Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.


One of the things that directors never, ever think about but really should is how long it takes to move a 100+ person crew (and the associated equipment) when a show’s doing company moves (starting the day’s work at one location, then packing up and moving to an entirely different location).

Once the ADs call “we’re on the move”, we have to gather all our equipment, pack it onto our carts, walk the location to make sure we didn’t lose anything expensive, push the carts to the truck, load the carts, find a van and then travel.

All of this, as you might imagine, doesn’t happen instantaneously.

Today, we started out at one of Los Angeles’ many abandoned hospitals – we were shooting in the basement, and because the DP likes to see the whole world, we had to rig our lights into the dropped ceiling (not that difficult, but time-consuming).

Our intrepid director shot right up until lunch, and since we were just a teensy bit undermanned we couldn’t go eat lunch and then come back (after lunch, we would be needed to work the new set) so we had to wrap, load our carts onto a stakebed and then download before we could eat. Which was fine, except that the company broke for lunch about half an hour before we did.

The problem with this became apparent when it was time to go back to work and start lighting. They rehearsed, blocked and were ready to light, and all of lighting and grip were still at lunch for another 20 minutes.

The solution proposed by a very frazzled UPM was to have grip and electric take a half hour lunch (as opposed to the hour everyone else had), so we’d be back to work along with everyone else.

So that’s what we did.

We cut our lunch short to keep the day on schedule – because we’d all rather have that time at the end of the day when our feet hurt and we’re tired and want to go home.

Filed under: Work

4 Responses

  1. Brian says:

    I’m not sure I understand the problem correctly. In NYC, we sometimes have 2 company moves in the course of a day. One of the ways we save time is the load/break/move scenario wherein we complete shooting at one location (even if we have to buy multiple penalties) then load the trucks and break for lunch – the theory being that the trucks move while we eat and are standing by at the next location when we’re back ‘in’. Lunch isn’t called officially until the last gate is up, and the company isn’t due back ‘in’ until the last man has gone through the lunch line and has sat down – from that moment the crew has 30 minutes till lunch ends. It’s usually very efficient and the plan is created by the 1st AD and shared with the director. What’s different in L.A.?

  2. JCW says:

    Do you get a meal penalty for cutting your lunch back to 30 minutes?

    • When lunch is served on location, the break (as played-a-grip noted) is typically thirty minutes. When no lunch is served on location — meaning the crew is on its own for lunch — the break is one hour. Given the time it takes to run a hundred people through the catering line, many episodics (especially cheap-ass cable shows) have begun calling a one hour lunch break even when they’re providing the food. First person through the line gets a nice break, but the last person in line is often lucky to get thirty actual minutes of sit-down time to eat — and the production company doesn’t have to pay for that hour break.

      It’s just one more way they screw us, inch by bloody inch…

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