Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

I’m back!

I had to take a little break to deal with some problems personal enough to not be shared on the internet (I know, right? Weird), but I here I am again and thankfully, work seems to be picking up just as thunderstorms roll through Southern California.

The worst combination possible is a condor and thunder. Rain is fine (if a bit uncomfortable for the poor sap in the bucket), but as soon as any sort of turbo-charged static starts flying around, people get nervous.

So last night, with the predicted thunderstorms in mind, we kept an eye on the tall clouds that thankfully moved north and not west, just missing us.

Not even a drop of rain – good thing I brought my rain gear. It’s a pain in the ass to haul around two work bags, but the second one thinks “oh, it’ll be fine” and leaves the waterproof stuff at home or crew parking, that’s when the heavens open and Mother Nature’s fucked-up idea of a joke sloshes around in one’s shoes for six hours.

Last night, we were a splinter unit, shooting a couple of quick bits whenever we could get the actors from the main unit.

Since one can’t really light night exteriors until it’s dark, we placed a few lights that we all knew were going to move again, then waited for it to get dark enough to start lighting.

Then, we placed some more lights, had a run through with the stand-ins, then waited for actors.

Once the actors got there we adjusted the lighting, shot, and then waited while they went back to the main unit.

We adjusted the lighting again, then had some ice cream that our crafty guy ‘liberated’ from the main unit, then did our second bit when the actors showed up again, and then we wrapped.

The one downside was that those beautiful tall clouds is humidity.

Once the sun went down, it was a nice temperature – until we started wrapping.

The temperature didn’t change, but the act of moving around had me soaked in sweat after about five minutes, even though I still didn’t feel hot. Just sticky. Very, very sticky.

Once we got our equipment back onto the truck, we went home, at slightly under 8 hours.

A cold shower has never felt so good.

Filed under: hazardous, locations, Los Angeles, Work, , , , , , , ,

Panic and downtime.

After an incredibly busy April (I had two days off. TWO. All month), May is dead. I’ve gotten two days this month so far, both 8 hour days below scale.

But I was so busy last month that I wasn’t able to overspend (breakfast, lunch, and wrap meal at work mean no grocery shopping), so aside from all the food in the fridge going bad, everything was wonderful.

And if I’m working that much I can buy more food.

But now it’s totally dead and I’m trying to fill my time with the gym and home-improvement projects. Like putting earthquake film on the largish windows in my bedroom, getting the bike tuned up, selling the extra bike I never ride any more, weeding the garden (VERY important!), getting the car tuned up, and other general unemployment stuff.

And today it’s raining – in Los Angeles, we all know what that means – widespread panic and even worse driving than usual.

Although I like money, I also like not white-knucking it through panic-induced gridlock.

So I walked today.

I walked to the post office to return an Amazon purchase. I walked to the store to load up on groceries before the urge to hoard set in and the lines got too long. I walked to the recyling place and dropped off my plastic bottles (dammit, I paid that 5 cent CRV, I want it back).

And while I was walking, the rain started.

I don’t know if it’s years of having to stand out in rain all night or that over the years I’ve invested in really kickass raingear, but I don’t mind walking in the rain.

I’m wrapped in Gore Tex, I’m good. Bring it, skywater.

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

Precipocalypse!

Earlier in the week, the overly tanned weather bot had predicted a slight chance of rain, maybe but probably not.

So yesterday, I watered my garden (my celery children are sprouting! I can’t wait to devour them), and figured I’d have to come back Friday to water again if it stayed so unseasonably warm.

Then, this morning about 3 am, I started having dreams about the dog eating my homework. Odd, since I don’t have a dog and haven’t had to do homework in a number of years.

I woke up enough to ID the crunchy paper sound as water falling on the battered aluminum ladder that permanently resides in the alley behind the building and thought that I’d wasted a trip to the garden to water when, if I’d just procrastinated a bit longer, nature would have taken care of it for me. I hate it when that happens.

When I finally woke up at a more civilized hour, it was still raining, but lightly. A bit more than a drizzle, but not quite what one would call a rain.

Since any sort of dampness whatsoever throws the streets of Los Angeles into complete chaos, I opted to don my rain gear and walk the 1/2 mile to the physical therapist’s office instead of taking part in the gridlock.

As I was leaving, my neighbor walked by and  said “You’re venturing out into the storm? Be careful!”

When I got to the physical therapists office it had picked up a bit,  but was still not, by any means a heavy rain.

The receptionist asked “Oh, is it still storming out there? I can’t believe it!”

Welcome to Los Angeles.

After spending an hour having the physical therapist beat me about the head and shoulders with a Flintsone-type hammer (or at least that’s what it felt like), I headed out into the superstorm of light drizzle.

Spoiler alert: I got home okay.

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

Right down to the wire

Monday and Tuesday were out load out days for the movie, which we’d all taken to calling She Dies in the End.   Loadout days are when we drive the truck back to the rental house, unload it, count it and then call all the other departments to find out if they’ve got any of the items we’re missing, usually extension cords.

We then loaded up the gaffer’s personal equipment and drove it to his storage space (in a hailstorm, of course), and after that I figured I was done for the year. A few days to clean up the disgraceful pigsty that I call an apartment, do the laundry, then get packed up for the annual guilt induced pilgrimage back east to overeat and argue.

But Tuesday, as I was on my way home under suddenly clear blue skies (of course, the rain and hail stopped right as we finished), a friend called me and asked if I was available for Wednesday and Friday for another low budget feature that I suppose we should call Teenage Emo Love.

I thought, for a split second, about saying no, then came to my senses. Of course I was available.

So I spent another 14 hours standing in yet another very small house with only one entrance – a small narrow stairway with no handrail (don’t ask me why they took it off).

Lucky for my knees, I ended up mostly being one of the outside people. I stood on the platform they’d constructed for the big HMIs that were aimed into the second story windows and moved lights around.

I’m back today, for their last day of shooting – which is a split (half day and half night), and then I come home, take a nap and then fly out.

Happy Holidays.

Filed under: hazardous, locations, movies, up all night, Work, , , , , ,

A short, hot day.

It’s time for the annual “fall” heatwave.

Over the past couple of days, the heat has blasted across the city like a cartoon supervillain bent on destroying life as we know it here in Los Angeles. Even the breeze is hot, and stepping out the door of the house feels exactly like it does when one opens an oven door to check on whatever’s baking in there.

So although I normally don’t like to work super long days, I was really hoping that we’d get at least 13 hours yesterday- with a 7 am call, that would have put us out at 9 pm (the one hour break for lunch doesn’t count) – hopefully after it had cooled off slightly, but instead we got the fastest director west of the Mississippi who shot six and a half pages in nine and a half hours (that’s really, really fast. Six and a half pages normally takes much closer to 12 hours).

Fucker.

Don’t get me wrong, I normally really like this director, but I swore under my breath when they called wrap and the heat poured in through the newly opened stage doors.

I went to the gym after work and swam, but when I got home well after dark it was still hot.

According to the news, the heat should break by the end of the week.

I really hope they’re right.

Filed under: Work, , , , , ,

I am so ready for summer to end.

It’s time for the annual heat wave (now with extra humidity!) that turns Los Angeles into Miami West. Although this seems to have taken everyone by surprise, it happened last year and the year before that and the year before that. Before that, I forget. Must be the heat.

Huge thunderheads hang in the sky east of the city, and while they’re very pretty (as clouds go) they’re making everyone completely miserable and smelly. I keep getting invites for afternoon events and there’s just no way in hell I’m going to even bother putting on makeup and trying to look human.

Every morning I wake up early intending to get in a workout and a bike ride before the heat gets really bad, but I’ve just not been able to do it. Maybe it’s because it’s not actually cooling off in my house at night. This is just cruel and unusual, if you ask me. If I had any energy, I’d fire off an angry letter to someone.

What I have been doing is seeing a lot of movies, but I have to be careful because I don’t want to run out of movie passes. I buy them every time I work on a lot where they’re sold (and save them for occasions like this), but I only have a few left so I’ve got to ration, which takes away one source of free air conditioning for a few hours.

Tomorrow, I have my first appointment with the therapist (who seems like a nice lady and I’m not sure I should subject her to me), who will hopefully have an air-conditioned office. After that, since we’re in for at least 8 more weeks of heat, I think I’m going to have to shave my pussy.

Seriously.

She’s obviously really uncomfortable and has been following me from room to room scolding me whenever I happen to be home – you know, just in case I didn’t already know that it’s hot and sticky and she’s wearing a heavy fur coat. She’s also shedding like mad. She should be bald already, but since she isn’t I’m starting to doubt that there’s actually a cat underneath all that fur.

The only problem with this plan should be obvious. The last time I tried this (with a former cat) I ended up in the emergency room. My sister suggested filling the water bowl with whiskey, but I’m kind of afraid to try it – what if something happens mid-clip and I have to take her to the vet?

Then he’ll ask why the cat can’t stand up and I’ll have to explain that she’s drunk. He already thinks I’m horrible because of the whole eye incident, so I think a kitty blood-alcohol level would make him call the PETA hit squad.

You know, the more I think about it the more I become convinced that it’s a really bad idea.  I think I’ll just use my last AMC pass and go see IMAX Batman.

There are rumors of work Saturday night, which, while I’ll have to try to get turned around (since I’ve been going to bed* before 10 every night), will at least be not too hot.

In other news, Los Angeles county is threatening to require that calorie counts of meals be posted on the menu right next to the price, which I predict will, at the very least, cause mass confusion around here (“wait. The hamburger’s 800 dollars? What? It’s only ten dollars? Well why do you have that number there if it’s not the price? I don’t get it”)

*What I really mean is laying in the bed with the fans turned on high, sweating profusely and wishing I lived in Greenland.

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

Weekends can be dangerous

Some locations are only available on the weekends.

Parking garages in business parks, for example. Not shootable on weekdays when workers fill the spaces, but on weekends, they’re a wasteland just begging for some stunt driving, which is what we were shooting on Saturday.

This particular parking garage was in Santa Clarita, which, if you’re not familiar with Southern California geography, is north of the city and approximately three degrees cooler than the surface of the sun. It was so hot up there that I stopped having to pee despite drinking copious amounts of water all day. I’d just go to the bathroom for the opportunity to make a big puff out of toilet paper and desperately dab at whichever body part I could easily reach in a futile attempt to dry off.

We were shooting on the lower levels of the parking garage and were all very grateful for the cover provided by the roof. It was hot inside (and full of exhaust fumes, of course), but not nearly as hot as it was outside with the sun beating down and reflecting off the acres of cement and steel. Near the end of the day there was a shot on the roof of the garage (involving a helicopter and gunfire) but as we didn’t light it (a wide shot during a day exterior means little, if any lighting) our boss was the only one who had to be up there. Poor guy.

Despite the heat and the humidity (storms over the desert, while they’ve given us some lovely puffy clouds in the sky, have made it feel like Miami around here) the day went fairly smoothly – since we were doing driving shots all day the lighting was fairly simple and there’s a huge difference between the ‘artiste’ type of director and stunt directors. Stunt directors just want to get the stuff shot and move on so they can get their day while the drivers are still fairly alert.

Even the fairly simple stunts take a lot of time to set up, rehearse and shoot (and it’s not possible to rush stunt people) so we had a 14 hour day. In one of nature’s cruel jokes, just as we were leaving the temperature dropped and a nice refreshing cool(ish) breeze picked up.

Filed under: locations, Work, , , , , , , , ,

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