I had sort of been dreading today’s work – well, wait. Dread’s not really the right word. How about fear?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a group of guys that I really like and have a great time with whenever I work with them (the same crew from Homicidal Hamburglar), but this movie’s got a low budget and the best boy warned me ahead of time that we’d be undermanned (a gaffer, best boy, and three electricians. This is really bare-bones. Four electricians better, but five would be even more better. The reason for this is simple: Some of our lights take three people to lift onto the stand, so when all three of the juicers are out in the parking lot lifting an 18 k, every other department gets to stand around and watch the gaffer freak out because nothing else is getting done on set. This is So. Not. Good.).
Generally speaking, the lower the pay scale the faster and cheaper they try to shoot, and the harder the crew works. This combined with the fact that lower budgeted movies generally have smaller crews, and I was really afraid I was going to get my ass seriously kicked today.
Luckily, this turned out not to be the case. The gaffer was really understanding about our being spread really thin, and even though we really needed four or five people, he never once freaked out about lighting set-ups coming together slowly.
It’s a damn good thing he’s calm, too. When they scouted this location (a closed diner in Glendale that will soon be torn down and turned into lofts), no one seemed to notice that the majority of the interior walls are mirrored.
Mirrors are very, very bad. Normally, as long as the lights and stands are out of the camera’s direct line of sight, they won’t be seen. But with mirrored walls, there’s nowhere to hide. The camera sees around corners and behind walls. Since they were shooting action sequences, they had two cameras, so when the light was in a good place for one camera, the other one would see it.
All day, the conversation on the walkie went something like this:
Gaffer: “Okay, walk that lamp three feet left*. No. Wait. It’s in. Walk it back right. No. wait. It’s in. Dammit… Stand by.”
Me: “Standing by.”
Gaffer: “Goddammit – it’s in the mirror on “B” camera. Raise it up. No, lower it down. Okay, it’s good for “B” camera. Dammit. Now it’s in the mirror on “A” camera. Just.. wait a minute while I talk to the DP.”
Poor guy. I’m really surprised that his head didn’t explode before lunch.
I’m back on this same show tomorrow ( I keep wanting to call it Things With Wings, although that’s not the title).
*”Walk the lamp” means move the lighting unit to the indicated direction (left, right, forward, back) The phrase applies even when the lamp’s on a stand with wheels.