Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

A not so much follow spot

A follow spot is, as one might imagine, a spotlight used to follow an actor. You’ve all seen the results on dancing shows, ice rink spectaculars and “talent” competitions.

There are many different varieties of follow spot – of course, the one that’s the easiest to operate is the most horrible to move around.  The  Strong Super Trouper  weighs approximately the same as an obese elephant and is long enough that it’s impossible to get up a stairwell with any sort of turn.

But it’s amazingly easy to work and moves very smoothly. When properly balanced it’s a breeze to follow the movements of even the most erratic actor or dancer.

But sometimes it’s just not practical – like yesterday. The riggers wouldn’t have been able to get the Super Trouper up the stairs to the platform where I would be working.

So they went with a smaller unit which was lighter – which is a great thing if you’re the one carrying it, but it’s a bad thing for the operator.

Lighter means not as smooth and not balanced as well.

I was fine when the actor was standing but as soon as any erratic movement started it was really difficult to maintain a smooth pan or tilt. The light kept either sticking and making the pan look jerky and, well, bad.

My boss and the DP both seemed very happy, though, and that’s all that counts.

They didn’t need the follow spot for the last scene, so I came down from my perch and helped work the set and then wrap to the truck.

It was a fun day with extra nice folks and as an added bonus, the location was so close to my apartment that I was able to walk to and from work – which was extra awesome at wrap because the traffic was terrible.


Filed under: locations, Work, , , ,

Two outfits, one day

Most of the time when I’m working, I aim for wearing clothes that don’t smell and haven’t got rips in embarrassing places, but sometimes I do actually have to dress up to go to work (actually, I usually wear my ‘normal’ clothes in and change at the last possible second to avoid any teasing, wolf whistles or photographs which may or may not later end up taped to the set cart with some sort of smart-ass caption).

One of these times is running a follow-spot.

A follow-spot is a light which requires an operator to, well, follow a person on stage with the spot of light. This can be very, very easy or maddening depending on the size of the stage and how much caffeine said person has had that day. Don’t even get me started about follow spots for anything involving dancing.

Luckily, my job yesterday was ridiculously easy as some extremely thoughtful person had removed the small stairway that would have allowed the speaker to step off the dias and roam into the audience, so he couldn’t move more than a couple of steps in any direction.

Whoever you are, I thank you.

Since this event was on a studio lot and attended by Important People, those of us working the event had to look presentable yet invisible at the same time – this means solid dark colors. I usually wear black slacks and a black long sleeved t-shirt which makes me not frighten any honchos who may come in contact with me (“eeek! It’s one of them! Run for your BMW!”), but since they’re fairly nice clothes that I’d like to not ruin, after the event I changed back into my normal work clothes to wrap the stage.

This particular lot has a policy that when workers are on an 8 hour call, said workers are not to be released before those 8 hours have elapsed, so after we got everything on the stage wrapped, we had to go work on the lamp dock for the rest of the day.

Which is fine – if the studio doesn’t want me roaming the city engaging in potentially criminal or dangerous activities while I’m on their payroll, I understand and since I happen to really like the guys that work on this lot’s lamp dock it was a very fun afternoon.

Although just for the record I would have been at the gym doing leg presses while on the studio’s payroll.

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

May 2022

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"If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." -Anne Lamott

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