Friday, August 05, 2005

Dem Bones, dem Bones.

I had an 11 am call (on the tv show "Bones"), with the idea that I'd get there in time to help first unit with a stage move. Since they worked so late the night before, crew call got moved to 10:30 (it was originally 8), and our union has a rule that you can't change a call after a certain time of the day, so since they couldn't change my call and they didn't need me for the first half of the day, I spent the morning on the rigging crew.

Rigging and working first unit are two entirely different mindsets, so going from one to the other (also known as a 'rig/operate' day) is kind of a mindfuck. The riggers on this show have been working 14 hour days, 6 days a week - in two shifts. This is unheard of for a tv show ("Mr. and Mrs. Smith" had two shifts of riggers working 12 hour days, and we all thought that was insane) - most rig days are 8-10 hours and a 5 day week. The riggers (whom I've worked with at Paramount) all have that 'thousand yard stare' because they're so tired. .

The sets for this TV show are HUGE. Someone said (and I believe them) that they're the biggest sets ever for a TV show. On Fox's Stage 6, the set is built out to the firelane on all four sides and all the way up to the perms. I'll have to try to dig up the dimensions of the stage somewhere (Fox doesn't post them on the stage wall like everyone else does. If anyone has the dimensions of stage 6 - length, width, height to perms - I'd love to know).

Most of the sets are steel, too - sets are never, ever steel. Steel is expensive. Steel requires paying higher construction costs, because you have to pay a welder a bazillion dollars an hour to cut and weld instead of just staples and nails on plywood. This set alone (there are two others) had to cost about two million bucks just for the materials (I think it's an insane gamble, spending this much money on the set for a TV show that hasn't even aired yet).

Unfortunately, one of the things they forgot to put in the super expensive set was 'wild walls'. Wild walls are walls that come out, or swing open so the set's easier to light, shoot and generally get in and out of. I think there are four wild walls, and they're all in the smaller sets that are off to the sides of the main set. It's a bitch trying to get in and out of that big set - you have to walk around to one of the four access points (one in each wall - in a set that's well over 100 feet long and 90 feet wide). During my rigging half of the day, I was placing lights in a sort of overhang filled with silk bamboo plants (nicknamed 'Vietnam' because you had to walk hunched over through the stand of bamboo), and every time I forgot something, I'd have to go across the catwalk, down the zigzaggy stairs (with freshly painted handrails so nothing to hold onto), across the set, out the door, and back across the stage to where our stuff was - about 20 feet away had there been a direct path.

After lunch (warmed over commissary food - yum. Actually, I shouldn't say that. Since we had lunch after the commissary officially closed, they probably cooked us something new), I 'fell in' with first unit on the big set - they're a nice bunch of guys, and the gaffer's a good guy. The only complaint I have is that he doesn't use his walkie talkie. He'll turn it on, say something to you, and then turn it off again. This sucks if you have a question. You have to get one of the other guys on the radio and have them ask the gaffer the question, and then he turns his walkie on, answers the question, and turns the walkie back off again. Very, very annoying.

Call time: 11 am (mine - general crew call was 10:30)
Wrap time: 1 am

I'm back today - on a 12:30 call, which means I'll get home around 3 am if they work a 14 hour day. I didn't have to sign a 'no photo' clause, so I can bring the camera today and take some photos.


Dave2 said...

I have high hopes for this show, because I enjoyed David Boreanaz in "Angel" so much... but the early reviews have not been pretty. Of course, it's not like you can always rely on the critics.

Anonymous said...

Dave2's comment was posted before the show even started. Most of the reviews I've read since then have been pretty good. And since I've seen all the episodes, I can state that in my opinion, the show started good and is now approaching great. But, that's just me.