Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Post Thanksgiving pantry issues

This Thanksgiving was a potluck affair, which is good and bad at the same time.

Good because one person doesn’t have to do all the cooking, but bad because there’s not really a cohesive menu plan in place. People just get assigned to bring something or other and, well, it can be interesting.

Luckily, everything was fantastic and a good time was had by all – especially after we were a half-dozen bottles of wine into the evening.

My contribution was a stuffing containing hazelnuts.

Which turned out pretty well, except that now I’ve got about half a pound of hazelnuts in my pantry and while they tasted great in said stuffing, on their own they’re absolutely horrible.

It’s like there’s a party in my mouth and someone just threw up all over the sofa. Which is odd, since I normally like hazelnut flavored things. Guess it’s not the same as actual hazelnuts.

Since I’m loathe to discard even semi-edible food, I’m just about at my wit’s end trying to figure out what to do with these damn things.

Ground up over ice cream? Disgusting.

Toasted in butter? Disgusting, and a waste of good butter.

Soaked in chocolate? Still disgusting.

I know I’m in trouble if something that’s covered in chocolate tastes nasty.

Short of throwing the fucking things at the seagulls, I’m out of ideas.

Anyone have any suggestions?


NOTE: Not chestnuts. Chestnuts are little packages of awesome. I’m referring to Hazelnuts, also known as Filberts, also known as “dear gods what the fuck did I just put in my mouth?”


Filed under: Non-Work, Off-Topic

And we’re back!

Last week, I worked on a non-union flat rate (read: bend over, buddy, you’re in for it) job which, of course, despite the promise to keep the hours reasonable, went long. Into the night.

Hands up who didn’t see that one coming?

So I’ve been on a bit of a night schedule since then. Which is fine, except that I got a call from a very good friend to work on the rigging crew of some TV show shooting on a lot 100 yards from where I used to live (of course).

With a 6 am call and a crosstown drive, this meant the alarm went off at the crack of dark (4:30 am).

Which would have also been fine, had I not been awake and staring at the ceiling until about midnight.


So I was sleepy all day, and for some reason, dizzy. Which was also fine, since people on ladders need ground support (to fetch, hand things up, and help move the ladder).

We spent the afternoon putting color corrected tubes in fluorescent fixtures and then hanging said fixtures into the dropped ceiling of the set. Since some of the cable dropping down from the perms was a bit hard to reach, we had to adjust – usually by screaming at the top of our lungs (to overpower the sound of drills and three radios tuned to different stations) to the guys up on the perms.

Last night, my intention was to get off to bed about half an hour ago, except that I came home and found that for some reason, WordPress had accused me of being a spammer/scammer/slog/content scraper and frozen the blog over there with no warning or anything.

Awesome. Because I needed that. Really, I did.

Here’s the page that was normally the ‘dashboard’ of my blog:

This blog has been deactivated because we believe it does not comply with the Terms of Service or advertising policy.

If your blog is designed to promote affiliate links, get rich quick programs, banner ads, consists solely or mostly of duplicate or automatically generated material, or is part of a search engine marketing campaign, is not the place for you. Please use the Export feature to move your content to a more appropriate hosting service.

After firing off a panic-y email to support, I got a nice apology and the explanation that the ‘system shouldn’t have done that’.

Guess that makes me feel better. I spent most of the night trying to figure out what could have triggered that.

And once again I’m off to work on very little sleep.

Hello, coffee. You’re my best friend today.

Filed under: mishaps

Back to the land of the hourly wage

After a couple of really, really long days on the flat rate favor job (seriously, I thought my days of having to negotiate pay for hours worked over and beyond reasonable for the rate were over. Please let me never have to go back there again), I’m once again in the land of the hourly wage that pays benefits with some nice folks that I haven’t seen in a while – which is good.

I’m looking forward to catching up and being paid a fair wage at the same time.

Everybody wins!

Said non-union flat rate favor job have decided that the proper thing to do for the crew after screwing us mercilessly is to throw a wrap party with an open bar.

Which is fine (although one could possibly argue that the booze bill could have funded some extra cash for the crew), except that the party takes place on a weeknight. Tuesday to be exact.

Which, since I’m likely to have a 6 am call Wednesday, means no free booze for me.

Oh, well. Guess I’ll just have to overindulge on Thanksgiving to make up for it.

Filed under: crack of dawn, Work, , , , ,

A not so great start

After working in the industry for a time, one develops the ability to look at a call sheet and estimate  the length of the day.

Today’s call sheet looked like it might end up being about a nine or ten hour day. Which, since we’re working for a flat rate ( rate per day, no overtime) seemed pretty sweet.

Three scenes, none featuring more than four actors, no complicated blocking (one scene at a cosmetics counter, one in front of an elevator door, one in a bathroom).

Except for the wild card. Improv.

This show isn’t scripted – it’s all improv, which can sometimes be awesome, if the entertainment Gods smile upon one’s production*.

Needless to say, the entertainment Gods not only did not smile upon us, but they’re actively angered about something. We’re not sure what, though. Tomorrow, we ritually kill the loader** first thing and see if the day goes any better.

The main problem with a non-scripted show is that you do, in fact, have to have some sort of script. Or at least an idea of what direction one wants to take with the rambling of actors who don’t really know what’s expected of them beyond “just go with it”.

Needless to say, our day was over 12 hours.

The problem wasn’t us. We lit, tweaked and then got the hell out of the way. Same as we always do.

The problem was the each scene took about four hours to shoot once the actors got in.

Note to aspiring directors: If something’s not working, don’t keep doing it again and again and again in the hopes that it will magically work itself out. It won’t. For fuck’s sake, stop, fix the problem and then soldier on.  We understand. Really we do. We’ll even re-light and won’t blame you.

First scene: Three actors at a counter in a department store: Four and a half hours.

Second scene: Four actors  in front of an elevator with minimal movement. Five hours.

Third scene:  Two actors in a bathroom. Three hours.

I have to be back at 6 am tomorrow.

I’m off to bed.

*The show Reno 911 was an improv show.

**Once upon a time, the loader (or 2nd AC) was the poor bastard who had to load the film – this meant spending the entire day in the truck, either locked into the ‘dark box’ or filling out paperwork or getting coffee. Now, with video? There’s still a ‘loader’, but the charge batteries, download data, and get coffee.

Filed under: crack of dawn, long long drives, Work

Hot burritos available at call

Not breakfast. Not catering. Hot burritos.

From where? I have no idea.

For the next few days, I’m doing a favor job for a very, very good friend of mine.

The rate is less than I’d make were I to stay home and draw unemployment, but we do things like this for our friends when they need us, and let’s face it – any work is good since for some inexplicable reason, I do like my job.

Ultra-low budget productions are at the very least, hilarious and we don’t have a big enough lighting package to really get in trouble. In fact, we’re limited to what we can plug into the wall at the location, so the worst thing that can happen is… Wait. I do know better than to even type that.

Update tomorrow, since we can’t shoot much beyond dark. We only have four lights.



Filed under: Work, , , , ,


Here in Los Angeles, we take all sorts of natural disasters in stride. Earthquakes, tsunamis, out-of-control wind-driven fires, killer bees, Brett Ratner… none of them even make us drop our lattes.

Until the unthinkable happens and water begins to fall from the sky.

Then, we panic uncontrollably, run screaming to the grocery stores for supplies (can’t run out of Pinot Grigio, now can we? Oh, wait.. Are you supposed to drink white wine or red in a raging storm that will be the death of us all? Somebody help me before my head explodes), drive recklessly through the damp streets, crash our cars and then swear never, ever to leave the house ever again if there’s even a hint of that evil sky water on the horizon.

So with the news predicting an all-out onslaught of scattered showers throughout the weekend, my lack of work was not such a terrible thing, since I get very, very nervous even attempting to drive (or bike, or walk) around panicky Angelenos who are trying to clean the local grocer out of anything even remotely edible while fighting the onslaught of frizzy hair.

Although I did venture out to visit  the gym, I  avoided all grocery stores and, just to be safe, hardware stores and booksellers.

As predicted, it’s been drizzling intermittently all afternoon and I’m now home,  watching the news coverage of the colossal traffic jam.

Oh, the humanity.

Filed under: camera, humor, life in LA, Los Angeles, Non-Work, Photos, , , , , ,

A rainy weekend

Santa Monica Pier with storm rolling in

That’s Santa Monica Pier with a storm rolling in. The greyish bump at the horizon to the left is Catalina Island.

It’s not a bad thing that I didn’t work this week – the week before I did four 14 hour days, cumulating with an all-nighter that left me so drained I was unable to do much of anything but lay around and refuse to chase the cat.

I’m still tired.  I also haven’t been workout out much as I somehow managed to pull a muscle in my ass, which feels exactly as wonderful as one might imagine.

This past weekend it’s been cold and rainy, and today it’s clear and just plain cold, so my plan is to take the rest of the afternoon to work up the courage to go jump in the pool later.

Cold air+ cold water = ick, even though I warm up once I start moving around.  Hopefully I’ll manage to scare up some work this week, but it’s getting quiet, so I’m not holding out any hope.

Filed under: camera, life in LA, Non-Work, Photos

Friday Video

This is why the neighbors complain about film crews. That’s half a million watts of light flashing at four am.

Filed under: locations, Photos, up all night, Work

November 2011

Flickr Photos



Random Quote

"If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." -Anne Lamott

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