Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

It’s cold outside but I’m baking

This past week, I’ve been on a multi-camera show*. For lighting and grip, multi-cameras consist of three rig days and two shoot days. Rig days are only a few hours, because it’s all just fixes, tweaks and resetting the lights that the greens guys knocked out-of-place when they hauled around all the trees. Shoot days are normal 12 or 13 hour days.

Usually with multi-camera shows, once the shooting day starts we don’t do much of anything, because all the lights are rigged and really nothing works on stands.

Except this DP a single camera guy and still has the aesthetic of that world, so we’re walking a lot of lights around on stands every time a scene changes. This is not a bad thing at all, as working makes the day go faster, and today the perception of time passing quickly was a wonderful thing, as our stage’s air conditioning unit decided that it was going to take a vacation.

Perhaps to somewhere cooler.

Lucky for all of us, the crafty room had excellent air conditioning. You know how at parties everyone ends up in the kitchen? That was us today.

The director and I had a deep discussion about potato latkes while we huddled in the draft of air coming from the soda cooler, and I met more of my co-workers than I usually do as we wandered in, sighed in relief and then left without eating anything.

Right now I’m chugging water in an attempt to not wake up tomorrow feeling like I’ve been on a bender.

Speaking of tomorrow, although it would be lovely to have chilled air, I suspect I’ll need to wear summer clothes and keep hydrated.

*That’s not a really good description, since most ‘single camera’ shows use two cameras now. Multi-camera format uses four cameras and sets all open to one side, but I’m lost for a more apt name.

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

It doesn’t count if it’s not on

The way our schedule on this show works is that we shoot Thursday and Friday, and Monday – Wednesday we light.

For folks from single camera world, this is bizarre beyond belief.

Block it, light it, shoot it, move on.

But multi cameras don’t work that way.

We hang some of the big lights, they block. We hang some more lights, they rehearse and change the blocking. We hang more lights after moving all the previous ones, and then finally we shoot.

Which is fine – the rig days are shorter as our call time is after they finish rehearsing, but as soon as the actors and important people leave, they turn off the air conditioning on the stage.

In case you hadn’t been informed, it’s currently hotter than the proverbial four-balled tomcat here in Los Angeles.

So when we rig after the rehearsals, we go up into the lighting rig using either lifts or ladders.

Since heat rises, this makes the temperature in our working environment approximately 500 degrees.

Last night when I came home from work I was able to wring out my bra.

Ick.

Say what you will about desert heat, it’s considerably less sweaty than tropical humidity.

We’re all glad that tomorrow is a shoot day, so we’ll have chilled air for the entire day.

Hooray!

 

 

Filed under: studio lots, 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, , ,

You dropped a bomb on me

Yesterday’s location was an abandoned furniture store in one of LA’s many overbuilt suburbs – our director, after surveying the half empty shopping mall and the few customers circling the vast parking lot like vultures,  referred to the place as ‘one exit too far’.

Although the actual store which housed our set was really big, there was one problem – lingering farts left by.. someone.  All would be well and I’d be going about my day and then I’d walk into the fallout of a gastric war zone.

At one point, I asked local 80 goddess: “does this whole building smell like a fart”?

“No, it’s little pools of farts.”

“Oh, good. I thought it was my imagination.”

At first, we thought it might be the production company’s air conditioning guy – the large portable studio A/C units get parked outside the building and the cool air is moved through the set via flexible ducts that lay on the floor (often running right through our staging area, meaning we have to step over a 24″ round pipe while carrying heavy equipment, but that’s a different story).

As the shoot moves to different areas around the building, the A/C guy has to re-run the tubes – bending over and stretching the flexible tubes out, so it seemed a reasonable assumption, but the smell was pervasive when he was outside the building at craft service, so no go on that idea.

Then, we thought that it might be someone who was sitting outside near the ac intake vent and farting  but the smell wasn’t coming out of the tubes, which we figured out after a game of ‘rock, paper, scissors’ to determine who had to stick their head in the tube and breathe deeply.

After polling the rest of the crew, we decided that it was someone doing a “drive by”.  Gas, on set, can be used as a weapon. Load up on beans*, walk by target, let loose, walk away.

The targets of drive bys are normally fairly predictable – someone who’s being a prick but who can’t leave the set or the video village area: director, DP, producer, actor.  Normally, when someone in Grip or Electric farts, it gets mentioned on the walkie, but since there was radio silence, none of us had any ideas.

The gas continued throughout the day, and we never figured out who was doing it or  the intended target.

We never figured out who it was, or the intended target – if anyone.  I guess sometimes gas is just gas.

*I’ve been told that the best ammunition for a drive by is a hard boiled egg and a Dr. Pepper.

Filed under: locations, Work, , , , , , , , ,

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