Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Almost but not quite 24 hours

Yesterday, I was back on the comedian’s show – I had to get up at 4 am so I could get my stuff together and suck down enough caffeine to be coherent when I got to work at 5:30 for a 6 am call , as we didn’t have a rig day and had to run cable all the way around the day’s set before general crew call at 8 am.

I hate getting up when it’s still dark, especially when I know in advance it’s going to be a long day.

Production scheduled a 16 hour day – which kind of freaked me out. Normally 16 hour days are accidents, and I’m not sure I’ve ever known someone to actually schedule one.

Luckily, we were shooting in a high school gym all day so we didn’t get drenched in the pouring rain that hit right after lunch. We also stayed relatively warm inside – at about midnight, after the rain stopped, the temperature outside dove into the high 30’s (when the clouds clear out the temps go waaayyy down). When it was time to wrap out, we started working so hard and fast that I didn’t even notice being wet (from wrapping wet cable – mostly my pants below the knee) and cold until I sat down in the car to go home.

Supposedly they were going to call camera wrap at midnight, but things never do go according to plan, and after having the last shot of the night (a stunt! at nearly 1 am after a 16+ hour day! This is how people on sets get killed, kids) miraculously go off without a hitch, they called it at 1:15 Friday morning, and we still had to wrap several hundred feet of cable and pack our truck.

Due to all of us working like hell (and the DP and gaffer “dying small” which allowed us to start putting stuff away before they were done shooting), we shut the door of our truck at 2:30, and I got home at 3:00 Friday – 23 hours after I’d left to go to work the day before.

I didn’t even make it into the bedroom – I just collapsed on the couch wearing my dirty clothes and slept – albeit fitfully – until early afternoon.

I don’t remember much about the day yesterday, mainly because there was no coffee. That’s right – production decided that we could make do with the coffee from the catering truck (which was probably a few days old to begin with – I’m not sure how often they change the coffee tanks on those trucks), and when the caterer left, we were shit out of luck. Had I not snuck off to Coffee Bean for a latte at about 9 pm, I’d have never made it home.

UPDATE: I’m so tired I can’t sleep, and now, at about 8 pm, I’m hallucinating. I walked to a restaurant to have dinner (since when I’m this tired I’m not safe around anything in the kitchen), and on the walk home I kept seeing, out of the corner of my eye, a white dog following me. I kept spinning around whenever I thought I had seen it, only to see nothing there.

I hate it when this happens.

Filed under: Work

10 Responses

  1. Meg says:

    OMG. This sounds like the kinda shit HBO pulls. There, there, (soothing sounds, stroking your forehead) it will all fade like a bad dream, UNTIL THE NEXT FREEKIN TIME.

  2. wen says:

    Man. That is exactly the reason why I don’t do music video anymore. I’m glad you got home safe.

  3. Mike80 says:

    It drives me absolutely crazy that A.D.’s schedule stunts LAST at the end of what they already know is going to be a long day. I can’t tell you how many time I’ve bitched at A.D.’s for this over the years. And it has done zero good. Accidents are usually the result of that fine combination of fatigue and stupidity. All you kids out there remember: there’s no learning in showbiz.

  4. Dave2 says:

    On the up-side, L.A. traffic is almost bearable at 2:30am!


  5. EcamirG says:

    Christ almighty. Was John Landis directing?

  6. Paul says:

    Reminds me of the very first day I worked in this industry as a grip back in ’95. We actually hit third meal (walking, of course)! I thought to myself, “What have I gotten into?” I actually made it home an hour later than I left. I don’t remember the next two days (I was that exhausted). Thankfully, that day turned out to be more like a freshman weed-out class than the norm, but memories of driving home in a daze haunt me to this day.

    Thanks for the blog and keep it up.

  7. Anonymous says:

    ok…….I totally promise to NEVER:
    1. SCHEDULE 16 hour days.
    2. schedule a STUNT at the END of a 16 hour day (or any hour day, for that matter)
    3. ALWAYS have good coffee for everyone (even though I am allergic to coffee…I know, I’m a freak of nature)

    See! Peggy’s blog is also an educational experience for producer/AD types! *big grin*

  8. Dan says:

    Have you seen Haskell Wexler’s documentary “Who Needs Sleep” about this kind of shit? A buddy of mine fell asleep at the wheel while driving home after a 20 hour day. His car was a complete hunk of twisted metal after drifting into a wall on the Hollywoood freeway, but he was ok. He quit the show the next day.

  9. Hazel says:

    I know we’ll sooner see pigs fly, but these kinds of hours would stop (or not be as common) if the crew were being paid TRIPLE TIME after 12 or 14 hours of work.

    I know, the “good old days” are not to return.

  10. fingle says:

    My personal (stupid) record is 36 hours for a Rolling Stones show at Anaheim Stadium (of Anaheim) a few years back. It’s like doing some kind of fatigue test to see if anyone actually drops dead from being just plain tired. The normal hours for something like KIIS FM’s Wango Tango show, or KROQ’s Weenie Roast, run to between 18 and 32 hours, depending on whether or not you get the show call, too.

    After the Stones show I drove home so tired that I had to shout out the lyrics to songs on the radio just to stay awake from moment to moment, at ten o’clock in the morning. That was terribly stupid, but I couldn’t bear the thought of being on the property for even another second, and I was not exactly thinking at peak efficiency.

    I remember triple time! We used to call it “Golden Delicious” time in IATSE.

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