Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

There’s a first time for everything

I’m not an actor, nor have I ever had  any actorish aspirations.

But yesterday on one of the swim groups, someone posted a casting call that I just couldn’t pass up.

A female swimmer, mid 30s to mid 40s, proficient in all four strokes and comfortable swimming in the ocean.

The last part was strenuously emphasized – COMFORTABLE SWIMMING IN THE OCEAN !!!!! – so I’m guessing they’ve had some issues with people telling them “sure, no problem” and then freaking out when they dropped them off the boat. Or dock, or whatever.

Luckily, I’m not afraid of the terrors that lurk in the briny deep because, I suspect, I’m not smart enough to have ever developed even a modicum of common sense.*

I figured I’d email the casting lady just for a laugh. I gave her my swimming background, sent a few pictures, and figured that I’d hear nothing back from her.

She emailed me within 10 minutes, and informed me that my ‘look’ was acceptable (whew. I was worried there for a second), and that I’d have to come in and audition.

I started to lose interest, and then I read the numbers.

For two days, they’ll pay more than I usually make in a 60 hour week. And I don’t have to be SAG because of some reason. I think because there are no lines. Just swimming.

So, I agreed to go on my first-ever audition.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I would imagine that if swimming skills were so critical they’d hold said audition in the water. Seems like it would be the sensible thing to do. “Hey, come out to the beach. Now dive through the waves and swim to that kayak out there. Mind the stingrays.”

But no. My audition was in a Hollywood casting office, where I stood in front of a video camera, did a few pushups (don’t ask me why, I don’t know) and then mimicked swim strokes for whichever deity will be making the choice. Plus, I threw in a story about the time I got stung by a jellyfish because I thought it was a plastic bag and grabbed it to clean up the ocean.

Serves me right. Not just the jellyfish, the whole fucking thing.

Everyone was really nice, but the experience was really surreal. The office is this big corral with smaller rooms off the sides. All the supplicants sit in center on uncomfortable chairs, making small talk as they wait to be called into their particular inner sanctum.

The walls are white, there are signs everywhere warning that one must mind one’s meter, and coffee is not complimentary.

Did you ever see Brazil? It’s kind of like that.

Looking around our little group, it was very easy to see who had come from the swim group and who was a professional actor.

The swimmers had broader shoulders, more sun damage, more bruises, and worse hair. Oh, our hair was terrible. I’m surprised we weren’t immediately escorted off the premises.

I do not expect I’ll get a callback.

*Although there is that one kelp mat off Venice Beach that scares the shit out of me every time I swim over it. It’s just deep enough to see the shadow, but not make out any detail.

Filed under: humor, life in LA, Los Angeles, , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , ,

Good times are rolling

My job’s actually starting next week  – whoops!

Over the past few years, as work has gotten less plentiful I’ve become really conscious of cash outflow, but since I’ve got a job starting, I’ve been playing a bit fast and loose with the bank account.

I’ve been swimming in the ocean several times a week – the temperature is a balmy 59, but it’s not that bad once you get moving. Our swim group goes to a coffee shop after we get out (hey, we’re cold!), so I’ve been buying quite a few breakfasts.  I’ve also been paying to park in the beach lot, which I usually try to avoid at all costs.

We have a pile of new cat toys, I’ve been driving the car and burning gas,  I have a new wetsuit (and a thermal cap and booties. That water is cold), the fridge is well stocked with tasty stuff, and I’ve been drinking the good wine.

Later this year when it’s dead and I’m in panic mode, I’m going to regret the hell out of this money hemorrhage, and you all can feel free to let loose with a rousing chorus of “I told you so” but sometimes it’s really nice to not worry about anything and just live.

In case you’re wondering, swimming in the ocean in the winter is pretty awesome. The water is super clear (visibility in the Pacific is usually about three inches, but now we can see the bottom in 30+ feet of water), and there’s no one out there but the few of us who are, well, crazy. Or hardy. Pick your explanation.

I’ll worry later. I’m having fun right now.

 

Filed under: life in LA, Los Angeles, Non-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, , , ,

Everyone’s laughing at me but it’s okay.

For the past two weeks, the ocean has been terrific. Water temps in the mid-60s (balmy for the Pacific), and almost no surf.

So, some friends and I have been swimming just about every morning. We’re usually in the water around 6, at low tide, and we swim before the sun really gets blazing (the marine layer usually burns off around 10 am).

The water around here is normally cloudy – 10 feet of visibility is a big deal. This isn’t a bad thing. Cloudy water means one can’t see the bugaboos of the deep swimming beneath – or the used condoms and discarded shopping carts arranged into some sort of unholy fish henge.

But this morning everything was clear as crystal. We could see the sun coming up, the sandy bottom of the ocean and the school of fish swimming about 10 feet below us (presumably doing maintenance work).

As I was thinking what a wonderful view it was and how lucky we were to get the nice water, I heard a loud splash about a foot (30cm) from my head.

It was a pelican, diving to get at the fish.

I looked up at the Hitchcockian pod diving inches away (not an exaggeration) from the swimmers and started to wonder about the birds’ ‘wild’ status.

Here is where I have to admit that I’m not exactly crazy about birds. I don’t have any past traumatic experiences with them (other than freshly washed car poopings and a nip from an aunt’s parrot), they just make me… uneasy.

Especially when they’re rocketing into the ocean water inches from my head.

My swim partner suggested we get the hell out of there (“I’ve worked too hard to not be in the middle of the food chain!”), and I agreed.

No amount of beautiful water was worth getting a shit to the back of the wetsuit (pelican shit is some unbelievably foul stuff), or, worse, a beak to the back of the head.

As I spun around and headed towards the shore, I saw a blurry gray mass slide past my face (I refuse to pay for prescription swim goggles), followed by a fluke so close I could have bitten it.

I turned my head and briefly locked eyes with the dolphin.

If you’re holding your breath waiting for me to wax poetic about what a life-changing spiritual experience it was, you can exhale now.

It scared the hell out of me.

In case you were wondering, dolphins are fucking huge. This one was at least 6 feet (2m) long.  Plus, I think it was carrying a knife and a bag of bloody swim caps.

I attempted to exit the water by jumping straight up in the air, and making a noise that I’m told sounded like “GAAAAUUUGGGGHHHMMMFFFFF!”

I spun back around, only to see another dolphin pass about 3 feet (1m) behind my swim partner, who must have seen the reflection in my saucer-sized eyes, as she yelped and proceeded to swim like hell towards the beach.

Me: “Fuck you, don’t leave me!”

Swim partner: “I just have to outswim you!”

Bitch.

When we got to the beach, we both stood there for a few minutes while our heart rates dropped from hummingbird to normal and then decided to go back in – not into the deeper water, but just enough so that we weren’t carrying the memory of fear all day.

So we swam back out to not quite where the birds were, then came back in.

Where my swim partner stepped on a stingray.

She didn’t get stung – she just stepped on the ‘wing’ as the ray swam off, but she jumped and made a similar scream to mine.

We then decided to go back in, so we weren’t carrying the memory of Poseidon trying to murder us all day.

Third time’s the charm.

The birds had moved off, the water was clear and calm. We swam out to the buoy (about 200 yards offshore), hung out and enjoyed the view, and then swam back.

No dolphin attacks, no bird dive bombs, no lurking stingrays. Just a wonderful swim in the beautiful clear water.

When we came back up to the lifeguard tower where everyone keeps their stuff, one of the guys told me he’d been trying to get that close to a dolphin for years, and that I’d let everyone down by behaving in a cowardly manner.

He then imitated my shriek for good measure.

Easy for him to say. He didn’t see that bag of swim caps.

Filed under: life in LA, Los Angeles, mishaps, Non-Work, , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , ,

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, , , ,

Gasping for air

I’m coming to the end of my physical therapy, and things have improved with the shoulder. I’ve been doing some light swimming – mostly at my gym, where they offer what’s called a masters program, but is mostly a form and skills practice with moderate yardage.

Today, when I showed up at the gym for the 6 am swim, I was told that the swim was cancelled as the coach had a family emergency.

Since I was out of bed anyways, I checked my SCAQ schedule and saw that there was a 6:30 swim nearby, so I headed out, thinking that if it got too hard, I could just tell the instructor I was injured and sandbag my way though the workout.

It wasn’t marked on the schedule, but this particular swim turned out to be an IM. Normally, I prefer IM workouts since they’re varied and more interesting than just 3,000 yards of freestyle, but recently I’ve been ‘dialing it back’ at the insistence of the physical therapist.

Just to be safe, I got in the slow lane.

The workout started with some freestyle, and after being driven absolutely batty by the woman in front of me, who was swimming slower than I wanted to but too fast for me to pass, the IM portion of the swim started.

Surprisingly, the stroke that bothered my shoulder the most was the backstroke, not the butterfly, but I still managed to make it all the way through the workout.

The downside is that I’ve not really done any really hard swimming for a while so after the workout I dragged myself out of the pool and kind of flopped around on the deck like some sort of pasty white fish badly in need of an 8 am martini*.

I’m very happy at having been able to make it through the workout, even if I had to go home and nap afterwards.

Next up: Is there any work in Los Angeles at all and if so, will someone hire me?

*I settled for a cup of coffee and a chocolate muffin (since even though I’m single it’s supposedly the day to eat chocolate).

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, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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