Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Friday Photo

Not Beer

Whenever there’s a scene with actors or background in a bar drinking, for obvious reasons they can’t be drinking alcohol, so any glasses you see are filled with non-alcoholic liquid. The best example is iced tea for whiskey. That bottle of jack is really filled with Snapple.

In this case, this particular glass is filled with watered down Coca Cola.

I feel bad for the actors who have to drink it and smile.

Filed under: camera, Photos, toxic waste, Work, , , , , , ,


Ah, how quickly fortunes change.

Monday morning, I was sitting in the living room drinking coffee while reading the paper and figuring out how I was going to space out my “I need work” calls when the phone rang.

It was the best boy of Doctors in Love, wondering if I could come in right away to cover someone who got sick (not seriously, he’s okay now) and had to go home.

I said yes as I was pulling on my pants and running for the door.

I love working on Doctors in Love. It’s a great crew of wonderful people and one never gets beat up too bad. Because of my late call ( I arrived just after lunch), I worked for six hours and got paid for eight (union rules state that I can’t be paid less than eight hours, even if I work less).


While I was throwing on pants, I got a call from the best boy of Yet Another Cop Show who wanted to know if I could work Tuesday through Thursday.

More awesome. Another crew of wonderful folks who I really like, and much, much closer to my house than Doctors in Love, which shoots all the way across town. Also, I went from zero days to four days in under half-an-hour.

I was to work the set on Tuesday, and then switch over to the rigging crew Wednesday and Thursday. Which, of course, was fine. Work is good. I love work.

Except that they called wrap at 1 am on Tuesday, and call time for the rigging crew was 6 am this morning. After a discussion with the UPM, they decided to ‘force’* my call, but not too much, as I was told to come in at 8 instead of 6.

Which was fine, except that even though they cut me loose right at wrap (yay for gaffers who end the day in a small setup), that still meant getting in a van to go back to crew parking, driving home, taking a shower (can’t sleep if I’m dirty and smelly), getting to bed, settling down, etc..

I fell asleep at 2ish, and had to wake up at 7 to get to work by 8.

So, not much sleep. Lucky for me, we only worked 10 hours.

Right now, I’m trying to stay awake long enough to update the blog and shower before I pass out.

Oh, and the thumb looks much, much better:

Thumb, a week later

It’s still sore, but not as bad as it was. If I bump it against something, I don’t curl up into a ball and cry. Much.

* Normally, one has to have a certain amount of time between when one is dismissed from work for the day and when one has to report back the next day. This amount of time, called turnaround,  can vary depending upon circumstances, but generally is not less than 10 hours.

Filed under: hazardous, locations, mishaps, movies, Photos, up all night, Work, , , ,

Super Gross Friday Photo

Tuesday, instead of being on set, I was working with a friend in a machine shop, building some specialty lights for a gaffer we both know.

Which was great, as I really like the folks in this shop, and I was working for someone I like, and I was out of the bitterly cold wind that, for some reason, had been sweeping Los Angeles for about a week.

Ever since we had to go through a safety training class where a guy with 8 1/2 fingers told us that any electrical power tool would fuck us up and good, I’ve been scared shitless of them (drill press? Band saw? No, thanks. I like my fingers where they are – attached to my hands), so what I was mostly doing all day was assembly work.

Near the end of the day, I was installing a plug on the end of one of the fixtures:

Stock Picture courtesy of Hubbell.

One opens up the plug, attaches the stripped wires into the holes that will connect them with the prongs, then closes the plug and screws down the two big screws on the back there that act as strain relief (because if the ‘hot’ part of the wires are weighted or pulled on, they can come out).

These plugs need to be replaced quite frequently, so this isn’t something that is really all that new to me – I’ve done it thousands of times with no problems.

But as I was tightening down the second of the two strain relief screws, the plug, being round, rolled slightly, and the screw gun slipped.

Right into my finger, Phillips head bit first.

At first, I thought it was just a mash injury, which hurts like hell for a few minutes then goes away.

Then, I saw the blood.

My first thought after that was to get a bandage.

Then, I saw how much blood there was, and, upon rinsing in the sink, I saw the extent of the injury, and the metal dust that was in there.

So, although I felt really, really bad about leaving my boss there to finish up by himself, I went to the urgent care, where, after making me do paperwork for half an hour,  they shot Lidocane directly into the wound so they could open it up with some sort of Medieval torture device and clean it.

The doctor  informed me that screw gun injuries can’t be sutured because of the jagged edges, so I’d have to keep it elevated for the next 24 hours.

Good to know.

Next time, I’ll cut myself with something sharp instead.

Yesterday, I went back to the center for a bandage change and a checkup, which is when I took this:

....and that's why you always leave a note!

Entry point was just to the side of the nail bed, exit point (sort of, it didn’t so much penetrate as tear) is the big red blob near the tip of the finger.

Note this is 48 hours after, so a lot of the swelling had gone down, and it looked much better than it did Tuesday.

What the photo doesn’t really show is how deep it is. Frankly,  I’m surprised that the doctor couldn’t see bone when he opened it up. Also, before they cleaned it the whole wound was full of metal dust and other assorted crap.

Plus, it’s incredibly tender, but much less so today, three days later. I had to turn down three days of work this week  because it wouldn’t have been possible for me to touch anything and not scream and bleed.

I’m hoping to scare some work up for next week, so this damn thing had better heal up.

Filed under: hazardous, locations, mishaps, Photos, toxic waste, Work, , , , , ,

Ready, set, shower!


Filed under: camera, hazardous, mishaps, Photos, Work, , , , ,

Why I can’t type right now.


Most awesome screwgun accident, ever.

Hopefully, the giant mummy-wrapped thumb will be better in a few days.

Filed under: hazardous, mishaps, Photos, Work, , , ,

Friday Photo(s)

Sometimes, one wants to break up the light just a bit – either to give the impression of a window, or tree leaves, or just to make the background look more interesting, motivation be damned.

To achieve said neat-o pattern, one uses a cucaloris.  Such as this one:
This is a ‘hard’ cucaloris, as it’s made of wood, and is, as such, hard. Duh, right? Some versions are varying degrees of opacity on a screen material, and those are called ‘soft’ cucalori (I’m not sure that’s the correct plural, but it looks better than ‘cucalorises’).

The effect that it has can be either subtle or dramatic, depending on if the shadow is sharp or fuzzy.
Shadow patterns

Obviously, the sharper the lines on the shadow, the more obvious the pattern is.

The classic example of breaking up the light for texture is the window blind pattern on a blank wall, but if you look at day exteriors, many of them have this cucaloris pattern.

When I googled “motivated lighting” to find an example, what came up number one in the image search? My photo from the Mind of Mencia ‘cockfight’ sketch. Awesome.

Filed under: camera, movies, Photos, Work, , , , , , ,

Seems Legit to Me..

Sometimes, in the zeal to make the notoriously dangerous (no snark intended. Movie folks don’t have the safest jobs in the world) film industry safer, regulations get implemented that are mostly silly but every so often veer into the realm of the certifiably insane.

Currently, all sets with a roof (removable or not), must be equipped with heat detectors. Now, on the surface this may seem reasonable – the set’s roof prevents the fire sprinklers in the perms (which are activated by heat or sometimes by being backed into by a truck, but that’s a different story) from doing their job, so on paper, the detectors make sense. However, since most active movie sets use lights which generate heat, said detectors have added a whole new set of Things We Have To Do Before We Can Go Home.

Because, you see, it’s not enough to place heat detectors in a set which will be lit by large lights that generate lots of heat. We have to mark the location of the heat detectors with bright orange flags. These flags are about 12 inches (30 cm) long and two inches (5 cm) wide and are affixed to the heat detectors with Velcro ™, so that we, the fire department, and anyone who happens to wander into the set can spot said detectors.

The problem with this is that when we shoot, the flags have to be taken down.

So, first thing in the morning, we send a guy through the set in a manlift to pull down all the flags.

Then, at the end of the day when we’re on double time, we send the guy back around to put the flags back up, even if we’re shooting the same set the next day.

The next morning, we’ll walk into the set and send a guy around in a manlift to remove the flags.

It’s like some satanic Möbius strip. Or something.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than happy to drive around a set hanging flags while I’m on double time, as is everyone else, but with complaints from the higher-ups about labor costs being out-of-control, this can’t be helping.

Also, the pollen counts here in Los Angeles are the highest they’ve been in years – although my nose isn’t that bad, my ears are blocked so badly that I can hardly hear.  How do I know it’s allergies? Because it’s worse when I’m outside and at the end of the day when the medication’s worn off.

Oh, and Happy Pi Day.

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

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Apologies for the gap in posting.

There’s been no work, which is unfortunate but not unexpected, so I’ve been expanding on some old blog entries, with the idea of publishing them as Kindle Singles just to see if anyone is willing to pay a buck to read my rantings and ravings.

But right now, I’d like to give a huge, huge kudos and a big, wet interwebz kiss to Spike TV.

On February 16, the crew of the Spike show 1,000 Ways to Die voted unanimously to join the union, and the producer of the show fired them and tried to bring in replacement workers who would be more docile and corporate overlord friendly.

Spike TV then informed said producer that they would refuse to buy any episodes made with a ‘scab’ crew.

It’s so very, very rare for a network to side with the crew members and the rights of the workers.

I’m  now a huge fan of Spike TV, even though I don’t have cable.

Keep up the good work, guys.

Should any of you who are local to Los Angeles wish to join the picket lines, ask in the comments and I’m sure someone will let you know about locations and co-ordination.

On a lighter note, should you want to see some wonderful pictures of rural California, I recommend Real Rural. It’s some incredible photos of the ‘other’ California.



Filed under: Non-Work

March 2012

Flickr Photos



Random Quote

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

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