Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Pipe grid and other on-stage hazards

Today’s work was a continuation of yesterday’s work – rigging a set that’s scheduled to be shot tomorrow.

When we came in yesterday, there was no way for us to hang lights.  No greenbeds over the sets at all, and only a partial pipe grid left over from another set which hadn’t been pulled down.

Production had not wanted to pay for the grips to come in a few days early and hang the pipe (stages charge per day – it’s a lower rate for prep days and wrap days than it is for shoot days, but it’s still a day charge).

Since production didn’t want to pay for extra prep days, they scheduled the lighting rig and the set dressers to work at the same time.

If this doesn’t mean anything to you, it normally works like this: If we’re using a pipe grid (a grid of pipe over the set from which we hang lights and which we need to reach using scissor lifts or ladders), we like to hang lights before there’s a lot of furniture on the floor which just makes it hard to work.

With the ‘save money on a prep day by making all the monkeys work at the same time’ method, the poor set dressers would come in and make the set all ready to shoot, and then would have to move everything for us to hang lights. Then, they’d restore everything, make it look nice again and we’d have gotten changes to our notes so we’d have to make them move everything again.

Everyone took everything in good humor, though – all of us knew about the cluster fuck potential going in, so we were able to laugh about it as we fell over each other all day.

Also, partial pipe grid meant that we had to wait on the grips (who were finally allowed to come in and hang the pipe on the last day of the rig) to do the prep work for us before we could work over the section of the sets which just happens to be scheduled to shoot first tomorrow.

It worked out well for me, though. A rig that should have only taken a day and a half took two days – one of which went overtime.

My bank account luvs chaos.

Once the pipe grid went in and we were rushing to get finished (while the producer, who only reluctantly authorized the overtime, stood and watched us while checking his watch), I had to come down out of the lift because I got this weird vertigo thing that seems to only happen to me.

Pipe grids are hung from the perms with chains, so unless they’re secured to something, they sway a bit. When three people are frantically slamming lights onto them, they sway quite a bit. When I’m in a lift above the grid looking down, and it starts to sway, my brain can’t figure out what it is that’s swaying – for some reason, my brain sometimes decides that the pipe grid is stable and everything else in the world is swaying – as you can imagine, vertigo when one is 20+ feet up in the air is bad.

It doesn’t happen all the time, either. I don’t know if it’s the angle or touching the grid or my being tired or having wax in my ears or having eaten too much or to little earlier in the day which sets it off.

After I came down out of the lift, I staggered around like a drunk for a few minutes until I got my balance back. Luckily, one of my co-workers came to my rescue and switched places with me so I could stay on the ground and be the person moving stuff out of the way of the lift.

I have an early call tomorrow as well, so I’m going to bed before the sleeping pill kicks in and makes my typing really bad. Again.

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June 2020

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