooow, we figured that meant about six – seven hours (which puts the move back to 22 at about lunch), so we decided that the day would go like this:

Move first unit to 26.
Come back over to our stage (22)
Strike the office set that first unit ‘shot out’ (completed) last night
Do some returns.
Go to lunch.
Come back as they’re finishing up – just about the last few shots, and start loading whatever they’re not going to use into the stakebed to move.
Go back as they’ve wrapped and complete the move to 22.
Get them started and go home.

Sounds like a plan, right?

We started sending one of the guys over about 1 pm to check and see how much they had to do – Rob, the rigging key grip, said he thought they’d move about 3pm. The gaffer said maybe 4. The A.D. said he had no idea and to stop bothering him.
We decided to go to lunch early (at 1:30), just in case – that way, in theory, we’d be ready to go when they did move.

Boy, am I glad we went early – when we got back at 2:30, they’d just moved, and the gaffer was screaming at us because he couldn’t find us or Clive (the rigging gaffer – he’s a Jamaican guy, and he’s terrific to work for – he also finds stuff to do off stage because he can’t stand first unit’s panic and chaos. This isn’t normally a problem – it’s actually nice to not be micromanaged – except when the shit hits the fan and we can’t find him). We explained to the now purple in the face gaffer that were were on our scheduled lunch break (six hours after call time), and we had no idea that they’d called the move, as none of us have walkies. What we didn’t mention was the repeated trying and failing to get an accurate time estimate for the move. When someone’s that worked up, you can’t really reason with them.

The gaffer, in a moment of panic, had called Clive on the phone to yell at him for not being there at the exact moment when they called the move, and said that we’d not done something they’d asked for, which wasn’t true – Clive ended up having to get in his car and head back over to the lot where he caught up with us on 26 and we explained to him what had happened (Clive’s hilarious when he gets upset – he stomped out of stage 26 saying “I’m gonna go over there and tell him to fuck off, mon”).

Turns out the gaffer was just panicking, as we’d gotten them as ready as we could (given that once again, we had no notes about what they wanted), and all we had to do was bring back the big lamps for them. Once we did that, we loaded our stakebed got everything back to 22 and finished up.

We got finished halfway through first unit’s lunchtime, and decided that discretion is the better part of valor, so we split.

6 am call tomorrow – I think it’s going to be the last day.

Filed under: Work

A visit to Joan

Six am call at Sony – Still on the same show (my boss told me I’m on through Friday, which is good. I like the shorter days – although there’s not as much overtime, it’s nice for now to have a life after work.

Tomorrow the shooting crew are using “Joan Of Arcadia”‘s sets (we’re shooting in what looks like a science classroom – I’ve never seen “Joan”, so I have no idea what the name of the set is), so we had to go over there and get that ready.

The problem with walking on to someone else’s stage is that you don’t know where anything is – we had to turn on some overhead flourescents, and we had to actually go find the show’s best boy (who was called in during his hiatus for this) so he could tell us how they were powered (from the greenbeds, and they came on when the stage power got turned on).

Plus, it kind of feels like snooping in someone else’s house. When you come in on a working crew, someone shows you around first thing in the morning so you can find stuff.. there’s no crew, it’s just the empty sets.

The plaster work on “Joan’s” sets is cracking and falling off the walls – I’m sure it cracks all the time (I guess plaster doesn’t like heat from lights), but there’s usually a crew to repair it – since the show’s ‘down’, there’s no one there, so there are piles of fallen plaster all over the place – when we left, there were two P.A.s sweeping it all up.

I hope it doesn’t fall tomorrow while we’re shooting and hit someone on the head.

Filed under: Work

Yay! Maybe.

Just got the lab reports back, and the good news is that I don’t have Rheumatoid Arthritis or Gout (although the latter would have been a good opportunity to practice my Bobby Hill impression).

The bad news is that the Sony affiliated doctor has no idea what’s wrong with my toe, so I’m to go in for more tests, whenever I can make the time to get to my doctor.

Mr. Movie Star has taken to asking if my foot’s fallen off yet – every time he talks to me. It’s getting less funny every time he says it.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Can you tell this is a sore spot with me?

There’s a post on LAist today about someone who’s had a film crew in her neighborhood and is unhappy about it:

Having a production in your neighborhood can be horrible, I’ll agree.

What I do not agree with is blaming the crews for this. This person’s post (and one of the comments) talks about how arrogant the crews are and how we’re all assholes for not being mindful of the neighborhood, take up all the parking, and behave like shitheads in general. (I’m paraphrasing, of course).

This is not my fault.

I get a call to come and work. I say yes, because I have to pay my bills. I show up at work, fill out my paperwork and do what I’m told to do until it’s time to go home. I have absolutely nothing to do with when we’re shooting where, how late we’re shooting, how much parking we’re taking up, whether or not we block the street, or how many lights are aimed where.

I’ve been screamed at, called names, threatened and shot at, all because neighbors were pissed off that the producers and the location manager chose to shoot in that area at that time.

Granted, having a movie shoot in your neighborhood can be annoying, and I’ve cursed production companies more than once for complicating my drive home at 4 am, but screaming at me (or any other crew member), and blaming the chaos on me (in person or via the internet) does no good. I can’t change anything.

Anyways, I got wound up enough about it that I posted my own rant in the comments section.

No work today – they’re not ‘carrying’ a rigging crew (which means we’re there all the time), but only calling us in when we’re needed – but we’re back tomorrow – I’ve got a 6 am call, which is fairly civilized after Monday’s O-dark-thirty adventure..

Filed under: rants, Work

The non daily show, and here’s why

I actually do post just about every day, I just don’t publish every day..

When I get home from work, I’m totally wrecked and can’t think, so I write these Rosie O Donnellish haikus and then collapse into bed.
Because I’m vain and if I’m going to publish a blog, it may as well be halfway coherent, so I’ll go back later and prose it up, so to speak.

So, this entry was written Monday evening as I was crushed from fatigue, and then rewritten today (Tuesday).

Here’s both versions – first, the haiku thing:

4 am call
late because looking for coffee
stage locked
got sucked in with shooting crew
toe still hurts. labs not back.
equipment returns all day
stuck in traffic

I think that may actually be more incoherent than Rosie’s blog.

Here’s the prose version, written after I was feeling human again:

Back on “Emily’s Reasons Why Not” (thanks, EcamirG for the mental prod).

Today was a 4 am call – Of course I couldn’t get to sleep Sunday night before 11, and I had to get up at 3 am. I’m not even sure that counts as sleep.
It being a pre-boutique coffee shop hour, I had to drink 7-11 coffee, and was late to work because I had to drive around and look for a 7-11.

It didn’t matter that I was late, though – the stage was locked when we got there, and it took about 15 minutes to find someone on the lot who could open the stage (Studio Operations needs to sleep too, I guess).

After we got inside, we ‘struck’ (took all the lights out) the bedroom set and did some other busy work, because of course, we weren’t given any notes on how they wanted today’s set lit – but I found out that the lack of notes is because the D.P. (Director of Photography) can’t light until he sees the frame on the monitor. That explains the cluster fuck that is first unit on this show – of course we all got sucked into lighting the set with first unit (except for my boss who conveniently ‘had to go to the perms to count stuff’ just as soon as they showed up).

Most riggers hate working first unit. I don’t mind being ‘show boy’, but I have to be mentally prepared. When I’m told it’s a rigging call, I expect a more relaxed pace, so I’m not ready for the 14 hour hustle that is first unit.

Anyways, we had to hang a bunch of lights while the A.D.’s (Assistant Directors – they do all the dirty work so the Director just has to worry about actually directing) kept asking every 5 minutes how long it would be until we were finished. Hanging lights takes a bit of time – they have to be hung from the grid (which in a dressed set means using ladders as you can’t get lifts in around the furniture), powered, and aimed. Having an A.D. stop you every five minutes to ask you how much longer just makes things go slower.

When first unit finally got up and running, we had to start returning equipment – which involved trying to sneak stuff out of the stage between takes so the dock boys could do the check ins (and take the stuff away) outside where we could make noise – at Sony, the lamp dock comes to your stage and counts the stuff there, which is nice – makes things go faster.

My toe still hurts, and of course I dropped a ‘chicken coop’* on my foot as we were loading them into the tuggers to go back to the dock. I still have no idea what’s wrong with the toe, as the labs haven’t come back yet.

Returns took up the bulk of the day’s work – we had to hang some more lights when first unit went to lunch, but once that was done we were out of there – just in time to hit traffic on the way home, of course.

I think the prose version is considerably less pathetic.

* chicken coop: An overhead suspended light box that provides general downward ambient or fill light (definition courtesy of “The Set Lighting Technician’s Handbook”). Also called a ‘coop’. They look like this:

Filed under: Uncategorized

It was a great day – up until that end part.

I’m used to getting up at 5, but for some reason that alarm going off 4 am just kills me. Maybe it’s the knowledge that there’s not an overpriced coffee joint open yet, but I have a terrible time getting out of bed, and if I don’t gather all my stuff the night before, I’ll forget something (like my toolbelt, glasses, or sunblock).

I do like going to Sony that early though. Sony is located in the worst possible place for me – there’s not a direct route on the freeway from my house (and the infamous Los Angeles traffic starts getting bad at about 6:30 am), so I’m crossing town on surface streets – when I get to go at 5, I’m pretty happy. There’s a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (my favorite overpriced designer coffee) almost across the street from the lot which opens at 5, so I even got the ‘coffee big gulp’ – a good thing since I was on the rigging crew and there’s no craft service if you’re ‘off production’ (off production is anything that’s not on the crew that’s doing the actual shooting – also called ‘shooting crew’, or ‘first unit’. No chaos, but no perks, either).

I usually like to be at work at least 15 – 20 minutes early, especially if I’m on a lot where the security people can be a hassle (Sony, Warner Brothers). Sony’s not worked the bugs out of their post 9-11 security system, so it can take a while to get through the guard gate, unless you’re there at 5:15, and then the guards haven’t come in yet.

So, the day started out really well. Breezed in, got my java, blew through the empty security booth; It was a fun crew today (mellow, nice, good to work with), and we didn’t have a lot of ‘notes’ to fill up our 8 hours.

Whatever this pilot is (I have some strange mental block about the name – ‘some-name-I-can’t-remember’s reasons why not’), it’s a ‘single camera’, so it’s shot more like a film, and our job was to get the three sets that were shooting that day ready – get all the ‘practicals’ (any lamp that you see on camera is a practical – bedside tables, chandeliers, etc.. Set dressing physically places the lamps in the set, but it’s our job to make sure that they work) wired, take down the lamps from sets that aren’t going to be used again, and so forth.

Under normal circumstances, the gaffer would also tell us which large, unwieldy lamps we should ‘rough in’ (get them approximately where they’re going to work so that when first unit gets there, they only have to move them a few feet and they can get the set lit faster), but not today.

General crew call was 3 pm (that’s a bad, bad sign. It means they’ve been working insane hours – and have had to make the call time later and later as the week went on in order to make ‘turnaround’ – which is the minimum time allowed between wrap and when you have to be back then next morning. It’s usually 10 hours), and the gaffer got there at 2:30 – just when we were getting ready to leave – and pulled us in with the first unit panic.

What we ended up doing was stuff that could have been done earlier in the day had they told us earlier, but I certainly don’t mind the overtime!

At some point during the day (right around when we broke for breakfast), my right big toe started to hurt like hell – I thought it was a cramp, and figured it would go away, but it got worse and worse as the day went on, and by 4 pm (when we were done), it was excruciating – so after we were officially released to go home, I limped over to the medical office on the lot and had them look at it.

The medical staff told me that another person on the crew had the same complaint the day before, and then sent me out to a hospital, where they took some blood and x rayed it. The doctor at the hospital says he’s got no idea what it is, as the other person refused to have any tests done.

I’ll find out Monday when they get the tests results back.

I was supposed to go out with some friends after work, but my toe was killing me, so I stayed home instead and watched bad movies while I lay on the couch with an ice pack on my foot.

Filed under: Work

April 2005

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