Day exteriors mean that certain departments don’t have a whole lot of work to do.
Grips end up running around like crazy all day but once we’ve run power to the coffeepot we do a lot of sitting and talking.
Today, the talk turned to the toll that runaway production has taken on all of us.
Personally, I make about half of what I did a decade ago, due to most of the movies leaving town. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge anyone anywhere any work – we all have to look out for each other because no one else is going to do it, but it would be nice to not have to worry about money. You know, like I used to be able to do.
The story’s the same for all of us. For some folks, it involved more material goods (boats, nice cars, dinners out, sexy shoes, etc..) and for some folks it involved family (private schools, ballet lessons, summer camps, etc..), but for all intents and purposes the gravy train has come to an end.
Now we’re just scraping by, hoping like hell to get enough hours to keep our health insurance (currently we have to work 400 hours per semester to keep said insurance. Doesn’t sound like a lot until you think about the fact that it’s not unusual for crew folks to go a month or so without working when it gets slow), and hoping against hope that we’ll get enough hours to be able to retire with a pension (current requirements: 30 years and 60,000 documented work hours).
Since I didn’t get in the union until I was about 30, the chances that I’ll be able to retire with a full pension are slim to none. I’m just hoping to get enough hours to be able to retire with some semblance of insurance, but if you believe the bleating of the producers, our health insurance is bankrupting them. And by bankrupting, I mean that they have to buy the $50,000 German sports car and not the $90,000 German sports car – plus they have to endure the humiliation of having a girlfriend with real tits.
Oh, the horror.
I realize this is all subjective, and to someone who is struggling to make ends meet on minimum wage and hoping they don’t get sick because they can’t afford insurance I look like a greedy fucking pig for bitching about my middle class income and reasonable (once you think about the bigger picture) co-pays. Perhaps the same way Mr. Producer with his cut-rate Porsche and embarrassing saggy-tits girlfriend looks to me.
But where’s the breaking point?
At what point do I decide that I can no longer make a living doing a job that I really enjoy and start thinking about a plan B?
And what kind of plan B can I possibly have? I’m not qualified to do anything other than lift heavy things and wax poetic about meaningless shit.
Sure, it’s busy right now (which is great), but the busy periods are fewer and farther between and the bank account gets drained faster. The fact that I’ve had to rely on charity grants to make my rent twice in as many years is really food for thought*.
When do I throw in the towel? And what the hell do I do after?
It’s a question a lot of us are asking ourselves these days, and unfortunately there are no easy answers.
*The fact that some wonderful people hire me consistently (even though they know me) is the reason I’m still in the industry. I’m very grateful for what I have.