Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Go on, say it.

Did I say I had steady work coming up?

Whoops.

What I meant was I thought I had a gig but the best boy made a change at the last-minute (as in the Friday before I was to start), and didn’t tell me.

These things happen, and I’m sure he had a good reason – there are so many folks who are really, really hurting right now. It’s possible that whoever replaced me is going to lose his/her house or insurance or become destitute save for this gig.

I’ll never know. It stings a bit, of course, but I just have to let it go and hope that it’ll all work out for the best.

It usually does (most of the time).

The first thing I did was get on the phone and start informing people I was available.

My “I need work” texts must have seemed sufficiently desperate as I’ve managed to scrape up one day this week, which is better than nothing,  but still…

Right now would be the appropriate time for the  ‘I told you so’ chorus.

Remind me to spend the rest of my life at financial DEFCON 1 no matter how well work is going.

On the bright side, I’m now officially too broke to drink so my liver gets a nice vacation. Hooray!

Filed under: mishaps, overspending, Work, , , , , ,

All or nothing

Sunday night, I got a work call, which is really unusual. Most of the time, best boys fill their Monday calls by Friday, unless someone gets sick or there’s some extenuating circumstance.

It took me almost an hour to return the call, as I was in the pool and didn’t bother to check my phone (hey, it was Sunday), but when I got out I texted back that I would love the day if he still had it available.

Lucky for me, he did, so I got booked to work on the rigging crew.

Most of our day was spent sitting around waiting for equipment – it’s still fairly busy out there and since most of the rental houses sent astounding amounts of gear out-of-state, it can be a bit of a scramble to get certain things, even when it’s only moderately busy, as it is now.

Apparently it’s been such a scramble that one-day rigs have been getting turned into two-day rigs just because of equipment delays.  Although this rig should have taken about 10 hours, we were only going to be able to complete the cable runs due to not having… stuff.

So we sat, talked, taped cable, sent what we had up into the perms, went to coffee, taped some more cable and then, right before lunch, the rest of the order showed up.

While we finished our cable runs, I got four texts to work the next day. Four. Right in a row. Since I’d taken the first one, I had to turn the other three down and made the joke that I probably wouldn’t get anymore days this week as they all came in clumped up into one.

After a shortish turnaround (day exteriors in winter – early calls to get as much of the light as possible), I worked a 10 hour day on an insert unit where we only had to light the last few shots, so I was fully awake by the time I actually had to do any work.

Sure enough, I didn’t get any work calls for later in the week, but I wasn’t expecting any.

Filed under: studio lots, Uncategorized, Work, , , , , , ,

I’m glad someone’s working!

Today, as I came out of swim at 8 am, a PA stopped me as I was about to exit the pool.

“I’ll have to ask you to wait, miss. We’re rolling.”

I was so delighted that something – anything – was shooting in town I forgot to ask what it was, but as soon as I could leave the building I sauntered over to the set (a lacrosse game on the lawn of the park next to the municipal pool) see if I knew anyone on the crew who might throw me a pity day (or three).

I didn’t see anyone on the grip or camera crew that I knew, but I did see a stand-in that I remembered from the last TV show. According to  her, the electricians were all off frantically trying to rig the next location before the company moved (ahead of schedule, of course. When we need the time they’re always ahead), which meant that any attempt to introduce myself would  just garner ire and ill-will, so I chatted a bit and then headed home to make a valiant (but futile) attempt to scrub the itch off my chlorine-soaked skin.

I’m still unemployed, but I’m very heartened to see a shoot here in town. Let’s hope that a decent number of the record number of pilots shooting this year happen here. We all need the work.

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

Imagination is a bastard

Apologies for the lack of posts. I’ve been alternately anxious and busy  or anxious and idle, neither of which really lends itself to any sort of creative thought process.

Work’s been busy – mostly TV, but a few low-budget features (never thought I’d see any of those again), but since the low-budget producers have been out-of-town where costs, in general, are lower, they’re sweating us more and more to cut costs. Since we can only talk the rental houses down so far, this means that the additional manpower we need to do the job efficiently and safely gets cut.

So, a day which would normally need five guys gets three, and only then after the best boy fights with production about it. When things don’t get done right away because we don’t have enough people, we get yelled at. (“You had eight hours to wrap that set! What the fuck is wrong with you?” “Well, that eight-hour estimate was with 4 guys and you cut us down to two. What do you expect?”)

The threat of taking the production out-of-town hangs over our head like some dangling sharp thing in some disputation which I forget these days.

No matter how busy it gets, we’re all worried about how long it’ll last. It used to be so predictable. Busy until the holidays, then a couple of weeks off, and then picking up in mid-January, going through May, a month or two off, and then picking up again.

No longer. We all know this isn’t going to last, and it’s stressful. I’ve heard  far too many stories about lost insurance, lost houses, and kids having to go live with ex-spouses for stability and consistent meals.

Also, I’m fighting with California’s unemployment department. They’re threatening to revoke my eligibility to get benefits for three years due to a clerical error on my part which amounts to pocket change. Awesome.

So I sit down in front of the computer and try to write something and all I can do is worry. About my bills. About my future. About my co-workers, who are all in the same boat.

And I can’t write anything because I can’t stop worrying.

So I turn off the computer and I sit in front of the TV, watching stupid movies because I just want some sort of distraction so I can spend an hour or so not being so fucking worked up.

On the bright side, I’m very glad that I don’t eat when I get stressed, or I’d weigh 780 lbs right now. I have no idea how much that is in Kilos, other than a fuckload.

Filed under: Non-Work, Off-Topic, rants, Work, , , , , , , ,

The beginning of the end, maybe?

This past weekend was a real eye-opener for me. I knew the industry was slow here in Los Angeles, but when I sat in a continuing education classroom at Contract Services with a bunch of guys who are usually always busy (and I mean always), all anyone could talk about was  how thin work has gotten around here.

Yikes. If the heavy hitters aren’t making ends meet, what hope do the rest of us have? I’m currently getting enough work to keep the wolves at bay, but that, of course, can change at any time.

For those of you not familiar, over the past few years several other states (and countries) have been handing producers suitcases full of cash in order to lure film production away from California. I think the technical term is incentives, but really it’s a bribe.

And it’s worked very successfully.  There is currently almost no production in California, but Louisiana and Georgia (the newcomer to the world of corporate kickbacks) are hopping.

I love my job and I’d like to keep doing it, but I’d rather drink poison than move to Georgia or Louisiana (nothing personal, you understand), so the question is how long I can hang on. An added complication is my being  well past the age of being able to snag a rich husband.

Note to parents of girls: Look at my life. This is what happens when you teach your daughters self-reliance. They end up alone, without  Botox, veneers, or overpriced sports cars and worrying about how to pay the bills.

I just have myself and the cat, so as long as I can get enough hours to keep my health insurance, I’ll tighten my belt and soldier on.

But what about the people with families?

One state ends their sop and another starts up. Since most of these subsidies actually cost the states money (currently for every dollar of film revenue that Louisiana brings in, it spends $7.30*), it’s baffling that they keep doing it, but I’m certainly not one to underestimate the capability of humans to not in any way, shape or form learn from our mistakes.

Most of us who have spent our entire working lives in the film industry have skills that don’t easily translate to the real world, and even if we do decide to branch out, we have resumes that are confusing and frightening to anyone not familiar with the transient nature of film production (“No, it’s the same job, for the same people.. just with a different name on the letter head”).

So Wednesday, I have a career counseling appointment at The Actors’ Fund to see if I have any chance of any sort of work at all once production in California dries up for good.

Or, even better,  if I can manage to start some sort of business that legally appropriates taxpayer money just like the studios are doing.

I suspect not, but we’ll see.

*http://www.labudget.org/lbp/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/LBP-Report.Louisiana-Film-Tax-Credits.pdf

Filed under: cranky, life in LA, rants, , , , ,

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