Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Hangin’ with “Biggie D”

This is David Geffen’s house.

David Geffen's House

This is the coastal access way next door to David Geffen’s house.

Beach Access

David Geffen fought the California Coastal Commission for a long, long time (and spent lots of money) because he didn’t want to allow the unwashed masses like you and me access to the beach – an area that, according to California state law, can’t be walled off from the populace.

The California Coastal Commission stood up to Geffen’s army of immaculately dressed corporate drones and won.

So – I’m pleased to announce that the court mandated coastal access is now open, next door to David Geffen’s ‘estate’ at 22132 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu (also known as Carbon Beach).

I didn’t bring my camera onto Carbon Beach itself (salt water + sand + electronics = bad), but I can assure you that it’s gorgeous, and well worth the litigation. It’s a natural small bay so the waves aren’t to crazy if you want to swim, the water is crystal clear and not nearly as cold as Zuma (the other white beach), and there’s a conspicuous absence of the floating trash that’s become a part of the Santa Monica Bay experience. As I was being given the bum’s rush at closing time, dolphins cavorted just beyond the breakers, backlit by LA’s amazing golden late-afternoon sunlight.

Heaven. Pure heaven. I highly recommend the lot of us descend upon our court mandated community accessible beach. It’s open from 9 am until 6 pm SEVEN days a week.

If you’re not familiar with the area, may I suggest Mapquest.

Once again, that’s 22132 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, California. It’s north (by quite a ways) of Topanga Canyon Blvd and south of Pepperdine University. article about this particular battle in the coastal access war

Filed under: life in LA, Non-Work, Photos

Yet Another Reason For Me to Hate “The Grove”

In April of 2005, about 10 pm, a waiter named Eric Gelman was stabbed to death while walking to his car after getting off work at one of the restaurants in “The Grove” shopping center. Other than my initial “oh, that poor guy” I didn’t really think about it again. Sadly, that type of thing has become pretty much an accepted part of life in a large city.

The other day, I read the following story posted on Bitter Waitress:

My daughter is working hostess in a restaurant located in The Grove, a big mall in Los Angeles.

The owner of the Grove, Rick Caruso, is charging the all the employee $5.00 everyday for parking in his big 8 -story garage. The garage can put over 3000 cars!

Even on the Mondays, when only the garage is only half-full. He still like to charge the empoyees 5$ for the parking!!! Why?

My poor daughter is working hard and studying to be an actress and she’s just graduate college last year. Her student loans is $160 a month.Her health insurance is $95.00 for one month. And she working in the night. Then she pay $80.00 a month also for parking her car now!

Before, she parking in the street and walk to her car for ten minutes.

But 2 weeks ago one of the waiters from the other resaurant.He was walking to his car at 10:00 in the Sunday night after he finishing work.

He was stab in the back of the neck by a homeless. The homeless leave a six-inch knife in the waiters neck to die.

I say pobresito. I tell my daughter she needs to get a second job so she can pay for park in the garage.She tell me that the waiters and employees is not allowed to park in the 8-floor garge on the weekend. Thats how come the waiter don’t parking there. She say Rick Caruso make the empoyees paying $5.00 in the weekend to park, but he make them park at the parking lot at CBS tv Studios. They still have to walking ten minutes so nobody want to pay $5.oo for parking ten -minutes away, because they can parking ten minutes away for free in the street.

I was crying in Church last Sunday and I pray for this man Rick Caruso that he find God in his heart and let the children parking when he have the room in his 8 floor garge to let them parking for free. Then maybe in the weekend they can afford to parking in the lot where is the security guard are.

My daughter she say all of the employees is parking in the street in the weekend , because they pay for parking every day during the week, so if they seeing a free parking in the street in the weekend, they parking in the free spot in the street.

She say sometimes the waitresses in the restaurant pay $12 in the weekend for parking in the weekend night, because they want to be safe in the 8-floor garage and not walk too far in the night.And no employee discount in garage on the weekends.

I tell my daughter to go to the funeral service for the waiter to say she’s sorry to his mother for she’s loosing her only son. She went to the service they having in the resaturant in the grove for the family. She say she was leaving the service on the Monday of the service and the mother is crying and the owners of the restaurant is sad and crying also.And all of the waiters and the waitress is crying.

Then I say, next time you working late in the weekend, I give you money for parking in the garage, even you $12.00 maximum rate. She say,”Mama they raise the maximum rate. Is more than 12$ maximum for parking, they raise it to keep employees out of the parking so the customers can park and eating in the Cheesecake Factory.”

I understand that parking is a problem at the Grove, but sheesh. Once an employee gets killed because he’s forced to walk through a not so great area late at night I’d think Caruso (a former member of the LA Police Commission) would feel some type of obligation to try to protect the underpaid worker bees who keep his INSANELY profitable mall running smoothly, but I guess not.

Yet another reason for me not to shop there.

“Bitter waitress” story was edited slightly to take out a few speculative statements about Caruso’s dubious parentage and poor breeding that could potentially get me sued.

Filed under: life in LA, Non-Work

The 21 hour day

It’s my fault – I decided it would be a good idea to ‘double dip’ yesterday.

Well, not really a good idea, but the problem is that if you cancel on people or turn them down too often, they stop calling you.

This guy I work for a lot (who looks just like Shakespeare), called me Sunday night and asked if I wanted to work Monday night – “It’s a commercial”, he said “You’ll be coming in at the end of the night for a few hours to help them get off the stage since production doesn’t want to pay stage rental for a wrap day”.

I agreed, and figured I’d spend Monday day doing laundry.

Not five minutes after I’d hung up, the phone rang again. This time it was the best boy from Mr. and Mrs. Smith, wanting to know if I was available Monday morning. The movie Flight Plan was doing some reshoots that night and all we’d do is go in really early Monday morning, pull out the rig, and be done with it. “It’ll only be a few hours work”, he swore when I asked him if he thought we’d be done by 6 pm (my call time for the commercial).

I’d already said yes when he told me where it was.

Mohave Airport. The middle of the desert at the end of July. Whenever I’m having a really, really sucky day at work, I always say “at least I’m not pulling cable in the desert in summer” – pulling cable in the desert in the summer being just about the suckiest thing I can think of.

Since I’d already said yes, I couldn’t back out of either job without damaging a work relationship, and both of these guys throw me a lot of work.

The plan was to have a 5 am call time at “The Lot” (formerly Warner Hollywood), and ride up to Mohave in a stakebed, then get the cable up and get the hell out of there before the temperature got over 100 degrees F.

It took us two hours to drive up to Mohave – we got there about 7 am, and it was already 80 degrees. We wrapped some stuff out of the main hangar, and then went to pull up the cable runs. The cable was run down the side of an active runway and on both sides of the taxiway to the runway. We spent most of the morning in the field between the runway and the taxiway. Thank god Mohave’s not a busy airport), so we had to have security with us.
The security guys were really, really nice guys – they had great senses of humor and we had a great time with them.

The movie takes place somewhere where it snows, because there was fake snow (it’s made of shredded paper, in case you were wondering) on the runways – hilarious in the baking heat.

Mohave Airport

It took us a while to get the cable pulled up because everytime a plane took off or landed the security guys had to clear us back 500 feet. As we were finishing, it got so hot that the sweat was evaporating before I could feel it on my skin.

We ended up closing the truck doors just as the temperature broke 100.

We got back to the lot about 3. Since my call time was 6 at the same lot, and I didn’t want to fight traffic, I’d decided to go have dinner (and more coffee) in the interim. I was so sleepy that I ended up taking a 90 minute nap in the back of my car and then going to eat. I had some pasta (that low carb thing can bite me, and no, I’m not fat) and more coffee and then reported to job number 2.

Job number two was uneventful – just wrapping sets, although I crashed hard right after craft service took the coffee away. That and the perms here have never, ever been vacuumed, so there’s a real good layer of slippery dust up there. Every time I have to go ‘up high’ I’m afraid I’m going to slip on all that dust and fall.

Dusty Perms

Got home a little bit after midnight.. Since I’d had to get up to go to work at 3:30, that makes almost a 21 hour day.

It’s Tuesday morning, and I’m still wiped out.

Filed under: Photos, Work

“Danika” Wrap Party

The wrap party for “Danika” was last night at the “RokBar” in Hollywood.

Wrap parties are fun because you get to see everyone dressed up, relaxed and in a less stressful situation than at work. You also get a TON of good gossip about stuff that happened on set, and you get to see who’s been secretly dating whom.

I sat and chatted with my boss and his wife until they left, and then I introduced The Blonde (my date for the evening) to the makeup designer. It turns out that they already knew each other from working the counter at Bloomingdales years ago. Small world.

One of the grips became instantly smitten with The Blonde and spent the entire evening trying to impress her (unsuccessfully, might I add). When she left to go to another party, he sort of slunk off to a corner to sulk while the rest of us danced.

RokBar played 80’s and early 90’s music, and we all had a great time . I wish the place had a better dance set-up, but I still got a priceless photo of one of the actors ‘dirty dancing’ with the makeup girls. Fun stuff!

I reviewed the “RokBar” on LaFoodblogging. You can read it (if you care), here

Filed under: Non-Work

Friday Photo

Stair Car
Originally uploaded by Peggy Archer.

My version of a celebrity sighting!

The infamous (for those of us who watch the show) Stair Car from “Arrested Development” – now painted yellow and riding a flatbed through Hollywood.

Filed under: life in LA, Non-Work, Photos

“Danika” Last Day

Today was our ‘load out’ day.

This is when we unload the truck, and inventory all of the equipment with the rental house to see what the L&D (Loss and Damage) is. Considering that the show was all location (we didn’t spend a huge amount of time on a stage, and the longest we were in the same place for was 10 days), the L&D wasn’t bad at all – but everything we lost or damaged was expensive, which drove the best boy nuts – and forced him to spend about an hour on the phone with anyone he could reach to try to locate the missing stuff.

Our equipment was rented from Santa Clarita Studios, and it was hotter than hell up there – added to that the worst air quality in the greater Los Angeles area. The good news is that since our package was so small, we were out of there fairly quickly.

We went to lunch at a sushi place in Santa Clarita that one of the guys swore was great, but I’m spoiled living in LA, so it just seemed mediocre to me. The fish was good, but the rice was too crunchy.

We drove the waitresses nuts by not sitting at the sushi bar and demanding separate checks, and then at the last minute, the gaffer decided to buy everyone lunch (thus rendering the separate checks pointless). I can never, ever go back there – they’d probably remember me and rub the food around on the floor or something.

The grips had more L&D than we did. They tore a 20′ x 20′ day blue (very expensive), and broke a mirror board (even more very expensive).

Plus, they found out that we drank all their beer last night after they’d finished loading their equipment and gone home (the perils of sharing a truck).

Filed under: Work

“Danika” Day 15

Last shooting day of the movie. We were only in one set (a motel room), but it took every light we had in the truck. When the best boy told the producer that we had no more lights or cable (she’d asked him if there wasn’t something he could send back a day early), she didn’t believe him and had to go look at the empty truck for herself.

Since we don’t have a rigging crew or enough equipment to pre-rig, it took us until lunch to break down the old set and get the new set cabled and lit, but since we were only shooting one scene today, after lunch we just sat there and didn’t do much of anything. We couldn’t get a jump on wrapping as everything we had out was working, so we sat there.

The director’s assistant (NOT the Assistant Director) came in today wearing flip flops. Since we were pulling enough power to light up a city block AND it was a shower shot so there was water all over the floor, about 10 people mentioned to him that he should put on some closed toed shoes – Cupcake being the 10th person . He got mad about it and ended up threatening kick Cupcake’s ass (Cupcake’s 4 inches taller and outweighs him by at least 30 lbs) if it got mentioned again. Needless to say, we all thought this was hilarious, and for the rest of the afternoon every time Cupcake left set, did something or said anything someone would threaten – in a squeaky falsetto, of course – to kick his ass.

We also found out that our producer/UPM used to be a teamster (well, I’m sure she still has her teamster card, but she’s obviously not driving talent around anymore) – Pretty cool!

When they finally called wrap it was 1 am and still hotter than hell, which made it more torture to watch all the producers, director and folks who didn’t have to load trucks stand in the parking lot and drink icy cold beer while we were dripping with sweat trying to get out of the stage as quickly as possible.

By 3 am, the parking lot soiree was over, and everyone had gone home, except us and the grips.

We didn’t finish until almost 4 am.

Filed under: Work

“Danika” Day 14

Today was “old Hollywood Day” and a bunch of the AD’s and producers showed up in ties and nice clothes – when you look at those old pictures of sets, everyone had on nice shirts and ties, but I think it was because that day was “picture day” and the crew had to dress up. My job hasn’t changed that much in 100 years, and a tie is a serious hazard when you’re dealing with hot lights and heavy equipment – so none of us participated, although my boss did throw a tie on over his t-shirt (but he doesn’t handle lights).

They added shots first thing in the morning (some close up stuff in the van that the didn’t get at Universal), but it was all shot using available light, so we were able to clean up yesterday’s set, and light both of today’s sets (actually three sets, since they have EPK on set again today).

This means the day started out with a bit of a hustle. We were really busy until lunch, when we moved into a set where the lighting didn’t change much for the rest of the day.

I’d rather be busy. When you just sit there, time slows and you can think about how hot you are, how much your feet hurt, etc..

The HMIs were fine all day until one of them got too hot and it’s globe blew up – on the last shot, of course. It made a sound like a gunshot, and at first I thought a stand had fallen over because the grips were out there working – but then one of the guys got on the walkie and said “We blew a globe”, which got everyone scurrying back there – normally when HMI globes blow up, the lamp catches on fire, but thankfully that didn’t happen this time.
We just dumped out the glass shards, put a new globe in and everything was fine.

Blown globe

One more day.

Filed under: Photos, Work

“Danika” Day 13

What a rotten day. I was late because I got lost trying to find the stage – it’s one I haven’t been to before, and I looked briefly at the call sheet, thought it was a place called Delfino (which I have been to), and went there. Oops. I had to call my boss to get directions, because I stupidly left the call sheet at home.

Thank heavens for the Thomas Guide.

The stage where we’re shooting for the next three days (Thursday is the last day of this movie) is a few miles up Interstate 5 – almost in Santa Clarita – and it was well over 100 degrees outside when I got there and we had to start pulling lamps off the truck. We rushed and got all the lamps set up and patched into the stage power in about an hour (which is really fast), and then..

Our lights didn’t work.

HMI’s are funny – because of the way they work*, they’re picky about power, and they did NOT like whatever was coming out of the stage’s transformers. We’d get them burning, they’d burn for a few minutes, and then click off. Finally, we figured out the nature of the problem (after trying everything we could we could think of in a desperate effort to get the damned things to burn), so we had to run cable from our truck into the set – while the entire production sat and waited on us. It’s never, ever good when production’s waiting on you.

After we got everything working, the sound guy kept saying that he could hear the fans on the ballasts so he went and covered them with a blanket. This made the ballasts overheat and the lights click off again. We then had to reroute all the power for the THIRD time to put the ballasts in a different room.

The best boy was really pissed about all this. It took us almost to lunch to get the problems sorted out. We ended up swapping out a few lamps, and the rental house guys tried to help us troubleshoot when they came out.

Did I mention that today was the day production really, really wanted to start shooting an hour after call?

Production didn’t want to pay for the stage’s air conditioner, so the stage management turned it off about four hours into the day – we tried to get it turned back on by arguing that since we weren’t using their power, it would even out. The compromise is that they’ll let us turn it on during lunch and between set ups. That means that inside it’s 90 degrees, not 100.

Cupcake’s back, and for some reason he’s being REALLY rude to me.

Two more days.

*HMI’s don’t use a bulb (or globe) like normal lamps. The globes have two metal rods which sustain an arc of electricity – kind of like an arc welder, or a lightning bolt.
They have ballasts, which electronically ignite the bulb and maintain the correct amount of power to sustain the arc. The old ballasts from the 70’s were magnetic, and were basically a big clutch. They worked great, but they were heavy as shit. The new ballasts are computerized and although they’re a lot lighter, they don’t work as reliably. They need clean power and they HATE any kind of moisture.

Filed under: Work

“Danika” Day 12

Today was our second (and last) day at the Uni lot. Still hot, still no golf cart (I unsuccessfully tried to find an unattended one with the keys still in it), so we’re stuck.

We had two units today, but no extra guys so we were all running around like crazy trying to light two sets – not making things easier is that the second unit DP is an annoying micro manager who makes everything harder than it has to be. He was just working my last nerve when the second unit grips hit a beehive with the corner of a frame, and since I’m allergic to bee stings, I had to go back over to the first unit very, very quickly. The rest of the day was spent on ‘bee watch’ as every so often one of the by now really pissed off bees would fly over to the main set and buzz around – I could tell where the bee was because the crew or extras around the bee would all of a sudden get up and do that funny hand waving ‘bee dance’.

We also had EPK (Electronic Press Kit) on set today. What they do is set up a video camera somewhere and do interviews with the cast, producers and director. They normally set up where they can see the set without being in the way, or ask us for a couple of lights to use as background. This guy set up in the other movie’s space – and set up the camera so that the interviewee was in the shade, and the background was in the blazing sun. Then, because the interviewee was nothing but a silhouette (video cameras, as I’m sure you’re all aware, expose to the brightest part of the frame), he made us get out an 18K (big, huge light) and light his little set instead of just moving the camera 15 feet.


We had a motion control shot, which took forever to set up, so we lost the light for the last shot of the movie (when the VERY IMPORTANT plot twist is revealed) – the sun was going down so the shadows on the plate shot aren’t going to match the shadows on the live shot. Of course that meant that we had to get out all the big lights for the very last shot.

Our DP is really, really good at shooting with low light levels, so the Gaffer said that he might surprise us and make the shot match. I hope so.

On the last shot, they needed more cars driving through, so if you see the movie, the Scion box thing (I don’t know what they’re called) that’s the second or third car to cross the frame is driven by my boss – the best boy electric. The director walks through the frame as well. He’s wearing a light blue short sleeved shirt.

Filed under: Photos, Work

July 2005

Flickr Photos



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