Yesterday’s location was an abandoned furniture store in one of LA’s many overbuilt suburbs – our director, after surveying the half empty shopping mall and the few customers circling the vast parking lot like vultures, referred to the place as ‘one exit too far’.
Although the actual store which housed our set was really big, there was one problem – lingering farts left by.. someone. All would be well and I’d be going about my day and then I’d walk into the fallout of a gastric war zone.
At one point, I asked local 80 goddess: “does this whole building smell like a fart”?
“No, it’s little pools of farts.”
“Oh, good. I thought it was my imagination.”
At first, we thought it might be the production company’s air conditioning guy – the large portable studio A/C units get parked outside the building and the cool air is moved through the set via flexible ducts that lay on the floor (often running right through our staging area, meaning we have to step over a 24″ round pipe while carrying heavy equipment, but that’s a different story).
As the shoot moves to different areas around the building, the A/C guy has to re-run the tubes – bending over and stretching the flexible tubes out, so it seemed a reasonable assumption, but the smell was pervasive when he was outside the building at craft service, so no go on that idea.
Then, we thought that it might be someone who was sitting outside near the ac intake vent and farting but the smell wasn’t coming out of the tubes, which we figured out after a game of ‘rock, paper, scissors’ to determine who had to stick their head in the tube and breathe deeply.
After polling the rest of the crew, we decided that it was someone doing a “drive by”. Gas, on set, can be used as a weapon. Load up on beans*, walk by target, let loose, walk away.
The targets of drive bys are normally fairly predictable – someone who’s being a prick but who can’t leave the set or the video village area: director, DP, producer, actor. Normally, when someone in Grip or Electric farts, it gets mentioned on the walkie, but since there was radio silence, none of us had any ideas.
The gas continued throughout the day, and we never figured out who was doing it or the intended target.
We never figured out who it was, or the intended target – if anyone. I guess sometimes gas is just gas.
*I’ve been told that the best ammunition for a drive by is a hard boiled egg and a Dr. Pepper.