Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Panic and destruction

In case you were wondering, the day before we’re scheduled to shoot is not the best time to make major changes to the sets.

It screws up everyone – us, grip, camera, actors, but mainly set dressing.

Set dressers are the nice people who make the sets look like, well, not sets.

I’m sure you’ve seen the low-budget movie with sparse backgrounds that somehow look like sets – you may not be able to pinpoint what’s wrong, but you do know they don’t look right.

That, my friends, is set dressing.

They place magazines, table lamps, newspapers, pens, mismatched pillows, sex toys, statuary, flowers, coffee cups, and the difference is amazing.

But, like the rest of us, set dressers don’t do their best work when they’re in a ‘holy fuck what just happened’ panic.

So they rip out all the practicals* – the table lamps, the floor lamps, the wall sconces, the weird puck light things in the cabinets that I’ve never, ever seen in the real world ever and wad up all the zip cord into a ball and helpfully set it somewhere that makes perfect sense. To them.

So then we come in on the day we’re supposed to shoot and find all new practicals in all new places and all of the zip and stingers connecting them to the dimmers gone.

Well, not gone, but wadded up… somewhere.

So now it’s our turn to panic as we try to work around the actors and director and camera trying to block the scene so we can shoot.

Of course, the only people who think that practicals are important are the DP and the gaffer.

Everyone else just see them as crap that’s making the toolbelt people have to get in their way.

So we have to balance getting yelled at by the gaffer, who wants that bedside lamp to work, and the director who wants us to get the hell out of his set so he can be a creative genius.

Since the director doesn’t hire us for the next show, guess who wins that battle?

Lucky for us, we managed to get everything redone in time to shoot, and hopefully there won’t be many more changes for show day tomorrow.

Oh, and the cat’s still hanging in there. She seems to have perked up a bit since it’s not as hot.


* Any light that’s on the screen is called a practical. It plays as part of the sets, but it’s a working light fixture.

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

New School / Old School

Since I’ve decided I can only learn one new thing at a time, I’m going to be making my lighting maps the old-fashioned way – with paper and a template.

When I came up with the idea, it seemed reasonable enough – just go and buy a template and then I’ll be tracing my way to not having to learn a fucking CAD program on top of everything else I’m trying to absorb.

Except that prancing into Studio Depot, whipping out my credit card and bypassing technology wasn’t as easy as I’d imagined.

The templates haven’t been stocked in quite some time, since apparently everyone in the world is using the aforementioned fucking CAD program.

Guess I’m going to have to have a talk with the gaffer about how we’re going to map this. Hopefully he’s got a template somewhere and can bring it in.

Maybe in a week or so I’ll be able to tackle new learnings, but right now my brain is worn the hell out.

Also, it’s hotter than ass here in Los Angeles, so there’s that.  Wait. I was trying to make a point, then I kept sweating and now I… forgot.

UPDATE: Filmtools has them. Sweet.

Guess where I’m going after work tomorrow?

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

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