Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.


After a weekend of unseasonal heat here in Southern California, I was glad to hear that today’s call would be on a stage that’s normally air-conditioned to the point that one needs a sweater.

Except today. Today, the air conditioner just couldn’t keep up and it was even hot inside the stage.

Not as hot as it was outside, mind you, but still hot enough that I started to get worried about the combination of sweat and my thin cotton T-shirt, especially when I had to go up to the perms (heat rises, so the walkways above the set are like a dusty sauna) searching for a burning something. I use the term ‘something’ because when there’s a burning smell, it’s either a Bates connector or something else. Many Bates connectors are still made of Bakelite (although some are made of a hard plastic which smells a lot like Bakelite when it burns), which can only withstand so much heat before it starts to scorch and makes a very distinctive smell.

Coming down from the perms, in a moment of heat-related insanity, I agreed to go work for a friend of mine who’s rigging on one of the city’s hotter backlots.

And, of course, the crew screening for the movie I did last year is tomorrow night, and I can’t go. When I sent the RSVP I knew I’d probably have to work. Why do they have these screenings on weeknights, anyways?

Hopefully the weather bots are right and it’ll be a bit cooler tomorrow.

I’m off to bed.

Filed under: Work, , ,

I really want to, but I can’t.

A sure-fire way to be certain a best boy never calls you back again is to refuse to do something, even if there’s a really good reason.

Yesterday, I was asked to go up in the condor and I had to do exactly that – over the walkie, no less.

“Um.. I’ve got a.. health situation right now that’s going to prevent me from doing that”.

One of the guys standing next to me immediately started teasing me: “What.. you got yer peeeeriod?”

Why yes, actually. That was, in fact, why I couldn’t get in a condor,  raise the basket to eye level of upper floor apartment dwelling yokels and then sit there for 10 hours. Thanks for asking.

Of course, I couldn’t actually say that, so I made some crack about not being able to get off the shitter because I’d eaten his mamma’s cooking the night before, but this was ill-timed.

Hopefully, it won’t be held against me and this particular best boy will call me back again.

Oh, well. It was probably better for me to refuse to go up than to go up and then have to come back down a few hours later.

In the ‘damn, I’m glad I wasn’t on that show’ department, one of our drivers told me another show that’s shooting a few blocks away had almost a quarter of a million dollars in cable stolen.

Since the copper market (cable is, of course, copper with a rubber coating) has skyrocketed and the scrap metal buyers downtown don’t ask any questions, unguarded cable lying around pretty much has a ‘free money’ sign on it.

Bet that security guard’s salary isn’t looking so expensive now, huh?

Filed under: locations, Work, , , ,

Earth Day conservation! One post, two blogs!

I’ve not been posting as often lately, I know. I’ve got some other writing related stuff going on and after a while I just can’t sit at the computer one second longer.

So today, I’m recycling a post that’s on LAist right now:

The posted version is much tamer than what I originally wrote, but I was in a good mood (work tomorrow: Yay!) so I pulled some punches.

I’m currently having some photo uploading issues as the USB port on my computer has decided to take the day off. I’m not sure why.

Filed under: life in LA, Non-Work, rants

Watch me try to stay awake

One of the things that still remains tough to adjust to after all this time is the unpredictable hours that I sometimes have to work.

Under normal circumstances, if I’m so tired that I feel I’m not safe I’ll turn down the call, but since my policy right now is to only turn down work if I’m dead, I’m taking anything at any time I can get, which means if I have to go without sleep I’m just going to have to deal, since the shadow of another potential work stoppage is still hanging over all our heads.

Thursday: 2 pm call time. I got to bed around 2 am and got up around 7 am in order to keep on a day schedule. I figured I’d stay up all day and just go to bed early.

Then, on Friday around noon I got a last minute call to report to work at 2 pm (missed seeing Nezza on her last day here, but a girl’s gotta pay the bills), so right out of the gate I was completely wiped out and the best boy will probably go to his grave being convinced that I’m either perpetually stoned or exceptionally slow on the uptake.

Monday: 7am call time, which adds up to one of those one-day weekends since I totally lost Saturday. I’m sure I did something, but I have no idea what that something was.

I was off today, and I got up early hoping to stay on a day schedule, but no such luck.

Tomorrow: 5 pm call time, so although I got up at 6 am today, I’ll have to try to stay up until at least midnight in the hopes that I’ll sleep until at least 8 am.

8, for me, is the magic number. I can’t seem to sleep much later unless I get home from work at 7 am.

What will probably happen is that I’ll fall asleep at 10, wake up at 6, be unable to get back to sleep and then be up until sunrise Friday morning, which means I’ll have to down enough coffee to kill Juan Valdez and his donkey in order to stay functional.

It’s all going to be fine. I’m just happy to be working, and worse comes to worse I’ll catch a nap in the back seat of my car after work. Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done that.

On the bright side, I got my refund checks from the unemployment fracas:

Winning feels gooood.

I have big plans for this money. First, I’m going to trowel on enough makeup so that I topple over when I try to stand upright. Then, I’m going to don an obscenely tight dress, make a beeline to the trendiest nightclub in town and sit at the bar while I bat my eyelashes and fan myself with $2,000 in twenties before going home with four or five cheap male models. Or maybe one really expensive one.

Just kidding. I’m going to use it to pay bills and rent. Whatever’s left over goes in the savings account in case the actors decide to strike.

Although when I think about it, if I have four or five cheap male models, do I really need a place to live? Or food?

Filed under: Photos, Work, , , , , , , , ,

Friday Photos

Things you find in old houses

Yesterday’s location was in a 1950’s era house that was being remodeled. While we were rigging the house for the night shot, we found these bottles that had been set outside by the construction crew.

I don’t even think they make this stuff anymore, do they? I seem to remember sneaking a taste at a grownups-type party when I was a kid, and I thought it tasted like carbonated radiator fluid.

Left on the patio to gather dust were not one, but two ‘vintage’ bottles of Cold Duck:

Fermented in the bottle!

Someone made a joke about giving it a home in the gold room (room on the stage where we have all our expendables, a couch and a place to stash personal items while at work), and most of us just looked at the bottle and shuddered.

You know it’s nasty when even construction workers and film crews won’t touch it.

In the “happy to be working but this is going to suck” category, I got to bed this morning around 2 ish (got off work at 12:30, came home, showered, etc.) and in an effort to keep myself on a day schedule, dragged my sorry ass out of bed at 7 am.

That, and I had to take the trash out because I hadn’t wanted to do it at 1 am.

Which would have been fine, I’d have just gone to bed early tonight, but then I got a call to work today with a 2 pm call time, which means I’ll be there until at least 3 am. I’m not about to turn down work with the SAG factor still floating around, so I’m just going to have to suck it up and guzzle coffee to stay awake.

Filed under: camera, Photos, up all night, Work, , , , ,

Remind me never again to leave the house without a camera

Why is it that whenever I leave my house without a camera I’ll see at least half a dozen really nice couches?

Not only will I see nice couches, but they won’t have parked cars blocking the shot and the light will be perfect.

Which is, of course, what happened this afternoon. I went to the feed store to pick up a bale of straw (garden mulch – it’s going to get very hot very soon and I have baby tomato plants which don’t appreciate having their roots fried) and on the way back, spotted the couches and scrambled frantically to reach my camera only to remember that I’d left it at home.

Damn. I’ll cruise by the spots that had the better couches on my way to work (yay!) tomorrow and hope they’re still there.

Also in “damn” moments today was my not being able to get pre-sale Radiohead tickets. Basically, this means I won’t be able to get tickets at all. Once they go on sale at Ticketmaster, the ticket scalpers brokers will buy them all and I won’t be able to afford even the shitty seats.

Oh, well. If I had gotten tickets, I’d have to work that night.

Today’s video rental was In the Shadow of the Moon, a really nice documentary about the Apollo missions and the moon landings. It’s got some great interviews with the astronauts, including one where Michael Collins reads the speech that was prepared in case the lunar module didn’t come back.

Filed under: camera, mishaps, Non-Work, , , , , ,

Extra special relativity

Monday was wrapping a stage on which a music video had shot over the weekend.

In addition to the movie lights, the band had used some of their own equipment, and had sent some of their crew to wrap it – fine with me. Although the rock and roll folks don’t use any equipment that we haven’t seen before, the fewer sets of stuff I have to sort the sooner I get to go home (the lot has it’s own equipment, but they had to bring in some extra stuff from one of the independent rental houses and that’s all got to be staged and counted separately. The more piles, the longer it takes to count when the guys come to pick it up).

Lucky for us, almost all of the equipment that was hanging from the perms belonged to the band, so we got to keep our entire crew working on the ground, which went easier even if we were tripping over the art department guys (sending half a crew upstairs makes things on the ground go slower).

The only bad thing was that we had the rock and roll guys over our heads. Don’t get me wrong, I have a blast working with rock band roadies – they’re generally a fun bunch of guys and they tell hilarious stories at breaks, but they do have a different concept of pacing themselves than do film lighting folks.

We get it pounded into our head to take as much time as we need to do something safely – tie it off right, level the stand before the light goes up, have the grips check that funky looking section of deck before you load it with weight. I’ve yet to meet a gaffer who will argue with the statement “hold on a minute while we make it safe”.

We also don’t want to look like we’re in a hurry on set. If we’re scrambling around like rats trying to find the only route off a sinking ship, the powers-that-be assume we’re not in control of the situation and should perhaps be replaced by a more competent crew first thing Monday morning.

Every time I’ve ever watched roadshow folks in action, they’ve always worked really, really fast. Not badly, not shoddily, but fast. They lower stuff out of the perms at MACH 2, and run cases up the ramp into the truck so quickly that I can see motion blur.

This crew had all their stuff wrapped up and were closing up the truck before we’d even started wrapping our cable (we usually wrap lights and stands first, then the distro and leave the cable for last).

They waved cheerily as they walked out with their checks (this production was cutting checks right there on the spot), and left us there, wandering through our sea of equipment, sorting and counting.

The (admittedly sophomoric) bright spot of my day was when I went up into the perms to do an ‘idiot check’ for equipment that had been left behind and found an abandoned 8-inch crescent wrench. I couldn’t resist the temptation and stuck my head over the rail to yell down “Hey, have any of you guys got an 8 incher?”

Of course, I said this while conspicuously waving said wrench where the folks on the ground could see it.

The groans and eye-rolls from the guys (some of whom I’ve known for over a decade which means they’re unimpressed by my jokes at this point) just made me cackle more. Then, as I was coming down the stairs I ran my hand over a rough patch of the handrail and got a really huge splinter that went so deep into my hand I had to go to the lot nurse (who has that wonderful spray-on painkiller that I wish I could buy but can’t. Stupid controlled substance laws) to have her dig it out. Normally, I use my knife to deal with these but you gotta know when you’re licked.

As I filed out my paperwork with a bandaged hand there were, of course, several pointed comments about Karma.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Should I or should I not?

Since today’s call time is 11 am (it was originally 9 am, but got pushed*), I’m wondering if I should go to the gym before work or not.

I’m tempted to, on the grounds that I’ll preemptively burn off any accidental non-diet friendly craft service that should find it’s way into my gaping maw (BBQ potato chips: my Achilles heel), but if I do, then it’s a sure bet that I’m going to overwork my muscles and end up collapsing in a sniveling heap somewhere.

If I do legs, then I’ll have to run up and down the stairs to the perms at least 50 times, and if I do arms, I’ll have to repeatedly pick up heavy things.

If I don’t go to the gym, I’ll sit on my ass all day and do nothing that even makes me break a sweat. Plus, there will be chips.

Or, I could sit here and dither about it until I run out of time – which I’ve probably already done since I have to drive across town to Culver and it’s now almost 10 am.

*When a call time is changed to a later hour due to turnaround issues for cast or crew, it’s pushed.

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

Me type prety tonite

Happy working tomorrow! So very happy working tomorrow. almost cry happy today. Love you boss so much for hire me day.

Eaarly call means get up early – 4 am. Means go to bed ea4rly. Means take ambbeen for sleeping good so early.

Notrmaly pill takes hour to work, but tongihgt I took 10 minutes ago and now hve trble standintg uyp or typing wurds why so soon? I wonder. Maybe because of empty tummy – tummy empthy half day today. only ate breakfast adn some blue friut after gym workout around noon – not food later.

Maybe why. Maybe not. Having tyrtoublre tpeiung and sittitting uprighttung. And thkning hard too. letters all blurry in my nose.

Remebering to bring rian clothes for maybe wet tomroow on locastion. and no-water-shoe. always forget them and hae wet socks.


Filed under: crack of dawn, humor, Work

April 2008

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