Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Corporate vandalism in a broke city

DISCLAIMER: I did a long-ish bike ride in the heat today and am tired and cranky. Lector Caveo.

As you may or may not know, the city of Los Angeles is broke. Even more broke than the proverbial joke. They’re cutting back on services to the needy, laying off police,  firefighters and teachers in an attempt to make ends meet.

One of the financial responsibilities of the city is graffiti removal. On vertical surfaces, this involves juvenile delinquents (the ones who got caught) slapping a coat of paint that doesn’t quite match the building over the graffiti, and it’s done.

But stuff that’s been sprayed on sidewalks requires a skilled crew to come out with a sandblaster, at what I can’t imagine is a small expense.

Did I mention the city’s broke? Yes, yes I did.  So you can imagine how upset I was when I saw this:


Yup. That’s a misguided attempt at ‘viral marketing’ spray painted on a city sidewalk.

It’s going to have to be sandblasted off, costing the city money that it doesn’t have.  

Of course, the city won’t go after these idiots for the removal costs, but they should.  Also of course, someone’s being robbed right now and there’s no police around because they’ve had their hours cut.

Assholes. Straining a broke city’s resources because some ad agency asshat wanted to try out that newfangled stuff that the kids like.

So fuck you, overpriced flip-flops and the worthless shit-stain of an agency you rode in on.

If I find the person who cooked up this ‘idea’, I’m going to beat them to death with their own copy of Adweek. Or an overpriced flip-flop. Whichever’s closer.

Filed under: cranky, life in LA, Los Angeles, Non-Work, Off-Topic, Photos, rants

Mid-week poll

So, I’m on Facebook, I’m on Twitter, I’m on Foursquare, I’m on MySpace, which I don’t log onto because I know it sucks. Hell, I think I might still be on Friendster (remember that?).

I’ve got a blog. I know lots of other people with blogs, who know lots of other people with blogs, and somewhere somebody cares. We’re all sure of it.

Does this make me a ‘Social Media Expert’?

And if so, how can I use this so-called expertise to make some cash?

I’m just asking because work is still slow – I hear rumors of it picking up ‘soon’, but so far, nothing. I thought I had a day of work on Friday, but since it’s still slow and the competition for the few jobs there are is pretty fierce, I lost the day to someone who can work it better than I can. So to speak.

Filed under: humor, Non-Work

More computer woes

My ancient (built it with the help of a co-worker during American Pie 2) desktop has finally died – sort of.

I foolishly tried to upgrade said operating system (thinking that newer was better) and now the browser won’t even start. Plus, the mouse does this really annoying thing where it leaves a little trail of arrows even when there’s no internet involved. What’s up with that?

It’s been such a pain that I haven’t even bothered with the internet. My temp solution is to plug-in my laptop and use that, but I really do want a desktop. I know that seems excessive, but I’ve had a lot more problems with laptops than I have with desktops over the years, so I really do just think of the laptop as the ‘spare’ computer. Plus, the laptop gets really, really hot even when it’s not plugged in and that makes me more than a little nervous.

I can get some internet sites on my phone, but not very many since I’m not willing to pay a million dollars a month for ‘high-speed’ access. On a phone. It already freaks me out that I have to re-boot the damn thing. I don’t need internet problems on top of that.

Since I’m not sure I have the patience to build another system myself (this involves about 3,000 trips to Fry’s and lots of screaming and hair-tearing), I thought I’d just buy some cast-off from Craig’s List, yank out the hard drive, put in mine and viola! Computing powers galore.

Not so much. Turns out, people on Craig’s List apparently have no idea about the rate at which consumer electronics depreciate. Just because you paid $700 for the computer five years ago does NOT mean it’s still worth that.

That, and wading through the massive number of miscategorized ads, ID theft scams and pleas to help smuggle funds out of the country. Is is just me, or has the signal-to-noise ratio on Craig’s List increased about five hundred fold in the past year?

So, I guess that leaves me with buying some cheap desktop or a ‘bare bones’ system, since I’m not proud and am totally okay with anything that actually works.

This still means I have to drive to Fry’s, which seems to be competing with IKEA to see who can put stores in the most godforsaken locations in the hottest parts of town.

At least the city’s sports fans aren’t still rioting.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Friday Photo

Color correction.

Gels come in all colors, but the two types that we use most often are CTO (Color Temperature Orange) and CTB (Color Temperature Blue).

These aren’t any ordinary colored gels – they actually correct the light’s color temperature, making a tungsten light color balanced for day or an HMI lamp color balanced for night (night exteriors are usually lit with tungsten lamps).

The color temp gels come in full, half, quarter and eighth, which gives one the ability to decide just how corrected that light should be. Extra blue-y backlight in that night scene? Probably an uncorrected HMI standing in for moonlight.

This particular example is an HMI (balanced for daylight) with full CTO, which means that on film, it’ll look like a tungsten lamp.

Filed under: Photos, up all night, Work

Things to come, I hope.

Yesterday, instead of going to a spinning class, I took the real bike out for a ride.

My standard “I don’t want to work too hard” ride is along Venice Blvd.  to the beach and back – there are no steep hills, it’s got a bike lane all the way out (even though UPS trucks like to park right in the middle of it) and it’s a nice ride with many opportunities to stop for coffee.
It also takes me past several studio lots.
What I saw today on my ride made me very happy – lots of construction trucks full of flats (4′ x 8′ sections of fake wall that are erected to form a set), and art department trucks.
Since construction and the swing gangs start working before we do, I’m hoping this means it’s going to get busy fairly for us very soon. Not that I’m enjoying the rest and increased gym time, but I’d really rather work.

Filed under: Los Angeles, Non-Work

Friday Photo

Rain bars and Technocrane

Mother Nature being the uncooperative bitch that she is, never creates rain when we really need it. Hence the contraptions on the right of the photo – they’re called either rain bars or rain towers, and they’re set up, hooked up to a water truck and they make very realistic-looking rain.

Someone once told me that in the old-fashioned black and white movies, they mixed the rain water with non-fat dry milk to make it show up. We don’t do that anymore, if it was ever done (and if you know for sure, please do let me know).

The key to really nice-looking rain is backlight. Always backlight or sidelight your rain, and then it stands out and looks really pretty on film, and you get the nice shine on the wet ground and buildings.

If you light rain from the front, it will look  like crap. You’ve been warned.

My unemployment interview was, thankfully, a non-event because I got lucky and got a lady who understood film workers. Sometimes it can take some explaining, but she got it right away and told me to just update my ‘resume’ on the job site so I’d show as active and make the computer happy. Or something.

Happy weekend.

Filed under: camera, Photos, studio lots, up all night, Work

What I did with my holiday weekend

Sunday, I did a favor job, even though what I really wanted to do was go to a BBQ and stuff myself full of booze and tasty meat products.

Normally my answer to questions about working for free or for a vastly discounted rate is a resounding ‘no’,  but the person doing the asking has thrown me a lot of work, and the job was crewed with extra wonderful people who I really like, so of course I said yes.

This particular day was a shoot for a short film referred to as a vanity project.  Somebody writes a short script, hits up friends and family for money, rents some equipment and starts shooting. Most of these projects are completely insufferable, but this one actually seemed rather clever, and director and producer were super nice guys – I hope they make it really big, or at least get their pick of the bimbos at Sundance.

We had a 9 am call time in a parking garage at CBS Radford, which was okay as we were out of the sun.  Then, just as it started to get hot, we moved to the Universal backlot, which is host to a dizzying variety of microclimates. Parts of the lot are like working in a microwave, and parts of the lot require a fur parka when the sun goes down. Mostly, the facades are hot (concrete and glass with no wind) and anything near the lakes is nice but buggy during the day and freezing at night.

Of course, we were in one of the hottest areas during the day – the lot’s European Village set – complete with steep hills, cobbled streets and a layout which prevents any winds from reaching the set while it bakes in the sun.

Attempting to push carts up a steep hill over cobblestones can be an adventure to say the least. On a show with a budget, we’d have a driver and a stakebed, but since we didn’t we just had to push and swear.

About halfway though the day, my feet (both of them, not just the one) were aching, and by the end of the day the pain had radiated up to my knees and hips. This is normal for this particular set, sadly.

If you’ve never had the misfortune to try to walk on cobblestones, they’re uneven and slippery. When they get wet (and of course we were using rainbars), they’re like bumpy ice – it’s impossible to get any kind of purchase at all, especially when one’s pushing a cart full of cable (or a cart full of whatever people used to put in carts) up a hill.  I’m surprised humanity emerged with intact spines.

Also, the production staff couldn’t remember my name when they labelled the walkies, so they wrote ‘girl electric’ on mine. I was expecting much snickering about this from my co-workers, but they were either too tired to make fun of it or just didn’t care. I’m sure they’ll razz me about it later.

Call time: 9 am. Camera wrap: midnight. After wrapping all our gear and loading our truck, we left at 2 am.

When I finally did get home, all I wanted to do was faceplant into the bed, but the long day of sweating in the 80+ degree heat left me smelling so bad that I had to take a shower, which put me in bed about 3 am.

Between the long day and those fucking cobblestones, I was so sore I could hardly walk Monday, and even yesterday I was still dragging. A swim helped, but I didn’t really feel rested until this morning.

It wasn’t all that bad, though – we only had a 3 ton truck (that’s small, in case you were wondering), so we couldn’t get all that peeled, and I was working with some wonderful fun people, so the time went fairly quickly.

Tomorrow, I have my mandatory unemployment interview, where I’ll try to explain to them that I don’t really apply for work in the traditional sense.

Wish me luck with that one.

Filed under: studio lots, Work

June 2010

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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