Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

A short workday.

Most of the time, when I work, it’s for 12 hours or more – sometimes, though, I get lucky and ‘beat the rate’ (we’re paid for 8 hours no matter if we work that long or not, so if we hustle and get out early, we beat the rate).

Like tonight. I went in to help tweak the rig on a three-camera sitcom*and we only had about 8 hours worth of work, so we hustled as fast as we could and got out in a little over six hours.

I spent most of the day up in a lift, aiming lights in a new set and catching up with some very nice people who I don’t get to see very often. All this, and I got home at a decent hour.

As tempting as it is to find a party and crash it, I’m going to stay home and rest. My lower back is hurting – I guess I strained it somehow so if ice packs don’t help I’m going to have to dig out the back belt, which is a miserable sweaty contraption in the heat.

*Most hour-long shows are shot like a movie – broken up into scenes and shot with one main camera. Most half hour sitcoms are shot with three cameras and an audience. All the sets face the audience and the show is shot in sequence, kind of like a play. If you’re ever in Los Angeles, I’d recommend going to a taping – they’re free and it’s really interesting to watch.

Filed under: Work

6 Responses

  1. Annika says:

    I’ve been in LA for eight and a half years and I’ve never gone to a taping. I guess I should get on that.

    I’m sorry your back hurts! I’ve got a good massage therapist if you need it.

  2. JCW says:

    Back pain or no – a party crashing evening would have done you good.

    If I’m going to attend a taping of anything, I damn well better be a guest star or a contestant.

    We’re talking a SoCal trip to see a new niece, and looking at visits to Price Is Right and Let’s Make A Deal while we’re there.

    What can I say? The economy has hit everyone.

  3. Bob says:

    Hi Peggy:
    Just have a quick question. I live in the LA area, and wish to work part time as an extra. There are lots of agencies out there. Which ones would you recommend going with and which ones would you avoid. Any hints or tips you can give me too would be appreciated.

    Peggy sez: I’ll ask one of our extras the next time I work.

  4. Glad to hear you’re working, Peg — and welcome to the wonderful world of multi-camera shows. The truth is, so-called “three camera” shows have been using four cameras for many years now, but you’d never know that on a rigging/lighting day. I have no idea why the old terminology still persists.

    I recommend multi-camera shows to any of my visiting civilian friends who want to peek behind the scenes. With a warm-up comedian to keep the audience laughing all night (some of those guys are really good), the proximity to the actual show — the cameras and actors are barely twenty feet from the front row — and hot pizza handed out to the audience half way through the show, it’s an illuminating and entertaining evening for anyone curious about how things really work in Hollywood.

    JCW — if a multi-cam show doesn’t interest you, you might look into snagging seats for Craig Ferguson’s show at the CBS studio facility on Beverly and Fairfax. I hear that’s a really fun show to sit in on.

    • JCW says:

      Thanks for the suggestion Mike! Smart ass humor aside, seeing a multi-cam show being taped would be highly educational for me. I’ve only worked on features, television drama, and cheapo reenactment shows… I imagine the discipline for the actors is entirely different from what I’ve experienced.

      Serious about a tour of the game shows though….

  5. bob says:

    Try getting a Lay-z-boy chair and sleep a few night s in that my doc recommended it to me –as you don’t toss and turn all night it rests the back muscles– I know I lift 4/0 cable too –it really helps


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