Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

The amazing disappearing bicycle

On studio lots there are bikes – hundreds of them, and they’re everywhere. Since most lots won’t let you drive your car on (you’ll have to park in the structure and walk), folks bring bikes so it’s easier to get from one end of the lot to the other.

On smaller lots like Culver Studios or Sunset Gower (the original home of Columbia Pictures), one doesn’t really need a bike, but on larger lots like Sony or Universal they’re an absolute necessity (especially at Universal, which is HUGE).

Most folks ride old rusty beach cruisers (many with industrial sized baskets on the front which make steering interesting) that they don’t bother to lock, because why would you?

Some people keep a bike on each lot – they just find it and use it when they’re there, and then leave it sit when they’re not.

These bikes are easy to spot, as they’re the ones with the dusty seats and bird-shit spattered frames. If you get to the lot and need a bike, you can always borrow one of the obviously disused ones.  Which works out fine – if someone stops you and says “Hey! That’s my bike!” you just apologize, dismount and find some other beater to use while you’re there.

I brought my own bike to the Sony lot while I’m working there and the guys on our crew have a communal borrowed one that they’ve been riding for the duration of the show. Which is fine – most folks don’t mind people borrowing bikes as long as the bikes stay on the lot and get returned.  The folks who don’t want to share usually lock their bikes.

Since I’m currently having some mechanical issues with my bike (I need to repack the bearings in the front wheel), I’ve been locking it as I don’t want someone to borrow it and maybe get hurt if there’s some kind of  failure.

So after work today, I locked up the bike, walked to the car, dropped off my bag and then made a rash decision to visit the studio electronics store.

On the Sony lot, there’s a store where they sell discounted electronic goods – normally, the prices are about what you’d find on sale at retail outlets, but today they were having a sale and I’m just not strong enough to resist discount technobaubles.

Since I’d gotten the bike rack equivalent of rock star parking, I borrowed the crew’s communal bike from the rack in front of the parking structure, rode over to the store and bought a Blu-Ray player for $25.


Except when I came out, the bike was gone.

Shit, shit, shit.

When I mentioned to a passer-by that the bike had gone missing, he replied “Oh, once I lost mine for two months!”

Since it’s a breach of lot etiquette to not return the bike to where you got it, I’m going to get to work a bit early and see if whoever borrowed it returned it overnight so I can bring it back to the rack where either it’s owner or my boss will expect to find it in the morning.

If not, I’m just going to hope that the bike eventually finds its person and that the boys forgive me. Which they should, since they can always borrow another bike.

There are plenty to go around.

Filed under: mishaps, studio lots, Work

7 Responses

  1. JCW says:

    Exactly the sort entry that gives folks folks who’ve never worked on a film lot a taste of what it’s like in reality.

    Your writing at it’s best – very “day in the life”.

    Still think that way back when – when you wrote of working in left over snow – that you were writing of the Warners lot and Gilmore snow.

  2. unionguy says:

    I work at a major- for the past 4 years..had two bikes stolen..thought the same thing, they were borrowed, would turn up soon. Never did. I think the guy I bought it from took it, after he was laid off. No more bikes for me on any lots.

  3. I leave an old beater bike in the parking structure at my home lot — locked up, of course. But once I’ve unlocked it for the day’s work, I leave it untended near the stage door until wrap. Haven’t had a problem yet, but a friend of mine got lucky last year when a security guard noticed some creep riding off the lot on his bike. The guard knew him well enough to recognize the bike, and grabbed the creep.

    I’ve borrowed my share of bikes over the years, but always put them right back where I found them — that’s how it’s supposed to work.

    The Golden Rule — too bad everybody doesn’t follow it…

  4. bluefrontdoor says:

    I had a bike stolen on the Fox lot a few years ago. Bright pink, white basket, pink & silver streamers…STREAMERS! Who steals a bike with streamers?! Oh, not to mention the big sign with my name and show name on it that someone in Transpo made for me.
    Someone else on the crew found it across the lot a few days later and kindly returned it to me.

  5. A.J. says:

    So did you ever get the bike back??

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