Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

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

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