Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Insurance day

Friday was all about  being in the right place at the right time.

I was rigging on some re-shoots of a movie that shot back east (as most of them do now), and happened to be standing there when the best boy got a call asking  if anyone knew of any lamp operators that were available.

Some people prefer just to rig for various reasons – shorter hours, less chaos, etc.. and some folks on rigging crews do not like to work set, but some of us are perfectly happy doing both.

So as I was standing there, gathering supplies I needed to run DMX in the perms, my name got thrown in the hat for a lamp operator on a movie that – wait for it – is actually shooting in Los Angeles.

Jaw, meet floor.

There are several totally awesome things about this particular movie –  it’s crewed by a great group of folks that I really like to work with, and it’s running through the middle of December. And the main location is really close to the apartment so the morning commute is a breeze. Also, kickass caterer.

I’m not dayplaying, I’m actually full-time, and I can’t remember the last time that’s happened.

Today was my first day, and as usual, was spent getting acquainted with the set, where the power is, how the gaffer likes things done, etc..

About three hours into the day, the ADs announced that our main actor would not be in due to illness. Actual illness, mind you, not coked-out former starlet “illness”.

When things like this happen, the production company calls the insurance company*, informs them that they won’t be able to shoot that day and the insurance company has to cover the costs.

Production companies hate insurance days and try to never, ever use them, but sometimes your actor gets sick or your set burns down or no one can find the director because he went to Tijuana over the weekend with two of the extras and there’s nothing to be done about it other than to throw in the towel.

So, we spent some time cleaning up and organizing our carts, and then left. I went to a nearby restaurant and celebrated the full-time gig with a glass of wine and a fantastic lunch (chickpea and rosemary soup with a nice glass of wine. And bread), then came home, changed and went for a run.

Followed, finally, by a swim.

As of right now, we’re working tomorrow and I’m so happy about it.

*Every production has insurance. One can’t get permits or rent equipment without it.

Filed under: locations, movies, Work, , , , , , , , , ,

Friday Photo and Good News (not in that order)

Having spent a fair amount of time dealing with endless layers of bureaucracy (moving from one country to another several times in one’s lifetime instills a sense of cynicism and an understanding of the need to present redundant paperwork in triplicate, but that’s a whole different story), yesterday I chugged down enough coffee to really make me motivated, and geared up to do battle.

First stop, the disability office in scenic Van Nuys*. I had my pay stubs, but decided I’d go and get the payout summary just to cover my ass. I was expecting a DMV-like wait (here in California that’s forever and a day. I think the last time I was in the DMV office, I saw dust-covered skeletons in the waiting area, and no, it wasn’t Halloween), but there were only three people in line in front of me and my wait was a grand total of 5 minutes. The lady behind the counter was pleasant and very helpful – she took one of the pay stubs, looked up my case file, instantly printed out what I needed and then wished me happy holidays.

Pleasantly surprised, I then proceeded to the insurance company office, where I signed in, was told there’d be a bit of a wait, and then within 15 minutes was ushered into the office of a very nice lady who took the payout summary from me (“It’s less paper”) and then updated my status to ‘eligible’ right there and then.

I asked for something in writing, just in case the cards didn’t come and there was some sort of screw-up, and she handed me a printout with an official-looking red stamp on it, wished me happy holidays and then informed me that my insurance cards would be mailed out as soon as possible.

Talk about pleasant surprises.

Not only did it all work out well, everything happened before noon, so I decided to go for a swim – charged up on coffee, I figured I’d do a really fast paced hour-long workout which would entitle me to a celebratory bacon avocado burger, but all I managed to accomplish was pulling a muscle in my leg which means I’ll have to continue eating boring healthy crap. Remember, kids – always warm up first.

It should sort itself out in a few days, but if it doesn’t at least I still have health insurance.

Bounced light

Sometimes, one wants a soft glow of light instead of a harsh beam. When this happens one ‘bounces’ the light off a light-colored surface such as a wall. When we’re shooting night exteriors, just about every widow you see in the shot that’s glowing has one of these bounced lights inside the room. This gives an even soft light that doesn’t look like some sort of police searchlight or evil alien probe has set up shop in said room, which would be bad. Unless that’s the look you’re going for, of course.

*For those of you not familiar with Los Angeles, Van Nuys is not very scenic at all. It’s mostly strip-malls and car lots.

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

Tuesday photo

A day I never thought I'd live to see.

A day I honestly thought I’d never live to see.

I went downtown to watch the inauguration on LA Live’s giant televisions (the best use of the silly things) – and in the company of other people. For some reason, this just seemed like something that was too big to fit into my living room.

Everyone in the crowd was really happy and it was a good time even if the LA Live people cut off Elizabeth Alexander’s sound while some local lounge singer belted out “America the Beautiful”. Luckily, they cut him off so that we were able to hear the last half of her poem.

I’m glad I ventured out of the house, even if it meant missing The Daily Show and the (probably) hilarious live coverage.

So far, there’s no work this week. Which means that of course I got the urge to go pay my hairdresser (who I adore and would totally marry were he not gay) to cut off most of my hair.

My wallet’s a few dollars lighter, but so is my head.

Happy Inauguration Day.  Let’s all hope for good times to roll again soon.

Filed under: life in LA, Non-Work, , , , , , ,

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