Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

It’s good to be closer to home.

I knew night work wore me out, but this last week it wore me out more than usual – hence the lack of posting.

I worked Tuesday night and Wednesday night downtown LA, spent Thursday recovering and on Friday, started work on a show that’s shooting days. Plus, the two day load-in is only a few minutes away from my house. Plus, it’s my favorite gaffer in the world and a best boy that I like a lot (I liked the gaffer and best boy on the night shoot, too – I’ve gotten to a point in my life that I don’t want to work with folks that I don’t like, but that’s probably an entire post on it’s own).


Tuesday – shooting in a downtown bar (lucky for us, it was a newly remodeled and suddenly trendy bar that was nice and clean. Normally bar downtown = 50 years of gross crusty stuff on the floors, most of which sticks to cable surprisingly well), and the entire night’s work was inside the bar. Aside from one of the trucks (parked right outside the door) breaking a fuel line and filling the entire bar with diesel fumes (boy, did that give me a headache), the night was uneventful – other than I have to give an ‘attaboy’ to the extras. Normally, background actors are notorious for impeding crews by not moving when asked, but this was a good group. I never had to say “Coming through” more than once, and a few of them actually jumped to get out of the way.

Call time: 10:30 am. Wrap time: 3:30 am.

Wednesday – the dreaded ‘shit alley’. Crews call this shit alley because it’s the communal toilet for the local homeless population. Production had the alley steam cleaned (they literally hose the alley down with high pressure boiling water), but for some reason the steam cleaners never hose off the walls – where a surprising amount of shit sticks. There are always smears about two feet off the ground all along the walls, and for some reason the gaffer (any gaffer, they all do it) invariably wants lights placed right next to the freshest smears.

A fun touch was the guy standing outside our truck and barking like a dog all night – except when he was meowing. I remember thinking that it was a good that he was bilingual. Increased employment opportunities, you know.

Call time: 5 pm. Wrap time: who knows; they cut the crew down as soon as we were done with the big shot (the one where we had all the lights in the alley and cable run for a city block), so I got set home at 3 am – a nice surprise. Yes, I missed out on a few hours of overtime, but sometimes I don’t mind.

Thursday, I was totally wiped out, and after a nap my goal was to stay awake all day (helped by two doctors appointments – one at 10 am and one at 2 pm), so I could sleep at night, which I needed to do because my call time for Friday was 7 am at the lamp dock.

Friday was the first day of our load-in for another pilot. The town’s really busy, so we were having trouble getting equipment at all, and some of the stuff we got was really old. With tungsten units, age isn’t really an issue, but older HMI’s don’t work as well, and we generally try to avoid them. Of course, when it gets busy we have to take what we can get.

Monday will be day two of our load-in, and shooting starts Tuesday.

And on an unrelated note, the janitors at NBC and Universal Citiwalk are involved in a labor dispute and have started a blog about it.

It’s cleverly titled “Picking up after the Peacock“.

Si, Se puede!

Filed under: Work

3 Responses

  1. Neil says:

    The janitors blog is the most interesting one I’ve read all week. Who would have thought? Just shows you the strange development of “blogging.” A blog is a great tool for unions to have during a labor dispute!

  2. gaffer, best boy. What is the pecking order?

    Not that i would know which job title deserves more credit than the other.

    Are you in charge of the Gaffer?
    And why are they called gaffers?

  3. Peggy Archer says:

    Neil – I know, it’s great!

    Aaron – the gaffer is the head of the lighting department. Basically, the DP (Director of Photography) tells the gaffer how he wants the scene to look, and the gaffer is the one who actually oversees the placement of lights. We work for the gaffer.

    I heard an explanation for the name, but I’ve forgotten it now.

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