Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

The free time’s great, but the payout not so much.

When my boss called me to work on this show, he told me we were going to be working 10 hour days, but then production decided to save some money (they’re over budget on the lighting package) by only allowing the rigging crew to work 8 hour days.

An occasional 8 hour day is a treat – it’s like a mini vacation, or that time when you found a whole candy bar on the floor of the car and managed to eat it before your mom made you give half of it to your sibling.

An occasional 8 hour day inspires the same sort of giddiness as a really good rollercoaster, but a whole string of 8 hour days loses the charm fast and hits me right in the bank account.

I think I cried a little when I got my paycheck today. Don’t get me wrong – 16 hour days hurt me as well, but in a much different manner.

The other problem with short days is that the best boy can’t keep a crew – people won’t stay around for the reduced hours when they can jump to a crew who are working 10’s or 12’s. Best boys don’t like a constantly changing crew either – imagine having hire three or four new people and explain the inter-office politics to them every single day.

When the crew stays the same, then the riggers know how the gaffer likes things marked, where the carts get set up on stage, which actors we’re not supposed to look at, who the UPM is (so we can look busy whenever he or she’s around) and how to sneak up on the craft service guy so we can get a sandwich off his truck (rigging crews aren’t normally allowed to eat at craft service). We get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and this helps us to work better as a team.

Then there’s set dressing. Somehow they managed to get on a 12 hour day, and since this DP comes from theater, he wants a ‘down light’ over every practical (a practical is a lamp that you can see in frame) in the set, so we’re hanging a lot of lamps and there’s some freaky movie thing that if there’s a practical lamp in a scene then the cord to plug it in must be hidden from camera (even if the lamp’s in the center of the room with no outlet anywhere near it), which means that each practical lamp takes us some time to fix up – we have to hang a lamp over the top of it, and then power it up while making sure the cable is concealed from camera.

This is all fine, and it’s part of the job, but since the set dressers are there four hours longer than us each day, they put in lamps after we leave, so when first unit walks on the set, there are a ton of lamps that aren’t ready (since they were put there after we had to quit working), and it’s making us look like idiots. The set dressers know our predicament and are trying to work with us, but sometimes they have last-minute changes, too.

No amount of begging or pleading on the part of my boss will make the production office extend our hours.

My job for this weekend is to convince (okay, bribe) the Pink Princess to part with her handlebar basket.

Couch of the Day:


Filed under: couches, Work

9 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Love the blog. Can you answer a question? Is there some rule that an actor cannot actually turn a light on himself? He flicks the switch but someone esle hits the real switch at the same time?
    Because I often notice that the light doesn’t come on at exactly the right time.

  2. Peggy Archer says:

    It’s not a rule so much as it is a difficulty in making the switch actually work since there’s a)usually more than one light that comes on as the switch is flicked, and b) sometimes those lights total more power than the switch is rated for.

  3. Spike says:

    How do you light candles on screen? t’s fucking hilarious when someone lights a tiny candle and there’s suddenly 3 million candlepower.

  4. Jim says:

    That is one jackpot couch shot.

  5. Meg says:

    I see a trip to Toys R Us in Peggy’s future, to obtain the proper bribery necessary to separate the bike basket from the Pink Princess.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Actors you’re not supposed to look at? What, do some actors consider themselves so upscale they can’t bear the notion of mere craftspeople looking at them? What schmucks!

    Iron Rails & Iron Weights

  7. Anonymous says:

    I just returned from applying for a job as an extra on Sean Penn’s latest flick. Not a big deal I suppose but this is outside of LA, so it’s a little bigger deal around here.
    Anyway, on the instruction sheet they hand out it talks about lunch being served, ironically it says it’s timed based on the crew call time. Seems funny they would base it on the hours of the people who aren’t allowed to eat.

  8. TJ says:

    The shooting crew IS allowed to eat, and the caterer bases the lunch break on their schedule.

    Peggy was talking about the rigging crew, who works different hours and sometimes different locations then the shooting crew. They usually prep/strike the set before the shooting crew shows up or after they leave.

    Since technically riggers hours aren’t dictated by the camera, they do not get lunch provided. Or some crap like that.

  9. Orhan Kahn says:

    You actually gave you sibling the other half?!

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