Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

…and that’s why I have a cat.

My upstairs neighbors, despite the fact that they play bad guitar and clomp about like Budweiser Clydesdales, are really nice folks who have a very, very adorable French Bulldog.

Aside from being very sweet and somehow managing to smell like a wet dog even when she’s not wet, the dog needs enough attention that at least one of the neighbors must come home from work at lunch every day to let her out to do whatever it is that dogs do on the front lawn.

Said upstairs neighbors want to go to a party tomorrow night which may or may not go late, so just to be safe, they’ve had to line up a dog babysitter.

Yes, you read that correctly.

A babysitter. For the dog. Because apparently one can’t leave a dog alone for more than 15 seconds or they’ll start a land war in Central Asia. Or something.

To me, this seems awfully similar to having children. The difference,  I suppose, is that one can just throw the children in the hall closet and tell them if they move, the clown will eat them. But then they grow up and crash your car right after they borrow money from you, so  there’s that.

In contrast to needing a doggy baby-sitter, my cat, although she acknowledges that I am the one who pours the kibble in the bowl, is largely indifferent to my existence (except when she’s cold), and probably wouldn’t notice if I vanished from the face of the earth, as long as the food bowl was kept full.

I’m so thankful I don’t have to hire a sitter if I’m going to be out for one night.  Or two.


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


Two alternate spellings of ‘overtime’ are ‘animal’ and ‘baby’.

Animals, even the best trained ones, are unpredictable and only sometimes do what you want them to do when you want them to (babies, of course, never, ever do anything on cue).

So when I got a call to work on a green screen unit, I figured it would be a fairly uneventful day. Once the screen is lit we don’t have too much to do, and green screen work normally goes fairly quickly unless there are stunts involved.

Then, we met the world’s most uncooperative giraffe. I’ve only been on one other shoot which used a giraffe – a commercial many years ago. I guess that giraffe was better behaved because aside from remembering that it was really. fucking. tall. any memory of the rest of the day is long gone.

This particular giraffe was only about six years old so not fully grown (according to the trainer, they grow until they’re 12), and was in no mood to stand in front of a green screen. Maybe it was the fact that there was a tiger 100 feet away, but he was antsy (the giraffe, not the tiger) and dragged his handlers all over the set while the camera operator tried desperately to keep him in frame.

The problem with a 16 foot tall giraffe is that it’s very, very difficult to convince him to do something if he gets it in his head not to do it.

The handlers would attempt to direct the giraffe by pulling on the rope attached to his halter, but the giraffe would just plant his feet and bend his neck to some visually disturbing angle instead of walking. In the ‘things I didn’t know’ file is that a giraffe has a very flexible neck – this one could bend his head all the way back to his tail.

At one point, he decided he’d had enough of the handlers and started trying to gore them with his.. I don’t know what they’re called – horns? Antlers?

I don’t know what his name was, but I think they mostly call him ‘shithead’. According to the trainer, his temperament is representative of most giraffes, who are apparently not team players.

We also used an elephant, with whom I’ve worked before. She’s a complete sweetheart and unlike many human actors I’ve seen, hit her marks every time.

The zebra was cute and did okay, except for occasionally deciding that the grass was more interesting than the handler’s treats – which meant that instead of walking from one side of the frame to the other, he’d stand there and graze, ignoring the handler and the director’s frantic shouts.

The emu wasn’t very friendly, either, and he scared me. I’ll confess to not being overly fond of birds, and a great big one with weird red eyes just made me want my mommy.

Also, what is it about power cable that makes it such an attractive place to poop if you’re an animal? Every one of them would wait until they were standing right over the cable and then let loose. I was glad I didn’t have to wrap it.

Since I thought it was going to be a short day, I didn’t bring a book or a newspaper or anything to pass the time. All I could do is watch the pissed off giraffe rampage around in front of a green screen.

Which, when I think about it, is much more entertaining than the paper.

I’m not complaining, though. Between the giraffe, the waiting on actor availability and the creepy emu, we had just under a 14 hour day, which is just what my bank account needs right now.

* according to The Phobia List, this is a fear of wild animals – although I probably shouldn’t imply that I’m afraid of them.  I’d like them to keep their distance (fleas, you know), but if they get to close to me, I can always hit ’em with a combo stand

Filed under: Work, , , , , , ,

Some unpleasant surprises

All studio lots have stray cat populations which are tolerated as cats are generally preferable to the rats that flourish with the aid of Los Angeles’ mild climate and discarded remnants of second meals*.

The studios have kitty population control programs, but since it’s just not possible to catch and sterilize them all, there are always at least 20 cats (give or take a litter or three) on each lot.

Normally, this isn’t a problem except when one of said kitties decides that a corner of our set is a dandy place to heed the call of nature. The big stage doors can be locked, of course, but it’s just not possible to seal off every entrance available to a six pound cat.

The nice thing about yesterday’s set was that all the wall outlets were wired. Many times on sets although there are electrical outlets built into the set walls (for realism), they aren’t connected to anything so they can’t be used, which is a pain in a set that, say, only has one entrance which is on camera and we have to try to cable over the wall when there are 30 people standing in the way. This, needless to say, is frustrating, so we’re always glad when we can plug a lamp into a working wall outlet.

The bad thing about yesterday’s set was that the wall outlets were wired, so as I was bending over to plug a lamp into an outlet (which, of course, was installed near the floor), my face came dangerously close to what I can only assume was recycled rat with a side of kibble. Of course, since all the important people were on set I couldn’t give into my initial urge, which was to jump backwards and scream “eeeeeeewwwww!”

Since I live with a cat and dump a litterbox on a weekly basis, you’d think I’d be used to the sight of cat shit, but seeing it in a corner of a set was, well, surprising – as was the puddle of urine I found on the upper floor of the set.

Damn cats.

I suppose I should have told one of the set dressers, but we got busy and I forgot.

They’ll find it soon enough.

*film crews must be fed every six hours. First meal (lunch, no matter what time of day) comes six hours after call, second meal comes six hours after the end of lunch. All of us pray we never see third meal, but we sometimes do.

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

May 2022

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

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