Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Friday Photo

Standing by


Yesterday’s location was on the shore of a lake, and since our carts won’t roll on a lake shore, we just kept everything up at the roadway and handed it over the wall to whichever unlucky soul was, at that moment, wading through the waterfront poison oak.

The lights pictured are a specialty light called a Decasource (for which I can’t find a website) – the pods come in a frame and can be removed – what you’re seeing here is two pods.

Also, in case you were wondering, ducks do, in fact understand ‘rolling’ and ‘cut’.

As soon as the ADs called ‘rolling’ the ducks would begin to make a shocking amount of noise, and would stop just as soon as we cut.

Guess they wanted a payout.

Filed under: locations, Work

How can there be no space in a building this big?

Lucky for me,  today’s last-minute work call was standing on set in the air conditioning, not rigging outside in the extra humid late August oven we call ‘outside’.

We were even on the same stage all day, so barring using the restroom, I didn’t even have to stick my head into the dreaded outside all day.

Most stages hold more than one set – they usually have one big set, and then various smaller sets get crammed into any space they can, leaving not a lot of room to move things – like BFLs on large stands – around, but we’ve all gotten used to this.

Surprisingly, it’s much, much harder to work on the small sets than on the big ones. Not only is there not a lot of room for the gaffer to light (“Move it back. More, more, more… Dammit. Now you’re into the next set. Shit”), but cramming three actors, lights, a camera, a dolly and various crew into a 12′ (4m) square set takes talent and imagination.

The only thing that really makes it possible is ‘wild’ walls.

Even then, it’s tough, though.  If we have to hang a light from the grid and need to use a ladder and the grips have to lay flooring for the dolly, there’s no way we can both be in the set and the same time so some jostling takes place.

We do try to work it out, though.

So we lit the small sets, tried to avoid tripping over each other, tried to avoid making our boss curl up in a ball and cry (at work. What he does at home is his business), and worked our way through the day, in the air-conditioning.



Filed under: studio lots, Uncategorized, Work

Friday Photo

From a location at a Culver City middle school. I get some of them, but really, who goes to school and practices golf? Especially since this particular school is Kindergarten – 6th grade.
Are there that many 8 year olds who play golf?

Filed under: locations, Photos, Work

Friday Photo

Three-Fers, cropped

Sometimes, when one is doing cable runs, one wants the ability to branch out and make a single cable into multiple cables – much like a power strip that you use in your house, only with a lot more power.

Enter the three-fer.

It allows us to plug three things into one cable. It’s usually used at a distribution box to allow the connection of an HMI ballast and some smaller cable (banded, as opposed to the heavy cable).

One has to be careful, though, as the three-fers aren’t rated for as much electricity as the cable and if overloaded can cause a fire.

Exactly like a power strip in your house, only with a lot more fire.

One of my greatest regrets in life was not having a video camera on The Night The Cable Caught Fire. It was *cough cough* years ago and the reactions of production (screaming, running around, tearing out of hair) compared to the reactions of the electricians (calmly walking to the shutoff and killing the power, then telling anyone who was in earshot about the *really* big fire they saw on another set) was priceless.

Filed under: hazardous, locations, Uncategorized, Work, , , , ,

Finally! Some work!

Today, I was on the rigging crew for the first time in a long, long time. I don’t mind rigging and had the best day working with a really great bunch of guys.  Also, it’s not as hot this week as it was last week. It’s still seasonably warm (which, in August in Southern California is quite warm indeed), but that feeling that someone should be basting me was gone.

Our call time was 7:30, and we all did ‘new show’ paperwork (this is the second episode of the first season of this particular show so this is the first day they’ve had a location), and then went to the lamp dock to pick up our equipment.  When you pull equipment that’s to  be used at one location, it’s called a ‘drop load’, as in ‘we’re going to drop the load there, use it, and then return it’.

The drop load was there, but the truck wasn’t, so we counted and sorted and labeled and eventually drifted back to the stage where we helped the best boy pull some things off his truck for the location.

We then had coffee, and wandered back over to the lamp dock – still no truck.

Turns out, production had, for some reason, told transportation that we wouldn’t be going to rig until after lunch, so no one had gone to get the truck.

Boss: “That’s insane! Why would I wait until after lunch to put a rig in? I’d like to get home before next week.”

So, after our boss talked to the transpo captain, our truck appeared. Since we had a stake bed, which doesn’t have a roof, the truck was full of some sort of smelly, hard fruit and sticks. Guess they’d had it parked under a tree.

First order of business – find a broom and clean out the back of that truck. Nobody wants smelly crap stuck to the equipment, and more importantly, sticks add a degree of difficulty to loading a truck (some cart wheels won’t roll over them, one can slip on them, etc..)

That done, we loaded, headed over to the first unit truck, loaded some additional cable from there, and then headed out.

Once we got to the location and had a look at where, exactly, the cable run needed to go, it became very apparent due to some changes that had happened since the scout we were going to need more cable – just about double what we’d brought.

So we put in what we had, unloaded the dimmer packs and lights we’d brought, left two guys there to start getting the stuff in place and then headed back to the lot to  pull some more cable off the first unit truck, since apparently production wouldn’t allow any more equipment to be rented for that location.

Which is fine – equipment that rides on the main truck is usually marked with a particular color of tape so that we know not to return it (the bar codes have to match at the end of the season), and it’s not a big deal to lift some more cable.

By this time (about 2 pm) it had gotten hot. And humid (objectively humid, not humid for Los Angeles), and we were standing in the back of a stakebed (that still smelled faintly rancid from whatever that stuff was in the back) trying to get everything loaded in such a way that it wouldn’t fall over and become a big mess by the time we got to the location.

Since the trucks were ‘gate to gate ‘ (the trucks are parked with the cabs in opposite directions with the lift gates touching so that equipment can be rolled off one truck and right onto the other – sort of like a motorized Pushmi-pullyu), we were blocking some of the VIP parking spaces, but figured we’d be out of there soon enough.

Right when we had two heavy head carts on the truck but not tied down and our driver had headed off to the restroom, a man came wandering up, looked at me and said, “Excuse me, that white Mercedes is mine and your truck’s blocking me in. Do you think you can move the truck to let me out?”

I looked around for the driver, didn’t see him, so I told the man (I’m still to hot and tired to make up a clever nickname) that we’d move as soon as we could.

He said nothing, and looked down at his iPhone as he walked a few feet away to wait in the shade  of a fake bus stop while we found the driver.

The driver came out, apologized to the man for the inconvenience. The man ignored him. We strapped down the carts and pulled the truck forward enough for him to back out. He kept his head down, looking at his phone as he walked to the car. He pulled out and then drove off.

Our driver waved and cheerfully warbled “You’re welcome!”

The man didn’t wave back, although I’m fairly certain he was no longer staring at his phone.

We strapped our carts down and returned to the location to run cable.

Call time: 7 am

Wrap time 7 pm

I sweated off my sunblock before lunch so I resemble a cooked lobster. Awesome.

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

Mid-week status quo update

There’s still no work.

The cat’s still shaved.

It’s still hot as hell.

I still have no air-conditioning.

I still refuse to pay that much money for an iPad.  In the past,  I’ve paid less for cars.

Crabgrass is still taking over my garden despite my ineffective attempts to eradicate it.

The ocean water is still polluted, but it’s so hot I’m jumping in anyways.

I still can’t stay at the beach as long as I’d like because my pasty white skin burns after about an hour, no matter what sort of goop I smear on.

America is still in an election year, so I’m still afraid to turn on the television or pick up a newspaper.

I still can’t watch the Olympics due to NBC being dicks and not allowing people with no cable access to view the online streaming.

I still hate you, NBC.

I’m still calling around and being told people aren’t picking up crew just yet, but call back next week and there may or may not be something, depending on how the scout goes tomorrow.

There’s still no work.

Still, maybe next week.

Filed under: Non-Work, , , , , , ,

Friday Photos, or why I’m afraid to go to sleep tonight

This is the cat, in her normal state of fuzzy resplendence:
Pussy, with hair

Except today, when she looks like this:

Shaved pussy

I still have no air conditioning and it’s been incredibly hot and she’s been incredibly miserable, so off to the groomer (a new one, since it’s too far to drive back to Hollywood with a wailing cat in the back seat) we went.  Now, I’m left with half a cat.

No, seriously. The pile of hair was bigger than the surprisingly small cat.

The new groomer loves said cat. Kept feeding her bits of chicken salad because she was ‘stressed’ (no idea if that applied to the cat, the groomer, or both).

Hopefully this means she’ll be too full to kill me in my sleep (the cat, not the groomer).

Filed under: camera, Non-Work, Photos, , , , , , , ,


I will never understand traffic patterns in Los Angeles if I live to be 100.
Yesterday, as I was drinking my morning coffee and watching the amazing commercial-free BBC Olympics feed via a proxy server (NBC will never stop sucking, so why fight it?),  the best boy of Doctors in Love texted me wanting to know if I could come in to cover someone who called in sick.

The answer, of course, was yes, but since Doctors in Love shoots almost, but not quite, all the way across the city, I figured I was in for an incredibly annoying two-hour drive.

Not so much.

I threw on some clothes, headed out the door and didn’t get stuck in any traffic at all.

I’m not kidding. 8 am – the height of rush hour in one of the most traffic-clogged cities on planet Earth and there was no traffic. At all.

I travelled from my house to the set in under an hour.

This, or course,  made me nervously scan the sky for horsemen as I drove onto the lot.

Finding none, I parked, grabbed a walkie and proceeded to have a wonderful day working with people who I like a whole lot and don’t get to see nearly often enough.

Then, driving home at 10 pm on a Tuesday, I got stuck in traffic for an hour and a half.

Filed under: life in LA, long long drives, mishaps, studio lots, Work, , , , , , , ,

August 2012

Flickr Photos



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

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