Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

And we grind merrily to a halt

After over two months of pretty much non-stop work, I find myself with an entire week off.

It’s not entirely a bad thing. I’m not earning any money, but I have a chance to catch up on things like dentist appointments, laundry, housecleaning and attacking the waist-high weeds that have taken over the garden.

I’ve been running most of my errands on the bicycle, since gasoline has had its annual “it’s almost summer, pay up suckas” price hike and is hovering, in my neighborhood, around $4.50 per gallon.

Note to Europeans: Stop snickering. America was built on cheap gasoline and when it starts to approach something similar to what the rest of the world is paying, we panic. Maybe they should start listing it by the liter here – it would cost just as much to fill up, but the number on the sign would be smaller and we’d feel better.

Since I’ve been biking so much, I’ve been able to smell the night-blooming jasmine, which is flowering very early this year, but that’s a good thing. I hate synthetic jasmine perfumes, but the real thing smells wonderful, and the jasmine in the summer is one of my favorite things about Los Angeles.

In case you’ve never been here during the summer, Cestrum nocturnum was originally imported as an ornamental plant, and now grows wild (and cultivated) throughout the city.

It doesn’t blanket the city so much as it settles in areas, which one walks through.  At the old place, I could open the windows during the summer and the scent would fill the entire apartment.

In the new place, I have to walk about 10 feet to find a plant that’s blooming, but the landlord planted several plants outside the window, so I have high hopes for the summer.

The smell will ease the pain of my upstairs neighbor’s bad guitar playing.

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

Friday Photo

image

A portable air-conditioning unit on a sound stage. 

These are also used on locations, as most buildings don’t have air conditioning capable of cooling a room full of hot lights.

Filed under: camera, Photos, studio lots, Work, , ,

Wackiness Ensues

Friday, there was a big long discussion about the equipment we would need for our day exterior yesterday.

Since Monday was predicted to be overcast, we anticipated having to manufacture our own sunlight and requested a tow plant (a generator which is towed as opposed to being mounted on the tractor) and two 18ks.

Production shot us down and told us we could have a 5500 watt portable Honda (referred to as a putt-putt) and a 4k HMI.

The first problem we had was the rain. We were shooting inserts for a scene which had been shot in full sunlight, and since we were being rained on no matter how close we got the camera to the hand with the key (or something) the one small light we had just wasn’t enough to make the shot match, were we even able to use it.

Which brings me to the problem with the generator itself.

Most of these portable generators have a 60 amp outlet, which is enough to power one light which pulls about 40 amps.  So we were very surprised to see this:

Who thought this was a good idea?

That, dear readers, is a 60 amp outlet with a 20 amp breaker, thus rendering said outlet completely useless for our purposes.

None of us can figure out the logic behind  doing that, but clearly there was some as every single putt-putt on the lamp dock with a 60 amp outlet had a 20 amp breaker.

So, after a mad last-minute scramble, we procured a 1200 amp tow plant and an 18k (but just one – not the two that we’d asked for) to get the shots we needed.

At, might I add, considerably more expense and delay than had we been able to arrange all this Friday.

Once we got back to the stage, the rest of the day was all about screaming babies and trying desperately to get them to shut the fuck up and look adorable for 10 seconds.

The babies, of course, were having none of it, and since legally we can only keep them on set for a certain amount of time, we’ll have to go back and try to get the shot another day.

Oh, and Happy Valentines Day, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Filed under: Photos, Work, , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday Photo

Mirror, mirror

A portable makeup table for on-set touch-ups.

Today, I had a lot of time to take photos, since most of our day was spent trying desperately to get footage of a happy baby.

Of course, the baby we were using spent most of the day screaming until her face took on a blue tinge.

She was fine when she wasn’t on set, but as soon as they tried to put her in front of the camera the high-pitched shrieks and tears started.

Some people just aren’t cut out for show business, I guess.

Filed under: mishaps, Photos, studio lots, Work, , , , , , , , , , , ,

You’re driving us where?

One of the tricks productions use to avoid paying mileage is the bus-to.

One reports to the lot, and then gets in a van and is driven for an eon or so to some place that isn’t featured on modern maps.

Generally, this means showing up at work at the crack of dawn in order to beat the traffic.

Tomorrow, my call time is 4:30 am. In case you’re keeping count, that’s before the sun comes up.

We’ll then load a stakebed with either too much equipment or not nearly enough and get driven out to the location were the ADs have promised they’ll have breakfast for us.

From McDonalds.

Which I won’t eat*, so I have to get up early enough to make breakfast before I leave, which means I’m  going to set the alarm for an hour I don’t even want to think about.

Which means I have to go to bed right about now if I want to have even the slightest hope of being even semi-coherent in the morning.

*I’m certainly not implying that you shouldn’t eat McDonalds if you like it, but I think it tastes like boiled cats prepared with water from a Superfund site.  Plus, it makes me shit out stuff I ate three weeks ago, which isn’t fun for anyone.

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

Friday Photo

Street scene

Looking down on a street scene from the condor last night.

Filed under: Photos, studio lots, up all night, Work

…But wait, there’s more!

Today was an insert day on Been Done Before. Inserts, in case you’re not familiar, are those little close up shots of things like a finger pointing or a pencil being broken or a computer monitor which are not shot with the actors, but are shot with doubles after the fact – a week or so on a TV show, a few months later on a movie.

The reason is time. It’s going to slow the production down too much to stop and shoot inserts, and really, until you get a rough cut you don’t really know what inserts you’ll need, so why not just wait?

We were supposed to be on the same stage all day – in several different sets, but still, a very manageable day.

Until a shot got added.

A day exterior, to be shot all the way across the lot, after dark.

We packed up our carts and every HMI we could find, traipsed across the lot and rolled on the shot, even though it’s not going to match because they didn’t have the same stuff in the background.

Some days, I think a lot about Sisyphus.

Can’t imagine why.

Filed under: studio lots, Work, , , , ,

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