Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Temptation

As our calls creep an hour later each day*, traffic becomes less of a concern. Our call today was 10 am so I didn’t have to worry about getting stuck in anything, but I still left early because I needed to get something to prevent the cement block in my sinuses.

I stopped at a small drug store near the location and got some Allegra, which generally wouldn’t be my first choice, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Or so I’m told.

I didn’t get to catering early enough to have breakfast, and we started out having to put all the lights back on the stands, as we’d taken them off the night before due to fear of them being blown over.

Probably an unfounded fear, as each stand had at least three shot bags on it.

Once we got set up and shooting, I snuck back to the caterer and grabbed a breakfast burrito, and then had to go unload equipment at yet another house – this one is serving as the production office.

The production house has the nicest pool of all the houses, and it’s the one that tempts me most to jump in. Apparently the heater has been broken for 6 months, but the pool is still being cleaned and really, I don’t think low 70s water would be that bad on a 90 degree day.

So I humped cable past said pool for about an hour (can’t get a cable cart past the yard’s landscaping, sadly), wishing that I had a set of dry clothes with me so I could ‘accidentally’ fall in.

Maybe Friday.

Two of us went over to Green Pool House to rig two rooms for two shots on Friday, but had to be rigged today as the important people will be coming to look at them and decide what they want.

Turns out, the director on this movie isn’t really allowed to make any decisions – it’s the studio suits that are really calling the shots – they’ve been shooting for months past the original end date, because said suits see a cut, don’t like it, and make them go back and shoot more.

They’ve also been through at least three sets of writers.

Awesome.

Someone gave me a script today, but since this movie builds on the past few movies of the franchise, I was unable to even begin to follow along, so I threw it in the trash.

*Two reasons – the main one is that the lead actress has a contractual 12 hour turnaround and since she’s in damn near every scene, we can’t come back until 12 hours after wrap – a 12 hour day for us is actually a 12.5 hour day, as we go ‘off the clock’ for a 30 minute lunch. The other reason is that we have night work Friday, and it’s easier on everyone if we gradually move the call instead of holding at a 7 am for four days and then coming in at noon on Friday.

Filed under: locations, long long drives, Los Angeles, movies, Work, , , , , , , , ,

Knees, don’t fail me now

During the rare but not unheard of Sunday rigging call, we were in a very expensive boutique hotel on the Sunset Strip, which, given the only reason the hoi polloi shell out to stay there are hopes of catching a glance of a movie star, is surprisingly hostile to film crews.

We weren’t allowed to be in the hotel before 4 pm, which really sucked since the shooting unit had a 5 pm call and since there was no way we were going to get all the cable run in an hour, our boss begged or bribed or something and got us in early – on the condition that we be very, very quiet. Which, when one is rigging, is harder than one imagines.

I suppose it’s possible to gently set down a 100 lb. (45 kilo) coil of cable, but my back just wants me to drop it.

The other thing that slowed us down was the stairs. Oh, the stairs.

This particular hotel was built during an era when handicapped people were fucked (so why even let them out of the house), and therefore has no ramps. Anywhere.

The area we were rigging wasn’t accessible  any other way than stairs, which meant that cable carts were useless – we could get them about halfway to the set, and then had to pick everything up and walk it the rest of the way.

Actually, it was two sets of stairs.

This one:

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And this beauty:

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That second set is so narrow two people can’t pass on it, so the person with the lighter load yields. Unless it’s a guest, and then one squeezes to the side and waits, like Atlas, while cursing the universe.

Lucky for us the rig wasn’t that big and it wasn’t too hot – also I was working with a fantastic group of guys that make any situation fun, so it was a good day, even though at the end I would have handed back my entire day’s pay just to sully the hotel’s lovely pool with my dirty blue-collar cooties.

It was only a one-night shoot, so we were back this morning to wrap everything. Upon arriving, we were informed that the shoot had gone past the scheduled out time (shocked. I am shocked, I tell you) and the hotel management were a wee bit cross (something about the location manager’s head and a pike, but I didn’t get details), so we needed to double time it to get out of there.

As we started to gather equipment, it became apparent that, at some point during the wee hours, the hotel management mistook the shooting crew for cats and turned on the sprinklers in the hope that it would make them run away.

If only that worked.

Thirty minutes into the day we were soaking wet and smeared with dirt, and I guess my appearance was scary enough that when I greeted a guest with a cheery ‘Good Morning’ her response was a hissed suggestion that I go fuck myself.

If only I could. I’d never leave the house.

After carrying everything back down the stairs, we loaded the truck and rigged our second location – a theater with ramps. Lots and lots of ramps.

Of course it has stairs, too, but we didn’t have to deal with them.

I love you, cable carts. I’ll never take you for granted ever again.

Tomorrow, we wrap the theater and then unload the truck at the rental house.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Oops.

Have you ever had an entire week disappear? Just vanish – a few fuzzy recollections, but for all intents and purposes, it was only a day.

That’s what happened to this past week. I know it was there, I got some work (hooray!), ate lots of holiday bad-for-me food, drank some wine, but mainly it’s just… gone.  I blame the stuffing.

Yesterday, I got a day with wonderful guys that I always enjoy being around.

We shot in a gym swimming pool, where our hero fearlessly dives into the shallow end to save the drowning scantily clad girl.

No, it really is fearless. Diving into the shallow end is super dangerous.

One of the things that it’s very important to remember about shooting around any sort of water is that said water does not go well with electricity. Sort of like purple and lime green.

So when we shoot around water we use these things called ground fault circuit interrupters when we work around water.

They’re a fairly recent invention, but they’re lifesavers. So much so that we never, ever, ever shoot around water without them. Hell, we use them when there’s a light drizzle three miles away.

So all of us were very surprised when the rental house forgot to send them out.

Oops.

Luckily, we were able to plug into the gym’s outlets, which were all GFCI (like the ones you have in your kitchen – with the little buttons in between the outlets), and this DP doesn’t like to use large lighting units.

By the time we got all our shots, including the giant crane shot that saw the entire world, it was a 14 hour day,

If I’m only going to get one day, it might as well be a long one.

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

Slightly damp Friday Photo

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This is not my apartment building. It’s the building across the alley, who sometimes (often, actually) leave the pool gate open.

I see nothing wrong with taking advantage of this, especially on a hot night.  The pool’s not really heated, so it’s a very refreshing change from sweltering in my living room.

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

Whew!

After finally getting my garden weeded (now, of course I need to replace the rotten wood on the raised beds, but money’s now tight around here), I decided to go swim.

Doesn’t further the career, but it really makes me happy.

The pool where I have masters swim shares with several aqua aerobics groups, and aside from wanting the water way too hot, the aqua ladies all seem very nice.

Today’s swim was from 6 to 7 am, and instead of going home and watching the news rehash the same crap they’ve been airing forever, I turned to my lane-mate and suggested we try the aqua Zumba(tm) class that was starting just as we finished up.

After all, we were already wet.

“Oh, come on. She’s playing Pitbull. How hard can it be?”

So we slid over a few lanes and joined the fun. The instructor saw us, bared her perfect little teeth and said “oh, we have some… swimmers!”

Then, she started the workout. It didn’t just kick my ass, it kicked my whole body. I don’t understand how an aqua workout could possibly be that difficult.

Halfway through my lane-mate turned to me and growled “I’m going to kill you.”

“Make it soon, please.”

Since we were both afraid to get out and face the ire of the vicious sharp-toothed instructor (actually, she was very nice), we sandbagged through the rest of the workout and then limped to the showers.

I then went home and took a very gratifying early morning nap.

Without turning on the news.

 

 

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

Time flies when you’re busy

January has been crazy (the good kind, not the drama kind). I’m getting multiple work calls almost every day, which, as I’ve mentioned before, is unheard of this time of year.

Tuesday, I missed a work call for Wednesday as I was swimming when the call came. Since I have yet to figure out how to bring my phone into the lap pool with me, by the time I dried off and got back to the locker the job had been given to someone else who called back sooner.

“Oh, well” I thought “I’ll just clean the house and hopefully I’ll get a day near the end of the week”.

Wednesday  morning at 6:45, the phone rang and the best boy from Doctors in Love* asked if I could come in right then as someone had called in sick.

Normally, I don’t like to jump out of bed, throw on whatever clothing smells the least and haul ass out the door. I like to get up, have some coffee, putter around and generally make a leisurely exit, but since Doctors in Love shoots across town (literally all the way across the city) and it’s an hour drive with no traffic,  I hurried as waiting too much past 7-ish would result in a multi hour stop-and-go nightmare.

It turned out to be an easy day (one set, two actors) with a bunch of really awesome guys. The only bad part about working with this particular group of guys is that they use a bunch of custom rigged lights, and as such have odd names for them.

Normally, there’s a bit of variation in what stuff is called (some people call a 4 foot, four tube Kino Flo a ‘fat boy’, some call it a ‘tall boy’), but it’s all basically the same.

Custom lights, however, are, well, custom, so there’s no frame of reference.

When the gaffer gets on the walkie and asks for a “Long John Silver on a teeter totter**” I have no frame of reference and stand there, halfway between the staging area and the set, blinking rapidly and wondering if I want to ask for clarification on the walkie, thus making everyone think I’m a bit slow, or wait to ask a co-worker, making the gaffer think I’m lazy.

Awesome.

It all worked out well, though (crazy light names aside), and I got picked up for the next day as well, so I got to go back today.

Today as also an easy day with fun people, even if the work was a bit more complex (multiple actors, a stage move, etc..), but I was inside a heated stage all day – a good thing since it’s currently really cold here in Los Angeles. Objectively cold, not California cold.

During lunch today, I got a text from the best boy on Reluctant Porn Star* asking if I could work Friday and Saturday. Both days on the beach, both days splits (afternoon call so the day’s half day, half night).

I predict both nights to be cold and damp (and working on the beach sucks balls), but hey, it’s work, right?

*Not a real show name

** An LED strip in an aluminum housing with the ballasts rigged to hang off of it. It looks like a penis on a surfboard.

Filed under: crack of dawn, long long drives, studio lots, Work, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

But I waaaaaant to!

I thought I had a day of work today, but it got cancelled at the last minute – which is fine.

Okay, it’s not fine. I need the money and losing a day of work sucks ass, but since there’s no use crying over spilled milk I went to the chiropractor instead.

My plan was to get an adjustment, magically feel better and then spend the rainy afternoon swimming.

When I shared this plan with the doctor, he paused and said, “I don’t think you should go swimming today. I think you should go home, ice your hip and take it easy”

But… but it’s raining.

One of the few guilt-free pleasures in my life is swimming in the gym’s heated outdoor pool on a rainy day.

For some reason, people don’t want to get in the water when it’s rainy (go figure), so I’m usually the only one in the pool. The water’s heated to the mid-eighties which is a bit too warm for lap swimming, but the rain on my back is cool and it’s quiet and relaxing and I can concentrate on my form instead of trying not to get kicked in the ribs as my lane-mate passes me.

We’re having a dry year, too. Who knows when I’ll have a nice quiet swim again?

Although I was tempted to ignore his advice – after all, he’s not a real doctor – the fact that he made my hip about 90% less painful is reason enough for me to listen, even though it’s a different kind of pain to imagine the empty pool at the gym while I sit on the couch with an icepack.

Hopefully there will be work next week.  And rain.

But not at the same time.

Filed under: Non-Work, , , , ,

Happy hottest day of the year (so far)!

According to the weather-bots on the TV news, today has been the hottest day yet this summer.

It certainly felt that way to me.

I went to the laundromat first thing in the morning in an attempt to get the laundry done while it was still cool(ish). When I went in, it wasn’t so bad. When I came out two hours later, it was scorching. I’d make some sort of an oven joke here, but I don’t think my oven gets that hot. Even on “broil”.

As I walked out, I must have looked like I was suffering because the guy who was on his way into the laundromat grinned and said “You think this is bad, you should be in Miami”.

No, I think I definitely should not be in Miami. The last time I was in Miami, I damn near turned around and went home the moment I got off the plane.

At some point during the day, although all I really wanted to do was buy a kiddie pool and 100 lbs of ice and spend the afternoon in the backyard, I decided that I was going to swelter through all my errands today and spend tomorrow at the beach where it’s cooler. I’d throw the bike in the back of the truck, cruise over to the beach, ride the bike path until I got hot and then jump in the water. I’d stay there, reveling in the cold water and nice breeze (not at the same time, of course) and not come back into Hollywood until it got good and dark and cool.

Whenever I make plans like that, I get called to go to work. This time, it was four hours between the time I decided to go to the beach and the time I got the call. Had I made plans to go to the beach with someone, I probably would have gotten the call much sooner.

The only problem with working on this particular show tomorrow is that the location’s in Castaic, where it’s roughly the same temperature as the surface of the sun.

The first question out of my mouth was “is it on a stage or outside?”

Normally, I feel really guilty when I turn work down, but if I was going to have to work outside in the heat up there for 14 hours, I wouldn’t have felt bad at all about saying no.

Luckily, it’s only one day on a stage that’s supposedly air-conditioned.

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

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