Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

After 15 hours, the coffee stops working.

Friday, I was back on the comedian’s* show (shooting the sketches that air between the live bits, I guess. I don’t ask too many questions. I just show up and do what I’m told).

My call time was 6:30 am as I came in with first unit, who were shooting day exteriors with no lights, but had to have an electrician in case they had to run power from the putt-putt generator to the monitors.

The problem with my being the “just in case” electrician is that these particular producers get freaked when they see a crew member not doing anything even for a minute. The other day, my boss got a talking-to because I sat down and read three pages of the paper (which was all I got through since I was scrambling for power most of the day), so the first few hours of the day were spent doing the ‘duck and cover’ whenever I saw anyone from production (at one point, I was crouched near the bulkhead of the camera truck, behind the folded up pop-up tents, with the key grip’s jacket over my head because the producer was sitting on the lift gate making phone calls).

Once I figured out that I wouldn’t be needed on first unit since the DP was powering the monitors off of the camera batteries, I called my boss, who told me to go to the stage and rig since I could do more there than I could while covered with coats, crouching in the camera truck.

It took us forever to rig two chicken coops because we were on a stage that didn’t have any ‘perms’, so everything had to be rigged from a scissor lift – that means the lights had to be hung, and then the cable had to be run back to the corner (because we can’t have the cable hanging down into the set, can we?) where the power was – on a stage with perms, we’d just run it out and drop it down. Rigging from a lift means that the section of the cable which will be ‘in the air’ has to be pulled up into the lift (after estimating how much we’ll need to go from the first tie-off in the corner to the lamp in the center of the room), run over the hanging fluorescents (this means whoever’s in the lift has to pull the cable up and over each and every fixture, tie the cable off to the ceiling providing we can find a tie-off point that’s strong enough, move the lift, pull the cable up over the next fluorescent fixture, tie it off, etc…), and then connected to the lamps.

Meanwhile, the set dressers couldn’t do their job until we were done because of the giant scissor lift (which was the worst one on the lot – it would only turn left. One of the guys was calling it the NASCAR lift. The lot’s supposed to service those things, but they never do) in the middle of the set they had to dress.

Chicken Coop

We barely got done in time.

First unit got to the stage about 5 pm, and they shot two scenes which took until about 11 pm (that’s pretty fast, especially since one of the scenes was extremely complex and involved not one, but two stunts). My coffee-chugging and sugar-eating stopped keeping me awake at about 10 pm, so the last hour of the day was really tough. You can’t yawn on set – once you do, everyone else starts to yawn as well and then they get mad because no one wants to look like they’re tired.

Once they finally called wrap and we started moving around (because we had to wrap all the equipment that night), I got a second wind and felt much more awake.
It took us a little over an hour to wrap the stage, so we left about 12:15 and I got home about 12:30.

I spent Saturday with a mild case (I was only sick for about 12 hours) of the stomach flu that’s been going around town, but I’m feeling much better now.

Oh, and many thanks for the kind words – my uncle’s much better as well. He’s already able to talk (although not very clearly. The only word he’s really able to enunciate is “shit”. Yeah, I inherited that potty mouth of mine), and he’s getting some movement back already. The doctors think he’s got a reasonably good chance of getting 90% of the movement back on the affected side.

*This particular comedian (who shall remain nameless, please) has been accused by another comedian (who is extremely unfunny, IMO) of stealing material. If you ask me, which no one did, I think if you’re going to rip off someone else’s jokes you may as well pick someone who’s actually funny.

Hey, it worked for Dennis Leary.

Filed under: Work

7 Responses

  1. wen says:

    Too bad I didn’t see you- we’re working on the same lot. I’m on the show that’s next to the comedian’s production office.

  2. boskolives says:

    A trick I learned from a New Yorker friend while I was visiting the Big Apple the first time might come in handy. You need to learn how to be big when the situation warrants it (i.e. just busy as shit and making noise when the production weasels are watching you), and turn invisible when they aren’t.
    This worked fine for me in keeping the “Hey, gotta dollah?” folks away in Times Square, the only problem I had was when I got caught and couldn’t decide which way to change into, and then followed for 3 blocks by an attached to my jacket sleeve “Hey Mr., wanna buy a watch?” character.
    As a sound mixer I seldom have this problem as I can just pick up a mic or something, look closely at it and shake it, no one ever knows what I’m doing anyway.

  3. g says:

    In vancouver we don’t really have any “perms” at all. Everything gets hung usually using little z-boom lifts. I have spent weeks solid in a lift (when you close your eyes you can feel the swaying sensation for days after) putting in 4/0, cway, and soca. Plus we are doing this while fighting for space with the grips who are hanging chain motors, cycs and backdrops, etc… Not to mention that construction and paint are still trying to finish the sets below us. The amount of webbing and sash we use is ridiculous.
    Anyway glad to hear your uncle is doing ok and that you have some work down there we are dead.

  4. Yeah, I liked Denis Leary much more the first time around when he was called Bill Hicks too. ;-)

  5. heather says:

    i pulled an 18.5 hr day in the prod office yesterday.

    at 15 hrs they wanted me to call for more film. this was at 11:30pm on a sunday, in toronto, btw.

    i called, left a msg, and really thought no one would call me back.

    10 minutes later, i was giggling on the phone with the film fairy.

    after i explained that i had already been working for 15 hours, and i was pretty much legally insane, she talked to me like i was sane, before that she was a wee bit bitchy.

    they didn’t have our stock (someone else had already bought it all out earlier), and thank the lord we didn’t completely run out.

    even through all the madness, i still love my job.

    and me & my film girls up here in canada love reading your blog, so keep up the good work!!

  6. JCW says:

    Geez… that unfunny comedian puts me in “mind” of someone, but I can’t think who…. awfully glad your uncle’s doing better. We lost our cat Nick today – shitty day – Nice that you had a fresh post to read to help take my mind off of things….but did you have to mention taxes?

  7. Vic says:

    Finally, I know which one of the shows you are working on. BTW, over at Defamer, some screenwriter is looking for an Oscar date w/o some ridiculous list of requirements. Just thought I would mention it.

    Peggy sez: You know, every year those ads pop up on Craig’s List “World Famous Producer needs Acadamy Awards date. Must not be intimidated by famous people, must have EEE boobs, natural blonde hair, 19 inch waist, full lips and perfect teeth. You must be bisexual and a nuclear physicist – but only on weekends. During the week, you must work as an exotic dancer and have a Tony award winning dance routine. Reply with three pictures (one of your face, one of your full body- MUST be nude, and one of you at the summit of Mount Everest last year). If you do not provide these pictures, your mail will be deleted immediately”.

    Goobers, the lot of them.

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