Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Well, that didn’t work out quite like I’d hoped.

In one of my weaker moments, I decided to try one of those health-food store deodorants that don’t have whatever it is in Secret (TM) that gives you the Alzheimer’s.

When I’m working, I have no choice but to use the heavy-duty stuff because it’s got to last about 14 hours (sometimes longer) and the one thing that’s really unforgivable in LA is to smell like you’re actually sweating (unless you’re famous. Famous people can smell like a landfill and no one seems to care).

But, since I’m not working and can deal with any funk by hopping in the shower, I decided to see if the Tom’s of Maine stuff worked.

It certainly did it’s job, but it also gave me chemical burns in my armpits.

Frankly, I’d rather have the toxic shit that doesn’t hurt quite so much. If you’ve never had chemical burns in your pits, I can assure you it’s extremely painful.

Great. It’s 100 degrees in LA and I can’t wear deodorant under my arms, and I can’t just hide in the living room all day because my worst nightmare (well not my worst but a nightmare nonetheless) happened and I brought home fleas from the Playa Vista location (it had to be me. The cat doesn’t go outside). So now, I have to brave the heat without deodorant to go get some Advantage for the cat and flea powder for the rugs.

At least I can still go to the gym. I’m pretty sure it’s okay to be stinky there, isn’t it?

Filed under: life in LA, Los Angeles, mishaps, Non-Work

The best laid plans…

I had last night all planned out – we were putting in a rig for a really low budget show that’s shooting nights (so we worked during the day in order to have everything ready for them when they got there), and since it’s really low budget, the equipment package was half of a shared 10 ton, so I figured that we only had a few hours of work (you can’t really fit that much stuff into half of a 10 ton truck), and since the stage was near Little Tokyo, I figured I’d be off work in time to be a sushi eating fool and still be able to make the gym afterwards.

Unfortunately, rigging Lacy Street Studios (a 120 year old factory that was converted to a film location) in 100 degree heat sapped me of energy, strength, my sense of humor and the will to live (running up and down sets of really steep stairs all day has also left me with minimal use of my incredibly stiff knees today).

I need to learn not to make plans for after work – ever.

We were almost done, so we turned on the power in order to make sure everything was working, and once the lines went ‘hot’ we discovered a really serious problem (Lacy Street has runs of cable that are permanently installed, but it gets patched and unpatched so often that it’s all fucked up. Most shows that shoot there use a generator because no one trusts the house power, but this show can’t afford a generator, so they’re on house power and of course it turned out to be fucked up and we had to fix it) and I ended up working until almost 10 pm.

Filed under: locations, Work

Why sure, I… wait, what?

Normally, I’m a big whore (stop snickering. I can hear you) and will take just about any job – with the rationalization that it’s all paying into my health insurance hours and pension fund, so it’s an investment even when the rate’s low, but today I got a call to do a show and when the best boy told me the rate, I thought he was joking:

Me: “Hahahaha! That’s funny. You should quit your day job and do stand up with jokes like that.”

Him: “I’m not kidding”

Me: [pause] “What have I ever done to you?”

Plus, the show is all night work.

Since I’m still a bit spotty (which is turning out to be big fun at the gym), I figure spending nights out getting my ass worked off* isn’t exactly what my poor immune system needs right now, so I struck a deal (since I don’t want to say “no” outright because if one says “no” too often, then best boys stop calling).

I’m working the load-in** tomorrow and a rig (at the worst stage in town – one that it’s rumored hasn’t been condemned only because of the owner’s political connections) on Monday, and some other poor sucker’s going to work the shooting days.

At least on the rig day, I won’t have to go to the gym, because I’ll get worked like a dog (yeah, it’s a shared truck, but we’re going to empty it, I’m sure).

*The lower the pay scale, the harder the crew get worked and the worse the working conditions will be.

**Load-in: when one loads all the equipment onto the truck at the start of a show. This one’s going to be a cluster fuck as grip and electric are sharing a truck (which we all hate because there’s no way not to get into the other department’s way).

Filed under: Work

Out, damned spot!

When I woke up this morning, I saw spots.

Itchy, red, funny-shaped spots all over me. Hives.

This means, of course, that I’m allergic to something. Given my current lifestyle changes, I’m guessing I’m allergic to sleep, daytime TV, exercise or newspaper ink*.

So of course, I went to the gym, since I figured being all red and blotchy would be a great deterrent to dudes trying to chat me up when all I’m trying to do is get through my workout, and on my way there, while walking past the Arclight movie theater, I saw this:

Silver Surfboard

Now, I was led to believe that the character in that movie was a dude on a surfboard who happened to be silver – not a silver surfboard with a disembodied foot attached. Or maybe he’s supposed to be invisible except for one foot – kind of like a pop culture Achilles.

Either way, I’m not likely to see the movie.

Speaking of photos, some of mine have been posted on websites who haven’t credited me for said photos, so here’s the skinny on using any of my photos that you see on Flickr – they’re posted under a Creative Commons license, so you’re free to download them, post them to your own blogs, or whatever. However – you may NOT do so for commercial purposes (you’ll have to cut me in if you’re going to make money off me), and if you post one on another site you must either give a photo credit or link back to the photo’s source (that would be the Flickr page).

It’s really not a lot to ask – if you want to post a photo but don’t want to link it, just fucking credit me.

Don’t make me show up on your doorstep with a bag full of dirty socks.

*I seem to occasionally break out in hives for no apparent reason. Normally, they go away in a day or so. If they don’t, I’ll call the doctor. Right now, I’ve rewashed the sheets in that perfume free detergent, vacuumed the house, bathed the cat (so now I have hives AND the shit scratched out of me), taken an over-the-counter antihistamine, and didn’t read the paper today – just in case. Did I miss anything good?

Filed under: Non-Work

I have nothing but time on my hands.

In a panic over not sleeping and worrying about how I was going to make it through the next work week, I went the doctor Saturday and got a prescription for a sleeping pill, and now it turns out that I don’t need it – I got laid off yesterday*.

The crew got cut and although I’ve been on this thing full-time for a few months, I’ve always technically been a day player so I’m first on the chopping block when the manpower gets cut.

I don’t mind, though. Although I’ll miss the people (a crew of folks that I really like and I always enjoy coming into work with), I’m just as happy to never, ever see that location again (newest hazard: fleas. They’ve awakened from their winter slumber and are desperate for a light snack. Since they can’t find animals, riggers will do. Someone jokingly made the suggestion that we should all wear flea collars, and I remember thinking it wasn’t a bad idea).

So although I’ll start making work calls tomorrow, there’s just about another month before TV starts back up, so I may be out of work until then.

For now, my mission is to work out like a fiend and drop the 6 lbs. I put on because of eating crap (damn those fatty snacks – why are they so tasty?) at work and not getting to the gym enough to counteract it.

*One of the first things one has to learn when working film production is not to take layoffs personally – it doesn’t mean they don’t like me, it just means the manpower got cut. When folks who are just starting off ask for a bit of advice, that’s what I tell them.

Filed under: Work

Guess who didn’t get searched today?

Yup, that’s right – me!

In fact the poor guy (same one as yesterday) actually stepped back as I drove by – just to make sure that I didn’t stop and open the back of my truck.


Oh, and they did have some stuff stolen – a wardrobe piece (our hero’s helmet for when he does whatever he does when he’s in superhero mode), and some computer stuff.

Although the first impulse of production is to start searching the crew, they’ve had so many “VIP” tours and contest winners through that stage that it’s like Grand Central Station some days.

Not to mention that the doors never seem to be locked. I’m not even sure they’d be capable of “hot locking*” that stage at all, so it’s anybody’s guess who took the stuff.

*”Hot Locking” happens on studio lots – it’s when a stage is Locked with a capital L – the doors are padlocked (hopefully after they’re certain everyone’s out) and Security won’t let you back in unless you’ve got the permission of about 8 different people. Even if your car keys are in there.

Filed under: Work

You want to see my what?

Studios haven’t really been zealously searching cars since 2001. Security got real tight for a while, and then everyone got tired or something and everything went back to almost normal.

So, leaving work today, I was surprised when the security guard (and I use that term loosely – the security team of this particular stage are all really nice guys but make me think of frat boys who pulled a number tab off a flyer at a beer bust) asked me to pop my back window so he could inspect my car.

“We’re now supposed to randomly search cars for contraband”, he said apologetically – forming air quotes around the word ‘contraband’ and looking sheepish.

I had no idea what he meant by air quote contraband un-air quote. An apple from craft service? The quarter I found on the floor? My boss’ pen that I forgot to give back? The producer wrapped in gaffers tape and crammed into a laundry bag (not that I could get much for him on the open market, mind you)?

When I think of ‘contraband’, I think of, say, a pound of blow hidden in my sandwich or a case of fruit that I smuggled in from another state (the fruit seems to be worse judging by the number of random fruit and vegetable checkpoints set up on the highways at the California borders).

We’ve really not been paying too much attention to the ‘security guards'(insert air quote), other than exchanging pleasantries at call time and averting our eyes as one of them – who wears thin shorts, sandals and no underwear (yeah, I noticed. You’d have to be blind or in a neck-brace not to notice) – jumps the cable crossovers on his bicycle as he rides around making sure we’re not.. well, I’m not exactly sure what he’s doing, but he is a very nice guy even if he really should wear closed-toed shoes on the stage (sandals aren’t really safe. Neither is going commando while wearing tight nylon shorts, but for very different reasons).

So when the kid at the gate asked to look in the hatch of my truck, I said “sure, go ahead”, as three cars of my co-workers piled up behind me, yelling out their car windows to heckle me and Detective Frat Boy as he made what was probably the worst mistake of his day.

I wear my flip flops to work in the morning, and change into my work shoes when I get to work – that way, I give my feet some badly needed last-minute breathing room. When I get off work, I take off my shoes and put my flip-flops back on to drive home, so I end up just leaving all my dirty socks in the back of the car and then scooping them straight into the laundry bag at the end of the week (I know it’s icky, but if I bring the dirty socks into the house, the cat finds them and rolls around on them and then she smells like feet and then, of course, wants to crawl in the bed with me at night and sleep on my face. I can’t seem to stop her from doing it and in the end it’s just easier to leave the socks in the car).

So, when he stuck his head into the back hatch of my truck, he stuck it right into a pile of dirty, smelly socks with a used work-boot topping. Poor guy.

He jerked his head back so quickly that he almost gave himself whiplash, closed the back door really quickly, said “Thanks!” in a strained voice and blinked rapidly as he waved the next few cars of my co-workers through.

Although I know I’m going to get razzed about this tomorrow, I bet I don’t get searched again.

Filed under: toxic waste, Work

A little sugar cures just about anything

So I didn’t get right back on the day schedule like I’d hoped and was fuzzy and sleepy today (and now, at 9:30 pm, I’m wide awake. Dammit).

Added to that, I got the mid-afternoon blood sugar drop (around 4 pm), which for some reason never happens to me when I work nights – I never get a post lunch blood sugar plummet at 3 am and need a cookie.

Over the years, I have done the following things when my blood sugar has gotten low:

  • Attempted to walk through a closed sliding glass door (in my defense, it was a really clean sliding glass door) in front of the entire shooting crew. This resulted in the unfortunate nickname of “Birdie”, which followed me for… three movies, I think.
  • Stabbed myself in the knuckle while cutting gels – the statement that getting cut with a really sharp knife doesn’t hurt is only partly true – even a sharp knife will hurt like hell once it hits a bone. On the bright side, that one did wake me up pretty quick.
  • Ran up behind a complete stranger and pinched him on the ass because, from the back, I thought he looked like the guy I was dating at the time (he didn’t – I just had a dangerously low cookie level). That one didn’t wake me up so much as it made me want to sink into the hole that I desperately wished would open up in the sidewalk, but, of course, did not.

So today, in the middle of our moving all of our staged equipment to the other side of the stage (first unit need to put their carts where we had our stuff, so our stuff has to move – it’s actually closer to the next set we have to rig, so it works out for the best) just when I was feeling really draggy and non-focusy and had repeatedly walked past a stack of an item I’d been desperately looking for and hadn’t noticed, the craft service assistant wandered by with a tray of cookies in each hand – and judging by the way just about everyone around descended on her like a plague of locusts, I guess I wasn’t the only one who needed some sugar.
Two cookies later and I was all bounce – plus, I finally saw that pile of cable jumpers* I’d been looking for.

*jumpers are short lengths of cable – usually 6 or 10 feet – that are used to “jump” between two items that are very close together, say, like a spider box and a power distribution box or three.

Filed under: Work

Yay! Back to days!

Friday was the end of the night work – next week, we’re back on days and we (and I think I can safely speak for the entire crew here) couldn’t be happier.

This weekend’s project is to transition from a night schedule back to my typical early-bird one – which isn’t nearly as difficult as going the other way. Over years of doing this, I’ve developed a method. All I do is stay up for the entire day after I’ve worked a night (that would be today), go to bed really early, and then get up the next morning, back in the land of the sunlight.

I got home from work this morning, took the car into the mechanic’s for an oil change and a tune-up, cleaned up the house a bit (it’s hit ‘filth threshold’ and I can’t stand it anymore), and now the plan is to try to stay awake until about 7 or (hopefully 8) pm. It’s 5 now, so I may clean some more or go to the gym.

A movie’s out as sitting still in a dark room for 2 hours is probably not going to help me stay awake – unless I see something that’s going to scare the shit out of me, but then I won’t be able to sleep tonight (and don’t tell me to go see Hostel 2. That whole misogyny/porn/gore combo doesn’t so much scare me as make me want to hunt down Eli Roth and beat him upside the head until I’ve bent the shaft on every single golf club I own).

After sleeping all night tonight, I’ll bounce out of bed in the morning and will magically be back on a day schedule – okay, I’ll still be tired tomorrow, but it’s Sunday so all I’ll have to do is laundry and maybe some light gardening.

Hopefully, I’ll wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed (as much as one can be at 4:30 am) Monday morning.

Filed under: crack of dawn, up all night, Work

Breaking news – I manage to sleep!

Although I’m not entirely sold on the concept of divine intervention, miraculously I managed to get 7 hours of sleep today.

While I’m still going to feel like crap when 4 am rolls around, I don’t feel bad at the moment – in fact, I almost feel human (the black circles under my eyes have been upgraded to a tasteful shade of grey).


Filed under: Work

June 2007

Flickr Photos



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"If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." -Anne Lamott

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