Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Special Science Glasses

After a half-weekend (wrap at 6 am Saturday), I wasn’t really upset about having today off.  It’s nice to have one zombie day, and one day to do things while one’s brain is functioning.

So, I headed over to the garden to plant the last tomatoes of the season and do some weeding while waiting for Southern California’s lackluster version of the eclipse.

I’d planned to do the old-fashioned pinhole/cardboard combo that we used back in elementary school for the last eclipse, but as luck would have it, a show was shooting in the community garden and they were handing out special eclipse glasses. I didn’t get a pair, but the garden master who was working that day as the site representative did, and was more than willing to share.

Holy crap. Why didn’t they have these things back when I was a kid? I might have cared more about that eclipse if I’d been able to see that kind of detail instead of a fucking fuzzy blur on cardboard.

Even through the heavy-duty lenses, though, my eyes still started to hurt after a few minutes, so I was happy to hand them off. Since we didn’t get totality, it didn’t get dark, the light just looked…weird for a few minutes.

Since I didn’t know anyone on the crew, I headed back home to drop off the tomatoes I’d picked and then headed to the pool to swim before doing laundry while being crashed into by a sugar-addled second grader trying to run top speed while wearing eclipse glasses.

Turns out, they gave the kids the day off. Not so much for learning, but due to the fear that the teachers wouldn’t be able to stop the kids from staring at the sun.

Sounds reasonable.

I’ll make work calls tomorrow, and should get something by the end of the week.

It’s busy out there.

 

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

Stress and time to enjoy it

Work is slow right now. Very, very slow. Part of it is just the time of year. The episodics are on hiatus, the pilots are over and nothing will really start happening for another month or two.

I’m feeling it more than usual, though, because the show that I worked on fairly steadily for over a decade is gone. Done, over, kaput, never coming back, sets in the garbage, misty-eyed ‘remember when’ Facebook group formed.

I didn’t really realize how much of my income came from said show until I started wondering why I was so broke in April. I should be doing okay this time of.. oh, wait. That.

So now, because my expenses are now above what unemployment will cover, I’m worrying. Not just about the slow month, but about a potential writers’ strike.

If they strike, all production will grind to a halt and we’ll all be unemployed – potentially for months.

I simply haven’t got the cash reserves to survive extended not-workingness.

Sure, I could get another bunion surgery, but it might be better to get a job. A real job.

Except what I’m able to get via temp agencies won’t cover my expenses, either.

So I’m waiting. And breathing deeply, while trying to quell the rising panic about something that hasn’t happened yet.

But it’s hard, because the last extended work stoppage was bad. I barely squeaked by, and ended up with a shitload of credit card debt that I do not want again.

Today, I went to the Actor’s Fund and did the intake meeting so I can go to the resume classes and get career assistance – mainly in the form of resume classes, financial planning classes, and job listing.

I found myself in a room full of people just like me – all panicked about different things, and all wondering how we were going to survive.

I was the only jerk in the room to actually mention the strike, and everyone around the table tensed up.

At the end of the meeting, we all shuffled out, planning which workshops to come back to – I’ll have to ride my bike, though, as I’m not sure I can afford to pay the parking, or buy gas.

It’s better to knuckle down sooner rather than later, right?

 

Filed under: life in LA, Non-Work, overspending, , , , , ,

June

There are two months of the year where work is usually scarce for me – January and June. I always know it’s coming and prepare for it as best I can, but near the end of the month, with rent and bills due, I panic.

I know that there will be more work (and soon), but still. I panic.

I worry that I’m going to drain my bank account on the first of July, never work again, lose my apartment and have to consolidate into a shopping cart.

I worry about not being able to pay my bills and trying to live without electricity.

Or even worse, the internet.

I start looking around for stuff I can sell, even though I don’t own anything of any value.

 

So today I’m in panic mode. I have to pay rent, cell phone, electricity bill, gym, car insurance and union dues all this week.

Yes, I know I’m over-reacting, but I can’t stop myself.

It’s like this every single fucking year.

You’d think I’d learn.

 

Filed under: Non-Work, , , ,

Time for a rest.

Pilot season – when, unsurprisingly, the pilots for next season’s new TV shows are shot – is officially over.

Since I didn’t get a spot on a crew, I bounced around between three shows, sometimes only getting a few hours of turnaround before guzzling coffee and going to work another job.

Also, there’s a 5 am mental barrier for me.

Getting up at 5? Fine. No problem.

Getting up at 4:30? Anxiety about oversleeping which results in sleep so fitful I’d be more rested had I stayed up and shopped for shoes on eBay, especially since one of these shows was with a gaffer I love working for, but who is absolutely intolerant of anyone being even a nanosecond late to work.

In production world, 15 minutes before call is on time, and exactly at call time is late. Well, not late, but…frowned upon.

So I got there 20 minutes early every morning. And I worked. And then I worked. And I worked some more. And when I didn’t have work, I called our union hall and got send out on a job immediately, because there was so much work.

I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy going out on hall calls. I get to meet new people, who may hire me in the future, and in fact one best boy who had me as a hall call recommended me for full-time spot on a show. I didn’t get it, but it’s the thought that counts.*

Now it’s all over.

The pilots are finished, and the established episodics are ending their season within the next week or so, so it’s down time.

Which is a really good thing for me, because over the weekend I had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic and am now covered in hives.

Since I can’t seem to do anything that’s not excessive, these aren’t normal hives. They’re super hives that have spread into giant weeping mats of  blisters.

I can blame the initial upper respiratory infection on what the newsbots are calling the worst allergy season in 30 years, combined with working in a junkyard (which may or may not allow toxic waste if you slip the right person a few hundred bucks), and the city deciding to jackhammer the alley behind my place presumably for the sole purpose of coating the entire neighborhood in dust from the Yorty administration.  You know, for the lulz.

Of course I had to go off the antibiotics, and I have to wait until the reaction subsides before I start anything new.

So I’m itching, oozing, staggering around like a drunk, and coughing like a tubercular Victorian poet.

The elderly woman three apartments down keeps bringing me matzoh ball soup, which is great, but it’s 90 degrees and I don’t really want anything hot.

On the upside, WordPress has brought back the built-in spell check, so I can be lazy when I type.

Yay!

*It really does count, because a bad referral usually reflects badly on the person who made it, as in “What the fuck with that guy? You said he was good. You must be smoking shoelaces.” So any time anyone throws my name in for a job, I take that as a huge compliment even if I don’t get the call.

Filed under: california, crack of dawn, cranky, hazardous, locations, Los Angeles, mishaps, toxic waste, Work, , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , ,

Still slow, but I’ve been busy

January (and the first part of February), have, predictably, been slow for work. This year, during the slow time, I read a book about tidying up. The approach of the book is a bit different that the usual ‘maximize your storage’ stuff. The author, Marie Kondo, opines that one’s clutter problems come from simply having too much fucking crap.

Since my current domicile is the size of a postage stamp, it gets cluttered very quickly, so I was about ready to try anything. I didn’t go as extreme as she recommends, but I did dump a massive amount of stuff – out-of-style clothes, brik-a-brak, about 3/4 of the re-usable shopping bags that have been  breeding on the shelf in the kitchen, shoes I can’t wear any longer, way too many bath towels (I think they were having babies, too), etc..

Not only is my place less cluttered, but since there’s a place for everything, it’s been staying uncluttered, which is really unusual for me.

The other weird thing that’s happened is I’m now very reluctant to buy anything new – clothes, shoes, kitchenware, whatever. All I can think when I look at it is that it’s going to upset the nice calm zen(ish) atmosphere I’ve got without all that goddamn crap crammed into every single crevice and cranny.

Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend and walked past one of those stores that sell that resort-wear I love so much. On sale. Like really on sale. And I looked, shrugged and kept walking.

Sweet.

Next up, I tackle the avalanche of old family photos. I figure I’ll scan the ones I want, send the rest to my sister, because if they’re in her house, they’re not my clutter any longer. Heh.

Filed under: life in LA, Non-Work, Off-Topic, , , , , , , , ,

The first day is always the hardest.

Over the course of the holiday season, I’ve had a little over three weeks of no work – which is to be expected, because holidays.

Many of the TV shows didn’t come back until this past Monday, and a few aren’t back until next Monday.

I spent some time back in the land of unseasonable warmth (70 degrees when it should be 30), but for most of the break I cleaned a lot of the old junk out of my apartment, organized my receipts to send to the accountant for taxes, and caught up on other stuff I needed to do when I had time.

But mainly, I divested myself of junk. Five bags of clothes and shoes went to the thrift store, old papers got shredded, kitchen crap I don’t use got donated, and all the drawers got organized.

My apartment feels much better now. Calmer. More zen, if you will.

I even organized my work bag with those pack cube things, but we’ll see how long that lasts.

And I got used to not working so much.

I got used to not wearing heavy boots.

I got used to eating healthy food and not having any coffee after 11 am.

I got used to going to bed at a decent hour, and watching the morning news.

You know, like a normal person.

Then, this morning, I got a call to come in to replace someone who called in sick, and ended up with the rest of the week booked.

Which is great, but I’m not used to all this work stuff, with the standing up and the paying attention, and the ladders. Definitely not used to the ladders.

But no one else is, either, so we all muddled through it together and somehow managed to get our day.

I’m back tomorrow. My feet will hate me.

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

Happy New Year!

2015 was a hard one for me. Work was busy, which was good, but I had some serious setbacks in my personal life – which is a big part of the reason I’ve been neglecting the blog, but it’s a new year and time to move on to being normal.

I’m currently trying to declutter my apartment. When I moved in here, I figured the place was so small I’d never be able to accumulate much junk.
Oh, how wrong I was.

In the last week, I’ve hauled about six bags of stuff to the thrift store. Out of style clothes, ragged stuff that I was using for work (“there’s a hole in the crotch, but hey, who’s going to be looking at my crotch?”), jewelry I never wore, reams of paper that came from heaven knows where, and about a million reusable grocery bags. Apparently, the bags have babies when you don’t keep an eye on them – which is the only explanation I can think of for why I had so fucking many of them.

Next up, I need to cull out some of the cookbooks. I love vintage cookbooks, but my collection is getting…unwieldy and about half of them need to go.

I should have another week or so before I have a snowball’s chance in hell of finding any work, so I’m going to use that time.

And I’m going to ride my bike if I can stop from freezing.

What are your plans for 2016?

 

 

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

Fear and living dangerously

Work’s been busy – more so than in the past five (ish) years.

Which is a very good thing, but it’s been so dry for so long that all of us are working ourselves to a shell of what we could be had we paid attention in class.

Six hour turnaround? Sure, no problem.

Four am call two hours away? I’m there.

Three 19 hour days in a row? I love overtime. My kids don’t need me to read them a story.

In the past two months, I’ve worked as many hours as I had in the previous year (or so it feels like), and I’ve had some insanely short turnarounds – I went from one job right to another and my justification was that since I was in the condor for the first job, I could sleep.

One sleeps fitfully, at best, in a condor, so I had a few hours of shallow napping, took a shower, changed my clothes, and then worked another 14 hour day.

That, my friends, is madness, and I shouldn’t have done it as I was not able to work safely.

But I’m afraid to say no to anything.

It’s been so slow for so long and so many of us have been struggling, that we can’t really wrap our minds around the idea that it may be busy for quite some time and we can, if we like, turn down a job if we feel that we’ve just had a bit too much that week. It’ll be okay. There will be more work.

But that small part of my mind that functions as the town crier for impending disasters starts shrieking that this will be the last day I get for a long time, I won’t make my rent, and then I’ll end up face down in the gutter covered in my own filth and broken dreams.

For some reason, I believe that alarmist voice much more than I believe our call steward, who seems to think that there will be a lot of work for the next few years, at least.

I need to work on that. I’d love to be able to take a vacation and know that I’ll still have work when I come back.

That hasn’t happened in years.

For any of us.

Filed under: hazardous, humor, life in LA, locations, long long drives, Los Angeles, , , ,

I see dead people

For the past few weeks, it’s been extremely hot and humid here in Los Angeles.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s always hot this time of year, but the wonderful thing about living in an arid climate is that it cools off at night so, for a few hours, there is some relief. The important hours – when one is trying to rest without sweating like the proverbial whore in church.

Not lately.

It’s been so awful at night that sleep has been impossible – and not just for me.

Everyone on the crew (maybe the cast, too, but they have makeup) have black circles under their eyes and are downing coffee (iced, of course) as fast as they can.

It’s not just us, though. Tempers are flaring all over the city, as the police cope with near-record cases of cranky pants.

Excessive horn-honking, overly aggressive shouts of “points” when one isn’t carrying anything, passive-aggressive latte ordering, crafty grabbing*, scuffles over shaded parking spaces, crowded beaches,

Today, I snarled at a man in the grocery store for breathing.

No, really. That’s all he was doing. Through his nose, making that goddamn high-pitched whistle from hell.

I’ll kill him.

Wait…

I mean it’s cooled off tonight and maybe I can get some sleep so I’ll feel less homicidal tomorrow.

Although I have a 4 pm call in northeast Bumfuck, so I doubt it.

*Those peanut butter cups are mine. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

Filed under: crack of dawn, cranky, distant location, life in LA, locations, long long drives, Los Angeles, Work, , , , ,

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