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, , , , , , , ,

Panic and downtime.

After an incredibly busy April (I had two days off. TWO. All month), May is dead. I’ve gotten two days this month so far, both 8 hour days below scale.

But I was so busy last month that I wasn’t able to overspend (breakfast, lunch, and wrap meal at work mean no grocery shopping), so aside from all the food in the fridge going bad, everything was wonderful.

And if I’m working that much I can buy more food.

But now it’s totally dead and I’m trying to fill my time with the gym and home-improvement projects. Like putting earthquake film on the largish windows in my bedroom, getting the bike tuned up, selling the extra bike I never ride any more, weeding the garden (VERY important!), getting the car tuned up, and other general unemployment stuff.

And today it’s raining – in Los Angeles, we all know what that means – widespread panic and even worse driving than usual.

Although I like money, I also like not white-knucking it through panic-induced gridlock.

So I walked today.

I walked to the post office to return an Amazon purchase. I walked to the store to load up on groceries before the urge to hoard set in and the lines got too long. I walked to the recyling place and dropped off my plastic bottles (dammit, I paid that 5 cent CRV, I want it back).

And while I was walking, the rain started.

I don’t know if it’s years of having to stand out in rain all night or that over the years I’ve invested in really kickass raingear, but I don’t mind walking in the rain.

I’m wrapped in Gore Tex, I’m good. Bring it, skywater.

Filed under: Los Angeles, Non-Work, , , , , ,

Sometimes I don’t want to be right

I was really hoping my prediction about getting all my week’s calls for the same day was going to be wrong.

Nope – four calls for Tuesday and then nothing for the rest of the week.  Not ideal, but not a bad thing, either, as yesterday it started to rain and, predictably, all of Los Angeles went into panic mode and the terrifyingly wet streets.

So I cleaned the apartment, did the laundry, did some work on a side project that’s been keeping me too busy to write posts as often as I’d like, brushed the cat and got my annual physical (my cholesterol is good but my blood pressure has me at death’s door in the next week or two. Damn parents. This is their fault).

Since next Thursday is a holiday, there will only be three work days next week so although I’ll be happy to get some work I’m not holding my breath.

Since I’ve been roped into doing some cooking for Thanksgiving (cornbread, herb rolls, carrot cranberry salad and kale chips), it might not be bad to at the very least have Wednesday off.  The cornbread’s my great-grandmother’s recipe and has to be started Tuesday as the cornmeal needs to ferment (I know, it sounds gross, but it’s really good).

We’ll see. I’ll be happy for any day I get.

Filed under: Los Angeles, Non-Work, Off-Topic, , , , ,

Precipocalypse!

Earlier in the week, the overly tanned weather bot had predicted a slight chance of rain, maybe but probably not.

So yesterday, I watered my garden (my celery children are sprouting! I can’t wait to devour them), and figured I’d have to come back Friday to water again if it stayed so unseasonably warm.

Then, this morning about 3 am, I started having dreams about the dog eating my homework. Odd, since I don’t have a dog and haven’t had to do homework in a number of years.

I woke up enough to ID the crunchy paper sound as water falling on the battered aluminum ladder that permanently resides in the alley behind the building and thought that I’d wasted a trip to the garden to water when, if I’d just procrastinated a bit longer, nature would have taken care of it for me. I hate it when that happens.

When I finally woke up at a more civilized hour, it was still raining, but lightly. A bit more than a drizzle, but not quite what one would call a rain.

Since any sort of dampness whatsoever throws the streets of Los Angeles into complete chaos, I opted to don my rain gear and walk the 1/2 mile to the physical therapist’s office instead of taking part in the gridlock.

As I was leaving, my neighbor walked by and  said “You’re venturing out into the storm? Be careful!”

When I got to the physical therapists office it had picked up a bit,  but was still not, by any means a heavy rain.

The receptionist asked “Oh, is it still storming out there? I can’t believe it!”

Welcome to Los Angeles.

After spending an hour having the physical therapist beat me about the head and shoulders with a Flintsone-type hammer (or at least that’s what it felt like), I headed out into the superstorm of light drizzle.

Spoiler alert: I got home okay.

Filed under: Los Angeles, Non-Work, , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , ,

The Derp is Deep.

Oh, did I say ‘get a job’?

What I really meant was ‘send around a resume and make a million calls only to be told that film industry work experience doesn’t transfer over to the real world’, which I kind of already knew.

One person did tell me that I’d make a really good insurance salesperson, which I’m not sure if I should interpret as an insult or not.

For some reason I always thought jobs paying only commission were illegal, but there seem to be a whole lot of them listed. Or maybe it’s just Craig’s List.

Or maybe it’s just me.

I won’t take anything that’s going to pay less than unemployment, as the state’s UI is just barely more than my bills, so slinging fast food at the drooling masses isn’t on the card, and speaking of drooling masses, what the hell is up with people wanting a photo of applicants? Is that not also illegal?

Also, if you’re going to list a job for copywriters on the internet, the very least you could do is make sure your follow-up email is correctly spelled.

In other news, the entire town is currently in the grip of a rain related panic. Not only is the predicted hellstorm of skywater going to moisten the city like it’s never been moistened before, but it’s coming from the south so it’s warm.  The good citizens of Los Angeles can’t seem to wrap our collective minds around the concept of warm rain.

“It’s sort of like a shower, right? Except outside tand I have to wear clothes.  And it’s all sticky. Like humidity, but we’re in California so that can’t happen here.”

Save us all.

Filed under: Los Angeles, Non-Work, , , , , , , , ,

Wackiness Ensues

Friday, there was a big long discussion about the equipment we would need for our day exterior yesterday.

Since Monday was predicted to be overcast, we anticipated having to manufacture our own sunlight and requested a tow plant (a generator which is towed as opposed to being mounted on the tractor) and two 18ks.

Production shot us down and told us we could have a 5500 watt portable Honda (referred to as a putt-putt) and a 4k HMI.

The first problem we had was the rain. We were shooting inserts for a scene which had been shot in full sunlight, and since we were being rained on no matter how close we got the camera to the hand with the key (or something) the one small light we had just wasn’t enough to make the shot match, were we even able to use it.

Which brings me to the problem with the generator itself.

Most of these portable generators have a 60 amp outlet, which is enough to power one light which pulls about 40 amps.  So we were very surprised to see this:

Who thought this was a good idea?

That, dear readers, is a 60 amp outlet with a 20 amp breaker, thus rendering said outlet completely useless for our purposes.

None of us can figure out the logic behind  doing that, but clearly there was some as every single putt-putt on the lamp dock with a 60 amp outlet had a 20 amp breaker.

So, after a mad last-minute scramble, we procured a 1200 amp tow plant and an 18k (but just one – not the two that we’d asked for) to get the shots we needed.

At, might I add, considerably more expense and delay than had we been able to arrange all this Friday.

Once we got back to the stage, the rest of the day was all about screaming babies and trying desperately to get them to shut the fuck up and look adorable for 10 seconds.

The babies, of course, were having none of it, and since legally we can only keep them on set for a certain amount of time, we’ll have to go back and try to get the shot another day.

Oh, and Happy Valentines Day, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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

Aquapolypse!

Here in Los Angeles, we take all sorts of natural disasters in stride. Earthquakes, tsunamis, out-of-control wind-driven fires, killer bees, Brett Ratner… none of them even make us drop our lattes.

Until the unthinkable happens and water begins to fall from the sky.

Then, we panic uncontrollably, run screaming to the grocery stores for supplies (can’t run out of Pinot Grigio, now can we? Oh, wait.. Are you supposed to drink white wine or red in a raging storm that will be the death of us all? Somebody help me before my head explodes), drive recklessly through the damp streets, crash our cars and then swear never, ever to leave the house ever again if there’s even a hint of that evil sky water on the horizon.

So with the news predicting an all-out onslaught of scattered showers throughout the weekend, my lack of work was not such a terrible thing, since I get very, very nervous even attempting to drive (or bike, or walk) around panicky Angelenos who are trying to clean the local grocer out of anything even remotely edible while fighting the onslaught of frizzy hair.

Although I did venture out to visit  the gym, I  avoided all grocery stores and, just to be safe, hardware stores and booksellers.

As predicted, it’s been drizzling intermittently all afternoon and I’m now home,  watching the news coverage of the colossal traffic jam.

Oh, the humanity.

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

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, , , , ,

Lefty Loosey

Normally, all nuts, bolts and damn near everything else that must be twisted to be tightened follows a rule: Righty tighty, lefty loosey – meaning that twisting to the right (or clockwise) tightens, and twisting to the left (or counterclockwise) loosens.

This rule is so all-encompassing that it’s never even occurred to me that anything could ever be any other way, so today when I had to replace the flush lever on my toilet (the interior lever broke because it’s a cheap plastic bit of crap, but the nice metal ones don’t fit my toilet), I expected this repair to take approximately three minutes (unscrew, replace, rescrew, flush). Except that for some reason I couldn’t loosen the damn thing. I tried and tried and tried and kept getting nowhere.

Eventually I figured it was cross threaded, so I tried to tighten it in order to hopefully get the thing working again, and – it loosened.

It was threaded backwards. Both the old one and the new one.

Nothing has ever broken the ‘righty tighty lefty loosey’ rule before, and it couldn’t be a fluke since both of them were like that, so I nervously stuck my head out the window and scanned the sky for horsemen.

Finding none, I finished installing my flush lever (constantly reminding myself to turn the screw the wrong way) and proceeded to flush with impunity.

In other apocalyptic news, it’s raining in Los Angeles – while this is a good thing since we’re currently suffering from a drought and desperately need any water we can get, it does dramatically increase the traffic accidents throughout the city as Southern California drivers can’t seem to get the hang of slowing down and leaving more time to stop.

No, I didn’t get hit, but it will be the lead story on the local news tonight.

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

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