Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Friday Photo

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The giant tape ball on the Paramount lamp dock.

Filed under: camera, Los Angeles, Photos, Work, , , , , , ,

Wait, what happened?

I was lucky enough to get a day of work last week, and figured I’d have the check in the mail and all would be good, and then today I got a call that I can honestly say I’ve never gotten before in all my time working in the film industry.

“They” lost my start paperwork.

When one starts working on a new show, one must fill out a packet of start paperwork. It’s always the same thing. Deal memo, some sort of confidentiality agreement, which name one would like for one’s credit*, any applicable equipment rental (if one has specialized equipment for which production must pay – like a dimmer board, certain tools for installing fixtures, etc…), and the promise that one won’t sexually harass one’s coworkers. Much.

The best boy didn’t specify who lost it, but I’m assuming it was somewhere in one of the maze-like offices on the lot where, apparently, paperwork goes to die along with dreams.

So, I need to redo the impressive pile of paperwork that I originally worked my way through last week.

Paperwork

That’s one seriously tree-killing pile of redundancy, but the upside is that I’ve gotten another day of work out of it (Boss: “You’re driving up here anyways, you might as well work.”).

Hooray!

*Despite my constant efforts to get a joke name (I.P. Freely, Heywood Jablowme, Michael Bay, Prince Albert of Cannes) as my credit, it’s never happened. They always just use my real name.

Is it too much to ask that my IMDB read “sometimes credited as…”

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

It takes some getting used to

Last night was my first time going up in the condor in almost a year. Although I’m not normally too terribly afraid of heights, it does take me a bit to adjust to being in a lift after extensive periods of time spent on terra firma.

We were shooting on a Y-shaped studio lot street, so we used three condors. Mine was the lowest, armed out over the intersection, mimicking various streetlights. This had two advantages. It kept me lower, so there was less adjustment panic, and since I was a few feet below the tops of the facades, I was sheltered from the wind (spring has not yet sprung here in Los Angeles, so it’s still a bit brisk at night, especially up in the air).

The other two condors, at opposite ends of the street, were ‘full stick’ (meaning they were at full extension of 80 feet, almost straight up) and at the mercy of the wind and fog.

At least it didn’t rain, but the billowing clouds did make for some entertaining nighttime viewing:

Misty night in the air

The operators in the other two condors told me that the wind died down after about an hour, so everyone had an easy night.

Most terrifying night in a condor ever was the night I was armed out over the LA river for an elaborate car chase scene – my base was on one of the bridges and my bucket was full stick, so the distance to ground was about 200 feet. Adding to the terror spawned by an overactive imagination was a windy night and a very ‘bendy’ condor arm (some of the arms flex more than others).

At the end of the night I think I might have kissed the ground.

Filed under: camera, Photos, studio lots, up all night, Work, , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday Photo

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A portable air-conditioning unit on a sound stage. 

These are also used on locations, as most buildings don’t have air conditioning capable of cooling a room full of hot lights.

Filed under: camera, Photos, studio lots, 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, , , , , , , ,

The logic escapes me.

I miss so much of the off-camera drama when I day-play*. This may or may not be a good thing.

Today, I noticed that this particular show’s lead actor was listed on the call sheet under a fake name. Although I’ve seen this a few times on movies starring whichever unfortunate soul is the current paparazzi whipping boy (or girl), I’ve never once seen it on a TV show.

Of course, I asked my boss about it.

Turns out, said actor had a stalker who bluffed his (or her – the stalker’s gender wasn’t specified) way onto the lot and harassed the poor guy. So production, in an attempt to foil the stalker and protect the actor decided to give him a fake name on the call sheet (they also beefed up security and moved his trailer to a less accessible location).

Setting aside the fact that someone who’s savvy enough to be able to get onto a studio lot is going to be able to figure out the little bit of call-sheet subterfuge in about 15 seconds, is that the best you people can do nowadays? Have we, as a nation, really become so unimaginative?

Of all the people in the world to stalk, you pick an actor ? Come on.

I don’t have anything against actors per se (longtime readers will remember that I used to date one), but really – as a group they’re just not that interesting. Trust me on this one.

When I mentioned something to that effect, a co-worker asked which person I’d stalk, were I so inclined.

We got called to deal with some on-set emergency or other before I could answer, but after giving it some thought I’m fairly certain I’d stalk Henry Kissinger.

It would be fun! I’d sneak into his house and tape pictures of Cambodian children maimed by land mines to his bathroom mirror, call him up at 3 am and make some sort of bad wordplay using the word ‘junta’ (hey, it’s easier than Pinochet), sign him up for Noam Chomsky’s email list, maybe periodically FedEx him a box containing little models of the Eiffel Tower, tiny plush-toy condors (if Gund doesn’t make those, they should start) and a scrawled note on stained paper about knowing what he did last summer (or something).

Plus, I speak German so I can harangue him in his native language, too. You know, just to keep things interesting.

Everybody wins!

Yes, I realize this less of a stalking and more of a grudge (and/or terrorizing of a parenthetical war criminal with one foot in the grave), but really, are they all that different?

Both are emotionally unhealthy and a waste of energy which could be used for something productive.

On the other hand, SAG will soon go on strike and I’ll have nothing but time on my hands. All I’ll need then is a plane ticket, a tube of lipstick and a plastic wrapped…

Oh, never mind. I’d rather stay home and paint the kitchen.

*Day players aren’t permanent crew on any one show. They work a day here and a day there on different shows.

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

Should I or should I not?

Since today’s call time is 11 am (it was originally 9 am, but got pushed*), I’m wondering if I should go to the gym before work or not.

I’m tempted to, on the grounds that I’ll preemptively burn off any accidental non-diet friendly craft service that should find it’s way into my gaping maw (BBQ potato chips: my Achilles heel), but if I do, then it’s a sure bet that I’m going to overwork my muscles and end up collapsing in a sniveling heap somewhere.

If I do legs, then I’ll have to run up and down the stairs to the perms at least 50 times, and if I do arms, I’ll have to repeatedly pick up heavy things.

If I don’t go to the gym, I’ll sit on my ass all day and do nothing that even makes me break a sweat. Plus, there will be chips.

Or, I could sit here and dither about it until I run out of time – which I’ve probably already done since I have to drive across town to Culver and it’s now almost 10 am.

*When a call time is changed to a later hour due to turnaround issues for cast or crew, it’s pushed.

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

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