Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Goodbye, sun – we’re working nights.

There are two schools of thought about transitioning from day work (Yesterday’s call time: 6 am. Today’s call time: 8pm. The shooting crew’s back on stage and if we’re there at the same time they are we just don’t get enough work done because we can’t really work quietly) to night work – some folks go home and go to bed right away, sleep for a few hours and then take a nap in the afternoon, other folks try to stay awake all night and go to sleep the next morning.

Neither of these methods really work for me.

If I go home and go to bed right away, I sleep for a few hours and then can’t sleep for that nap the next afternoon – and if I stay up all night and try to get all my sleep the next day, someone invariably starts making some type of godawful noise right outside my window and I lie there, wide awake, thinking about killing them and while that may be amusing, it’s certainly not restful.

So this time, I decided to split the difference. I went home, stayed up until about 3 am, and managed to sleep until just before 8. Then, I got up, played with the cat for a while, then went back to bed an managed to sleep fitfully until about 2 pm.

I guess I’ll see how well it works later tonight.

You know the absolute worst thing about working 8pm – 8am? I’m completely fucked for the gym before and after work – and swimming is the one thing that stops my feet from hurting after 12 hours of walking on concrete floors (okay, the getting stuck in rush hour traffic both ways sucks pretty hard, too).

Ugh. There’s a wild rumor going around that if the construction site right next to the stage is too noisy, then the shooting units will have to go to nights and we’ll go back to days.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Filed under: Work

The strangest thing I saw this weekend

Despite this weekend being the LA showing of the annual Found Footage Festival (featuring some truly odd video clips), the weirdest thing I saw all weekend was this:


For once, I’m at a complete loss for words, and I’m too afraid to call the number because instead of some cranky hung over person who may or may not be walking funny it might turn out to be some lame promo thing for either Pink Taco or whoever makes those rubber fists.

Either way, I’m scared.

And how was your weekend?

Filed under: Non-Work, Photos

My sincerest apologies for sucking lately.

This having to get up at 4:30 every morning is making the blog suffer, I know.

Despite the change in allergy medicine, I’m still not sleeping well, so I’m in this tired haze after about 4 pm – which is when the coffee wears off and I’m afraid to drink more for fear that I won’t be able to sleep so by the time I get home, my brain has completely shut off.

You’re just going to have to bear with me – I promise that before you know it, I’ll be able to use the computer for something more productive than staring, slack-jawed and uncomprehending, at the Cheezburger site.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Finally, some relief!

Over the past year or so, I’ve tried just about every allergy medication on the market – they either don’t work well, don’t work at all, or they work but the side effects are completely unbearable.

Lately, I’ve been using Claritin D, which works great against the snot, but somehow manages to give me insomnia and allergy-pill head at the same time. Allergy-pill head is never good at work because of the delayed reaction time it causes (“Lookout!” “[pause] What?” -crash- “[pause] Ouch”) so I tried Mucinex, which gave me the worst cotton-mouth ever, although it did dry up my head.

Our current location apparently has some sort of super extra dusty dust filled with a side order of some type of toxic shit that makes everyone’s allergies act up (plus, today’s blue plate special – fiberglass catalyst fumes because someone in construction forgot that you’re not really supposed to use that shit indoors) so while part of me is thinking that this whole situation isn’t really a fair test, the larger part of me just wants the allergies to go away and doesn’t much care how that gets accomplished (Does nuclear waste clear up your sinuses? ‘Cause if it does, I’ll gladly drink some).

In a desperate moment over the weekend, I decided to try the kiddie version of Claritin (thinking that a lower dose of whatever’s in there might work without the sleepless nights and temporary – I hope – loss of valuable IO points), and much to my surprise, it worked!

Although it doesn’t last quite 24 hours, it’s chewable, tastes vaguely of purple, clears up my head and doesn’t seem to cause allergy-pill head (so far).

Also, I’m able to sleep at night, which is definitely a plus.

Filed under: Work

Even bigger bird problems

The stage that we’re shooting in is infested with mockingbirds. They’re nesting in the big steel beams that support the building’s roof, and there are at least 4 of them directly over the sets.

For those of you who live in an area that doesn’t have mockingbirds, they’re small brownish birds who sing when it’s dark. Loudly. Mockingbirds especially like singing loudly when it’s dark and there are humans nearby who desperately wish they’d shut. the. fuck. up.

The stage’s resident mockingbirds are normally pretty quiet on days when it’s just the riggers and construction – the house lights are on, and there’s a lot of construction and rigging-related noise which seems to make the birds think laying low is a good idea.

But when the shooting crews come in, they shut off the house lights to make it nice and dark, and when they’re ready to roll sound they stop us from working so it gets dark and quiet and then it’s mockingbird party time.

I don’t understand how a two ounce bird can make a noise that loud (and it’s one particularly vocal bird who’s the main source of noise) – it reverberates throughout the stage, and only stops when they call cut and the ambient noise of 100 people frantically trying to fit a day’s work in between sound takes starts again.

They’ve given up trying to quiet the birds so they just roll anyways – which means they’re going to have to ADR just about everything shot in the stage.

That’s certainly going to add a chunk to the cost of this movie.

Filed under: Work

A very tight fit.

We’re getting ready to start rigging another huge set (the only kind of set on this movie, it seems), so today was unloading, sorting and counting equipment that the rental house was delivering to the stage – much of it was the same stuff that we sorted, counted and loaded in Long Beach over the previous three days (except for the stuff that got stolen*, but that’s a story on it’s own).

Since damn near every square foot of the stages are now packed with sets and floor space is at a premium, we had to find the construction guys and beg them to make some room for us (since they were set up in one of the only remaining open areas that’s anywhere near this next set) to lay out the cable we’ll be using next to the set we’re going to rig starting tomorrow.

Since we didn’t have very much space, of course we offloaded three (or four, I can’t remember) trucks full of cable and distro and packed our little area to the max, much to the dismay of the construction guys who are trying to work in a now very cramped space.

I find it funny as hell that we’re shooting in the largest free-standing wooden structure in the world, and yet we’re scrambling for 100 square feet to lay out cable.

*Cable thefts are a lamentably common occurrence on urban location shoots – especially when the price of copper’s up. Guards aren’t usually stationed near the cable runs (they’re stationed near the “big-ticket” items like the trucks), so it’s a bit of an easy target, even if it is heavy.

Filed under: Work

Meanwhile, back at the stage…

Today we continued to collect and count equipment, the birds continued to sit in the tree, squawk all day and smell bad and everything was calm.

Until – we found out that we’ll have to re-rig a set (which we wrapped on the assurance that production were certain they were done in there and wouldn’t be back) and a location (which we wrapped on the assurance that production were certain they were done there and wouldn’t be back), that they now want to shoot in again, and since it’s all very last minute, it’s now a HUGE scramble for everyone. We had a quiet day today, but only a few of us are back in Long Beach tomorrow – most of us will be in the middle of one or the other of those sets and the associated shitstorms.

Although it’s bad for us, it’s MUCH worse for people like set dressing and props – it doesn’t matter if we get the exact same equipment back for the second rig. The lights just have to come on.

Once something’s (furniture, clothing, hair, magazines on that table in the background) been established in a scene, all subsequent shots of it must be an exact match (unless there’s some explanation in the movie of why it doesn’t), so the set dressing, wardrobe and props folks have to get the same stuff back for any re-shoots. Normally, if they think something’s going to be on camera again, they’ll hang onto it just to be safe, because if they do return it and it goes out on another show, that other show’s not going to give back stuff that they’ve established in their shot just because someone on some other show fucked up.

Would you?

I guess it’s just lucky that the construction guys didn’t have time to tear that set down.

Filed under: Work

A traffic snarl and a big smelly tree

There’s something kind of post-apocalyptic about standing in a traffic lane on an empty Los Angeles freeway at 7 am.

Empty freeway

The problem with a movie shooting a scene that takes place on a freeway is that the freeways are never naturally empty – LA has traffic slow-downs in the middle of the night, so when someone wants to shoot, they have to close the freeway down for a couple of days.

Today, we wrapped a location that did a big stunt on a freeway in Long Beach, which meant the roadway had to be closed for quite some time – while they were rigging, shooting and until we wrapped all our stuff off of it – thus snarling traffic and making the locals wish we were all dead, so our first mission of the day was to get our stuff off the roadway as quickly as possible.

All of us went down to wrap, but after the first truck-load came up from the roadway to the staging area, two of us stayed there with our boss to sort the equipment as it came up. The equipment has to be staged in such a way as to make it easy to find things and count everything, which means it’s got to be separated by type and subrental (when you rent stuff from a rental house, and they don’t have it on hand, they get it from another rental house and it’s called a sub-rental).

Since we have three days to wrap this location, all we did yesterday was stage equipment. There’s still a lot of stuff to wrap, so although we’ll do some returns tomorrow (we have to – there’s too much equipment to be able to pile it all the staging area at one time and have any room for other departments to work) we’ll spend most of the next two days doing exactly the same thing – sorting equipment, staging it, and then counting and loading it when the rental house guys get there to check it back in).

Our parking lot staging area was very close to a really big tree that happened to be full of nesting egrets (snowy egrets and some brown ones), which was nice because they’re really pretty birds, but bad because under the heading of “things I’ve learned today”, I’d have to add that a big tree full of egrets smells really bad. Kind of like an uncleaned birdcage, which I guess in a way it was.

Plus, they never stop making a noise that sounds a lot like a chicken being stepped on.

I’m going to try to get a shot of one tomorrow – an egret, not a chicken being stepped on.

Filed under: Photos, Work

And so my ‘vacation’ comes to an end.

During my week off, I accomplished absolutely nothing – I didn’t clean the house, I didn’t get the car serviced, I didn’t go through the pile of mail, I didn’t take the cat to the vet, and I didn’t do laundry until today.

I’m back to work on Monday, when I’ll have a legit excuse to not get anything done around here.

Just for the hell of it, here’s a photo:

Camo netting

Sometimes, if the camera sees a bit of the side of the truck or the base of a condor, instead of moving it (which sometimes isn’t possible), the grips will drape camo netting over it so it looks like background greenery.

Sometimes, in the theater, if you look really hard at the background, you can spot the camo netting because it’s never exactly the same color as the surrounding foliage, but if the audience is concentrating on an out-of-focus background, I’m guessing the movie’s got bigger problems than a truck in the frame, now doesn’t it?

Filed under: Uncategorized

A horticultural whodunit.

So, after freaking out all night (and keeping me awake because, hey, who wants to freak out alone?) my ex finally was allowed to go back home the next morning – his house is fine, although I’m still finding potato chip crumbs and candy wrappers in the couch cushions (he’s got emotional eating issues, but that’s it’s own post).

But lately, something’s been happening which makes even a giant wildfire a couple of miles away seem trifling.

My neighborhood has a serial killer.

Last week, as I came home from work, I found the first victim dismembered and spread all over the sidewalk in front of the house:

Jade plant murder!

Just gruesome.

My first thought was that someone had gotten into the neighbor’s yard waste recycle bin and decided to spread the contents around in some sort of mildly satanic ritual.

I also thought maybe they were kids. Or drunk. Or both.

Then, I saw from whence the mess had come:

Jade plant murder!

It took me a minute to realize that the butchered jade plant remains strewn about the sidewalk were, in fact, quite recently attached to the jade plant in front of my pad.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of jade plants, but I don’t inherently object to them (unlike those things in the neighbor’s yard that drip fucking sap everywhere and have flowers that look like a baboon’s ass). They’re drought-resistant, they don’t drop leaves, draw bees or stink like hell, and this one has been peacefully existing next to the front porch for a number of years and has done fine despite indifferent care on my part (and any plant that can survive in LA without being soaked with the hose every few days gets brownie points in my book – unlike those divas who call themselves tomato plants).

I’m thoroughly baffled as to why someone would chop up a jade plant, and this just got more confusing this morning when two more jade plants across the street got chopped up and spread around the sidewalk.

It’s a massacre, I tell you.

Nobody around here has gardeners (so the disgruntled independent contractor theory won’t work), so I’m guessing it’s somebody who really hates jade plants.

Or drunks. Or kids. Or drunk wannabe satanists who can’t find a goat so they used jade plant.

Or something.

I have too much time on my hands.

Filed under: Non-Work, Photos

May 2007

Flickr Photos



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