Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

¡Estupido Gigante!

Certain houses are so difficult to shoot in that location managers really shouldn’t even bother showing them to anyone.

Yes, it may seem worth it when they see the exquisitely crafted whatever and the stunning view of the ocean and all they’ve had to pull into the driveway was a van carrying the director and assorted scout personnel, but really – sometimes someone should step up and plead for some kind of sanity.

For those of you not familiar with the area, all of the hillside neighborhoods in Los Angeles have a few things in common: streets which are so narrow that two large cars can’t pass each other (actually, in some areas the streets are so narrow that two sub-compact cars can’t pass one another and if one meets another vehicle, one of the two has to back up until they can find a driveway to pull into and let the other car pass), residents who park on said narrow streets anyhow, hairpin turns, and blind driveways (which are also steep and sometimes have hairpin turns).

You get three guesses at our current location and the first two don’t count.

Yup, that’s right – a house that has a steep narrow driveway with hairpin turns, which sits on a steep narrow road with hairpin turns and unfortunately parked neighbors.

The house (which looks sort of like an Arabian-themed Vegas casino with especially, um, exuberant tile work), is so far into the depths of the canyon (ok, make that heights of the canyon) that we can’t get our trucks anywhere near the place. Hell, we probably coudn’t get our 48 foot trailer* to the place which we’re using as a base camp – which is why we have a 10 ton truck (which I imagine barely got in there). Base camp is about a mile away from the location, and we have to send all the gear up on stakebed trucks, which only make it up the driveway with a lot of shoehorning on the part of the driver.

Basically, this means that we’re wasting a huge part of the day shuttling gear – and it’s not just us. Grip have a stakebed and are sending gear up, set dressing have a stakebed and are sending gear up, and they all have to be co-ordinated because stakebeds definitely can’t pass each other on the narrow canyon roads without someone having to back up quite a ways.

So, this house is going to take twice as long to rig just because of the access issues, and it’s costing production an insane amount of money – and this is just the rigging crew. When first unit lands, it’s going to get ugly.

We have three ten ton trucks (us, grip, and set dressing) and three stakebed trucks and we’re tripping all over ourselves because there’s just no room up at the house. First unit have three (or four) 48 foot trailers, multiple Starwagons (portable dressing rooms for the actors), a potty trailer (called a honeywagon), a caterer (who has two trucks and needs a big enough space for the entire crew to sit down and eat lunch), a camera 10 ton, craft service (which I think is a five ton), passenger vans and a shitload of stakebeds because they’re sure as hell not going to get those 48 footers up there.

Part of me wants to be a fly on the wall, and the rest of me is glad that I’ll be far, far away.

You know, there are quite a few tacky houses in more accessible parts of the city. Why not pick one of them?

*48 foot trailers are not actually 48 feet long – since the measurement is just for the trailer and not for the big truck-thingy that pulls the trailer, they’re actually closer to 60 feet long.

Filed under: Work

6 Responses

  1. David H. says:

    Holy cow, that sucks! I know how that goes. On the last show I worked on, we DEFINITELY had a few of those locations. And not just private homes either.

  2. Charli says:

    That’s so freakin’ funny. I went for a walk yesterday through a very narrow street with a hairpin turn with cars parked on the street. I’m glad I was walking on the sidewalk (which had room for one thin person), but I was thinking why would anyone walk down this way. I sort of didn’t know where I was going, so I had a good excuse.

    This town is on a bluff and any moment we’re all going to fall into the ocean.

  3. Not4me says:

    It’s all about the view, darling….the view. If there were no windows in that place, they would’nt be there, believe me. Sad, but true.

  4. Peter says:

    What happens if there is a fire at one of these houses? Fire engines are pretty big.

  5. snarkolepsy says:

    Probably built by the same people building parking lots in my city. Um. Hey folks – 20 feet by 30 feet isn’t really a parking lot.

  6. boskolives says:

    Is there anyone willing to join me in starting a drive to require location managers and directors to carry a 50 pound shotbag in each hand, along with a 20 pound sandbag attached with a few feet of sash cord to their belt while going on a scout?

    It’s really a major pain in the ass for us to have to push the 80 pounds of sound cart up rocky hills and across 50 yards of mud (or worse) to get to a place that was “discovered” by a guy who only had to carry a notebook.

    On one video, the director (with his clipboard) ran to the top of a hill covered with trees to shoot a close up. When it was pointed out that the only thing in the background would be those trees, and essentially the same trees were all around us on the flat ground 20 feet off the road, he was certain that the only way he could capture his “vision” was to be closer to god. Several of us suggested ways he could get closer to god in a big hurry, but we ended up carting everything up the hill anyway.

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