Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Merrily we grind to a halt.

The reason to have a second unit on any shoot is either to enable the main shooting unit to work faster by not having to do small shots or to pick up stuff that either didn’t get shot due to time, wasn’t up to par for some reason, or got changed after the fact. Thus, second unit shoots are sort of a potpourri of random stuff, and today, we had two different directors as we were picking up scenes from two different episodes (television shows have a different director each episode).

Our first item up was a three-and-a-half page scene with four actors, and our first director bashed the thing out in five hours – that’s FAST. Normally, a scene that long would take most of a day (and the more actors the longer it takes because one needs to shoot the scene from a greater number of perspectives, called “coverage”. A scene with four actors will take longer than a scene with two actors, even if those actors are, say, standing around a table having a conversation), so of course we all got our hopes up that we’d continue at that pace and perhaps have, if not a short day, at least not a super long one.

Then, we switched directors.

The second director wasn’t nearly as quick as the first one – in fact, when the first unit guys came in (much later in the day) and found out who was directing the second half of our day, they just rolled their eyes and muttered something cryptic about it being a long one for us.

Apparently, this director is just – slow. Normally when things move very slowly, the reason is pretty obvious – complicated blocking (the actors movements around the set is the scene’s blocking), stunts, acts of various gods, whatever.

This director was just moving at the speed of molasses on a cold morning. Well, that, and doing a number of takes which would have horrified even David Fincher.

After the first guy who was so fast, that was just mean.

Really, though, it wasn’t that bad – I was on the dimmer board and since the board operator sits down all day I didn’t have to worry about my feet hurting, and this particular crew are a really great bunch of guys who are always fun to work with, so it was a good day.

Call time: 7 am

Wrap time: 9:30 pm

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

4 Responses

  1. Charli says:

    Faster is not always better, but then again, slower and slower still ain’t that great either. I walked the Pier the other day and saw the crew and cast for, “Moonlight” some new vampire show and what I saw? A whole lot of sitting, a whole lot of non-movement and where was the director? I think he was the one pointing and thinking. I didn’t get on film as I passed thru cause, well, nothing and nothing happened from the time I went to lunch on the pier and back again, still a whole lot of nothing. Did I mention it was hot?

  2. nezza says:

    I see your call and wrap times and feel bad for moaning about a 7 and a half hours working day…

  3. Meg says:

    “Hurry up and wait” is the film making mantra. No matter how fast you do your job, “they” want it done yesterday. So you scurry, dash, rush to get your part of the process done as quickly as possible. And then, you wait. As for the long hours, every job is a temporary one, and you have to make money while you can, for the down times, of which there are many. So if you consider that you get to work 13 1/2 hours one day, you may not work again for weeks. I know of one crew that is currently putting in EIGHTY HOUR weeks. They will burn out pretty quick.

  4. Dan says:

    I directed something about 2 months ago with a call time at 9 am. 4 pages of dialogue, 3 actors. I’ll never forget the joy on the crews faces when at 3pm I said, “OK, we got it. Let’s go home.” In this case, I have the actors to thank, as they were really on the ball. I’ll never understand, in a city choking with great actors, when I see a terrible performace or an actor that can’t be bothered to learn their lines. Don’t they ever look up and see 60 people really wanting to go home after 14 hours of grinding physical labor?

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