Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

My phone explodes!

Normally, May and June are slow months. The television shows are on hiatus, the pilots are done, and any movies left in town are already crewed or haven’t started yet.

Movies – especially the ones that shoot in the desert – like to wait until it’s really super fucking hot to start principal photography.

So, just like January, I curtail my spending as much as possible, and use the time to complete some projects around the house, reorganize the dresser drawers, brush the cat, sell unwanted stuff on eBay, etc..

But this May has been different. Not only have I been working pretty consistently, I’m getting calls for multiple jobs the same day at least once a week.

It’s freaky. Not bad, mind you, but not expected.

Of course, I’m answering ‘yes’ to every call I can.

Sadly, this means I’ve had some very short turnarounds the past few days, as minimum ‘off’ time rules don’t apply when one is moving from one show to another.

Tomorrow, my call is 11 am – an hour drive from my place, which means I’ll work until 11 pm and be home by midnight – at the earliest , and then I have an 8 am call on another show Friday morning.

It’s all wonderful – work while it’s available and rest later.

Filed under: crack of dawn, locations, long long drives, Work, , , , , , ,

Cooperative obstructionism

The waning days of a rig are the most frustrating. Most of the work is done, so it’s just small tweaks – pan a light, add a gel, etc.. But since there’s more crap hanging in the air and stacked on the ground and stuff is harder to get to, the illusion of forward momentum is much harder to maintain.

Boss: “Pan that light. No, tilt it. No, wait. Dammit, that tree’s in the way. I can’t see. Stay there and I’ll get it moved”

It’s frustrating for us, it’s frustrating for the gaffer and the DP and people trying to dress the sets while we’re rolling lifts through them, and everyone else. And we can’t put anything off until tomorrow because the stage shoots tomorrow. And since all of us have to work the set, we can’t stay super late because there will be turnaround issues.

In our contracts,  we have specific turnaround times – the time between when we’re dismissed for the night and when we have to report to work in the morning. Although it can go as low as 8 hours (usually on what’s called a distant location where the crew is staying in a hotel and being driven to the set by the teamsters), it’s usually 10.

A forced call is when we’re brought back to work before that time has elapsed. When a call is forced, we start the day in whatever pay bracket we ended the last day in (double time, usually), which, as one can imagine, is expensive, so production never wants to force a call without a very, very good reason or rivers of tears from the director.

Also, it’s not good for a crew to have a call forced. We come to work tired and not at our best, which means we’re far more likely to have or cause an accident than we would be had we just gotten enough sleep.

So we tried our best not to destroy the sets as we added a few lights, changed some other lights and finally went home.

It’s as done as it’s going to get, and my main challenge tomorrow will be to stay away from the junk food at craft service.

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

Watch me try to stay awake

One of the things that still remains tough to adjust to after all this time is the unpredictable hours that I sometimes have to work.

Under normal circumstances, if I’m so tired that I feel I’m not safe I’ll turn down the call, but since my policy right now is to only turn down work if I’m dead, I’m taking anything at any time I can get, which means if I have to go without sleep I’m just going to have to deal, since the shadow of another potential work stoppage is still hanging over all our heads.

Thursday: 2 pm call time. I got to bed around 2 am and got up around 7 am in order to keep on a day schedule. I figured I’d stay up all day and just go to bed early.

Then, on Friday around noon I got a last minute call to report to work at 2 pm (missed seeing Nezza on her last day here, but a girl’s gotta pay the bills), so right out of the gate I was completely wiped out and the best boy will probably go to his grave being convinced that I’m either perpetually stoned or exceptionally slow on the uptake.

Monday: 7am call time, which adds up to one of those one-day weekends since I totally lost Saturday. I’m sure I did something, but I have no idea what that something was.

I was off today, and I got up early hoping to stay on a day schedule, but no such luck.

Tomorrow: 5 pm call time, so although I got up at 6 am today, I’ll have to try to stay up until at least midnight in the hopes that I’ll sleep until at least 8 am.

8, for me, is the magic number. I can’t seem to sleep much later unless I get home from work at 7 am.

What will probably happen is that I’ll fall asleep at 10, wake up at 6, be unable to get back to sleep and then be up until sunrise Friday morning, which means I’ll have to down enough coffee to kill Juan Valdez and his donkey in order to stay functional.

It’s all going to be fine. I’m just happy to be working, and worse comes to worse I’ll catch a nap in the back seat of my car after work. Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done that.

On the bright side, I got my refund checks from the unemployment fracas:

Winning feels gooood.

I have big plans for this money. First, I’m going to trowel on enough makeup so that I topple over when I try to stand upright. Then, I’m going to don an obscenely tight dress, make a beeline to the trendiest nightclub in town and sit at the bar while I bat my eyelashes and fan myself with $2,000 in twenties before going home with four or five cheap male models. Or maybe one really expensive one.

Just kidding. I’m going to use it to pay bills and rent. Whatever’s left over goes in the savings account in case the actors decide to strike.

Although when I think about it, if I have four or five cheap male models, do I really need a place to live? Or food?

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

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