Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

The big geeky trade show weekend is the new black

This weekend was Cinegear – the annual grip, electric and camera cluster fuck. This year’s show was at the Veteran’s Administration in Westwood, so at least it wasn’t boiling hot like it would have been had we been in the Valley.

Cinegear Trade Show 2006

There weren’t as many vendors, and the ones that were there didn’t have last year’s lavish displays, but I got to see a lot of friends, catch up, and find out when everyone’s going to start working again.

My Coolest Booth Award went to one of the music libraries who had an Elvis performing:


He gave me a scarf and a kiss on the cheek.

That made my week – I love me some Elvis, even if it’s really a guy named Steve in a wig. Actually, as Elvii go, Steve was a really good one, so I’ll recommend him should you find yourself in the situation of needing an Elvis for, you know, whatever. He doesn’t have a website, but email me and I’ll give you his manager’s phone number.

Before I hit the show, I went to see Who Needs Sleep – Haskell Wexler’s excellent documentary on the effects of long hours on film industry workers and what folks are trying to do about it. In the movie, Wexler interviews the surviving family of two crew members who (several years apart) worked 20+ hour days, fell asleep at the wheel on the way home from work and died (one was a camera assistant named Brent Hershman whose death spearheaded a lamentably short-lived attempt to reduce working hours in the film and television industries).

If it comes to a theater near you, I highly recommend it. Those of you who have read this blog for any length of time know some of the hours I can work and have been able to see for yourselves what happens to my brain (“Can’t… Post… Passing… Out…”).

What you probably don’t know (unless you’ve known me personally for a very long time) is that some years ago, on my way home from our location in Palmdale (a bedroom community of Los Angeles that’s about an hour’s drive one way if there’s no traffic) I fell asleep at the wheel after a 19 hour day. I got all comfy in my seat and bored by whatever was on “Morning Edition”, dozed off gently and woke up not understanding why my car was facing into oncoming traffic on Interstate 5.

The LA-based crew had not been offered hotel rooms.

Thank the deity of your choice that the only thing I fucked up were the trousers I happened to be wearing at the time. Oh, and don’t bother asking me how I managed to make the car do a 180-degree turn without flipping it over. I was, after all, sound asleep at the time.

Check out The 12 on 12 off Foundation

Couch of the day:


Filed under: couches, life in LA, Non-Work, Photos

13 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    There’s something particularly poignant about today’s abandoned couch. Maybe the way it’s dwarfed by the taller building right behind it. Or the way it’s upside-down. Or maybe I’m just nuts for finding sadness in some smelly old discarded couch :)

    Iron Rails & Iron Weights

  2. Anonymous says:

    I saw a nice couch on Ventura next to the Galleria Saturday night and wondered if you had tagged it for posterity.

  3. Your blog is great! I love your Couches of the Day.

  4. plantain says:

    My husband once hallucinated red stop lights on the 101 while driving back from a hellishly long music video that had shot out in palmdale area…. he luckily realised (after about ten or so slams on the break for those red lights) and he pulled over into a denny’s parking lot for a snooze

  5. Marste says:

    Great post; I’ll definitely check out the DVD. And I want a 12 On/12 Off hat! LOL

  6. RJ says:

    A few weeks back NPR’s “The Business” did an episode on the sleep issue and that film. It’s pretty good. You can get it (the podcast) at iTunes or at

    Yeah – the sleep thing really sucked and it’s one of the big things I don’t miss about crew work. While movies are bad, I think TV shows are worse. Hour long episodics do basically, half a feature every 8 days. I did a series once where it felt like we were getting a half day when we only worked 12 hours. The problem is – and it’s a huge problem in regulating this issue – I made a TON of money on that show. There are a lot of crew folks who are really reluctant to support the issue because of all the overtime.

    My Blog

  7. Anonymous says:

    As a production accountant I don’t work on the set, but try doing math and working a computer for 14 hours a day/5 or 6 days a week/8 months straight. Your brain becomes fried. I took a long hard look at working features when I fell asleep, on Bundy in West L.A., not once – but twice on my way home at 11:00PM. Hitting the “road boobies” jolted me awake.

  8. Anonymous says:

    You’re lucky to be alive, and we’re lucky to have you. In my misspent youth (late 60’s) I ran a ’67 mustang into a pole at about 60MPH, escaping the explosion with minor cuts & fractures. NEVER AGAIN. I’ll park and sleep before driving tired, and I hope your readers will too…

  9. StumpyFinger says:

    Anonymous Production Accountant has a point. I found myself far more tired and brain fried working a long hours cubicle job for years than working on set. Even though the hours can be extreme, the variety of problems and environments set work entails keeps me much fresher in the long run. I will say that driving home after a 22 hour all nighter can be very dangerous though. Im getting a camper shell for my pickup truck with an inflatable matress asap. NO more sleeping at the wheel!

  10. Mark says:

    Damn. Just like NAB in Las Vegas… missed you again at Cine Gear.

    I was the pudgy white guy with the beard and the cap fondling camera gear. Did you see me???

  11. genius says:

    Yeah , an 8 hour turn around is what we get most of the time and that’s a joke…

  12. Carly says:

    Everything is better with Elvis.

  13. AdicaRoy says:

    Last October, I fell asleep behind the wheel on the way home from a shoot, drove across several lanes of traffic, flipped my car down a hill, and smashed into a tree. Luckily, it was 3 AM so no other cars were on the road, and I crawled out a window with no more injuries than a busted nose from the airbag.

    That was after a 16 hour shoot, which I had been doing 6 or 7 days per week for three months straight. Yay reality television!

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