Saturday, April 16, 2005

It was a great day - up until that end part.

I'm used to getting up at 5, but for some reason that alarm going off 4 am just kills me. Maybe it's the knowledge that there's not an overpriced coffee joint open yet, but I have a terrible time getting out of bed, and if I don't gather all my stuff the night before, I'll forget something (like my toolbelt, glasses, or sunblock).

I do like going to Sony that early though. Sony is located in the worst possible place for me - there's not a direct route on the freeway from my house (and the infamous Los Angeles traffic starts getting bad at about 6:30 am), so I'm crossing town on surface streets - when I get to go at 5, I'm pretty happy. There's a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (my favorite overpriced designer coffee) almost across the street from the lot which opens at 5, so I even got the 'coffee big gulp' - a good thing since I was on the rigging crew and there's no craft service if you're 'off production' (off production is anything that's not on the crew that's doing the actual shooting - also called 'shooting crew', or 'first unit'. No chaos, but no perks, either).

I usually like to be at work at least 15 - 20 minutes early, especially if I'm on a lot where the security people can be a hassle (Sony, Warner Brothers). Sony's not worked the bugs out of their post 9-11 security system, so it can take a while to get through the guard gate, unless you're there at 5:15, and then the guards haven't come in yet.

So, the day started out really well. Breezed in, got my java, blew through the empty security booth; It was a fun crew today (mellow, nice, good to work with), and we didn't have a lot of 'notes' to fill up our 8 hours.

Whatever this pilot is (I have some strange mental block about the name - 'some-name-I-can't-remember's reasons why not'), it's a 'single camera', so it's shot more like a film, and our job was to get the three sets that were shooting that day ready - get all the 'practicals' (any lamp that you see on camera is a practical - bedside tables, chandeliers, etc.. Set dressing physically places the lamps in the set, but it's our job to make sure that they work) wired, take down the lamps from sets that aren't going to be used again, and so forth.

Under normal circumstances, the gaffer would also tell us which large, unwieldy lamps we should 'rough in' (get them approximately where they're going to work so that when first unit gets there, they only have to move them a few feet and they can get the set lit faster), but not today.

General crew call was 3 pm (that's a bad, bad sign. It means they've been working insane hours - and have had to make the call time later and later as the week went on in order to make 'turnaround' - which is the minimum time allowed between wrap and when you have to be back then next morning. It's usually 10 hours), and the gaffer got there at 2:30 - just when we were getting ready to leave - and pulled us in with the first unit panic.

What we ended up doing was stuff that could have been done earlier in the day had they told us earlier, but I certainly don't mind the overtime!

At some point during the day (right around when we broke for breakfast), my right big toe started to hurt like hell - I thought it was a cramp, and figured it would go away, but it got worse and worse as the day went on, and by 4 pm (when we were done), it was excruciating - so after we were officially released to go home, I limped over to the medical office on the lot and had them look at it.

The medical staff told me that another person on the crew had the same complaint the day before, and then sent me out to a hospital, where they took some blood and x rayed it. The doctor at the hospital says he's got no idea what it is, as the other person refused to have any tests done.

I'll find out Monday when they get the tests results back.

I was supposed to go out with some friends after work, but my toe was killing me, so I stayed home instead and watched bad movies while I lay on the couch with an ice pack on my foot.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Is it still called a 'cock block' if you're female?

Had dinner with Mr. Movie Star tonight at this place - there's no name anywhere (not on the door, not on the menu, not on the matchbooks) so I have no idea what it's called.

We were in a corner, having what HAD to look like a very intimate conversation (sitting really close, hands clasped, etc.. ), when this 'woman' (quotes intentional) just sat down at our table and started trying to chat up Mr. Movie Star. I could not believe it - short of standing up and screaming "Hello, I'm the date here - do you mind?" I had nothing. I couldn't even do that, I was so stunned. I just kind of sat there with my mouth hanging open.

Mr. Movie Star made a valiant effort to get rid of her politely, but she was having none of it. So she sat there, flirting like crazy with a guy who had his arm around another woman.

We ended up running out the back door when she got up to go to the bathroom.

I'm still stunned. I have to confess - she was annoying as hell, but I wish I had that kind of guts.

Mr. Movie Star says that this type of thing has happened to him before.


I had to end the evening early as I have a 5:30 am call tomorrow at Sony.
Sony's a half hour drive for me - even in no traffic, so a 5:30 means that I have to be up at 4 am.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A day in gossip central

"Gossip Central" being the NBC/Universal lamp dock.

Since the merger, that lot's been insanely busy, so there are a ton of folks there, and since 'Uni' doesn't deliver equipment to your stage (Sony, Culver, Raleigh, and some of the smaller ones do, Uni, Paramount, Disney and Warner Brothers don't), you and the rest of the crew have to take a truck to the dock to pick up your equipment so everyone who's on the lot rolls into the lamp dock at least once a day.

This is a good thing, as I've almost always gotten work by bumping into someone I know who's 'picking up guys' and gives me a call. Even if no one's picking up (hiring), there's always new folks to meet, old friends to see, and stuff to hear..

The story that's currently making the rounds is that a guy (grip or electric, I'm not sure) at Disney got fired for looking at a woman. Apparently, Disney has a sexual harassment policy in place that states if you look at someone for more than three seconds, that's considered sexual harassment and is punishable by immediate dismissal.
So, dude looks at chick, a passerby tattles, and he's fired on the spot.

I'm not sure how true it is, as there was no name attached to it. The story was just told as "this guy got fired", which makes me think it's an urban legend, but I'm not sure.. I'll have to read the sexual harassment policy really carefully next time I'm at Disney (which isn't that often).

Universal is also unique in that it's got those studio tour trams going through every 10 minutes. All of the studios have tours, but they're much smaller. At Universal, in the summer, the trams come through every five minutes, and they're packed.

Universal makes much more money off the studio tour than they do off the studio itself, so any action on the part of a crew member that's seen as even remotely aggressive towards the tourists will result in immediate dismissal. This means no contact at all with the folks on the trams. No talking, no waving, nothing - if even one person complains that you seemed aggressive or scary (scary is very possible when it's hot and the rigging crews look like homeless people - you get really, really dirty and sweaty when you rig, and it's worse in the summer), the studio security will come and find you and throw you off the lot. I was on a crew with one guy who said something to another crew member that someone on the tram found offensive, and he got kicked off the lot, so all of us try to mind our P's and Q's when the trams go by.

Luckily, the trams make a really distinctive noise, so there's a bit of warning when one's coming - you've got a few seconds to finish the dirty joke or pull your pants back up if you've mooned someone who's working in the facade across the street (those buildings you see in movies - if it's a movie filmed on a back lot - are called facades. They're just the building fronts, with an enclosed scaffolding system behind them so that you can put lights or actors in the windows).

The other rumor is that an actress (name withheld as there's really no way to 'fact check' this and I don't want to get sued) once decided to show her tits to a tram, and was immediately permanently banned from the lot - I think I believe this one, as showing her tits is something that I can see this woman doing, and I've never, ever seen her on the lot.

Monday, April 11, 2005

So. Very. Uncool.

This is the letter that I got in the mail today:

To: Island Cast and Crew

From: DreamWorks Production Safety

Subject: Downey Studios Stage Issues

We hired an independent testing company to conduct a series of environmental tests at the Downey Studios on March 03, 2005. In the buildings known as the mill, stage 1, and 290 we tested for the presence of mold spores. The tests came back positive for several kinds of mold.

We have attached a copy of the report we received on March 23, 2005 from Minte Corporation, the independent testing company, which specifies which specific molds were present and the levels at which they were found. Minte informed us that a normal healty individual, with this period of exposure, should not have been adversely affected by potential exposure of this type. However if you have a compromised immune system, are pregnant, or have any other concerns, you may want to consult with your physician.

I am available to answer any questions that you may have. If you think you have been affected by this exposure please inform the production and consult your physician.

The letter is attached to about 10 pages of graphs and charts that, of course, I don't understand. I seriously doubt I've got any 'health issues' (and if the only fucked up thing there was mold, it'll be a miracle.. Downey Studios used to be a military facility, and there are stories of green glowing dirt and barrels of toxic waste), as I was only there for two days, but it's still unsettling.

I'm not sure if I prefer this new, more responsible film industry over the old one that just said "Hold your fucking breath if you're worried about the shit in the air".

It might be worse knowing. When you don't know, you can't worry about it.

We all worked for years at the Ambassador Hotel, which is full of every kind of asbestos ever made, and never gave it a thought, until someone said "Hey, that stuff fucks your lungs up! You should be wearing a respirator". Now I worry about my lungs.

Yup, definitely worse knowing.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Missed connections, bad art and Mr. Movie Star.

Was supposed to go to the LA Blogging meet up last night -they gave the location as 'somewhere in the farmer's market', so I ended up doing laps looking for them, and couldn't find them - but I didn't get there until about 9pm. I had gone to an art opening (they sound really interesting in print, but when I get there, they suck most of the time. There are enough good ones to keep me coming back, though), and then had dinner with The Blonde, so they might have been gone by the time I got there.

I have to confess to not looking that hard, though. I was meeting Mr. Movie Star for drinks at 10 - at the Chateau Marmont, where the valet is always full and you're at the mercy of street parking on the Sunset Strip.

Got in, after a hassle with the security folks, and met Mr. Movie Star in the garden. He's staying at the hotel while he's working, as he 'just can't deal with the drive from Malibu'. As much as I'd like to bust on him about this, I can't. The drive from Malibu to anywhere that's not also in Malibu sucks.

What I don't get is that I'm totally fine on the phone w/ Mr. Movie Star, but as soon as I'm physically near him, I turn into a giggling idiot. It's not just me - the waitress was giggling, the girl sitting next to us was giggling. Either it's him, or it's contagious (in which case, it's my fault).

Had a fun time, and no, I didn't sleep with him.

No work so far for Monday, but the town's still really busy, so I might get a last minute call.
If I don't get something Monday, I'll start making calls.