Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Friday photo

trudging towards set

The enemy of film crews who roll just about everything we have on wheeled carts is sand.  Deep soft sand makes it impossible to use the wheel (which is a nifty invention) and means that we have to pick up everything and carry it.

Many of the lights we use aren’t all that heavy, but have multiple parts (head, scrims, barn doors, ballast, feeder cables, stand) which can’t be carried by one person, so the normal solution is to throw the whole ugly mess in a cart and bring it to set.

Not so much with the sand.

Large lamps can’t be moved easily, either, since the wheeled stands won’t roll in deep (or shallow, for that matter) sand – which means that they require four guys to move them.

We hate that. So does our boss, who can’t get lamps placed as quickly as he or she would like due to the increased need for manpower because of that sand.

This particular set was in the bed of a mostly dry river (it’ll be a mostly full river once the rains start), so we ended up having to carry equipment over the deep soft sand all night.

Luckily we had enough manpower so things came together fairly well, but boy do my calves hurt now.

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7 Responses

  1. nezza says:

    I reckon you need a special beach version of the cart, with caterpillar tracks. (You know – like on an army tank – just in case they’re not called caterpillars on your side of the pond.)

  2. Charli says:

    Sorry ’bout the trouble, but that’s a really nice picture.

  3. Nezza’s right — and as it happens, there are such tank-tread devices made for the purpose, called “clicketty-clacks.” Made of steel, they’re heavy as hell, and a pain in the ass to mount, but once the stand, ballast, head feeders and lamp are up on these tracks, two people can push the unit over any sort of reasonably flat sand. We used to rent them from Sequoia (don’t even know if they’re still around), but this was back in the late 80’s — early 90’s. The don’t break, so somebody’s got to have a set or two gather dust in the yard.

    We used them with arcs and 12Ks (this was before 18ks came along), and they worked great.

    One caveat: if you use a cinevators with clicketty-clacks — or any other aluminum stand that employs small pins near the base of the stand to lock the legs in place — do NOT engage the pins. I made that mistake on a three day beach job, and by the end, every single pin on all three stands had sheared off. You don’t need them anyway — the clicketty-clacks bolt on, and hold everthing together. Still, the best stand to use with clicketty-clacks is a good old Molevator — the stand they were designed for. Heavy as hell, but strong as an anvil, a Molevator just won’t break.

    It would be nice if somebody could make a modern version of clicketty-clacks out of carbon fiber or some other stong, durable space age plastic. The worst thing about the old ones is putting them on at the start of a job, then taking them off at wrap.

    You’re right, though — anyway you look at it, working in sand is bitch.

    Peggy sez: They’ve got these big plastic wheels called beach wheels which go over the stand’s normal wheels, and they work well enough that three people can push a stand if the sand’s not too deep, but they’re a pain to get on and off as well – plus they make the stand even taller so adding scrims or tilting the light is difficult.

  4. geekhiker says:

    Sand. All these years later I still have nightmares about trudging across sand.

    Just outta curiosity (asks the outdoorsy guy), what riverbed were you working in?

  5. Peg;

    I used those balloon-like “beach wheels” once, but didn’t much care for them. As you point out, they make the whole rig a lot higher and more “tippy”, especially when rolling over uneven sand dunes. A quick, careless shove over rolling, uneven sand can put one of those babies lens-down in a hurry. Clicketty-clacks raise the rig a bit as well, but this is where their extra (and considerable) weight actually helps, keeping the center of gravity very low, where it belongs. No way are you gonna tip over an 18K on those heavy tank treads. They are a pain to put on, though, so I wouldn’t recommend them for a quick a one day — or night — job. If you’re going to be on the beach or riverbed for two or three days, though, they’re a good way to go.

  6. earl p says:

    juicer stuff

    Peggy sez: I saw that the other day. It’s funny.

  7. boskolives says:

    Sounds like you’re in deep need of a ‘Gator mini-tractor with a whatever they’re called (pinion?) military style trailer hitch on the back to tow your stuff around.
    Probably not going to happen because then they’d have to hire another teamster to drive it. The bad news is that rain is on the way, I hope you’re done with that location.
    Best wishes from a sound guy that also has to deal with dragging a cart around, at least until I can get a helium filled one.
    Maybe if SAG doesn’t go on strike?
    Jerry W.

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