Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Early arrival has some perks

When one works at this particular lot, one has to consider the garage factor into the arrival time.

This lot’s parking garage simply isn’t large enough for all the cars that need to park in it, so late arrivals have to use the valet service. While this may seem cushy, in reality it’s a huge pain in the ass. Since shooting companies work far later than do the valets, the solution is for the valet to park the car in a space that opens up after the garage empties out, and then take the keys to the front gate (on the other side of the lot from the garage) after the garage closes. If one is working on a stage that’s near the parking structure, this means that after wrap one has to traipse all the way across the lot to get the car keys, and then all the way back across the lot (while carrying all of ones work gear) to get back to the car.

Call me a whiner if you like, but after a 14 hour day that double walk across the lot seems more like a 400 mile hike while lugging a boulder.

So, for an 8 am call I got to the parking garage at 7:15 am, and that was almost too late – all the ‘good’ spots were gone, but at least I didn’t have to cruise the garage with my fingers crossed hoping against hope to find a spot that everyone else had overlooked, plus I had time to finish my coffee and stroll over to the stage and raid first unit’s craft service (since they were in an hour earlier than us and the main unit generally gets better stuff than the second unit).

While I was driving to work, I kept having this nagging feeling that I was forgetting something, and I kept going over my work gear checklist in my mind: change of shoes, change of socks, hat, tools, sunglasses, phone, etc..

I couldn’t figure it out until, of course, I’d gotten far enough away that I wouldn’t have been able to turn around and go back and then I remembered. My knee brace. I left it sitting on the bench next to the front door where I’d placed it so I wouldn’t forget it.

D’oh.

So it was really a good thing that I got put on the dimmer board (since the guy who was supposed to be running the board called in sick). I got to stay off my feet (the dimmer board is almost never on set – it’s usually in a small room somewhere, and the operator gets to sit down, although one generally can’t walk away from the board because as soon as the operator steps away, the gaffer will start adjusting light levels) and I didn’t have to do anything more complicated than bring up the lights the gaffer wanted (one can do incredibly complicated things with dimmer boards – but I’m a bit out of practice on this particular model, so requests for something complicated would have sent me frantically paging through the manual while trying to stall the gaffer) and only had to call the first unit dimmer board op a few times with questions. The rig in that stage hasn’t changed in so long that he doesn’t leave notes out because he’s got it all in his head, so every now and then I’d not know something and then have to call, but luckily our gaffer and the DP were calm and no one flipped out.

Plus, I managed to get out of the studio store without shopping myself broke.

Filed under: studio lots, Work, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

11 Responses

  1. nezza says:

    Do you have a spare car key you could keep on you? That sort of thing sounds a right pain when all you want to do is just get home.

  2. Meg says:

    Circling, circling, circling the Fox lot….aaaaahhhh. My husband gets there so early that he brings a pillow and naps in the car until calltime. That way you -MAY- get lucky and find a space. The valet system SUCKS.

  3. Dan says:

    I have to know: what could be difficult on a dimmer board that one would even need a manual for? I haven’t used one for 26 years (for stage)…Have they become that complicated?

  4. rickfle says:

    Carry two keys. Stash your gear in the car first, then hike over to valet and get your key. It’s the only way; this parking situation is not ever going to improve, and below-the-line staff and crew will always get the worst parking anyway. Ever park across the street from Paramount in the satellite lots? That’s a handy walk in the rain after a late wrap, especially carrying a couple thousand dollars worth of gear.

  5. boskolives says:

    Living in the valley means that for an 8am call at Fox or Sony, I leave the house no later than 6am so I can have an easy 20 minute drive. I stop at any restaurant (McD’s sometime) somewhere near the studio and have a light breakfast, do the crossword, and then make an easy drive to the lot. If I leave a half hour later, it’s then a 1 hour drive if I’m lucky, more on an average day. As for the lots near Paramount, that has to be the scariest walk at night carrying any sort of gear or not.
    Be well, knees and all.
    Jerry
    http://boskolives.wordpress.com/

  6. Proto says:

    Glad you didn’t need the brace that day.

  7. Molly Mayhem says:

    Dan- A simple answer-yes.

    At my job, the board controls 1000+ dimmers, 50ish moving lights, dozens of scrollers, dousers, HMI ballasts, fog/steam/etc effects, some of the followspots, strobe effects, and probably more I can’t recall right now. I work in a theater. Having never worked in film, I honestly can’t say what their setup is like, but light board technology has made great strides forward in the last 26 years.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DMX_(lighting) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lighting_control_console for more info.

  8. Charli says:

    I had no idea parking was that bad. So which is the best lot to work at with good parking?

  9. Scripty says:

    It’s true, first unit does get better craft service…but 2nd unit has more fun!

  10. Meg says:

    For Charli-
    My husband says Burbank. Easy in, easy out. (As long as you have a parking pass.)

  11. Dan says:

    Molly, YIKES! Things really have changed since 1979! Thanks a bunch.

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