Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Stress and time to enjoy it

Work is slow right now. Very, very slow. Part of it is just the time of year. The episodics are on hiatus, the pilots are over and nothing will really start happening for another month or two.

I’m feeling it more than usual, though, because the show that I worked on fairly steadily for over a decade is gone. Done, over, kaput, never coming back, sets in the garbage, misty-eyed ‘remember when’ Facebook group formed.

I didn’t really realize how much of my income came from said show until I started wondering why I was so broke in April. I should be doing okay this time of.. oh, wait. That.

So now, because my expenses are now above what unemployment will cover, I’m worrying. Not just about the slow month, but about a potential writers’ strike.

If they strike, all production will grind to a halt and we’ll all be unemployed – potentially for months.

I simply haven’t got the cash reserves to survive extended not-workingness.

Sure, I could get another bunion surgery, but it might be better to get a job. A real job.

Except what I’m able to get via temp agencies won’t cover my expenses, either.

So I’m waiting. And breathing deeply, while trying to quell the rising panic about something that hasn’t happened yet.

But it’s hard, because the last extended work stoppage was bad. I barely squeaked by, and ended up with a shitload of credit card debt that I do not want again.

Today, I went to the Actor’s Fund and did the intake meeting so I can go to the resume classes and get career assistance – mainly in the form of resume classes, financial planning classes, and job listing.

I found myself in a room full of people just like me – all panicked about different things, and all wondering how we were going to survive.

I was the only jerk in the room to actually mention the strike, and everyone around the table tensed up.

At the end of the meeting, we all shuffled out, planning which workshops to come back to – I’ll have to ride my bike, though, as I’m not sure I can afford to pay the parking, or buy gas.

It’s better to knuckle down sooner rather than later, right?

 

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

June

There are two months of the year where work is usually scarce for me – January and June. I always know it’s coming and prepare for it as best I can, but near the end of the month, with rent and bills due, I panic.

I know that there will be more work (and soon), but still. I panic.

I worry that I’m going to drain my bank account on the first of July, never work again, lose my apartment and have to consolidate into a shopping cart.

I worry about not being able to pay my bills and trying to live without electricity.

Or even worse, the internet.

I start looking around for stuff I can sell, even though I don’t own anything of any value.

 

So today I’m in panic mode. I have to pay rent, cell phone, electricity bill, gym, car insurance and union dues all this week.

Yes, I know I’m over-reacting, but I can’t stop myself.

It’s like this every single fucking year.

You’d think I’d learn.

 

Filed under: Non-Work, , , ,

Easing into the real world

Over the past two(ish) months, I’ve become accustomed to the lighter schedule of the multi-camera show.

Monday, we come in around 2 pm, and work until about 8. We hang lights – enough to ‘rough in’ the look so when they do the rehearsal with the cast the next morning, they have a good idea what the sets look like and what we need to change or add.

Ditto Tuesday and Wednesday.

Our long days are Thursday (block and pre-shoot) and Friday (audience), but neither of those days usually go over 12 hours.

Friday, the director does a ‘block and refresh’ with the cast before lunch, and then the audience load in and we shoot the live show.

Most directors finish with the refresh well before lunch, leaving us with a two-hour lunch.

This is a good thing and a bad thing.

I can go to the bank or the gym or just nap for those two hours, but I’m also on the Sony lot which means there’s a deeply discounted electronics store within walking distance, and I really don’t need to blow a paycheck on three TVs and a sound system.

But next week is our last week, and we’ve got three new sets plus an extra shoot day (to re-do the opening sequence), so we’re going to have more hours than usual.

We’ll have a nice check right when we’re unemployed, but the fact that we’re all dreading working a 60 hour week is some indication as to how spoiled we’ve gotten and what a shock it’s going to be to return to the real world of production, where every day will be 12 hours. Or more.

I have to say I really thought I was going to hate being stuck on a multi camera, but it’s been fun – largely because of the wonderful folks I’m working with, who I’ll miss when we’re done (but will see out in single camera world on a semi-regular basis).

I’ve also discovered that copious amounts of free time on a regular basis make me get less stuff done, not more.

Although I have binge-watched several Netflix series on the one new TV I bought (just one, although the salesperson really tried to get me into two).

My new hobby is watching movies from the 70s and 80s and pausing to really get a good look at the backgrounds.

I can really see the tape and spit holding the sets together.  It’s hilarious.

 

 

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

Good times are rolling

My job’s actually starting next week  – whoops!

Over the past few years, as work has gotten less plentiful I’ve become really conscious of cash outflow, but since I’ve got a job starting, I’ve been playing a bit fast and loose with the bank account.

I’ve been swimming in the ocean several times a week – the temperature is a balmy 59, but it’s not that bad once you get moving. Our swim group goes to a coffee shop after we get out (hey, we’re cold!), so I’ve been buying quite a few breakfasts.  I’ve also been paying to park in the beach lot, which I usually try to avoid at all costs.

We have a pile of new cat toys, I’ve been driving the car and burning gas,  I have a new wetsuit (and a thermal cap and booties. That water is cold), the fridge is well stocked with tasty stuff, and I’ve been drinking the good wine.

Later this year when it’s dead and I’m in panic mode, I’m going to regret the hell out of this money hemorrhage, and you all can feel free to let loose with a rousing chorus of “I told you so” but sometimes it’s really nice to not worry about anything and just live.

In case you’re wondering, swimming in the ocean in the winter is pretty awesome. The water is super clear (visibility in the Pacific is usually about three inches, but now we can see the bottom in 30+ feet of water), and there’s no one out there but the few of us who are, well, crazy. Or hardy. Pick your explanation.

I’ll worry later. I’m having fun right now.

 

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

Some weeks are better than others

This week started out so well. Work’s picking up, the weather’s been gorgeous, etc…

Until Tuesday, when I decided to go to the grocery store, and because I needed some bulky stuff, I took the car.

Midway through my backing out of my parking space in the six-space carport, the neighbor’s little rat-dog ran across the alley and under my wheels, and in an attempt not to flatten said rat-dog, I swerved and hit the support post instead.

Which would have been fine, except my current car is apparently made of vacu-formed tinfoil as the low-speed oopsie resulted in the following:

One torn off driver’s side mirror

One severely dented front driver’s side door.

One fucked up front quarter panel.

One fucked up front bumper.

One $500 deductible.

One rat-dog owner refusing to admit that she’s at fault.

Awesome. So now, I’m on the hook for five Benjamins and my car has to go to the body shop for an undisclosed amount of time.

Also, I’ve spent eons on the phone with said insurance company and will now get a point on my license and jacked-up rates for the foreseeable future.

Lucky for me my insurance covers a portion of the rental car – not all of it, of course, but some of it.

Gods bless America.

So for the next week or so, I’ll be driving a Prius, which is what the rental car company gave me. Side of smug is on the house.

And five days of work turned into three.

How was your week?

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

Idle hands are some dude’s workshop.

In addition to an uncertain economy and a more annoying than usual election season, those of us in movie world have to worry about a potential actor’s strike. Projects which should be starting up right about now are on hold pending resolution of the SAG contract dispute, and what should be a very busy time of year is slow, so I’ve had the misfortune to see a lot more of the news than usual.  Also, it’s too hot to do anything other than sit on the couch in front of a fan.

Special note to media: Maybe investors wouldn’t panic if you’d stop scaring the hell out of them every three seconds.

Just something to think about.

While I can’t do anything about a SAG strike, heat, runaway production, bailouts, recessions, guys with douche bag hair or credit freezes, I have a proposal which will make many of us (okay, maybe just me) feel much, much better about the state of things.

Let’s get a couple of tanker trucks full of tar, a shitload of feathers and head for Wall Street. It would at least give the illusion that someone, somewhere got what was coming to them.

If we have any tar left over we can make a stop in Washington, too.

It’ll be fun!

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , ,

Watch me try to stay awake

One of the things that still remains tough to adjust to after all this time is the unpredictable hours that I sometimes have to work.

Under normal circumstances, if I’m so tired that I feel I’m not safe I’ll turn down the call, but since my policy right now is to only turn down work if I’m dead, I’m taking anything at any time I can get, which means if I have to go without sleep I’m just going to have to deal, since the shadow of another potential work stoppage is still hanging over all our heads.

Thursday: 2 pm call time. I got to bed around 2 am and got up around 7 am in order to keep on a day schedule. I figured I’d stay up all day and just go to bed early.

Then, on Friday around noon I got a last minute call to report to work at 2 pm (missed seeing Nezza on her last day here, but a girl’s gotta pay the bills), so right out of the gate I was completely wiped out and the best boy will probably go to his grave being convinced that I’m either perpetually stoned or exceptionally slow on the uptake.

Monday: 7am call time, which adds up to one of those one-day weekends since I totally lost Saturday. I’m sure I did something, but I have no idea what that something was.

I was off today, and I got up early hoping to stay on a day schedule, but no such luck.

Tomorrow: 5 pm call time, so although I got up at 6 am today, I’ll have to try to stay up until at least midnight in the hopes that I’ll sleep until at least 8 am.

8, for me, is the magic number. I can’t seem to sleep much later unless I get home from work at 7 am.

What will probably happen is that I’ll fall asleep at 10, wake up at 6, be unable to get back to sleep and then be up until sunrise Friday morning, which means I’ll have to down enough coffee to kill Juan Valdez and his donkey in order to stay functional.

It’s all going to be fine. I’m just happy to be working, and worse comes to worse I’ll catch a nap in the back seat of my car after work. Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done that.

On the bright side, I got my refund checks from the unemployment fracas:

Winning feels gooood.

I have big plans for this money. First, I’m going to trowel on enough makeup so that I topple over when I try to stand upright. Then, I’m going to don an obscenely tight dress, make a beeline to the trendiest nightclub in town and sit at the bar while I bat my eyelashes and fan myself with $2,000 in twenties before going home with four or five cheap male models. Or maybe one really expensive one.

Just kidding. I’m going to use it to pay bills and rent. Whatever’s left over goes in the savings account in case the actors decide to strike.

Although when I think about it, if I have four or five cheap male models, do I really need a place to live? Or food?

Filed under: Photos, Work, , , , , , , , ,

We have a winner!

Jon takes the canned swill  delicious beverage with 20 W2 forms!

Jon, shoot me an email at randomblogmail@yahoo.com and I’ll send it right out!

I’d also like to take this time to apologize for not being more interesting as of late – there’s just not that much going on right now. I get up, write a bit (I’m still behind schedule, though), go to the gym for a couple of hours (I’d be totally ripped right now if I didn’t like wine so much), come home, work on the scarf I’m knitting (it’s my first lace project so it’s taking a while), write some more, watch some bad TV, list stuff on ebay (I’m now listing stuff for people in exchange for a percentage of the sale. Tune in next week when I start dancing on the street corner for whatever spare change passersby chuck at my head) and then go to bed.

No going out, no dates, no movies, no trips anywhere, no social life to speak of and I don’t even have work to blame this time.

Guess I need another excuse, don’t I? 

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

Well, this is depressing, but it isn’t a surprise.

Today’s LA Times hit me like a hammer*, and it wasn’t so much of a surprise as it was a confirmation in my not having much faith in humanity these days:

Go Here and Here

Of course the suits looted the company. Of course.

You know, if I lose my health insurance** and pension qualifying hours and have to double pay taxes because one of these motherfuckers wanted a tacky $100,000 car and a mostly plastic bimbo, I’m going to scour the earth to find the guy.

When I do find him, I’m going to do things to him that will violate every single clause of the Geneva convention.

That’s all I have.

I’m just too angry right now to be clever. Maybe later.

*I stood in the coffee shop (I’ve cancelled my newspaper subscription to save money) shaking my scavenged paper and screaming “You motherfucker!” at the top of my lungs. I think I was asked not to return. Ever.

** Crew people’s health insurance is dependent upon our working a certain number of hours (currently 300 per semester). If we don’t work enough, and don’t have enough extra hours saved in our ‘bank’ to cover the shortfall, we lose our insurance. If Axium didn’t pay into the proper fund, some of use could lose our insurance.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

And now for something none of us needed right now.

Over the weekend, the recent crash and burn of the Axium payroll company has been the subject of many panic-stricken phone calls and late nights spent rocking back and forth talking to oneself while clutching a bottle of cheap whiskey.

For tax and unemployment insurance purposes, when we work, we are technically employees of the payroll company instead of the production company. This is not a bad thing – it cuts down on the tax-season paperwork (16 W 2 forms instead of 138) and reduces instances of in-house rubber checkitis (back in the bad old days of tiny shows run by fly-by-night production companies, one would pick up one’s check at the office and then drive like a bat out of hell to the production company’s bank to cash it while there were hopefully still funds in the account. When everyone started using payroll companies, the checks, when they eventually arrived, were usually good).

Although I read the LA Times articles about Axium folding, I didn’t think much about it until this weekend, when we found out that they haven’t been paying the tax contributions on paychecks for “months and months”. Needless to say, these contributions were withheld from checks, but the money somehow just…disappeared.

As of right now, there’s some debate about if they’ve paid into the pension and health fund.

Did I mention that over half my work (and thus, over half my pay) last year was with companies that used Axium? Including the movie that I was on for months?

Which means, that although the taxes were deducted from my checks, as of right now there’s no way to know if I fall into the happy group who had the deducted monies actually paid to the gub’mint. Since I doubt the IRS cares that I had the money deducted, they’ll probably make me pay twice.

‘Cause that’s how the IRS rolls.

No one has exact numbers yet, so I’m desperately hoping to just get a little bit fucked instead of utterly and completely screwed sideways with sand in the Vaseline.

Great. Just my luck I’ll have to write the IRS a check right when I haven’t been working in months.

Filed under: cranky, mishaps, rants, Work, , , , , ,

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