Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Wednesday the 13th

Wow. I thought it just Friday the 13 was unlucky. Turns out, Wednesday’s just as bad.

The day started out with a small fire on the stage –  when lights that have hung in a rig for years get covered in dust and candy bar wrappers and then pumped full of enough electricity to illuminate a city block sometimes they start fires. Small ones, usually.

Yesterday’s fire was small, but it was up near the roof of the set, so if not extinguished right away it would have either set off the sprinklers (which would have ruined the entire set since it’s not waterproof), or really taken hold and started burning most of the set along with all the dust and fabric and crap that accumulates up high. An intrepid person grabbed fire extinguisher, hopped in a lift, went up and put fire out before any damage occurred other than a medium-sized hole in the plastic that looks like a ceiling.

Instead of this person getting a congratulatory fruit basket or being given, say, a percentage of the millions of dollars that the set not burning saved the studio, we have to conceal this person’s identity from the studio brass lest they mete out punishment  for not following studio fire procedure, which is apparently to drop everything and run out of the stage, screaming like a little girl (or something).

Were I in charge, I’d have given this person Michael Bay’s parking space, plus free lunches at the commissary in perpetuity (on second thought that’s probably punishment), the aforementioned cash bonus and all the DVDs ever released by the studio, but no. This person’s actually afraid of retaliation for having a fucking ounce of sense.

Dear Film Industry: most of the time I love you, but sometimes I really think you suck.

Our last shot of the night was a night exterior to be shot at the park across the street from the lot. We weren’t expecting to do much lighting, so we just went to the lamp dock and got two little portable generators – familiarly known as ‘putt-putts’

One of the things that bites you in the ass until you just give in and accept it is that these generators, by all rights, should be able to run about 20 amps more than they actually will. They *should* be able to run about 60 amps, but in reality, they’ll only run about 40 (maybe. If you’re lucky). There’s no real reason for this that anyone can figure out other than the hamster that’s inside of the thing just can’t run fast enough to get the job done.

Of course, sometimes the gaffer asks us to plug more into the generators than we know they’ll run – we can’t argue and expect to have a job the next day, so we do it, knowing that the breakers are going to pop and hoping desperately that it doesn’t happen during a take.

Also of course, every time the generators gave up and we lost the lights, it was during a take. Awesome. Lucky for us the gaffer and DP are nice guys and didn’t blame us for Honda’s inability to build a generator that will run the amperage it should.

Even with the generator problems, the scene went quickly and we only had a 10 hour day.

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January 2010
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