Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

I’m not thankful I saw that.

One of the hazards of working sets is the occasional unfortunate eyeful, so to speak.

For many years, grips and electricians have loved to wear really baggy shorts – usually of the cargo variety – to work sans underpants. Which, of course, is fine if you like a breeze around your unmentionables (and who am I to say that’s wrong?), but sometimes all of us have to climb a ladder.

Normally, when one climbs a ladder on set to mess with or hang a light one is leaning out over the side of the ladder, thus throwing the load off-center, so one requires assistance in the form of a co-worker ‘footing’ said ladder, which is basically just standing on one of the lower rungs to add some weight to prevent tip-over (which is funny, but usually ends very badly).

The hazards of footing a ladder can include getting tools dropped on one’s head, getting smacked in the face by an overthrown cable (which then swings back towards the thrower and raises one hell of a welt on anyone who happens to be in the way), and looking up at a co-worker who happens to be going commando in a pair of billowy shorts or worse, a kilt.

Lately there has been a dramatic increase in the number of guys wearing kilts to work with no underwear – don’t ask me why. They usually wear Utilikilts, but the end result is the same. A dude in a dress with the family jewels swinging in the breeze. Look up at your own risk*.

I’m not sure which is worse – the shorts, where everything’s squished into one leg so it looks like chewed gum or the kilt, where everything’s got room to swing around for easier viewing by unfortunate colleagues.

When I get the inevitable view I usually loudly mention something about a rash that needs immediate medical attention, but today we were on set and there were important people milling about, so there was nothing I could do other than try really hard not to look up, which made taking the unwieldy Kino Flo from my underpantless colleague much more difficult.

And guys? They really all do look the same. Trust me on this one.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Enjoy your meal.

*Unfortunately, sometimes one has no choice but to look up – such as handing up a light, or a tool (stop snickering. I’m referring to a wrench), or tape, or being handed something that’s coming down out of the rig.

Filed under: Work, , , , , , ,

New and improved.

Our few days a week unit has a new gaffer, which isn’t a bad thing. New gaffers mean new connections and the potential of more jobs down the road – but there’s always a period of, well, newness.

We all knew how to read our old gaffer (who has gotten a TV show of his own and we’re all thrilled for him. Full time gigs are a wonderful thing) – when he needed coffee (and how many sugars he liked), when he was joking, when he wasn’t and we needed to really hustle, etc… We don’t know the new guy (who is very nice and we like him a lot) that well, so we spend a lot of our time second guessing ourselves and doing a lot of unnecessary scrambling around since we don’t really know exactly what he wants yet.

Obviously, an unhappy gaffer is a very, very bad thing so we do everything we can to prevent that from happening. Usually, gaffers want to bring in their own crew and he kinda got us handed to him, so we really don’t want him to decide we suck and he’d rather have his own guys. It’ll get easier as we all get used to each other, of course.

Also, I’ve got the late fall blahs. For some reason it’s really bad this year, mainly because I’m already burned out on Christmas – we shot the Christmas episode, so I got a good dose of tinsel at the beginning of the month, and on the lot they’ve got the trees and wreaths and lights up already and I’m just sick to death of it and it’s not even December yet.

Can I just decide to ignore the holidays this year and go sit on some beach somewhere with a foofy umbrella drink in my hand and get massages?

Oh, wait. That would cost money.



Filed under: Work

Friday Photo

One of the things that sound mixers have to deal with is shoe noises. Sometimes, the shoes that make actors look super sexy also make a godawful amount of noise on hard floors.

If the actors’ feet aren’t going to be in frame, then usually the sound folks just put down matting (it’s rubber matting with all-weather carpet on one side) on the floor, or have the actors wear slippers instead of regular shoes, but if the camera sees the floor then that’s obviously not an option.

Usually, then they’ll pad the bottoms of the shoes so they don’t make noise, but high heels can really be a problem – normally I’ve seen them put tape on the heels of high heels, but that can ruin the shoe (and don’t think they’re not going to sell these at the end of the show). Hence, the little crutch tips, which I think are hilarious and very cool.

Filed under: camera, Photos, Work

Who, me?

LAist, in a clearly misguided attempt to maintain some stylistic consistency, a modicum of professionalism, and minimize lawsuits, tend to edit the holy hell out of everything I write for them. Therefore, a much shorter (and less offensive) version of this is on their site, but here, for you, is the full piece:


Friday night, as the cool kids gathered at the sold out Pixies show in Hollywood, I set out for Beverly Hills on a solitary mission – to attend, survive and report back from the Los Angeles Cougar Convention, held at the badly ageing Crowne Plaza Hotel.

I suppose it made perfect sense to send me wandering into the maelstrom – I am, after all, a ‘woman of a certain age’ with a crazed look in my eye, a credit card with enough space to run up a bar tab and a hotel room (if necessary), and, most importantly, no Pixies tickets.

With a purse full of roofies and cheap gin (mother always said to be prepared), I arrived at the event, checked in as press and was introduced to the event’s organizer, a genial fellow who informed me that the organization behind the event is actually a non-profit educational group (no, really) dedicated to enabling women who enjoy dating guys younger than their own children and the men who love them. I then strolled into the ballroom and was charged by the attending press who smelled a victim, until I informed them that I was also press. They then lost interest in me and clustered around the vendor who was demonstrating personal massagers on her friend.

I’d arrived before the official start time of the event in order to sit in on what was billed as the first-ever ‘cougar school’, which was really a short talk by Lucia (no last name), a local radio personality and author who apparently specializes in the older woman/ younger man dynamic (and is dating her personal trainer who happens to be 12 years her junior). Lucia (no last name) is a very attractive woman who refused to state her age and advised the other ladies not to do so, either, gave some generalized advice such as “let him pay so he can feel like a man” and “don’t get too friendly with his mother”.

Too bad there were far more press there than attendees, although I’m sure we all learned something. In case you were wondering, according to Lucia, the term ‘cougar’ was coined by a player on Vancouver’s hockey team, who started calling the older single women who came to the games cougars. The press present raised our eyebrows in disbelief at anyone in Canada setting any kind of trend, but I suppose it’s possible.

Also according to Lucia, to qualify as a cougar a woman must be at least 40 years old and exclusively date men at least 10 years younger than herself. The rest of you ladies are out of luck and just getting your freak on like everyone else.

The event started with a ‘speed-dating’ type mixer, followed by a keynote address by Lucia (no last name) who for some reason kept quoting Karl Marx, and the cougar-themed “comedy” stylings of Unique Monique, and then a dancing and drinking at the cash bar.

Note to event organizers: Wonder why your event keeps getting press hatchet jobs? It’s the cash bar. Never, ever make any media representative pay for drinks. Trust me on this one.

Although many of the guys there declared that they did indeed find older women attractive, many of them, when questioned, admitted that they were interested in meeting any lady, not just an older one, and had primarily shown up out of curiosity. Most of the ladies there would only admit to being curious about the event. One guy told me he was planning on organizing a competing event and was just there to scope it out.

The structured events were really enjoyable (despite photographers circling like vultures), but as soon as the party went into lights out and dance mode, things came to a grinding halt – groups of guys talking to one another and stealing furtive glances at the ladies, and the ladies sipping twee cocktails and giggling. And, of course, one couple who decided to waste no time and were making out in the corner. Just like high school, only many of us are middle-aged. And they keep asking me why I won’t go to any reunions.

Despite the event’s organizer telling me about the non-profit status and greater good mission, when I asked his wife (who was taking the money) if all the events were so loaded with men (about a 4:1 ratio, which made a good night for the ladies), she snapped at me to not ask her those questions as I might cost her ‘customers’.

Thusly chastised, I scurried back to the safety of the press crowd around the bar, where I was then cornered by a very, very tan man who wanted to tell me about the dating site he runs where I could meet a ‘nice fella’. I decided against explaining to him why this was a fundamentally bad idea and excused myself.

As the dance music upstairs grew increasingly lame (or so I’m told) and attendees ran out of cash, the party moved down to the hotel’s lobby bar where I was camped out in a futile attempt to log onto the wireless to post my story.

It’s amazing how quickly one forgets about the internet when one is drinking heavily surrounded by twentysomething guys who think older women are ‘super hot, dude’.

By the time I left, I’d collected a dozen phone numbers. Just for the sake of a story, mind you.

Filed under: dating, life in LA, Non-Work, Off-Topic

That’ll teach me.

I was feeling pretty awesome – a whole week of work, foot feeling good.. yup. Top o’ the world, so to speak. Until yesterday night.

Sometimes, at the gaffer’s direction, one moves BFLs* just beyond the reach of the head or power feeders, but not far enough to justify completely wrapping up said feeder. When this happens, most of us usually just drape the feeder through the bale of the light so it’s easy to pull out again but off the ground so the stand rolls without dragging the cable (which is bad for the cable and the connectors). This works great (and saves time), but yesterday after I’d moved my BFL and started to pull out the feeder, it got away from me and the hard Bakelite connector hit my foot, right on the spot where the incision was where the nerves are still regenerating (or degenerating or something) and which is still spectacularly sensitive to the touch.

There’s regular pain, there’s burn pain and then there’s ‘I just dropped something on a nerve end’ pain. Guess which one is the worst?

As the world tilted and turned pale, I clutched the light stand, eyes bulging, teeth gritted, knees weak, trying desperately to hold in the awful word I really wanted to scream (the producer was standing right behind me and the last thing I need is another lecture from the studio’s PC patrol) while my co-workers tried to simultaneously move lights for the set-up and make sure I was okay.

The really mean (or funny, depending on how you look at these things) part of the joke here is that it was near the end of the night and I had just changed into my comfy shoes, which are very soft and squishy but not really designed to protect one’s feet from falling objects or one’s own stupidity.

As soon as I was able to walk again without cursing whichever cruel god did this, I managed to gimp around until we’d finished the set-up, and then excused myself, went outside the stage and let loose with that swearing I’d been so wanting.

Once the nerves stopped screaming, everything was fine and there doesn’t seem to be any permanent damage to anything other than my already bruised dignity.

Call time: 8 am.

Wrap time: 11 pm.

Today, as I was in the pool swimming laps, I missed a work call and by the time I got out, got dried off and checked the phone the slot had gone to someone else. Damn, damn. I don’t want to take the phone poolside with me for obvious reasons. I’ve looked at some of those waterproof plastic bag things, but I’m not sure I trust them.

I’ve got to work out something, though. I hate missing work calls.

*Big Fucking Light

Filed under: Work

Happy post-Halloween.

I feel pretty good considering I seriously poisoned myself Saturday night with gallons of cheap Shiraz and mini-Snickers (the Snickers were for the kids, the wine, not so much). I usually have to work on Halloween, so it was nice that it fell on a weekend and I was able to go to two parties, although I was too lazy to make any sort of attempt at a costume. This wasn’t a problem at the first party, but at the second party I was the only one not dressed up, plus I had to walk though the annual Halloween street party in Hollywood (they close off Hollywood Blvd. to traffic and people walk up and down wearing costumes). I told the people who asked that I was dressed as a serial killer and we look just like everyone else, but no one was buying it. I’m lucky nobody doused me in Silly String.

Last week, I got a full five-day week, which is a rarity in day player world. Three’s the average, four is breathing room in the bank account and five is extra happy – plus it was on two different shows so I won’t take quite the tax hit that I would have had it all been on the same payroll. I also worked 70 hours, with fairly short turnarounds every night, so I just couldn’t bring myself to come home and sit at the computer instead of showering off and face planting into the bed. The foot held up reasonably well, though. It hurt at the end of the week, but not any more than the other foot hurt, so I guess it’s an almost-win.

I didn’t know beforehand that I was going to get a whole week, so of course I’d gone out on Sunday and bought groceries, many of which had spoiled by the time Saturday morning rolled around. Oh, well.

So far this week I’ve got one day tomorrow, but hopefully I’ll pick up another day or two as the week progresses.


Filed under: life in LA

November 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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