Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

“Danika” Day 7

The day started out in chaos. The shooting order changed at the last moment – we started out downstairs, moved upstairs, moved back downstairs, moved back upstairs and then finally moved outside – where we hustled to light the scene and then sat there for an hour, waiting for it to get dark enough to shoot a night exterior.

At least half today’s work was reshooting stuff that the director didn’t get, or decided after the fact that he didn’t like.
This is insanely demoralizing to a crew. You shoot a scene in teeny tiny pieces and it seems like it takes forever, but then you’re done and you move on to the next scene, getting through the work bit by bit. To go back and reshoot something that you did a day or week or a month ago makes us feel like we’re not making any progress.

One of the interns ( the producer dug up a bunch of USC students and convinced them to slave away for college credit since she can’t afford Production Assistants) is very, very nice, but dumber than the proverbial pillowcase full of hammers. Simple requests such as “photocopy this call sheet and hand it out to the crew at wrap so they know what time to show up tommorow” tax his mental abilities and he overloads and just shuts down. The result of this ‘mental shutdown’ is him standing perfectly still with a blank stare while he processes whatever information it was that caused the mental logjam.
Unfortunately, he usually does this at the worst time in the worst place – for example, in the only doorway into the set right after they’ve called “Moving On!”*

Today, the second AD had enough of the complaints from the crew (I overheard one of the grips saying “How the hell am I supposed to get into the set when Forrest Gump is parked in the fucking door?”), and banned him from the set.

He spent the rest of the day in the backyard, sitting on an HMI ballast, forgetting to call ‘rolling’ and ‘cut’**. I thought about trying to explain to him why he shouldn’t sit on them (they emit a sort of electrical energy that many folks believe causes cancer – aka “the ass rot”), but then decided not to bother.

He told our boss that he wants to be a camera assistant. Fat fucking chance.
That’s possibly the highest stress crew position. Camera department is unforgiving of mistakes – if you make one screw up such as being out of focus on a shot (movie cameras don’t have auto focus. The first assistant camera has to watch the rehearsal, measure the actors distance from the camera, and if the actor moves or the camera moves during the scene, manually change the focus while the camera is rolling), or loading the film wrong, you cost the production a LOT of money and you get fired.

What do you do when you’re too dumb to be a crew member? And how do you tell someone that?

On the bright side, Cupcake got a commercial late Sunday night – he’s on it today through Wednesday, but the best boy is so pissed off at his last minute cancellation (generally, once you’re booked for a day it’s really, really uncool to cancel unless you’re deathly ill) that he’ll probably not hire him back.

The weather report on the news predicts 102 degrees F tomorrow in Sherman Oaks.

* After a take, the AD’s will yell one of two things. “Moving On” or “Going Again”.
“Moving On” means “we’ve gotten this take and we’re going to move on to our next bit so get in here because the lighting’s going to change.”
“Going Again” means they’re going to do another take so you can continue to read your paper or drink your coffee.

** This is vital information.
“Rolling” means that we’re rolling sound and everyone should really shut the fuck up. “Cut” means it’s okay to continue the conversation. The AD’s yell it on set, and then it’s relayed to the folks outside the set via the PA’s.
Forgetting to call “rolling” and “cut” means that I have no idea we’re shooting and might screw up the sound by talking or working during a take.

Filed under: Work

One Response

  1. Catherine says:

    This was a great entry, very interesting. :)

    So what happens now that Cupcake is gone from the set? Will you see him again?

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