Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

A long way off.

After a while, one gets a feel for how long any particular call sheet will take to shoot – look at call sheet, factor in all the wild cards (stunts, babies, temper-tantrums, animals, weather, etc..) and guess how long the day’s going to be with some accuracy.

Sometimes, of course, said estimation is completely and utterly wrong. Usually, there’s a reason. Today, however, we came in, looked at the day’s work (five scenes, all featuring two actors standing still around some item of plot-point and talking. “Walk and talks”, scenes with multiple actors and scenes where actors move a lot take longer to shoot), and figured it to be an 11 hour day (or so).

For reasons no one can really figure out, the day ended up being 14 hours. Call time was 7 am, and wrap time was 10 pm.

Tomorrow’s call sheet looks like a 14 hour day, but we’re working with animals, which means there’s no telling how long it’s actually going to run.

Which is good for my bank account. What’s also good is that LA’s early fall heat wave has broken and it’s nice outside, since we have day exteriors tomorrow.

Except that it’s almost 11 and I have to be back at work at 9 am, so I’m off to bed.

Filed under: Work

Friday Photo

Follow Spot, Diffused

Normally,  diffusion frames* aren’t placed in front of follow spots like this – it made a very nice super soft effect, but it was a bit hard to see where the beam was in relation to the actor on the set.

The upside of this is that when I did screw up and ‘lose’ one of the actors, it was much less obvious than it would have been with the standard hard-edged spotlight.

Wednesday, we were working in one of downtown LA’s old theaters which were once spectacular, but are now mostly in need of very expensive restoration work. This particular theater was once a real theater (not a movie palace), and at some point was given a sloppy coat of paint and turned into a nightclub, which is a huge waste as the acoustics in the joint are amazing. We were up in the nosebleed seats and could clearly hear people talking on what was once center stage.

The only way to reach our aerie was via a crumbling cement staircase on the outside of the building.  There was no access to the inside from the top balcony (guess they wanted to keep the cheap tickets away from the bar when they built the place), so every time I had to pee it was down three floors of stairs, into the main club, down another flight of stairs to the restrooms in the basement (or out to the honeywagon in the parking lot), and then back up as quickly as I could.

Lucky for me I only got caught with my pants down (literally) once. I was sitting on the toilet, four floors below my spotlight when the gaffer called me on the walkie:

“Hey, are you close to your light? I think you’re going to work in this shot.”

“Sure” I replied, “I’m pretty close.” I hitched up my pants and then tore though the club and up the stairs as fast as I could.

Needless to say, this whole ‘stay off the foot’ thing left me woefully unprepared for the stair-climbing portion of the program, so I kept having to stop about halfway up and gasp for air.

I was released a bit early (at 11 pm) to make my turnaround for the next day’s call at 9 am (10 hours). Thursday found us on the lot in an air-conditioned stage during the morning, out on a day exterior in the middle of the day, and then back onto another stage in the afternoon. Both days were about 13 hours, although I got to sit down much more on Wednesday than I did on Thursday.

I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me that what hurt most when I woke up this morning was my calves.

* Diffusion is a semi opaque material used to diffuse  the light’s beam (duh). Sometimes, the diffusion material is clipped to the light itself, but other times it’s affixed to a metal frame and placed a few feet in front of the light. The reason for this is that the further away the diffusion material is from the actual light, the more effect it has.  Diffusion materials vary in the amount of ‘fuzz’ they give to a light – Opal, for example, has hardly any effect while something like 216 has quite a bit.

Filed under: locations, Photos, Work

It’s a long, long way down

One of the things about going up in a condor is that familiarity breeds, well, comfort – or the lack of discomfort as the case may be.

Even thought I’m not afraid of heights, being 50 or 60 (or 70 0r 80) feet up in the air takes some  getting used to, and when I haven’t been up in said condor for six months (or so – I can’t remember the last time I went up so it may have been longer) it’s a bit alarming.

So Wednesday night found me a bit uneasy, but thankfully it didn’t last.  By the time my co-workers got around to teasing me, I was over it .

The condor day was good (and once again with a crew that I really, really like), as it meant that I kept off the foot for most of the night, so I was good to go for a second day of work on Friday – where we did day exterior all day and didn’t do much, but I did stand too much.

Still, today everything feels good enough that I’m going to go to the gym to try and burn off yesterday’s crafty (mmmm… bacon).  

Oh, and happy ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day’. Arrrrrgh.

And Chuck’s out of the ICU, although presumably still not talking like a pirate.  Next year, Chuck. Next year.

Filed under: Work

Oh, damn.

I’ve got work tomorrow, which is wonderful as I’d been hoping for at least one day a week and stressing about it, but all my worries seem sort of silly now.

Chuck Atkins, whose blog you’ll find over there on the sidebar and who’s been a commenter from way back, has been in a motorcycle accident.

His wife’s posting updates on Facebook, and as of the last one he’s still in the ICU on a ventilator and has broken a lot of stuff that I’m sure he really needs. You know, for later.

Let’s all hope for a speedy recovery. Being injured sucks ass. Being so badly injured that one is in intensive care sucks at least three metric tons of wet ass on a hot day.

Feel better, Chuck!

Filed under: mishaps, Non-Work, Off-Topic

Cable, party of four

Dear god (pick one, I don’t care which), I’m sore. Bone tired and aching from my neck down to my knees.

Although the foot is sore, it doesn’t hurt any more than the rest of me which just spent 10 hours walking on tile floors and wrapping the heavy cable.  We did the outside cable runs first thing in the morning (before it got hot out), and then spent the rest of the day wrapping lights in an abandoned office building in the west San Fernando Valley – where it’s hotter than the surface of the sun this time of year.  The building had AC, but we all have to go outside sometimes.

Also, I’m really out of shape.

The only thing that gets one in shape for this job is actually doing this job. I can go to the gym and lift all the puny weights I like and the cable will still feel heavy and I’ll still be hurting at the end of the day until I get my work muscles back.

Luckily, I was working with a wonderful crew of folks with whom I really enjoy spending time, so the day went by really quickly and the ouch has just set in now that I’ve gotten home, had some dinner and stopped moving.

Maybe I’ll break out the Epsom salts and go sit in the tub until morning.

Filed under: Work

An even trade

There always seems to be some kind of anxiety in my life no matter what – I’ve swapped the anxiety about the foot getting better for the older, more familiar ‘am I going to get enough work to pay the rent’ variety.

It’s still fairly slow here in Los Angeles (most of the work has gone out-of-town), so I’m pretty much guaranteed a light schedule for the time being (according to the rumor mill, work will get busy after the holidays). Which, of course, is good for the foot, but still. I worry.

I’ve got a day tomorrow (my only day this week, but it’s a short week due to the holiday), on a rigging crew, so I guess this is the real test of how well that foot’s going to hold up since I won’t have as many opportunities to sit down as I did last week on set.

Since I have to get up at 5 am, I’m taking a sleeping pill because Thumper and Bumper don’t usually settle down until after midnight and I’d love to actually get 8 hours of sleep just in case I have to think.  Or maybe being really tired tomorrow would distract me from the pain that I may or may not feel in my foot.

Keep your fingers crossed for me in the hopes that tomorrow is as uneventful as last week’s workday was.

Filed under: Work

A fine and dandy first day

Yesterday ended up being 10 hours with a move from one stage to another, and the foot held up better than I’d expected. Of course it hurt at the end of the day, but nothing that over-the-counter anti inflammatories and an ice pack couldn’t handle. I stepped on it the wrong way a few times and got a stab of pain to remind me to ease up, but really it wasn’t bad at all.

I also had plenty of chances to sit down, as this particular director habitually does more takes than Warren Beatty*.

Since I still can’t stress the ball of the foot, doing things like pushing a loaded cart up an incline is very difficult (normally you do this on your tiptoes to get the best leverage, especially if it’s a heavy cart), and ladders to the perms have to be climbed very, very carefully, but overall I’m quite pleased and optimistic.

Aside from someone above the line deciding to save some money by eliminating most of our lighting package (lucky for us the gaffer understood and didn’t start screaming like a banshee when we repeatedly had to tell him we didn’t have the light he wanted), the day was uneventful.  Which is a very wonderful thing.

It’s good to be back.

*Beatty, when wearing his directing hat, does hundreds of takes of each shot. So many, in fact, that on one movie he was reportedly lectured by the studio about it, and told to limit the number of takes. So after that he’d call action and have the actors repeat whatever it was over and over and over until the camera rolled out and call that take one.  My bank account misses him so much.

Filed under: Uncategorized, Work

Easing back in

The last time I needed to drum up some work right away, I  freaked out and made 12 work calls in a three hour period.

Although this did result in a job, it worked too well and I ended up with four job calls for the next day, three of which I had to turn down.

Best boy #3: “Didn’t you just call me telling me you really needed work tomorrow?”

Me: “Yes, but then someone else that I called called back right before you did. Got anything next week?”

Best boy #3: “Hmmpf.”

This time, despite being fairly desperate to get back to work, I exercised some restraint and made two calls on Monday, two calls on Tuesday, and two calls today (and I’m planning on making two tomorrow and two Friday). This ‘trickle method’  has resulted in one job for tomorrow and no pissed off best boys. So far.

I’ll be on a stage tomorrow with nice even flooring (and the important mini-fridge freezer compartment in the gold room for my lunchtime ice pack), so hopefully I won’t be in anything more than my usual pain at the end of the day.

Filed under: Work

September 2009

Flickr Photos



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"If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." -Anne Lamott

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