Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

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

5 Responses

  1. Ron says:

    *holds ice patch up*

  2. HarleyWriter says:

    Sorry ’bout your foot. So the bad movies; were they a cure or a distraction?

  3. EcamirG says:

    emily’s reasons why not? with heather graham?

  4. James says:

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  5. Peggy Archer says:


    “Emily’s Reasons Why Not”. I have no idea why I’ve got such a mental block about that.

    The bad movies may have been too bad to help me.. I got “Day After Tomorrow” (preachy and overbearing), and “Anchorman” (I kept waiting for it to get funny, but it never did).

    I ended up just putting in a “Simpsons” DVD.

    Thanks for the ice, Ron!

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