Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

The Mysterious Stage Syndrome

There’s a phenomenon that occurs when a director who’s used to shooting on location gets on a stage for the first time – they slow down. However fast they were working, they’ll work at about half that speed once that stage door closes.

I think it’s the static lighting. On a stage, you can’t see the sun moving across the sky, so it’s impossible to tell how much time has passed; meaning it’s very easy to slip into thinking you have much more time than you actually do.

This director, who’s the nicest guy in the world but isn’t very fast even on location, has slowed to damn near a full stop since we’ve been on stage.

Scenes are being cut and added to the next day’s work in an effort to keep the hours down, which just means that we’ll have a super long day on the last stage day (Wednesday). We had a second unit today just to help us catch up, as we’re moving to another stage first thing in the morning.

Inertia is frustrating. When you sit and do nothing, it makes the day seem longer – although after all these night exteriors, I’m happy for the opportunity to sit and read the paper.

The cold from hell is still raging around set (when you work 14 hour days your immune system doesn’t work well). My boss got it today, so he’s staying home tomorrow (in a much appreciated effort not to get the rest of us sick), which means that I’m the best boy until he gets back.

For the humble re-rate of $1.00 per hour, I get to return stacks of equipment from two different rental packages, wade through piles of paperwork, and fill out timecards instead of sitting on my ass, staring slack-jawed at a spot on the wall while we do 17 takes of every angle.

Hey, it’ll make the day go faster.

Filed under: Work

8 Responses

  1. Greg L. says:

    Hey Peggy,

    First-timers, and multi-take Directors make for long days/nights.(Thank God for Doubletime.)

    A Leadman buddy of mine had a great line for when we would grouse about how slow things were going…

    “Remember, there are people in Wisconsin, right now, making cheese, who would love to be in Hollywood working on a film crew”

    That and Crafty usually would tide us over.

    And when the checks come… It’s all good.


    Greg L.

  2. Meg says:

    A question to fill the time-what made you decide to become an electrician? Of all the job opportunities on a crew, why that one? My husband the grip became a grip because the tool list was shorter (grin)

  3. Charli says:

    To keep from getting sick, do not touch your face with your hands the entire time you are on location. That’s a good way to transmit germs. Well, that’s what my doctor friend tells me.


  4. John says:

    Hey, maybe I have missed it along the way, but can you say what film or TV show you are working on? Love the blog.

  5. Head Honcho says:

    I started working in NYC and in low budget, so I never really got to see much stage till I got out to LA and I still don’t like it. Location is far better.

    Best Boy, worse job in the business, under paid and over worked.

    For colds, a lot of C with zinc, works for me, though Trader Joes has some stuff people swear by, it’s airborn something or other, you can find it.

    Cool Site.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hey Peg, in an older blog you had mentioned that you were looking for a camera man to work for free. Well I am not a camera man, but i do know a little bit about quite a few things. tools, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, machinery, painting, etc. home depot is heaven to me. so if by chance i would be able to help with any projects, you can get ahold of me at your convenience. pro bono. if you are interested just mention so in your blog and i will leave info for you to contact me. there are alot of whack jobs out there so not to comfortable with posting my personal info on the net just yet. well i really appreciate and enjoy the blogs, they are great to read. keep it up.


  7. Peggy Archer says:

    Greg – we’re on a low budget contract, so when the check comes, it’s all lukewarm. However, it’s paying into my health insurance and pension, so that’s excellent – so’s the fact that I adore my boss.

    Meg – I became an electrician because I’m not smart enough to be a grip :)

    Charli – You bet ya! That, and I’m washing my hands every 15 minutes.

    John – I’ve got issues about that right now.

    head honco – I’m doing the AirBorne thing, and so far it seems to be working.

    rod – thanks for the offer!

  8. lizriz says:

    I love your blog.

    Everytime I read an entry like this, I think, “OK, when I finally get that opportunity to direct, don’t slow down on the stage. OK.”


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