Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Timing really is everything.

I’m off to an out-of-state wedding. I’d been bitching about having to go (not so much the wedding – more that I really hate flying), but now it’s starting to seem like a great idea to get out of town for the weekend.

The air in Los Angeles is about 45% smoke today (there’s a layer of ash on my car right now), it’s hotter than hell, and the sky is a really gross color.

Hopefully, this fire will be out by the time I get back on Sunday night, and no one in or near the burn areas will lose homes, pets or loved ones.

Filed under: life in LA, Non-Work

Fun things to do with idle days….

In Los Angeles any fruit which is accessible from a public area (sidewalk, parking lot, etc), and can be picked without trespassing is, by law, public property.

Fallen Fruit is a website which maps locations of publicly available fruit.

Since I’m not working today, I’m off to pick some free avocados!

Filed under: life in LA, Non-Work

I’d like your finest fried food, please

Saturday was a girls’ trip to the LA County Fair!

I hopped in the car with a few friends and we headed out to Pomona (drive 10 miles past east bumfuck and make a left). We got to the fair about 11 am, and it took us a full hour to get from the car through the ticket lines and into the fair itself.

The LA County Fair was enormous. It had to be over a mile from one end to the other, and the trams were too crowded (and the line for the chair lift was too long), so we ended up walking all day.

The midway was colorful, but I skipped the rides – a few years ago, I worked on a commercial with a bunch of carnies and they scared me so bad I’ll never again set foot on anything they’ve touched.

Instead of sitting on the ferris wheel, I decided to spend the day eating deep-fried food.

The deep-fried snickers bar was not really my thing. I’m more into a food that would be healthy were it not fried – that way I don’t feel so bad about eating it.

Over a span of about 7 hours, I ate the following items that had been deep-fried: An avocado (not so good), artichoke hearts (not bad with hot sauce and vinegar, awful with that horrible packet of ranch dressing), an onion (very tasty), and a banana (very, very tasty).

I also had some beer, some wine, and at least a gallon of water.

The official temperature was 85, but with the asphalt and the crush of humanity, it had to be over 100.

I spent a lot of time in the barns, looking at the cute baby animals and getting the hell out of the midday sun.
I also watched a horse race from the outside rail of the track – right next to the winner’s circle (where the poor panting, shaking winner had to have his picture taken before he was allowed to go back to the barn and rest), and I got to pet one of the Budweiser ™ Clydesdales.

On the way home – stuck in traffic, of course – we started talking about what LA will do if the “Big One” hits us.

We, as a city, have always been told that after a large earthquake, we’ll most likely have to fend for ourselves for a few days (this was true in 1994 – the power in Hollywood was out for a week, and although there wasn’t looting, no stores were open), so we need to have supplies laid in.

After I got home, I surveyed my ‘earthquake supply closet’.

One bottle of diet peach Snapple
One half-eaten box of Ritz Crackers
One can hearts of palm (which I ate while contemplating the shitty state of my disaster supplies)

One half box of bandaids.
Empty tube of neosporin.

Compare this list to what the LAFD tells me I should have.

Yikes. Were ‘the big one’ to hit tomorrow, I’d be totally fucked. So, Sunday I went out and did some of my earthquake shopping. I got six gallons of water, a bunch of canned food (all low-sodium. The LAFD recommends only low sodium food so that you don’t drink too much water), some peanut butter and two boxes of a cracker brand that I don’t like (Wasa rye) so I won’t be tempted to eat it.

I still have to stock up on first aid supplies and a camp stove, though. That’ll be another paycheck.

Filed under: life in LA, Non-Work

Friday Photo

Originally uploaded by Peggy Archer.

View from the roof of Hollywood Center’s Stage 6.

Filed under: Photos, Work

Never Believe Anything I Say.

At the last minute, I got added on for one more day.

Since I’ve been the “up high guy” for the whole rig – running cable, dropping out power where they need it, etc., the gaffer insisted that they keep me on for the first shoot day, just in case they needed me. I didn’t do too much work (well, setting up my hammock was work), but the day was kind of fun anyway. Three camera shows are new to me. I’ve rigged and wrapped them, but never been there on a shoot day.

They work much differently than single camera shows*.

The cast came in at call, rehearsed all day, and then, about 7 pm, the audience came in and were seated in the bleachers. A ‘warm-up’ act (some stand up comedian) kept the people laughing while we finished getting ready for the shoot. Then, they introduced the cast and started shooting.

What seemed so strange to me is that they shot it in sequence – like a play. They’d start the scene and run it to the end. When it was time for them to move into the next room (the sets are end to end with the open sides facing the bleachers), the director would yell “Reset!” and the camera operators would push the cameras (they’re on these big wheeled platforms) to the front of the next set where they’d do the next piece. If there was any amount of down time between scenes (such as a big wardrobe change or a set redressing, the comedian would come out and ‘work’ the audience. He’d tell jokes, give away t-shirts, and generally distract the audience from whatever boring technical shit was happening. When they were ready again, the bell would ring, the AD’s would call ‘rolling’, and they’d do the same weird thing all over again.


In movie world, you start on one set, shoot until you’re done, and then move on – relighting every time the camera angle changes. To see something shot in sequence like that was odd..

Oh, the show’s called “Lucky Louie” (airing who-knows-when on HBO), and the lead actress is also the voice of Bobby Hill.

TIP: should you ever be in the audience of a sitcom, bring a sweater. As soon as the cast walked onto the stage in the morning, the AC got cranked up to ‘frozen tundra’. I had the heat rising off the lights to keep me warm, but I saw a few of the audience members shivering (the other crew members, being ‘three camera’ veterans, had all worn sweaters into work).

* Sitcoms are called “Three Camera Shows” (although this one has four), and are shot in front of a live audience.

“Single Camera Shows” (although most use two cameras) are shot more like a movie, and never, ever have an audience. One hour dramas are “Single Camera”.

Filed under: Work

Look out world, here I come.

Today will be my last day on the sitcom – the rig’s done, the prelight’s finished, and they’ll only keep a small crew on for the rest of the show.

About fucking time too. I’m so ready to move to something else.

The film industry creates adrenaline junkies – I’ve gotten used to a new place every day or so and after two weeks of staring at the same four walls and six people*, I’m going nuts.

The one thing I have been liking a lot has been the short days (although the long days do pay well). We’ve been working 10 hour days every day, meaning that I’ve been able to go out with friends, rent videos, brush the cat, etc.. All the things I normally can’t do when I’m at work from early morning to midnight.

Best video rental of the week: Layer Cake. Damn, what a great movie. I think I’m going to have to buy it next time I’m at Sony.

*Don’t get me wrong – I really like this group of guys. If I had to get cooped up on a stage for two weeks, this is the group I’d have chosen.

Filed under: Work

It’s true.. We are all evil.

Yesterday was rehearsal day – three camera shows rehearse and light for the first part of the week, and shoot Fridays in front of a live audience.

One of the guys has his grandma in town from the midwest, and he brought her to the set yesterday – just so she could see what a TV set looks like.

The scene being rehearsed yesterday was one in which the lead actor repeatedly uses the word “cunt”. I think he said it at least 30 times, as they kept running that scene over and over.

Did I mention that his grandma is the religious type?

He said he warned her that it was an HBO sitcom, so there might be some bad language, but still – of all the scenes they could have been running they chose the ‘cunt’ scene.

Grandma left pretty quickly.

Filed under: Work

Why is that damned sun so bright?

Out WAY too late at a post-Emmy party (where some bitch spilled an Appletini down the back of my dress, so I was sticky and smelled like that nasty apple pucker all night).

Good thing I don’t have to be at work until 2 pm.

Friday, I had wondered why the DP wanted to come in to work so late, but now I’m glad.

Filed under: Work

Friday Photo Sequence

Here’s the rig day by day:

Day 1:

Rig Day 1

Day 2:

Rig Day 2

Day 3:

Rig Day 3

Day 4:

Rig Day 4

Day 5:

Rig Day 5

Day 6:

Rig Day 6

Day 7:

Rig Day 7

Day 8:

Rig Day 8

Monday’s a prelight day, which means we’ll tweak the lighting all day.

Filed under: Photos, Work

Tra La La…. Wheeee!

Day two of the paint fumes.

I’m pretty sure the set painters aren’t supposed to be spraying lacquer while we’re working.

It got really bad today – there was a haze of paint all through the stage, and production are dragging ass about buying us respirators, so at lunch I walked over to a nearby paint store and bought my own (hey, my lungs are so worth thirty bucks).

One of the other guys told me I should have made production buy it for me, but god knows when they’re going to do that. They certainly didn’t have them by the end of the day, and I wouldn’t have made it the rest of today without one – one of our guys had to go home early, as did one of the grips.

The really scary thing is that not one of the painters were wearing masks. Not even the shitty paper ones.

I don’t know how they do it. After about 15 minutes of breathing those fumes, I see Care Bears (TM) dance the can-can on the tops of the set walls while they sing the theme song from Moulin Rouge.

Filed under: Work

September 2005

Flickr Photos



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

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