Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Just don’t call it a boat

Since the bulk of my nautical experience has been throwing up over the side of the Channel ferry and watching movies where a shitload of people drown, I learned a lot yesterday. Mostly, I learned what not to call things on a boat – whoops, I mean ship.

We were putting a rig in on a WW2 era merchant ship called the SS Lane Victory in San Pedro, and right off the bat I committed a gaffe by calling it a boat – and then proceeded to make an even bigger ass of myself by not being able to remember which side was port and which was starboard (don’t even get me started on forward and aft – I’m still a little shaky on which way the boat was facing. At least twice yesterday, I was unable to figure out where my boat lingo talking boss was and had to walk around in circles on the deck until I could see him. Luckily, my boss yesterday is a really terrific guy and tried his best to help me get the nautical terms through my thick skull so the next time I’m on the ship there will be less snickering).

The ship’s staff- who we’d nicknamed “The Old Salts” (who were actually not very salty at all. They were a terrific bunch of guys who were really interesting and I’m bummed that I didn’t have enough free time to talk to them. Guess I’ll have to go back on my own time) were there to help us (and were very kind about not making fun of our comparatively rudimentary knot-tying skills) and quickly winched all our cable and lights onto the ship using the 60+ year old equipment. There was no fumbling, no shouting, no confusion – they just whipped that stuff up onto the ship’s deck quicker than we could bring it to them – guess they’ve had a lot of practice.

Luckily, I remembered my knee brace, as there was really no direct route to any where on the ship, and there was a lot of ladder climbing (and stairways that may as well have been ladders and a really steep gangplank that may as well have been a ladder) all day. By the end of the day, both my legs were aching like I’d just had a strenuous workout at the gym.

The day’s big stroke of luck was my not having to climb the masts to put lights up at the top – my boss did it. Good thing too – although I’m not really afraid of heights, I do draw the line at climbing a 60+ year old metal ladder up the side of a mast on a floating ship. Of course, one of the Old Salts does it every day barefoot while smoking a cigarette (and he’s almost twice my age and in better shape than I’ll ever be in even if I were to take a year off work and do nothing but work out all day every day).

The first part of the day was really hot, but towards the end of the day it cooled off and there was a really beautiful sunset and a wonderful breeze.

The day’s really big news came from one of the Old Salts – apparently, the US Coast Guard thinks film crews are security risk and has advised the folks running the Lane Victory (and other similar locations) to no longer allow film shoots (obviously, because we’re dirty America-haters and can’t be trusted on locations. Either that or it’s because we don’t pick up after ourselves).

Really, now – terrorist plotting after work is way too much effort. When I got home last night I couldn’t even muster up the energy to make a sandwich.

At the end of the day, the best boy asked me to come back with the shooting unit that’s working today, but I’d already been booked on another show (which is good, but I hate saying no because I’m always afraid they’ll give up on me and not call me again) for tonight.

I left my house at 7:30 am, and just barely made my 9 am call, right under the Vincent Thomas Bridge.

We were released at 9:40 pm, and I got home at 10:15 pm.

My job tonight will give me three work days out of a four day week.

Not bad.

Filed under: locations, long long drives, Work, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    I would imagine that the “security risk” stems from film crews’ penchant for leaving half-consumed beverages lying around in spillable containers on any available surface. Dump that crap into 60 year old electric gear, and you’ve probably got a real headache on your hands.

    As an on-set dresser, I’ll yell at producers, agency clowns, and talent to keep that stuff off my set. I don’t care. None of them are responsible for hiring me, and if our dressing gets screwed, my boss comes after me.

    Looking for that coffee you left on set? Try the trash can: that’s where I threw it.

  2. Charli says:

    Boat? You called a ship a BOAT? Un-be-liev-a-ble. Well, I understand. I learned to sail in Santa Cruz, got on a 32 ft. Catalina (sweeeeeeet) and also got out on a 36 ft. Catalina with the sweetest decor inside: white leather sofa, stereo/flat tv screen/2 bed/1bath… I could have lived there and been just fine. Hubby couldn’t handle being out in water on a fishing boat, his legs went all rubbery, but me, I’m more than fine.

    It’s like surfing but with a huge board.

  3. Peter says:

    At least you didn’t ask any of the Old Salts for the location of the “bathroom” or “restroom.” That would have been the ultimate in humiliation (“Er, you mean the head, sweetie”)

  4. PDQ says:

    re: Port vs. Starboard –

    I always remember “PS” – like what you right at the bottom of a letter or as in Palm Springs if you prefer. I envision myself standing on the ship looking forward (towards the bow) – P is the first (left) letter, so Port is on the left and S is the second (right) letter, so Starboard is on the right.

    It’s rudimentary, but it’s worked for me since I was a kid taking sailing lessons. Now it’s pretty much automatic unless I haven’t been on a runabout / boat / ship / yacht / sloop / ketch / catamaran in a while. Then I use my old trick again!

  5. Proto says:

    Captain once told me, port has four letters in it, so does left. So that should make it easy, unless you spell right ‘rite’. Starboard I go.

  6. nezza says:

    Port Out Starboard Home. I was told that was the deriviation of the word POSH, relating to the location of the ‘upper class cabins’ on ‘empire’ related voyages between the UK and India in the days of youre. They were on the Port side on the outward journey, and the Starboard side on the way back so as to keep in the shade.

    Sadly I think it’s one of those annoying urban myths. Shame really. I quite liked that one.

  7. Gag Halfrunt says:

    Ships don’t have staffs, they have crews, just like movies.

  8. Derek says:

    Just chiming in on the old Port Starboard thing. I would live by the 4 letter left and Port. However the light colors threw me until I started drinking. The Port light is red like the wine Port and the Starboard green relating to nothing but it is not red. I spent a night in that crows nest on a music video being buzzed by a helicopter operating a a Baby Tenner.

    Aloha Peg

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