Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

I’m back!

I had to take a little break to deal with some problems personal enough to not be shared on the internet (I know, right? Weird), but I here I am again and thankfully, work seems to be picking up just as thunderstorms roll through Southern California.

The worst combination possible is a condor and thunder. Rain is fine (if a bit uncomfortable for the poor sap in the bucket), but as soon as any sort of turbo-charged static starts flying around, people get nervous.

So last night, with the predicted thunderstorms in mind, we kept an eye on the tall clouds that thankfully moved north and not west, just missing us.

Not even a drop of rain – good thing I brought my rain gear. It’s a pain in the ass to haul around two work bags, but the second one thinks “oh, it’ll be fine” and leaves the waterproof stuff at home or crew parking, that’s when the heavens open and Mother Nature’s fucked-up idea of a joke sloshes around in one’s shoes for six hours.

Last night, we were a splinter unit, shooting a couple of quick bits whenever we could get the actors from the main unit.

Since one can’t really light night exteriors until it’s dark, we placed a few lights that we all knew were going to move again, then waited for it to get dark enough to start lighting.

Then, we placed some more lights, had a run through with the stand-ins, then waited for actors.

Once the actors got there we adjusted the lighting, shot, and then waited while they went back to the main unit.

We adjusted the lighting again, then had some ice cream that our crafty guy ‘liberated’ from the main unit, then did our second bit when the actors showed up again, and then we wrapped.

The one downside was that those beautiful tall clouds is humidity.

Once the sun went down, it was a nice temperature – until we started wrapping.

The temperature didn’t change, but the act of moving around had me soaked in sweat after about five minutes, even though I still didn’t feel hot. Just sticky. Very, very sticky.

Once we got our equipment back onto the truck, we went home, at slightly under 8 hours.

A cold shower has never felt so good.

Filed under: hazardous, locations, Los Angeles, Work, , , , , , , ,

Stunts ahoy!

Stunt days are usually slow for us. We light the shot, and then read the newspaper while the stunt guys do… stunt stuff.

Especially in light of recent train track events, stunt people are very resistant to being rushed. The set up takes as long as it takes, and if you don’t like it feel free to stroll over to crafty and help yourself to a big cup of shut the fuck up.

So most of yesterday was sitting and waiting for the stunts to get set up.

To these particular stunt guys credit, they moved pretty fast, but we still had a 14 hour day.

Which was fine with me, since it’s going to be completely dead in about a week.
Our last shot was inside a hallway of an empty building in an office park. It was another stunt, so we were in there well past dark.

When we stepped outside, we heard this:

Night music from Peggy Archer on Vimeo.

Frogs. Such a strange thing to hear in drought stricken Southern California. Not at all unpleasant, mind you, just odd.

Call time: 7 am.

Wrap time: 10 pm.

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

It takes some getting used to

Last night was my first time going up in the condor in almost a year. Although I’m not normally too terribly afraid of heights, it does take me a bit to adjust to being in a lift after extensive periods of time spent on terra firma.

We were shooting on a Y-shaped studio lot street, so we used three condors. Mine was the lowest, armed out over the intersection, mimicking various streetlights. This had two advantages. It kept me lower, so there was less adjustment panic, and since I was a few feet below the tops of the facades, I was sheltered from the wind (spring has not yet sprung here in Los Angeles, so it’s still a bit brisk at night, especially up in the air).

The other two condors, at opposite ends of the street, were ‘full stick’ (meaning they were at full extension of 80 feet, almost straight up) and at the mercy of the wind and fog.

At least it didn’t rain, but the billowing clouds did make for some entertaining nighttime viewing:

Misty night in the air

The operators in the other two condors told me that the wind died down after about an hour, so everyone had an easy night.

Most terrifying night in a condor ever was the night I was armed out over the LA river for an elaborate car chase scene – my base was on one of the bridges and my bucket was full stick, so the distance to ground was about 200 feet. Adding to the terror spawned by an overactive imagination was a windy night and a very ‘bendy’ condor arm (some of the arms flex more than others).

At the end of the night I think I might have kissed the ground.

Filed under: camera, Photos, studio lots, up all night, Work, , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday photo

20121207-190016.jpg

Condor. This time, I’m not in it. I’ve got several drafts that I’ll polish and post on my one day off this week.

Maybe.

Filed under: camera, locations, movies, Photos, up all night, Work, , , ,

Friday Photo

Full Moon

Balloon lights – one lit, one not. These are helium balloons with lights inside of them (hence the name) and they do a very good job of imitating moonlight.  You have to keep them away from trees on windy nights, though, or they pop.

Filed under: locations, Photos, up all night, Work, , , , , , , , , ,

Friday Photo

Wet Down

For some reason, the accepted visual language of the movies means that all streets are wet at night. Anywhere, anytime, any place. Night = wet street.

Which is fine. These visual cues help movie viewers to figure out time and place without tiresome dialogue about it (“We’re going to go outside at night!” “Swell!”).

To achieve wet streets takes water. On location, it’s water trucks, but on studio lots they use hoses to spray the street with water right before we shoot.

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

Boo! It’s Friday Photo!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Happy Halloween!

I’ll be at work tonight so I won’t have to worry about giving out candy, which is good since I didn’t buy any.

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

Thursday Photo

The entire time we were shooting in and around the circus tent, I kept reminding myself to be extra careful around the big metal stakes that were driven into the ground to hold up the tents:

Tent spike

I did really well until the last moment of the last night.

Right as we were getting ready to load our carts on the truck, a couple of us walked around the tents to do an ‘idiot check’ to make sure we hadn’t left anything behind and as I scanned the random bits of stuff  to make sure that none of it  was ours I walked right into a tent stake.

I’ve got a scrape surrounded by a green bruise on my shin – it looks like a moldy jelly donut.

Normally I don’t worry about the cuts and bruises that I get on my arms and legs, but this one’s huge and looks terrible, so even though it’s really hot today I don’t think I’m going to be wearing shorts.

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

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, , , , , , , , ,

Welcome back to work. Have some coffee.

I’m a habitual early riser – barring an all-night shoot or some sort of post-midnight catastrophe, I’m up by 8 (if I manage to do anything productive by noon is a completely different story). So when I got a mid-day call to report to work at 3 pm the first thing I did was go to my favorite overpriced coffee joint and order the equivalent of a Big Gulp. Saying ‘no’ to the job didn’t even enter my mind, once I figured out I’d be able to make it to the location on time. Right now I’m in no position to turn down any sort of work – even if it means my having to prop my eyelids open with toothpicks on the drive home. Killer bees at the location? Dust storms? Toxic waste? Poison Oak? Hottentots? Rabid gophers? Michael Bay? Fine, fine. Just tell me when to show up.

Being picky about which jobs one takes is a luxury reserved for when it’s busy. If I’m fielding work calls every day, I can afford to turn down the two-and-a-half hour drive or horrible pay rate or the location that’s hotter than hell/infested with angry rattlesnakes/oozes green goo.

This time, though, I got lucky – the drive wasn’t too bad and I was working with a great bunch of guys who I like a lot, so I had fun and my pre-work coffee guzzle turned out to be unnecessary as we didn’t work that late. I was home by midnight.

Filed under: Work, , , , , ,

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