Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Wish me luck.

I have to replace my hard drive.

My firewall software took a dump and now my drive has been fucked up from an unfortunate influx of all kinds of nasty things. Since the only sites I visit are my email (yahoo), some blogs, myspace and Defamer, I’m wondering who’s fault this is.

Since I’ve never changed a hard drive before, I may just end up fucking up my computer (I may not – it can’t be that hard, can it?), so hopefully I’ll continue to have internet access.

So, today I’ve got to back up the stuff I want to keep (all my photos, my blog backup, phone book, etc), and tonight I’m going to put in the new drive.

Hopefully I’ll be successful – if not I’m doomed to posting everything from the internet cafe until I can make this work.

Filed under: Non-Work

January – project month

In the past few days, the film production rumor mill has cranked up to high speed again, and when I went to pay my union dues I heard rumblings about a “bunch of stuff” starting up around the 15th of this month.

While work is always a very good thing, I have to be honest in that I have conflicting feelings about this.

January is the one month when I know I’m not going to work, so I can do things like upgrade my computer (which requires six trips to Fry’s and at least two screaming matches polite conversations at the exchange desk)*, clean my house (when I come home from work every night, I throw whatever’s left of the LA Times in the recycle basket, so after a few weeks I’ve got a pile of newspapers the size of the blob in my living room – not to mention the dust bunnies), and drop the five pounds I’ve put on while sitting on set eating too much crafty.

I also have to go through my work bag and figure out how many tools I need to replace before it gets busy again. I do tend to lose tools due to absent-minded borrowers, but some just wear out, get damaged (if you use a screwdriver to pry apart two bates connectors that are stuck together, it can bend the screwdriver – or blow a chunk out of it if there’s still power to that line. They just don’t make tools like they used to), or are dropped on a concrete floor from 40 feet in the air.

I also have some stuff to do for the next micro-budget we’re trying to fund, finish the SAG paperwork for the last one (it’s halfway through edit #3 now), re-cover the couch (I’ve had the fabric for two years and just haven’t gotten around to it), and soak the front window screens in solvent (damn teenagers) to remove the graffiti.

I’m going to hope for more work – money doesn’t spoil, and I can always put off my projects until spring.

* Does anyone have any suggestions for a good hard firewall (i.e. not a software firewall) for home use that doesn’t cost a jillion dollars?

Filed under: Non-Work

Travel anxiety

The last few times I’ve been out of town for longer than one night, I’ve had the same recurring nightmare. I dream that I come home, pull up to the house, and discover that it’s a smoldering ruin – a rubble heap from which I can salvage nothing. In the dream, I stand there, wondering why I didn’t pack more clothes, since now all I own is what’s in the car.

It happened again this trip – as I lay in the cold bedroom on the lumpy twin bed, I tossed and turned, repeatedly waking up my sister who snapped on night two and suggested that I might be more comfortable on the floor in the living room (the couch was taken up by the other sister).

I know that it’s just a dream, but it’s an exceptionally vivid one, and always carries over into my waking life – I just can’t shake the imagery, and to drive it out of my brain, I do things like write stupid haikus (see yesterday’s post), and make a valiant (yet invariably unsuccessful) attempt to finish the New York Times crossword.

None of it seems to work, though. I spend the last day of every trip with this grinding, irrational anxiety gnawing at me.

Sure enough, when I got home, everything was intact, and the only catastrophe was a very angry cat – she’d eaten her food ration too quickly and had an empty bowl.

It’s good to be home.

Filed under: Non-Work

Airport Internet Kiosk Haiku

Five dollars for 15 minutes.


Turbulent aircraft
The shaking invigorates
Where are my fillings?

So many head colds
Recirculating air – yuck!

Please try not to sneeze.

The plane boards at last
Passengers packed like sardines

Soon I will be home

I promise I will never post poetry ever again.

Filed under: Non-Work

Holiday Checklist

I’m off for a few days to visit the family.

Since I’ve been on a movie set for the past few weeks, I thought I’d write myself a reminder list – since I’m sure I’ve forgotten how to behave around folks who don’t think farts are funny.

1. “Hey, motherfucker” is not an appropriate greeting.

2. The dessert course is not the “Abbey Singer*”.

3 The proper response to someone passing gas is not to stand and applaud.

4. If someone asks me to do something, do not reply with “Copy that**”.

5. Don’t inhale dinner – I’ve got more than half an hour to eat***.

6. When we’re almost done opening presents, do not yell “This and two moves us to pie!+”

7. I do not have ‘cinematic immunity’ in my rental car++.

8. If my mother manages to drag me to church on Christmas eve (she’s usually unsuccessful, but she does try), I do not get night premium.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

I’ll be back on December 28th.

*Abbey Singer was a famous assistant director from ‘old Hollywood’ who was famous for saying “just one more shot, just one more shot”. Now, the second to last shot of the day is called the Abbey Singer. The last shot is called the martini. Okay, it was a lame joke. Merry fucking Xmas.

**Walkie-talkie speak. “Copy that” means “I’ve understood what you’ve said.”

***You can always spot film production folks in restaurants – we inhale our food, faces a few inches off the plate, eating as fast as we can. It’s from years of only having a half hour for lunch. The faster you eat, the more time you’ll have to sleep on the lift gate of the truck.

+More production-speak. “This and two moves us” means, well, this shot and two more moves us to wherever we’re supposed to be next.

++ “Cinematic Immunity” refers to film crews flagrantly breaking traffic laws in front of police officers, and not getting busted.

Filed under: Work

Another one in the can*.

I always feel several emotions at the end of a show – relief that it’s over, the same kind of sadness I got as a kid when summer camp came to an end, and a slight panic at the idea of resuming the ‘day player hustle’.

We ended up wrapping out Wednesday night after all (once again, they really cracked the whip on that poor director and we wrapped 12 hours after call time), although our 2+ hours of work to get everything back into the truck meant that we missed the impromptu party at a nearby bowling alley (this happens a lot – there will be a huge party around us, while we’re working our butts off. It usually ends just as we close the truck doors). It’s just as well – I’m sure none of us smelled all that great, and we all just wanted to go home.

We met at the rental house yesterday, unloaded the trucks which we’ve called home for the past five weeks, checked our equipment in, and when we were done, shook hands all around and went our separate ways – all of us on our phones, trying to line up the next job.

* The expression “In the can” means that the film has finished shooting.

Filed under: Work

One more day

On our set, you can feel that no one cares anymore. A few people have already left to go home for the holidays, and everyone else is just marking time until we’re done.

Our wrap plans have gone seriously awry. Were going to wrap tomorrow night after we finished shooting (three hours of double time – since we’re figuring it’s going to be at least a 14 hour day and this contract doesn’t pay double time until after 14 hours), do one day at the rental house and then have Friday off, but the UPM doesn’t want to pay that three hours(which I can understand – she’d be paying double time for us and grip: about 10 people), so we have to go back to the school on Thursday (whatever time we get there – it’ll probably be about 1 pm), wrap the location, send the truck to the rental house and unload the truck Friday morning. Although I was looking forward to having a day off before I leave town, an extra day of work is not a bad thing.

The ‘eeewww’ moment of the day was craft service setting out leftover pizza (last night’s Domino’s) drenched in ranch dressing – we figure it had to be a joke.

Please tell me it was a joke.

Filed under: Work

“I just wanted some coffee. I’m still not sure how this happened to me.”

Today, we had a scene which required a security guard. The guy that the casting agency sent over didn’t look much like a security guard, and the producer (and the director), at the last minute, decided that he just wouldn’t do – he was more ‘underaged hall monitor’ than ‘menacing authority figure’.

One of our juicers is the nicest, most fun guy in the world (and completely harmless), but he looks like he’d kill you and eat your skin for fun on a Friday night. Our producer ambushed him at the craft service table and talked him into playing the security guard role (no lines, of course -then they’d have to pay him more and possibly taft-hartley him into SAG).

His first question, of course, was “How much extra are you going to pay me?”

His second question was if our boss was okay with it – if you have one of your crew in front of the camera, then you’re down a guy, and some gaffers are not okay with stuff like this.

Our boss said we were set up for the shot and he was fine, and the producer said that she’d pay him non-union background actor wages (I think it’s $50 or $75 – and that’s on top of what he’s getting paid today), so he agreed.

They put him in wardrobe, he did the scene (where he looks menacing – and he did it really well. He didn’t look stiff at all, even though he told us later that he was nervous as hell), and afterwards graciously endured about an hour of catcalls and wolf whistles from the crew.

As soon as he got back into his real clothes and onto the walkie, his first statement was “I just wanted a cup of coffee. I’m still not sure how this happened to me.”

Quote of the night.

We have a 10 am call tomorrow. If I can, I’m going to go to one of those cheap tourist joints on Hollywood Blvd. and get him a fake Oscar ™.

Filed under: Work

I promise I won’t kill anyone. Today.

I was cranky as hell Friday. The teenagers were driving me mad, my co-workers were driving me mad, the director was driving me mad, hell – the color of the walls in the school was driving me mad. Craft service and the caterer just about sent me over the edge, and a simple request from another crew member to read my newspaper sent me into a near-murderous rage.

The topper to the day was my accidentally locking myself in a bathroom (don’t ask) at wrap and then having to pound on the door and scream for help until someone came to let me out (given how big a cunt I’d been all day, I’m really surprised that they didn’t just leave me in there). I cursed at other motorists all the way home, and upon getting there the discovery that my saved take-out had gone bad (not surprising – it had been in the fridge for a week) resulted in yet another temper tantrum (and my having to scrub the walls of the kitchen at 2 am after I calmed down).

Although everyone’s cranky near the end of a movie (spending too much time crammed into close quarters for 14 hours a day every day will do that) I figured out that my crankiness is because I haven’t worked out consistently since this movie started. When I’m not working, I’m doing some kind of workout damn near every day (weights four times a week, cardio of some type six days a week).

I guess I’ve gotten addicted to it, as after two days of doing weights (arms yesterday, legs today) and swimming (both days), I feel much better -so much better that I don’t want to kill anyone, and I even baked a bunch of cookies to take to work tomorrow as an apology for my being horrible on Friday.

Three more days – our last shooting day is Wednesday, and we wrap the truck on Thursday and Friday.

Filed under: Work

Attack of the Teenagers

For the rest of the show, we’re going to be shooting in a high school in the San Fernando Valley. Although the school goes on Christmas break next week, for the next two days it’s full of students.

I’ve managed to spend most of my adult life avoiding teenagers. Even the ‘teenage’ extras in our movie are actually in their 20’s due to restrictions about working minors long hours.

These actual teenagers would stick their heads into the room that we had our equipment or into the set (us, grip, camera, sound, wardrobe, beauty* and video village** all in a medium sized classroom) and demanding to be put in the movie, be given something off the craft service table or to meet one of the actors:

Teenager 1: “Ohmygod, I HAVE to be in your movie. Put me in your movie!”

Teenager 2: “That actor is so superhot – you have to put me in the movie now! Ohmygod!”

Teenager 3: “Give me some of that food! What do you mean you don’t have enough?”

Teenager 4: “Ohmygod, that actor is so totally superhot! Ohmygod – what’s he like?”

Teenager 5: “Hey, put me in the movie! Hey! HEY!! Why are you ignoring me?”

Me: “Look, I’m just an electrician. The biggest favor I can do for you is to tape down all my cables so that you don’t trip and fall on your ass in front of that so totally superhot actor (who, for the record, is cute in that non-threatening boy kind of way, but I’d hesitate to call him ‘superhot’. Maybe I’m just old).”

Teenager 5: “Ohmygod! I so totally need to be whatever you are so I can get put in the movie.”

Me: “Fine, call me when you get your union card and I’ll give your number to my boss.”

Teenager 5: “BITCH!!!”

If I’d ever wanted kids, today would have killed that desire. Like totally. At least they were all gone by about 4 pm.

Today was only 12 hours, due to the producer cracking the whip, and we finished everything on the call sheet, which is a good thing – no added work tomorrow.

*Beauty, sometimes called “Primp and Crimp” is the hair and makeup departments.

**Video Village is the monitor where the director, producers et al. sit and watch what’s being shot. It’s always in our way.

Filed under: Work

December 2005

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