Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Those Wacky Casting Directors.

They’ve voted to join the Teamsters*, not IATSE**.

While everyone in town is snickering about this, it’s a really good move.

IATSE has repeatedly sold out it’s members to the producers, and the Teamsters haven’t.

I totally understand why they voted the way they did.

In honor of their wise decision, here’s a few Teamster jokes (all told to me by Teamsters, BTW):

Q: How can you tell the Teamster’s kid?
A: He’s the one sitting on the playground, watching the other kids play.

Q: How can you tell when a Teamster’s dead?
A: The doughnut falls out of his mouth.

Q:Why is a horse the symbol of the Teamsters?
A: It’s the only animal that can sleep standing up.

Q: What does it mean when the sleeping Teamster’s drooling out of the side of his mouth?
A: The truck’s not level.

Congrats to the Casting Directors!

* Teamsters are the drivers in the film industry. They drive trucks, vans, stakebeds, forklifts, etc. They work like hell before we get there and they work like hell after we leave, but when we’re there, they don’t do much – hence the jokes.
Teamsters are great guys. If you want to know what’s really happening on the set, ask them. They know all the gossip, and when you’re working on a movie, they’re the first guys you should make friends with.

**IATSE = International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees. The union I belong to.

Filed under: life in LA

Welcome to Low Budget Land!

I went out to another low budget movie this morning. As low budgets go, I lucked out – two of us had to reinstall some lighting fixtures in a school where they shot yesterday. We were done in two hours, and got paid for 12.

This movie’s contract is even worse than yesterday’s.. it’s $15 per hour under union scale.

This sucks ass, but work is work, and it pays into my health insurance (I have to work 600 hours per year to keep my health benefits).

The other fun part of the day is that my co-worker was a very interesting fellow. When he was younger, he was a lawyer (somewhere in the midwest), and decided that the justice system was too corrupt and quit.

Now he’s a juicer, and a scuba diving instructor. There’s something amazing to me about someone who walks away from a life, and starts another midlife.. like it was buying a car or something. That takes guts, and it’s not something I’m sure I could do.

Later in the day, the best boy on this show (“Danika”) called me up and offered me a slot on the show. I took it.

Why would I take a job at an incredibly shitty rate?


The guys on this little show normally work on stuff that’s well over $100 million (they’re doing it as a favor to the DP), so I’m hoping if I get in good with them, they’ll call me when they’ve got a good budget.

Of course there’s the off chance that I’ll get relegated to the list of people they only call when they have a chump budget, but we’ll see.

I’ve got an 11 am call tomorrow. In the Valley. Yuck.

Filed under: Work

“Lack of Planning on Your Part..

…Does Not Constitute an Emergency on My Part”.

Yesterday was exactly as bad as I thought it was going to be.

The crew were all terrific – I’d not met any of them before (except the other ‘day player’ with whom I’ve worked on on a number of projects), and they’re the nicest bunch of guys..

Production, on the other hand, were useless. They kept changing things at the last moment, and they were unbelievably disorganized to the point of comedy.

Our first location got changed at the last moment, so we ended up having to frantically rig a location that we thought we’d have hours to work on, and folks kept stopping us from working, as they were trying to rehearse while we were rigging. There was also another movie shooting in the same building, which made communication on the walkie fun.

Scratchy voice: “Move those 20K’s now, we have to roll!”
Me: “What 20K’s? Oh, it’s the other show. Nevermind.”

We were shooting in the auditorium of a high school, and it had this catwalk that had about a 4 foot ceiling you had to stay doubled over the entire time you were up there – EVERYONE working up there hit their head at least once, and one of the guys did it so hard that they sent him to the hospital to check for a concussion.

Meanwhile, production were yelling at us constantly to hurry up -which isn’t possible when one is trying to work while bent at a right angle.

The day ended up not being that long, though.. only 14 hours.

It’s low budget season – I’m going on another one tomorrow.

Filed under: Work

Yay, work! Oh, wait….

I just got called to work tomorrow, which is a good thing!


Just like a shiny happy quarter laying on the sidewalk in Malibu that’s got sticky gum on the underside so you can’t see it and you pick it up and get gum all over you (guess what happened to me today), there are a few things about this job which are not so shiny and happy.

This movie’s hourly rate is almost $10.00 under union scale – not a bad thing by itself, but generally any movie with a rate that low is disorganized.

I think the entire time I’ve been doing this I’ve worked on ONE movie with a budget under 10 million dollars that wasn’t a complete cluster fuck – the problem is that at the lower rates, you can’t get really experienced production people. Good Assistant Directors (and producers and UPMs) don’t come cheap.

The best boy is making his manpower calls for Monday on Sunday afternoon (he should have made them Friday) – when I talked to him, he said they ‘got beat up really bad on Friday’ and he doesn’t know the location for tomorrow, so he’ll have to have the AD call him and tell him.

That’s bad. It means that the show is disorganized, and (what affects me more) that set lighting’s second in command is not on top of things.

The cloud in the silver lining is overtime. Disorganization and chaos usually means 15, 16, 17 or more hours, and when you start clocking in overtime like that, the rate gets a lot better really quickly.

We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

Filed under: Work


Dave tagged me with this:

List five things you enjoy, even when no one around you wants to go out and play. What lowers your stress/blood pressure/anxiety level?

I ride my bicycle – LA’s not a bad bike town if you stay off the main streets, and it’s amazing what you see when you’re not in a car. One of my favorite bike rides is up Sunset Plaza drive to Mullholland (half an hour on a hill climb), and then back down. It’s a hard ride, but I forget whatever’s bothering me when I do it. That and I’m totally exhausted when I’m done.

I go to the gym and lift weights – boring, I know, but it does help me relieve stress.

I watch movies – at home, in the theater, wherever. I just bought the extended cut of “Das Boot”.

I go climb a rock (but this does require a buddy).

I go to the “secret beach” in Palos Verdes and snorkel naked.

I used to go to Pinot Hollywood and sit in front of the fire with a martini. Guess that’s out now, huh?

Filed under: Non-Work

Darn. There Went One of My Favorite Restaurants.

From via Franklin Avenue:

Pinot Hollywood has closed.

This is fucking tragic, I tell you. Pinot had the greatest bar ever. Comfy couches, a fireplace in the winter, great happy hour specials, and a terrific food. We had the unofficial wrap party for the live action “Tick” TV show there (because the producers were too cheap to throw a party. They had a cooler of beer and chips on the stage for us after the last 18 hour day), and it’s always been a fave spot for informal meetings and dates.

I’m sure it’ll get turned into something hip, overpriced and filled with bony MAW’s.

Filed under: Non-Work

It’s official.. I’d rather make indie movies than be in TV.

Today was just heinous.

I’m still so angry I can’t think straight, let alone cobble together a coherent post.

You know, I really would rather make my little indie movies. I’ll never get rich off of them, but I’ll sure as hell have less stress and anger in my life.

Details later when I don’t want to strangle someone.

Filed under: Uncategorized

An Oldie But a Goodie

In retaliation for Mr. Movie Star’s idea of a practical joke (He waited until I was in the pool without my top on, screamed “Oh, my God! My mother’s here!”, and then took pictures of me scrambling for my top while trying to cover my shame and stay underwater at the same time*), I pulled an old fashioned, but still fun prank.

I short-sheeted him.

I know, I know.. it’s very 1940’s, but that’s the beauty of it. Short-sheeting is so old, that he’ll never think of it. Especially since he’s been working insane hours and is currently in a state of overwork induced brain death. He’ll get home about 2 or 3 am, and it’ll probably take him half an hour to figure out what the problem is.

Hehehe. I was stressed about this meeting tomorrow, but I feel a lot better now.

* Film crews have incredibly sophomoric senses of humor, and if you spend enough time around us, it rubs off on you. If you must judge Mr. Movie Star harshly, do so because, as practical jokes go, this one could have been way better.

Filed under: Uncategorized


When you make independent movies, people admire you for being ghetto.

Me: “Yeah, my movie only cost 100 bucks. I paid the actors in powerbars, and I processed the film in my bathtub to save money.”
Movie Exec: “You rule. Here, take these bags of money.”

TV people don’t think like this.

TV exec: “Your show looks a little funny.”
Me: “Well, it’s just a rough cut. It hasn’t been color timed or had anything fancy done.”
TV exec “Why not?”
Me: “Well, I’m trying to keep my production costs down. I processed the film in my bathtub to save money.”
TV Exec: “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

We have a meeting tomorrow with some other big TV producer guy, and our expensive cut looks good, but I’m not sure how to handle this attitude. I’m really used to being able to brag about how little money I spent.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Friday Photo

Originally uploaded by Peggy Archer.

A set piece from an oatmeal commercial.

At the end of the day, they tried to give it away, but it was about 12 feet tall so no one could think of where they’d put it.

Filed under: Photos, Work

June 2005

Flickr Photos



Random Quote

"If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." -Anne Lamott

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