Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Back it on up

Shooting on a stage requires a backing*, for the obvious reason that if one sees white walls or staged equipment through a set window, the illusion of being in Victorian England/the frozen tundra/the Enterprise is ruined.

Back in the old days, backings were hand painted on canvas. There are still a few of those floating around, but most shows use a day/night backing.

When lit from the front, the backing appears as day. When lit from behind, the backing appears as night.

It’s genius.

You don’t need two backings and an army of grips to raise and lower them five times a day – the dimmer board operator makes the change instantly, and everything is wonderful and happy.

Except when you get your brand-new made-to-order backing and they forgot the ‘night’ part.

It looked great from the front, then, when the backlights were turned on, it looked like a daytime backing lit from behind without quite enough light.

There was a moment of silence as the department heads pondered that a) there was nothing they could do about it, and b) someone besides them was going down for this one.

Probably the backing designer, who was paid the price of a luxury car for this.

Not one of those crappy proletariat jobbies, either. A good luxury car.

Since the backing was custom ordered, I have no idea what anyone is going to do about this, and since Friday is my last day I’ll likely never find out.

Also, I learned that brand new backings smell like the worst mix of chemical slurry you can possibly imagine.

Remember your high school yearbooks and that weird benzene smell?

Imagine that, but 30 feet tall and 100 feet long.

In a stage with the doors closed.

When I recover, I’m going to really miss those brain cells.

*Also called a backdrop, but they’re both the same thing.

Filed under: studio lots, toxic waste, Work, , , , , , , ,

Friday Photo


A backdrop against a stage floor and a pit. On sound stages, any part of the floor that’s hollow underneath the boards must be marked, because if you roll a lift over it, the floor can collapse.  This one’s pretty small, but there are a few stages where most of the floor is covering a pit and trying to hang lights when you can’t use a lift can be trying, especially if you’ve got tall sets.

Yesterday was my first day out from behind the dimmer board – I took a one day call on a friend’s TV show shooting right down the street from my pad.  In addition to the wonderfully short commute, it was really nice to be able to go to the bathroom when I wanted to, visit crafty when I wanted to, and the crew were all very nice folks that I really enjoy working with. They even got us out early (5 pm) so folks could go home and have Halloween with their kids.

Thankfully, it’s still busy out there so I’ve already got at least four days next week.

Hooray for work!!

Filed under: Photos, studio lots, Work, , , , , , ,

Friday Photo


At least someone’s working.

Filed under: Photos, , , ,

March 2023

Flickr Photos



Random Quote

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

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