Saturday, April 09, 2005

Testing photo link

Let's see if I can get this thing to work:


This is from the movie "Goal". Just over the crest of the hill is the 'mexico/us border', which our plucky protagonists are trying to illegally cross.

The chain link fence that you see at the top of the photo is the set.

The big white thing in the lower corner is diffusion - this is a 12' by 12' 'grid cloth'. It softens the light, so that it doesn't cast so many shadows and make the actors look like crap.

Diffusion is grip, BTW.

The rule of thumb is that a light (or anything carrying electricity) is electric, and anything between the light and the actor (color, diffusion, flags, etc.) is grip.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Not such a long night, after all.

I hate working nights, but what I hate more is when I psych myself up for a long night and it turns out to be a short night.

Los Angeles closes down after 2 am, so if you get all hopped up on coffee like I did (in anticipation of an 8 hour worknight), and then only work for two hours, you're fucked - sitting at home with coffee jitters and nowhere to go.

I had a midnight call at CBS in the Valley (CBS has two lots - the one on Fairfax where they shoot "American Idol" - yes, I know it airs on Fox, but it's shot at CBS, and the Radford lot in the Valley where they shoot just about everything else), to wrap a TV pilot. This particular pilot was a 'three camera' show, which means exactly that - the sets are all in a line, with the open side facing the same direction and a 'camera isle' right in front of them were the three (actually four - there's a camera on a boom up above the set as well) cameras are. The cameras all shoot into the set from the same direction. Movies and 'single camera shows' don't work like that.. you have full sets and they shoot from different directions. Single camera shows also never have an audience, and three camera shows almost always do.

We got there after they'd wrapped and gone home, which is fine except that all the good stuff at crafty has been taken away - I anticipated this, and had a big cup of coffee on my way over to the lot - I'd gotten a second cup that I was planning to keep in the car and drink about 4 am when I needed a little lift - drinking cold coffee is one of the dubious skills that I've picked up during my time in the film industry.

The thing about wrapping sets is that the faster you work, the sooner you're done - in this case, we got everything struck (we just took all the lights off the pipe grid. The cable's all staying up as another pilots shooting in that stage next week) in two hours.

I didn't know anyone on this crew at all, though. I don't work at the Radford lot very often, and most of these folks have spent their entire careers there - I met a woman who's been in the union for 27 years - she got in the year after they were forced to admit women, and she's a scream.

She's bitter (as are most folks who've been in this industry for more than 10 or 15 years), but she's smart and funny about it.

Her topics for the night were: 'They're screwing us out of our health insurance" (this is true.. the producers can't cut our pay, so they chip away at our health insurance, even though the 'craft' people - grip, electric, and construction - have the most wear and tear on our bodies and are the most likely to be seriously injured or killed on set), "Those men are jerks - they can talk about tits, but we can't talk about politics", and "Women don't ever make it to full retirement, and here's what those fucking men need to do about it" (this is also true - to retire from our union, you have to work 30 years and 60,000 hours. Very few people of any gender get the hours they need to retire. They get the years, but not the hours. What the 'fucking men' need to do is to lower the number of required qualifying hours, but that's not going to happen).
I told her she should run for our executive board (the folks who set policy for the local), and she launched into an even funnier variation of the "Fucking men and their bullshit" speech.

I was entertained, and I did actually learn a few things!

Stopped off at the Vons near CBS on the way home and had a conversation with the checker about our respective fucked up unions, how she'd coped during the grocery store strike here in Southern California, and if the grocery stores really are tracking your spending with those club cards.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Road trips and missed dates.

Got a last minute call Tuesday to go to work (call time 3:30 pm about an hour north of L.A. - I got the call at noon) on "Goal" - the scene was some folks trying to sneak into the US from Mexico - only they're sneaking through a hole in a fence next to the aqueduct in Acton which had been dressed to look like the border.

It wasn't actually a bad day. Yesterday was supposed to be the last night of the show, but because they're working with kids, the clock ran out on them and they had to add the day. It was only a few shots that they didn't get the night before, so we were out of there by midnight (that's including the time it took us to load our truck). The entire crew had moved on to other projects, so they had to bring in all new grip and electric for the last day.

I went home, crashed, and then the next morning, decided on a whim to go up to Death Valley to see the wildflowers - the heavy rains we've had have resulted in the flower bloom from hell, and it's not likely to do this again anytime soon, so I may as well do something on my day off other than stare at a computer screen or run on a treadmill.

Drove out in the morning (okay, I stopped for coffee first), saw the flowers, shot a bunch of photos, sat in the hot spring (I love hot springs), had more coffee, and then headed home just as it was getting dark.

On the way back, I managed to have a decently long phone conversation with Mr. Movie Star - in which I had to confess that a) I've never seen any of his movies and b) I had no idea who he was until someone told me.
He thought this was hilarious, which was a good thing given that most actors I know are insecure as hell.

We were supposed to have dinner tonight, but I've been called into work last minute (again - some TV pilot called "When I Met Your Mother"), and so I've had to postpone.

He says he'll give me a call after he gets off set tomorrow.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Okay, I'm not insane. "Enterprise" is still a wrap.

Back on "Enterprise".

When I got the call on Friday, our call steward told me it was a rig, which threw me into a state of confusion.

Confusion cleared, though. They're not starting back up, as they have to be out of Stage 8 pronto as Mission Impossible 3 is rigging that stage soon.

6 am call, which was fine, as it gets us into the commissary for coffee and lunch before the crowd hits. The breakfast/coffee crowd hits at 8:30, and the lunch crowd hits at 1:30. With a 6 am call, you have breakfast at 7:30 and lunch at noon.

There wasn't a lot left to do - it was pretty much just clearing the cable that was up in the perms. There were four guys upstairs dropping cable out, and four on the ground wrapping it as it came down to avoid the previously mentioned 'fucking mess'.

One of the guys pissed off the rigging gaffer, though - well, actually he pissed off everyone. Right before lunch, the producer walked on set, and this guy marched up to him and announced that the rig was coming out fast and we'd be done in 'no time'.
This resulted in the producer cutting the crew, so 5 of us (including me) got laid off.

Generally, crew members don't speak (beyond small talk or the occasional sports conversation over coffee) to anyone who 'outranks' them by more than a notch or two.
If you are having a sports conversation with a higher up, and they ask you a work question, you generally refer them to your supervisor ("Gee, Bruce, I have no idea when that's going to be done. Why don't you ask Chris? I'm sure he'll be able to tell you that. Say, how about those Red Sox?"), but most producers know better than to ask questions of anyone except department heads - it's a waste of time, as information is parceled out to us on a 'need to know' basis.

The worst thing you can do on a crew is go over someone's head like that (and he did it right in front of the department head, too). It's seen as brownnosing folks who normally wouldn't speak to you anyway, and it's disrespectful to your supervisor. And it doesn't make you any friends.

The surprise of the day was Mr. Movie Star calling me about 2 pm 'to see what I was doing' - I told him I was glad to hear from him, but I was about to get brained by the crap that was falling out of the perms (the grips were taking out the 'greenbeds', which are temporary walkways hung from the perms - they're heavy wood flats about the size of a door that hang on brackets suspended by 30 feet of chain - they swing like crazy when they're being lowered to the ground, and it's best not to be anywhere near them when the grips are dropping them in.) and asked if I could call him back - only to notice, after he'd said 'no problem babe' and hung up, that his number reads as "Private Call" in the phone's received call log.

That is a serious blonde moment.


Some friends from New York are in town tonight and their band (Slunt) is playing the Roxy tonight, so although all I really want to do is sit home and stare obsessively at my cell phone, willing Mr. Movie Star to call back, I have to go see the girls play.

Getting out of the house will be good for me.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Finally! It's over.... Maybe.

We shot the last bit of this short Sunday morning, which is the only time we could get The Drama Queen.

Of course, our call was 8 am and everyone forgot to set the clocks forward, so everyone was an hour late - we still got done by noon, though.

It worked out well. We had a couple of extra actors that The Blonde wanted to add, and they were terrific. Hopefully, the entire mess will cut together.

On my way home from the shoot, I passed a Coffee Bean in Beverly Hills, and decided to get some coffee (I stressed Saturday night and didn't sleep at all, so I needed a boost). Miraculously, I found parking right in front of the Coffee Bean, and as I opened my back door to get my purse, the box full of prop vodka bottles fell out and rolled all over the sidewalk.

Did I mention it was noon on Sunday?

I wish I'd looked a little more disheveled. That would have been even funnier.