Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

When will I ever learn?

It started out innocently enough.

We were rigging a location in one of Los Angeles’  more upscale neighborhoods. I’ve believe I’ve mentioned before that the more expensive the area, the more the residents hate film crews.

Since this was to be a night shoot, we had three condors to rig with BFLs (Big Fucking Lights).

Said condors were parked on the street – the bases didn’t block anyone’s ingress, but when we had the arms lowered to load them up, the basket of one of them was right in the middle of a driveway.

We figured that since it was the middle of the day, it wouldn’t be a problem as long as we worked quickly.

Oh, so wrong.

Just after we got the arm down, a woman came charging out at us like an angry hornet, yelling at us to get that damn thing off the street.

At first we thought she was trying to get her car out of the driveway, and we explained to her that we’d raise the arm back up for her to back out, but it turns out she was getting upset about the condor base parked in front of her house (and probably the whole shoot in general).

I can’t blame her. I hate it when a fucking film crew invades my neighborhood. Bastards. Who do they think they are?

The main problem was that she wanted us to move the base of the condor, which we’d put there because our boss the Rigging Gaffer told us to do so. The Rigging Gaffer was presumably informed of condor placement by the Gaffer, who was asked to have ‘some sort of big light’ in that place by the Director of Photography.

Me? I’m just following orders. I can’t move the condor to the next house over. I’ll get yelled at and likely beaten (or something) if I start to think for myself.

In any case, crew people are not encouraged to try to problem solve when it doesn’t involve inanimate objects, so any angry homeowners must be sent to the locations people, who are all much better  at dealing with umbrage than are rigging crews.

After being told that we were looking for the locations manager, she rolled her eyes, told us that wasn’t good enough and added “Get that thing out of here or I’ll have it towed!”

I couldn’t help myself.  She stood there, glowering at me while holding her auto club card and her cell phone, poised to dial, and I responded with “I’d like to see that.”

She turned purple and accused me of mocking her, but I was serious.

I would love to see Billy Joe from BJ’s towing show up, whistling a happy tune, expecting to hitch up some Honda and finding an elevated work platform with an 80 foot boom arm. Hell, besides ‘a shitload’ I don’t even know how much those things weigh. When the rental company pick them up and drop them off, they come in a 48 foot flatbed trailer with a full-sized tractor.

Somebody please video that and upload it to YouTube. I need a good laugh.

Eventually, it all got smoothed over, after the locations guy told her I wouldn’t be back the next day (I’m on a different show and was only on a one day call). She’ll look out at the shooting crew, not see me and feel a flush of beige triumph that she got that awful toolbelt person fired.

Joke’s on her, though. She’ll still have a condor parked in front of her house.

Filed under: locations, Work, , , , ,

Friday Photo and Apology

Stairway to the perms

This is the extra steep stairway to the perms – a few times up and down these and my knees will hurt for the rest of the day. At least it’s got good handrails. Some of the stairways have old wooden handrails which throw off weapons-grade splinters – which, of course, renders said handrails useless.

I’d also like to apologize for the disappearing act – I’ve been having car problems.

Not normal car problems, but car problems so teeth-grindingly annoying that when the tow truck finally drops me off at home all I can manage to do is drop to my knees, shake my fist and scream a word so bad  I’m actually afraid to type it.

The problem is that they can’t figure out what, exactly, is wrong with my car.  It’s started dying for no reason and the mechanic determined that it was a bad fuel pump, which he replaced.  The car ran fine for a couple of days and then died again – at a location 30 miles from my house. At 10 pm.

I had it towed to the mechanic (who was, of course, closed at 10 pm so I had to have the tow truck driver drop the car in a parking space in the street and push it in the next morning after they’d opened), who determined that they’d installed a bad fuel pump and put in another one.

The car ran fine for about a day, and then died again. At 2 am on the way home from work in the middle of a busy street. A kind policeman used the push bar on the front of his car to push me off to a side street and said pushbar tore off the rear bumper cover which might have really irritated me any other time but I was just too tired and beaten down to care.

Then, they decided that the aftermarket fuel pump was the problem and ordered one from the dealer.

The car went 20 miles before dying again, but at least this time it was during business hours. Okay, it died 40 minutes before the mechanic closed for the night, so I had to beg the auto club to get a tow truck there quickly and we barely made it.

At this point the mechanic sighed heavily and admitted that he hadn’t a clue what was wrong and was planning on opening the hood and replacing damn near everything he saw.

To date, they’ve replaced the fuel pump relay, the oil pressure sending something-or-other, a couple of other doodads and have scraped a shitload of carbon out of something called the EGR valve. At this point, he thinks he’s got it fixed, but he’s going to keep it and use it as his daily driver while I’m out of town in an effort to put this whole nasty mess behind us. For now.  He’s a nice guy and he’s trying his best, so I really do hope that he doesn’t get stranded in bumfuck in the middle of the night.

My friends and co-workers have been well-meaning but spectacularly unhelpful in informing me that I need a new car.

Tell me something I don’t know.

I know with every fiber of my being that I need to buy another car. I know it every time I cross my fingers and hope I’m going to get home. I know it every time I get stranded in some gas station parking lot in the middle of the night. I know it when I walk into the rental car place and the guys that work there greet me by name.

The problem is that until our friends at SAG get this strike business resolved, I can’t afford to buy anything more involved than groceries.

If the actors walk and I’m out of work for another four months, I’m going to be so broke I’m going to have to put McNuggets on layaway, so buying a car right now is completely out of the question.

I have to work tomorrow and the rental places are all out of cars (fucking holidays), so I’ve got to hitch a ride with a co-worker, which I hate because I always feel like I’m putting someone out.

The lack of car has foiled my plans to overeat at a few holiday parties Sunday, but on the bright side it gave me an excuse to turn down an invite to a screening of a truly dreadful movie.

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

This time, Kismet works for me.

Usually, when I’m not working it’s a bad thing and I practically glue the phone to the side of my head making calls to scrounge up something – anything.

Sometimes, though, not working isn’t really all that bad.

It’s gotten hot here in Los Angeles – not only is it hot, but the monsoonal rains over the desert – while they’ve given us some beautiful fluffy clouds and a couple of truly spectacular sunsets – have made the humidity shoot up to the point that you can damn near step outside and cut the air with a knife. It’s also not cooling off at night like it usually does, meaning that opening the windows to let in the ‘cool’ night air is completely fucking pointless.

For some reason, when it’s miserably hot I get called to work in the hottest part of the city, doing something that makes me even hotter, such as spending 12 hours up in the perms on an un-air conditioned stage or pulling heavy cable through something that makes me sneeze or break out in an itchy rash. I find myself counting the days until it cools off.

Although I really want to say that the heat’s almost over, I seem to remember it being hot until Thanksgiving last year, and I can’t go that long without working, so at some point I’m just going to have to suck it up and deal with the heat, but even that’s going to have to wait.

The other thing that’s happening this week is that I’ve got a horrible case of the P.M.S.

Not only do I have a Mr. Burns caliber glower going (I frightened a small child today and I didn’t even try), but during the course of the day I’ve lost my temper and shaken my fist while cursing the very existence of the following people, places and things:

WordPress

The Internet

The French

Flip Flops

Gravity

Culver City

Eddie Money

Chevrolet

MySpace

Actually, that last one’s a stretch. Whenever I log on, I shake my fist and curse the very existence of MySpace. You’d think for the money they got when they sold that boat anchor, they’d have hired someone to make the fucking thing work.

Given my current mood, it’s probably better that I’m not at work – I’d just piss my co-workers off.

Tomorrow, since I’m not working, I’m going to either go to the beach (and not go to the beach and ride the bike because I feel like I need some exercise. I mean go to the beach and sit on a towel with a book and not do anything) or use up a shitload of my movie passes and see a bunch of movies.

Either way, it’ll keep me out of the heat.

UPDATE: Laurie over at Crazy Aunt Purl posted a photo of her truly horrifying drivers license photo. The photo’s funny as hell (in a horrifying kind of way), but the comments are even funnier. Although I now have a stitch in my side from laughing, I feel much better.

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

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