Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

My Big Fat Mouth

Didn’t I, a while back, complain about not working enough?

Feast or famine, I guess.

Friday, I called in to the union hoping to get something for Monday, and instead got a job for that very night – good, but bad because I’d been up all day and wouldn’t have been safe on an all-nighter.

When I got there, i found out that I was just there to go up in the condor for the last shot, plus the crew were all guys that I used to know from back in the day when we were all non-union. Hadn’t seen them for years, so it was good to catch up and I was very glad I took the call, even though my condor malfunctioned (the basket wouldn’t rotate when I was 80 feet up in the air, so I couldn’t get the light exactly where the gaffer asked). I was out of there before midnight, which was good as it got me home before I was too tired to drive.

Right after I took the job for Friday, I got a call for Sunday. The advantage of working Sunday is that there’s absolutely no traffic on the roads, so I got to work way early and read the paper.
Had a good time, and I got to take some shots of the Doheny mansion while I was there. We didn’t have a super long day (we just had to rig around the outside of the house and only put some power inside – sometimes the Doheny mansion can be a very, very long rig because it’s so delicate inside that hanging lights takes forever) which was good as we got out right before it got really hot (3 pm in SoCal, if you were wondering).

The bad part is that we had to deal with these horrible things called Avenger stands, which are easily the worst designed piece of crap in the entire world. They crank up so high that you have to have a scissor lift to reach the light when they’re at full stick, and the wheels don’t really lock properly (there should be two different locks – a roll lock and a directional lock) and they are so heavy that the aluminum things holding the wheels bend so none of them even roll properly. They’re also awkward as shit (when unfolded, they wheel base is 8 feet wide!) and hard to steer. They’re impossible to roll when they’re folded up, and although someone invented a special cart to hold them until they’re ready to use, they’re still awful and they’ve injured several people I know (one severely enough to have had to retire permanently)

If I ever become as rich as Edward Doheny, I’m going to buy the company and all existing Avenger stands and set the entire mess on fire. I’d invite every crew member in the world who’s ever had to deal with those fucking things and we’d all have a hell of a party while we watched the stands melt into a lump.
Can you tell that we hate these stands? I can say ‘we’ because I’ve never met anyone who liked them. Anyone who had to move or lift them, that is. People who don’t actually have to touch them seem to love them.

Luckily, we were able to get the lights on the stands and in place without anyone getting hurt, which is really the important part.

Today, I stood on set (of a different show) in the air conditioning and it felt good.

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11 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    I couldn’t agree more; burn them all! These stands are killers (except I kind of like the low ones for 2 tier high scaffolding – but that’s it)!

  2. wasagrip says:

    I walked off a job because we had to find a way to level those pigs in the hills around Malibu – wouldn’t do it! They are unsafe on the truck!

  3. Put me on the list for that Melt-Down Party, Peg. I’m not quite sure just what “The Avenger” is avenging, but it’s the worst… stand… ever…

  4. So glad you’re in feast mode. It seems to be the cycle now, doesn’t it?

  5. meg says:

    I -hate hate hate- “possible pre-strike” feeding frenzies, to be followed by lots and lots of no work. Yes, I know that it is a Feast or Famine business, but it gets really ridiculous when they start stockpiling “just in case.” Been there, done that, sold the t-shirt on eBay.

  6. Peter says:

    Avenger Stands … the name even sounds nasty, like something you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley.

  7. Charli says:

    I actually saw those stands today at the pier. Dreamworks is filming out there, not sure what, the security guy didn’t seem to know. I walked right through the set, but they weren’t filming, so I suppose I won’t be an extra anytime soon.

  8. stevie B says:

    I have four of those beasts in my warehouse and they suck bull@!%&. When a special cart is required to move the bastard, it should not be legal. Burn them all!

    I speak for all Rental house dogs!

  9. mm says:

    I completely agree. I want to see all the matthews cranks stands outlawed too. I have had too many chains slip and an 18k or 20k come flying down. It’s a miracle no one had had their skull cracked open. If I was embarrassingly rich, I would replace all the super cranks in all the rental houses with Roadrunner stands. Those are screw drive and physically can’t come flying down like the matthews stands.

  10. Lost on Location says:

    yep another vote for the worst piece of equipment on the truck. send them all to Burning man and shoot pictures of the puddle left.

  11. Uninformed says:

    Why hasn’t the union waged a campaign with OSHA to ban the Avenger as being too dangerous?

    Peggy sez: It took decades to ban smoke cookies, which are carcinogenic. I don’t see much movement in this area about these stands unless they injure someone important.

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