Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Still slow, but I’ve been busy

January (and the first part of February), have, predictably, been slow for work. This year, during the slow time, I read a book about tidying up. The approach of the book is a bit different that the usual ‘maximize your storage’ stuff. The author, Marie Kondo, opines that one’s clutter problems come from simply having too much fucking crap.

Since my current domicile is the size of a postage stamp, it gets cluttered very quickly, so I was about ready to try anything. I didn’t go as extreme as she recommends, but I did dump a massive amount of stuff – out-of-style clothes, brik-a-brak, about 3/4 of the re-usable shopping bags that have been  breeding on the shelf in the kitchen, shoes I can’t wear any longer, way too many bath towels (I think they were having babies, too), etc..

Not only is my place less cluttered, but since there’s a place for everything, it’s been staying uncluttered, which is really unusual for me.

The other weird thing that’s happened is I’m now very reluctant to buy anything new – clothes, shoes, kitchenware, whatever. All I can think when I look at it is that it’s going to upset the nice calm zen(ish) atmosphere I’ve got without all that goddamn crap crammed into every single crevice and cranny.

Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend and walked past one of those stores that sell that resort-wear I love so much. On sale. Like really on sale. And I looked, shrugged and kept walking.

Sweet.

Next up, I tackle the avalanche of old family photos. I figure I’ll scan the ones I want, send the rest to my sister, because if they’re in her house, they’re not my clutter any longer. Heh.

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

And why wouldn’t it?

Today was our last day in our ‘hero’ house, so we had, in addition to the day’s work, some scenes to re-shoot (one because the producers didn’t think our stunningly beautiful lead actress looked ‘pretty enough’), and about a million inserts.

The call sheet looked like a Tolstoy novel before editing, and we all knew it was going to be a long day – even if they wrapped on time, we still had to load our truck. In the rain, of course, because why wouldn’t it be raining on the day we had to clean up and load our truck?

After several weeks at a location, you get comfortable and stuff spreads out despite efforts at housekeeping, so there’s a massive last-minute expedition to hunt down the scattered gear and organize it (Boss: “Why are the tweenie* doors on the back of the toilet in the bathroom?” Me: [pause] “I. Don’t. Know.”)

After they finally called wrap – at the last minute before the producer stomped on set and pulled the plug, because why wouldn’t they use every minute they had to finish the massive call sheet – we were cleaning out the house, happy to be done with the place, but trying to work as quickly as we could as the siren call of home and a hot shower was too much to resist.

The homeowner had thoughtfully provided wooden ramps so we could wheel carts up the low stairs into the house, as I was carrying one of the aforementioned tweenies down the ramp, I slipped on the wet wood and landed right on my knee.

Of course. If I’m going to get hurt at work, why wouldn’t it be right at wrap when my co-workers really need me? I’m told I screamed like a girl when it happened, although I have no such recollection.

Our medic iced the knee, gave me some painkillers and some paperwork to fill out (in that order. Hope I did it right), then wrapped it (the knee, not the paperwork) so it would hold weight and I hobbled out to help load the carts.

One of my co-workers had slipped on the same ramp a few hours before and injured the opposite leg, so we joked that between us we made one complete electrician.

I’m icing the knee now in the hopes that the swelling will go down – I’m officially in 10 hour turnaround (the elapsed time between when one is dismissed for the day and when one must report back to work the next day), so I can’t ice for too long.

That sleep thing needs to happen.

Tomorrow’s work is in a hospital, so if the knee really hurts I know where there will be a doctor or three.

Call time: 9:30 am

Wrap time: 9:30 pm

We closed the doors of our truck at 11:00 pm.

*The tweenie is one of the workhorses of the lighting department. It’s a 650 watt light that’s small enough to hide easily, but puts out a nice amount of light, and no matter how many of them we order, it’s never enough.

 

Filed under: hazardous, locations, long long drives, mishaps, movies, Work, , , , , , , ,

Imagination is a bastard

Apologies for the lack of posts. I’ve been alternately anxious and busy  or anxious and idle, neither of which really lends itself to any sort of creative thought process.

Work’s been busy – mostly TV, but a few low-budget features (never thought I’d see any of those again), but since the low-budget producers have been out-of-town where costs, in general, are lower, they’re sweating us more and more to cut costs. Since we can only talk the rental houses down so far, this means that the additional manpower we need to do the job efficiently and safely gets cut.

So, a day which would normally need five guys gets three, and only then after the best boy fights with production about it. When things don’t get done right away because we don’t have enough people, we get yelled at. (“You had eight hours to wrap that set! What the fuck is wrong with you?” “Well, that eight-hour estimate was with 4 guys and you cut us down to two. What do you expect?”)

The threat of taking the production out-of-town hangs over our head like some dangling sharp thing in some disputation which I forget these days.

No matter how busy it gets, we’re all worried about how long it’ll last. It used to be so predictable. Busy until the holidays, then a couple of weeks off, and then picking up in mid-January, going through May, a month or two off, and then picking up again.

No longer. We all know this isn’t going to last, and it’s stressful. I’ve heard  far too many stories about lost insurance, lost houses, and kids having to go live with ex-spouses for stability and consistent meals.

Also, I’m fighting with California’s unemployment department. They’re threatening to revoke my eligibility to get benefits for three years due to a clerical error on my part which amounts to pocket change. Awesome.

So I sit down in front of the computer and try to write something and all I can do is worry. About my bills. About my future. About my co-workers, who are all in the same boat.

And I can’t write anything because I can’t stop worrying.

So I turn off the computer and I sit in front of the TV, watching stupid movies because I just want some sort of distraction so I can spend an hour or so not being so fucking worked up.

On the bright side, I’m very glad that I don’t eat when I get stressed, or I’d weigh 780 lbs right now. I have no idea how much that is in Kilos, other than a fuckload.

Filed under: Non-Work, Off-Topic, rants, Work, , , , , , , ,

…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, , , , , , , , , , ,

Stop me before I kill again.

Although I really wanted to grab the camera, hop in the car and go somewhere scenic and cooler than LA (like up to the redwoods), since unnecessary driving is no longer on the agenda around here I decided to use my holiday weekend to catch up on some of the around-the-house type stuff I’ve been putting off.

My project this weekend was installing some shelving in what I generously refer to as the ‘office’. Really, it’s what is called in Los Angeles apartment nomenclature as a “junior bedroom”, which really means a large closet used to justify a ‘2 bedroom’ rating and thus more rent. Of course, I don’t use it as an office so much as a repository for the flotsam that doesn’t have anywhere else to go – most of which is books, so shelves would give the appearance that I’m organized. Or at least that I care.

So, I drove up into the valley, fought the crowds at the local Swedish furniture warehouse, bought some of the unfinished wood shelving, wrestled it into the truck and somehow got it home.

I decided against trying to finish the shelves – the humidity is still at tropical levels around here, so I’m guessing it would take the varnish about 30 years to dry completely, and it’s still way too hot to even think about sanding anything.

If you’ve never purchased furniture from said Swedish furniture warehouse, it’s all flat-packed and has to be assembled with some of the most fucked-up instructions I’ve ever seen. In an attempt to only print one set of instructions for the entire world, they’ve decided that hieroglyphs are the best choice of instruction for assemble-at-home furniture. There are little line drawings of bits of what I can only assume are the shelves being attached to each other with a hexagonal bolts (wrench not included, of course. Thankfully I happen to have a socket set and a power drill).

The main problem is that the recommended method of assembly and installation is simply not physically possible.

I don’t mean ‘difficult for one person’ or ‘impossible after a few drinks’. I mean it’s not physically possible to put the fucking shelves together the way the stick figures are doing it in the little paper.

Although the idea that the furniture should be assembled while flat on the floor and then ‘Iwo Jima-ed‘ into place looks great on paper, I knew from the get-go that it wasn’t going to go well as I purchased a configuration that has corner pieces, since I needed shelving on perpendicular walls.

If the hieroglyphs were to be believed,  the shelving units also had to be connected to one another for structural integrity which made my original plan of just building them individually and bolting them to the wall unworkable.

I decide to try the recommended method of building them flat on the floor first, and it went well until I got to the corner piece, where it became completely impossible to build as the floor was no longer supporting anything, and to lift and a corner shelving unit with one half-assembled end sticking straight up into the air is surprisingly heavy and unbelievably awkward. Several attempts to lift the thing resulted in a nasty bump on the head, a cut on the shin and several deep gouges in the wood floor.

I then threatened to kill the person who had drawn the instructions.

Next, I tried to just assemble the back side, lift that into place and then bolt the front uprights onto the units while they were, well, upright. That failed as well and resulted in my threatening to find and kill whoever designed the damn things in the first place.

By this time the cat and my neighbor had both wisely hidden (guess the screamed obscenities rattled them. The neighbor, at least. I would imagine the cat’s used to them by now) somewhere while I had a temper tantrum, threw some things, threatened to kill a few more Swedes just for practice and then decided that if I’ve ever really, truly needed a drink, that was the time – medication be damned.

After I’d calmed down, I made the trek back up to the store, bought extra uprights and made each section a stand alone bookcase, lined them up and bolted everything to the wall, despite the warnings from the store’s personnel that this would create a dark, unstable-shelving magic which would lead to a politician selecting a completely unqualified redneck as a running mate in the presidential race…

Whoops.

Sorry about that. But I did get the shelves in and they’re loaded up with books (and camera gear, and painting stuff) and they’re still holding.

So far, I’ve only got one day of work this week, but it’s a short week so I didn’t have my hopes up to begin with.

How was your weekend?

Filed under: cranky, humor, mishaps, Non-Work, Off-Topic, rants, , , , , , , , , , , ,

…And it just keeps coming

My landlady stopped by today to tell me that they’ve put my building up for sale.

My childhood was pretty nomadic – I’ve lived in this place longer than I’ve ever lived anywhere before. This is the first place I’ve ever had that truly was a home. My home.

Now, it’s for sale and I’m helpless. All I can do is sit and wait to see what happens.

Given the frenzy with which developers are covering Hollywood in “luxury loft condos” it’s highly unlikely that it’s not going to get torn down.

Although I’m not sure there would have been a good time for this, I can’t really think of a worse one.

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

So now I need some advice.

Almost a week ago, I found this dog:

Meet the Anklebiter

All attempts at finding her real family have failed (according to the lady at the shelter, there’s a good chance that she was dumped), and now I’m having to think about things.

I really like the dog and want to keep her, but given the hours I work I just don’t think I’m the right home for her. I was hoping that my friends would keep her because that way I’d still be able to visit, but now it’s not looking like that’s going to happen.

So, who out there has experience with tiny dogs? I suspect she’ll be unhappy when left alone for 14 hours a day (well, not alone but I can’t imagine she’s ever going to get too buddy-buddy with the cat). Chihuahuas aren’t like cats, right? They don’t like to be home alone all day doing whatever it is cats do (I think my cat’s using the internet while I’m gone, but I can’t prove anything), right?

I’d love for the dog people out there to weigh in on this one.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , ,

Lawn care mishaps

Yesterday’s best boy is someone for whom I’ve not worked in a long time, but I’m always happy to hear from him since he’s a terrific guy. I’ve never once seen him get angry or blow his cool, which is remarkable given how high-stress the best boy position can be.

So when he got on the walkie sounding extremely stressed and upset, we all knew something was terribly wrong.

“Get over to staging, now.. move!”

Then, as we all started to walk very quickly, he said the ‘s’ word – sprinklers.

You know, sprinklers. Those things that you put on a timer so your lawn gets watered and you don’t have to think about it ever until a movie crew comes in to shoot in your house and you don’t know how to turn off the sprinklers because they’ve been set for years and you lost the manual so you lie to the location manager and tell him they’re turned off when really they aren’t*.

Then, said film crew comes along and parks our equipment right where it’s going to be easy to get to once we start running in and out of the house (which is usually in the driveway somewhere) and then after we get all settled in… it’s sprinkle time.

Although we always try never ever to appear panicked on set (makes everyone else nervous and it makes it seem like we’re not in control of the situation), having a lawn sprinkler go off right next to our head carts and distro boxes will make us scramble like, well, like people scrambling to get expensive lighting equipment out of water. When there’s a threat of rain, we carry these big plastic bags that go over the carts, but we generally leave them on the truck if the weather forecast is for clear skies.

The funny thing about this is that whenever there’s any kind of water, most non-set lighting people freak out about the cable getting wet. Really, this is no big deal – the cable itself is waterproof, and can get as wet as it likes – hell, the cable itself can be submerged in water and it’s fine. It’s the place where one piece of cable connects to the next that’s the problem (or when a piece of cable connects to a distro box).

Also, there are other, more expensive pieces of equipment that don’t like to get wet under any circumstances.

Like yesterday – the real panic was about the HMI lamps – those things can’t get wet under any circumstances**, and since we were told the sprinklers were off, we parked the cart right next to a sprinkler head (we weren’t even thinking about it – locations had told us they were off, so we picked the best spot).

Hence the scramble.

After we’d moved our carts (and put traffic cones over the sprinkler heads to contain the spray), we surveyed the damage, and luckily only two of the heads (the light itself) got wet and none of the ballasts, so we just didn’t use those, which wasn’t a problem since we were working for one of the (increasingly rare) DPs who don’t overlight, so we only used about half our stuff.

The real tragedy was that my newspaper got soaked before I had a chance to read it.

Note to homeowners: If you don’t know how to turn off the sprinklers, please for the love of all that’s holy tell the location person that – no one’s going to think you’re stupid. Hell, they probably don’t know how to turn off their sprinklers at home, either, but instead of letting it go and potentially causing tens of thousands of dollars of damage to equipment (because set lighting’s not the only ones who have stuff that doesn’t like water), just say something and someone will figure out the system.

Please.

Once my boss got to the sprinkler control panel, it took him about 90 seconds to turn them off.

*After the panic died down, the homeowner finally confessed.

**Tungsten lamps – which are the same color temperature as your indoor light bulbs and are much less finicky than HMIs – can get wet (when they’re not burning, of course – when they’re burning they shouldn’t get too wet because the lens can crack and if water gets inside it can cause a short) and they’re fine, because they have no electronic parts in them.  HMIs are full of electronic gizmos that react really badly to water – or getting too hot, or getting too cold, or getting power that’s not the exact right kind.

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

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