Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

The shit zone

I haven’t worked in a shit-covered alley in quite some time. Not because people aren’t shitting in alleyways nowadays, but because Los Angeles has gentrified the shit out of most alleys. The human shit, anyways.

Most, but not all.

Today I got a last-minute call to go help out on a rig for a movie, which is really strange since I didn’t think we shot movies here any longer, but I haven’t worked in a few weeks, and the call was with a group of guys I really like, so off I went.

Our set was an alleyway between tenement apartments in a part of town that’s never seen skinny jeans, horn rim glasses, or pour over coffee – a real honest to God slum instead of a fake hipster slum.

You know what I mean.

No matter how much they steam clean alleys, they never get all the.. material. There’s still a smell, and since most people who shit in alleys do so leaning up against a wall, the walls and gates have to be cleaned about 2 feet up or there’s still a nasty surprise for the person running cable.

That brown crusty stuff on the bottom of the gate? It’s not rust.

The good news is that it’s been cool enough that the smell of baking excrement wasn’t as bad as it would have been in, say, July.

But still. The smell hangs in one’s nostrils, and as I was trying to tie some DMX cable up out of the shit zone, the soles of my shoes got a good soaking in a puddle of what I desperately hoped was water, but realized my error when, at lunch, the smell of piss wafted up from my shoes. Since I’m almost positive I didn’t pee on them, I have to assume the puddle was part of the alley which received insufficient steaming.

I’ve never been so happy to have a nice hot shower.

Tomorrow, I’m at another location with less pee but more toxic mold.

I’ll take it.


Filed under: california, crack of dawn, hazardous, locations, movies, toxic waste, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

The abominable dusty everything.

Today’s set was a big tent in one of LA’s nature areas – and by ‘nature area’ I mean a big dirt lot adjacent to a man-made lake in the Valley.

The dirt floor of the tent was covered with a layer of sawdust, which must have seemed like a great idea at the time – until the couple of hundred extras and circus performers started tromping around and then it hit.

The dust cloud.

After a couple of hours, it was like a foggy morning in San Francisco in there, and the camera assistants were going through what I imagine was a week’s worth of canned air by blowing off the cameras every few minutes in an attempt to keep them dust free enough to work.

Everything was coated with dust – even though I was wearing one of those paper masks, I still tasted dust and felt grit between my teeth. Although it was hot, I probably didn’t drink enough water because that would have meant taking the mask away from my face, which would have meant ingesting extra dirt.

After lunch, there was some attempt to control the dust by sending two guys around to spray the floor with water from those 2 gallon portable garden misters, but that did nothing to help.

Even after having had the world’s longest shower, I still taste it. I think my lungs are now coated with dust.

At least I had a mask, though. Our actress not only had to navigate the dirt floor in spike heels, but wasn’t able to wear a dust mask because of her makeup. By the end of the day she was really starting to cough.

And in case you were wondering, 100+ extras can really do some damage to the portable toilets. I went in there to pee and wash my hands before driving home and every single stall looked like a natural disaster.

I’m going to brush my teeth for the fourth time and go to bed.

Filed under: Work, , , , ,

April 2023

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

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