Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

A week of cautious optimism

Right in the middle of this week full of highly amusing election snark (bye bye, Rudy! Bye bye, Romney! Also, sadly – bye, bye Edwards – the only really pro-labor candidate) , there are rumblings that the WGA might have reached a deal.

Admittedly, this would be totally sweet, but do remember that most of your friendly crew people will continue to be unemployed for about a month after the official end of the strike – it takes time to get a production of any size moving, so although it’ll be over for the WGA, it’ll still be rough for me for a while longer.

Especially since unemployment seem to be stalling me – guess it’s their way of dealing with California’s budget shortfall.

Also, there are now multiple offers on my building (all from developers, of course), so tomorrow’s project is to find a lawyer. I have a feeling I’m going to need one if I don’t want to get screwed.

Also, I still have not gotten tax paperwork from Axium, which doesn’t really surprise me.

Filed under: Non-Work, , , , , ,

So now I’m out of a job along with everyone else.

Today marked my last day of work until all this strike business blows over.

The show that I was working on is an unfortunate victim of the downsizing that’s been happening all over town – a lot of shows are getting the axe because, well, because it’s an excuse to cut some fat and cancel expensive shows that are not expected to do well for one reason or another, so we were completely wrapping out the stages – which meant having to return all the equipment and tear out the rig that’s up in the perms so as to leave the stage ‘clean’ for whichever show comes in next.

As we dropped the cable out of the perms, the talk turned to what we’re all going to do if this strike outlasts our unemployment checks. I’m at a distinct disadvantage here because I’m single – most of the guys on the crew have wives that work in other industries, so they’ll get by on one check.

After spending my entire adult life in the film industry, I’m not sure exactly what it is that I’m qualified to do in the real world. I’ve been making jokes about supplementing my unemployment check with the occasional spot of pole dancing, but the reality is that even if I could find someone to pay money to see me in a bikini my knees would probably give out and I’d make an ass of myself.

Even more so than usual.

The upside was that I was working at Sunset Gower studios, where it’s way easier to park off the lot and walk in (the parking structure fills up super fast) – which meant I was able to make  a face-to-face apology to the writers for crossing the picket line (something I’m deeply uncomfortable doing, but I have to bank every cent I can right now).

Filed under: Work, , , , , , ,

Fan, meet Shit. Shit, meet Fan.

Well, it’s official. The writers are going to strike.

Since today’s work was on a stage with internet access, everyone who had a computer kept checking every 90 seconds to see what was going on, and we got the word via the LA Times website around 8 pm.

This show will finish it’s current episode (which runs through Friday), and after that who knows what will happen? It depends on if they have a script that they can shoot without re-writing it (which is absurd – stuff gets rewritten on the fly all the time).

By 8:05, a couple of people were starting to really freak out, but I’m just going to try to scrounge enough work to get me through the next couple of weeks and then hope for the best.

I suppose the next few weeks would be a great time for me to get the bunion surgery that I need (and the accompanying 10 – 12 weeks of disability), or I could go get a regular construction job, or go pull cable on one of the event crews.

I guess that’s where those of us that are below the line have an advantage (and it’s probably the only advantage we have) is that the skills we have translate into being able to go and get a job somewhere else if we absolutely have to.

Who am I kidding? Although I like to think I’d be able to march up to a construction site and get a decent paying job that uses a similar set of skills to mine, the reality is that I’ll probably end up back on the low budget non-union movies.

Who, when you think about it, are going to be the clear winner in this mess. They’re going to get the crews (and the writers) they normally can’t afford, and none of us can leave and go work a ‘real’ show because there won’t be any.

Gods, I hope this gets settled quickly, although the pessimist in me is pretty certain it won’t.

Filed under: Work, , , , ,

I fell into a burning ring of fire.

The main topic of conversation on every set as of late has been the impending writers’ strike – since very little real information is forthcoming from anywhere, armchair quarterbacking is rampant – they’ll strike, they won’t strike, they might strike but they’re not sure, they’re having a naked tea party right now, and so on.

For the past few days, though, people have been talking about the massive fires and assorted issues (who we know who needs housing, the related bad traffic, the related bad air, when the hell this is all going to end and what they’re going to do when they catch the people who started a few of them).

The fires just keep getting bigger (pushed by Santa Ana winds – someone emailed me and asked me why the firefighters just can’t “do something” – they can’t really fight 100 foot tall flames which are being driven by 60 mph winds so they just have to wait for a break in the weather), although the light is gorgeous. One of the camera assistants today described it as “perpetual magic hour“, and that’s pretty accurate. The golden orange glow of the sun’s last rays has lasted all day.

It would be enchanting if it didn’t also smell of smoke and rain ash at seemingly random intervals – oh, and it’s really hot and the humidity is about 5%. I have a humidifier at home, but frankly it’s not doing jack shit right now. I suppose I should just be grateful that I’m not one of the approximately 500,000 people who have had to evacuate their homes, and am in not in an area that has any risk of burning.

Today, while standing at craft service perusing the morning snack, the conversation shifted back to the writer’s strike and what, exactly, the hell we’re all going to do if we get put out of work over the holidays.

A passing woman (I don’t know what department she was from – I only saw her a few times throughout the day) stopped, glared and spat “Those fucking assholes – they already make too much money. They can all go to hell.”

I just stood there, my mouth hanging open despite being filled with half-chewed food.

While I should note that some IATSE members do bear some ill will towards SAG, DGA, and WGA* members (many of whom routinely cross our picket lines and some of whom have hurled abuse at us while doing so), most of us, while we desperately hope the writers (and actors and directors) won’t strike, understand why they need to and will support them.

After all, we’re all in the same little boat that’s floating on rough seas and there’s a producer with scuba gear sawing a hole in the bottom and waiting to pick us off one by one if we don’t stick together.

However, even if she was a producer, saying something like that while standing on a set took some serious huevos. I just kind of stared, afraid to say anything because I was just a day player, but wanting to see if someone else was going to say something, but everyone just walked away, leaving just the two of us alone in a weird kind of standoff – her glowering and me with a mouthful of food.

Then, we started lighting so I had to chew what I had, throw out the rest and get the hell back to work.



*IATSE = International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees.

SAG = Screen Actors’ Guild

DGA = Director’s Guild of America

WGA = Writer’s Guild of America

Filed under: life in LA, Work, , , , , ,

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