Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Big late night adventure!

The call came around 10 pm.

“Hey” my friend said “you wanna wrap out this set tonight? Production wants us off the clock, and you’ll only be here for four or five hours and get paid for eight.”

“Isn’t that the same as them paying you double time?”

“Yeah, but we told them it’s not safe to give us 6 hour turnaround, so they have to bring in another crew.”

Whatever anyone else may say about the safety passport program, it’s given us ammo against producers. In pre-passport days, the producer could scream “I’m not paying you to think, asshole! Do it now!” but these days, once we say something’s not safe, the argument’s essentially over.

I was all warm and cuddly in bed, watching a movie, and I really wanted to say no, but then I remembered all the money I’d spent in Vegas.

“Sure, why not. I don’t need sleep.”

“Great! It’s in Long Beach”

“Fuck.”

“Too late – you already said yes. Get your ass down here.”

Long Beach is a forty minute drive for me, if there’s no traffic. If we worked too late, I’d be screwed coming home and get caught in the rush hour crush – that and it’s looking very likely that all hell is going to break loose in Los Angeles today due to this May Day thing.

As soon as we got to the ‘stage’ – an old warehouse that’s been converted into a place to shoot – the production person started in on us about hurrying. “I don’t want you going into over time! Do you understand why this is important?”

Yes, of course we understood, except that we had to contend with pipe grid.

Warehouses that have been converted into stages don’t have catwalks. They just have a grid made of pipe hanging from the ceiling (hence the name), and the only way to hang any lights or cable is to get a lift under spot you want, raise the lift, do what you have to do, lower the lift, clear the whatever junk’s in the drive path, move the lift and then start the whole process over again.

Needless to say, this takes a long time.

“Towering” – driving with the lift raised – is strictly verboten, even though it can be a time-saver.

There’s also a way to run cable on a pipe grid which makes it fast to wrap (hung underneath the pipe, tied on at intervals, so all one has to do is cut the ties and let the cable fall), and a way to run cable on a pipe grid which makes it take forever to wrap (run over the pipe so that the cable must be pulled up and fed through to the next opening).

Guess which way the cable was rigged?

So, the production person, watching and pacing, waited about two hours and then started asking how much longer. Each time she asked she got crankier (“Why aren’t you done yet? What exactly is the problem?”).

I understand why – she was sitting there, bored and tired, watching six guys using three lifts saying ‘goddammit’ an awful lot with no sign of anything resembling progress happening.

So now I was faced with a choice. Try to explain to her – in words that she’d actually be able to understand – exactly why it was taking us so long, or tell her what I was pretty sure she wanted to hear and say “you’re right. I’m gold-bricking just to piss you off, and because I like to be up in a scissor lift at one am, breathing in toxic waste. I don’t even need the money.”

I just sighed, told her we were working as fast as we safely could and that if she wanted to catch a nap in the office I’d come and get her when we were close to being done.

People get cranky late at night, and I’m sure she’s a very pleasant person when she’s not tired.

We got done in five hours, so I got home before all today’s predicted mayhem, and even had time to catch a nap.

I’m going out to see if I can get any good photos today.

Filed under: Work

One Response

  1. Anonymous says:

    The producers probably thought they’d save money by renting an old warehouse rather than a proper facility, only to see the extra labor costs more than make up for the lower rent. It’s an old story: penny wise, pound foolish.

    Peter
    Iron Rails & Iron Weights–>

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