Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

A nice Tuesday on Stage.

Wait. It’s Tuesday, right? I had to check.

After getting home about 9 last night (90 minutes to get to work, just under 60 to get home), today I got to work a set on a nice air-conditioned stage with guys I really like.

Lucky for me, because I’m not sure I could have lifted more cable.

We walked lights around, talked about college basketball, and the heaviest thing I had to lift was a 2k, which was about all I could lift after yesterday. The older I get the more that 4/0 hurts me – and I go to the gym to try to stay in shape. I can’t imagine how horrible I’d feel otherwise.

During a break when one of the actors had to go to the other unit, some of us started talking about our least favorite places we’ve worked. The standards came up – The Ambassador Hotel, Kaiser Steel, Downey Studios, Pick-a-part junkyard, or any of the movie ranches during the summer.

Two of us – simultaneously – said shitters alley. Shitters alley was downtown (not the nice new downtown. The old, foul, nasty downtown) and it was, natch, the place were all the locals relieved themselves. Production would shoot in it because sometimes your script calls for a shit-splattered alley, and minimal set dressing was required.

They’d usually steam clean the ground, but the worst of the filth was usually about 24 inches up.

More than once, I threw away my clothes and drove home in my underwear.

Two of the younger guys couldn’t believe it. Turns out, shitters alley hasn’t existed in quite some time. I think it’s now a private gated park for high-end condos.

Fine with me.

I got a text right before lunch that my Wednesday call would be 5 am. A 12 hour day on a 9 am call with a one hour lunch means we’d be released at 10 pm, and I wouldn’t get to bed until about 11.

Since 5 am really means I have to be there about 4:45, I have to get up a little before 4 tomorrow, so I swapped with one of the guys on the unit that got dismissed after 7 hours.

Yes, I missed out on big money day, but I’ll be semi-human tomorrow. I hope. It’s already 8:30. I need to go to bed.

Filed under: hazardous, locations, Los Angeles, toxic waste, Work, , , , , , ,

3 Responses

  1. k4kafka says:

    Peggy, you continue to amaze and amuse…

    As Joe Pesci once uttered…”I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you ?”

  2. Many of the late night shoots that took place at “Piss Alley” (East of Ivar, South of Hollywood blvd) still reside in my memory. You could find that place at night with your eyes closed, as long as you didn’t have clogged nostrils from he flu.

  3. The kids today have no idea how bad it was — back in the 80’s and early 90’s, parts of downtown LA were the Calcutta of the America. I worked one night on Ricky Martin’s “La Vida Loca” video down there, and after wrapping an interior location, we went out on the streets to shoot a car stunt. There, the best boy told me to run a hundred feet of banded along the east side of a fetid, stinking alley. I walked in to check it out and the stench of raw ammonia almost made me gag… and it was then that I saw a five wire run of 4/0 up — complete with plastic spider box — against that east wall, fully submerged under a long fjord of piss and shit. That run was for a Mel Gibson movie being filmed downtown at the time. I turned around and told the best boy that we would’t be running our cable there, but might be able to run fifty feet of cable along the west (dry) wall.

    In the end it was pointless — the car guys made thirty attempts at that stunt (getting the car up and balanced on two wheels), and failed each time, until the director finally gave up. When I got home that morning, I threw my gloves, levis, and shoes in the garbage. Many hours later, I awoke, thought better of that, and retrieved the pants and shoes — then soaked them in a clorox solution for 24 hours.

    The gloves, I left. And civilians still ask me why I hate doing music videos…

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