Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

I just knew this was going to happen.

This is what I foresee happening for the next four (or so) weeks:

I call the physical therapist and arrange to come in on, say, Wednesday and Friday.

(Phone rings) “Hello?”

Best boy: “Can you work Wednesday and Friday?”

Me: “Sure!”

I then reschedule my physical therapy for Tuesday and Thursday.

(Phone rings) “Hello?”

Best Boy: “Okay, you’re not working Wednesday and Friday now. They changed the shots. You’re now working Tuesday and Thursday.”

Me (under breath): “Dammit.”

It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

My first physical therapy appointment is Wednesday, so I took what I thought was a one day call today (Tuesday). Right after lunch, they asked me to work the rest of the week – I hemmed and hawed about the appointment (after having to tell them that I can’t work Friday because I’ve already been booked that day on a commercial) and was told that it was okay – they’ll just let me take a ‘long lunch’ and then I’ll be the person who stays after everyone else goes home to help the lamp dock guys count in the gear.

Now, it’s really bad form to decline work after concessions have been made for things like physical therapy appointments, so although I hadn’t wanted to work Wednesday (not because I don’t want to work; because I don’t want to show up for my first appointment all filthy, bedraggled, and smelly – which is an apt description of me after I’ve been wrapping cable in the perms all day), I kind of got backed into a corner since I like these guys and would love to not piss them off so much that they never call me again.

Hopefully the physical therapist will understand.

Today was the work test-drive for the world’s biggest knee brace, and it went pretty well. My problem sometimes with doctors is that I’m fairly certain they have no fucking idea what my workday’s really like, so when they say “sure, you can work”, they don’t realize that when at work, I’ll be picking up heavy things and twisting my body while holding them (throwing cable into carts: pick up cable, swing cable over to cart by pivoting at – you guessed it- the knee, drop cable coil into cart), climbing ladders (go up into the perms. Okay, it’s coffee. Come down out of the perms. Okay, break’s over. Go back up into the perms. Repeat at lunchtime, or when supervisor decides to rotate crew out of ‘up high’ to give them a break).

So far, the knee’s been fine, but we’re only in phase one – the ‘clearing the floor’ phase. When wrapping a stage, one wraps all the stuff that’s sitting on the floor first – normally it’s lamps (the most expensive item and the thing that production wants us to get off rental as soon as possible), then distro, and then cable. Only after the floor has been cleared of equipment does the stuff that’s up in the perms gets dropped out -the reason for this is that dropping equipment on top of equipment creates one hell of a mess.

We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

Filed under: Work, , , , ,

4 Responses

  1. Charli says:

    Hey, show us a picture of the ‘world’s biggest knee brace.’

  2. Newsguy says:

    I can sympathize with your pains and aches, kind of secondhand. My wife was a scenic artist for years, the old local 816, which has now merged with the Art Directors. Those guys breathe all the crap they use to paint with, and lift heavy buckets and go up on the lifts and all that stuff you write about. And she still feels a lot of it in her bones and muscles, plus it seems that scenic artists are especially vulnerable to cancer. Seems to me the showbiz workplace is an especially dangerous place for the grunts, and there’s not nearly enough attention paid to it by OSHA. I don’t know what kind of medical benefits your union provides, but I bet it’s not enough. I was lucky. I was on the other side of the camera as a newsguy and never ran into the hazards you face. And my AFTRA health and retirement benefits are pretty good.

  3. emily says:

    Don’t worry about “filthy, bedraggled and smelly.” There’s a good chance you’d be all those things after the appointment anyway. Well, maybe not filthy, but bedraggled and really sweaty is a good bet.

  4. dougR says:

    Hey! Bright idea here! Call the phys therapist & find out if they have a shower! (I know it’s a long shot, but a phys therapist I went to–for knee issues, like you–had one.)

    PS, I feel your pain–I do occasional background work & after oh, say, three hours of continually standing in one spot, my knees and lower back are screamin’ (and that’s not even hauling equipment around).

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