Friday, April 22, 2005

Ah, Friday.

I'm posting this from an internet cafe, as whatever company Pacific Bell became has decided that DSL lines don't really need maintenance on the weekends, after all - I probably won't have access until Monday, or that's what the customer service rep said.

I'm used to having one of those fancy ergonomic keyboards, and I can feel the standard PC keyboard here giving me carpal tunnel as I type this, so I'll keep it short.

Today was my last day on "Emily's" - they finished shooting last night, and we just came in to wrap the lights and do the returns. The first unit boys showed up for a few hours and wrapped their personal stuff, and then split, leaving us to organize a ton of equipment that had just been thrown everywhere.

That's more of a problem than it sounds like - aside from the obvious cable tangle (also known as 'spaghetti'), lights have more than one part (some have more parts than others - I'll explain later when I can type without munching my wrists), and if the parts aren't all kept together in some semblance of order, things get lost and then I have to spend an hour looking for one tiny little thing that's missing. Usually it's not a big deal, but we've had the set guys pulling out all the furniture as well, so we spent the entire day tripping over one another.

I usually wear work boots (I step on a nail about once a year, not to mention dropping heavy things that sometimes land on my feet), but because of the toe I've had to wear tennis shoes this week. They're more comfortable, but offer much less protection. Luckily, I haven't stepped on a nail, but I've definitely stubbed my toes a bit, and I've dropped a few things on my feet as well.

I'll be happy when I can get back into my work boots, and I never thought I'd say that!

Tonight, I'm meeting some friends for a birthday celebration at a bar in Venice (James Beach - it was terribly trendy about two years ago), and then I'm going up to Mr. Movie Star's house to 'hang out'.

I think "hang out" is a euphemism for "have sex", and it's past the third date, so I shaved my legs just in case.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The dangers of thinking, and the consequences thereof.

Call today was 8 am (1+ hour in traffic to Sony), and we had a stage move (moving from one stage to the other) right at our call time. First Unit set lighting came in on a 'pre-call'(you get a pre call when you've got to do something that will take extra time before shooing - like moving from one stage to another) at 9:30, and the rest of first unit came in at 10:30 am.

We got there, saw the list of stuff we were to take over to 26 (Joan of Arcadia's Stage), and started moving..

Looking at the call sheet - we thought that there was about three hours work on 26. Since this director is slooooow, we figured that meant about six - seven hours (which puts the move back to 22 at about lunch), so we decided that the day would go like this:

Move first unit to 26.
Come back over to our stage (22)
Strike the office set that first unit 'shot out' (completed) last night
Do some returns.
Go to lunch.
Come back as they're finishing up - just about the last few shots, and start loading whatever they're not going to use into the stakebed to move.
Go back as they've wrapped and complete the move to 22.
Get them started and go home.

Sounds like a plan, right?

We started sending one of the guys over about 1 pm to check and see how much they had to do - Rob, the rigging key grip, said he thought they'd move about 3pm. The gaffer said maybe 4. The A.D. said he had no idea and to stop bothering him.
We decided to go to lunch early (at 1:30), just in case - that way, in theory, we'd be ready to go when they did move.

Boy, am I glad we went early - when we got back at 2:30, they'd just moved, and the gaffer was screaming at us because he couldn't find us or Clive (the rigging gaffer - he's a Jamaican guy, and he's terrific to work for - he also finds stuff to do off stage because he can't stand first unit's panic and chaos. This isn't normally a problem - it's actually nice to not be micromanaged - except when the shit hits the fan and we can't find him). We explained to the now purple in the face gaffer that were were on our scheduled lunch break (six hours after call time), and we had no idea that they'd called the move, as none of us have walkies. What we didn't mention was the repeated trying and failing to get an accurate time estimate for the move. When someone's that worked up, you can't really reason with them.

The gaffer, in a moment of panic, had called Clive on the phone to yell at him for not being there at the exact moment when they called the move, and said that we'd not done something they'd asked for, which wasn't true - Clive ended up having to get in his car and head back over to the lot where he caught up with us on 26 and we explained to him what had happened (Clive's hilarious when he gets upset - he stomped out of stage 26 saying "I'm gonna go over there and tell him to fuck off, mon").

Turns out the gaffer was just panicking, as we'd gotten them as ready as we could (given that once again, we had no notes about what they wanted), and all we had to do was bring back the big lamps for them. Once we did that, we loaded our stakebed got everything back to 22 and finished up.

We got finished halfway through first unit's lunchtime, and decided that discretion is the better part of valor, so we split.

6 am call tomorrow - I think it's going to be the last day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A visit to Joan

Six am call at Sony - Still on the same show (my boss told me I'm on through Friday, which is good. I like the shorter days - although there's not as much overtime, it's nice for now to have a life after work.

Tomorrow the shooting crew are using "Joan Of Arcadia"'s sets (we're shooting in what looks like a science classroom - I've never seen "Joan", so I have no idea what the name of the set is), so we had to go over there and get that ready.

The problem with walking on to someone else's stage is that you don't know where anything is - we had to turn on some overhead flourescents, and we had to actually go find the show's best boy (who was called in during his hiatus for this) so he could tell us how they were powered (from the greenbeds, and they came on when the stage power got turned on).

Plus, it kind of feels like snooping in someone else's house. When you come in on a working crew, someone shows you around first thing in the morning so you can find stuff.. there's no crew, it's just the empty sets.

The plaster work on "Joan's" sets is cracking and falling off the walls - I'm sure it cracks all the time (I guess plaster doesn't like heat from lights), but there's usually a crew to repair it - since the show's 'down', there's no one there, so there are piles of fallen plaster all over the place - when we left, there were two P.A.s sweeping it all up.

I hope it doesn't fall tomorrow while we're shooting and hit someone on the head.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Yay! Maybe.

Just got the lab reports back, and the good news is that I don't have Rheumatoid Arthritis or Gout (although the latter would have been a good opportunity to practice my Bobby Hill impression).

The bad news is that the Sony affiliated doctor has no idea what's wrong with my toe, so I'm to go in for more tests, whenever I can make the time to get to my doctor.

Mr. Movie Star has taken to asking if my foot's fallen off yet - every time he talks to me. It's getting less funny every time he says it.

Can you tell this is a sore spot with me?

There's a post on LAist today about someone who's had a film crew in her neighborhood and is unhappy about it:

Having a production in your neighborhood can be horrible, I'll agree.

What I do not agree with is blaming the crews for this. This person's post (and one of the comments) talks about how arrogant the crews are and how we're all assholes for not being mindful of the neighborhood, take up all the parking, and behave like shitheads in general. (I'm paraphrasing, of course).

This is not my fault.

I get a call to come and work. I say yes, because I have to pay my bills. I show up at work, fill out my paperwork and do what I'm told to do until it's time to go home. I have absolutely nothing to do with when we're shooting where, how late we're shooting, how much parking we're taking up, whether or not we block the street, or how many lights are aimed where.

I've been screamed at, called names, threatened and shot at, all because neighbors were pissed off that the producers and the location manager chose to shoot in that area at that time.

Granted, having a movie shoot in your neighborhood can be annoying, and I've cursed production companies more than once for complicating my drive home at 4 am, but screaming at me (or any other crew member), and blaming the chaos on me (in person or via the internet) does no good. I can't change anything.

Anyways, I got wound up enough about it that I posted my own rant in the comments section.

No work today - they're not 'carrying' a rigging crew (which means we're there all the time), but only calling us in when we're needed - but we're back tomorrow - I've got a 6 am call, which is fairly civilized after Monday's O-dark-thirty adventure..

Monday, April 18, 2005

The non daily show, and here's why

I actually do post just about every day, I just don't publish every day..

When I get home from work, I'm totally wrecked and can't think, so I write these Rosie O Donnellish haikus and then collapse into bed.
Because I'm vain and if I'm going to publish a blog, it may as well be halfway coherent, so I'll go back later and prose it up, so to speak.

So, this entry was written Monday evening as I was crushed from fatigue, and then rewritten today (Tuesday).

Here's both versions - first, the haiku thing:

4 am call
late because looking for coffee
stage locked
got sucked in with shooting crew
toe still hurts. labs not back.
equipment returns all day
stuck in traffic

I think that may actually be more incoherent than Rosie's blog.

Here's the prose version, written after I was feeling human again:

Back on "Emily's Reasons Why Not" (thanks, EcamirG for the mental prod).

Today was a 4 am call - Of course I couldn't get to sleep Sunday night before 11, and I had to get up at 3 am. I'm not even sure that counts as sleep.
It being a pre-boutique coffee shop hour, I had to drink 7-11 coffee, and was late to work because I had to drive around and look for a 7-11.

It didn't matter that I was late, though - the stage was locked when we got there, and it took about 15 minutes to find someone on the lot who could open the stage (Studio Operations needs to sleep too, I guess).

After we got inside, we 'struck' (took all the lights out) the bedroom set and did some other busy work, because of course, we weren't given any notes on how they wanted today's set lit - but I found out that the lack of notes is because the D.P. (Director of Photography) can't light until he sees the frame on the monitor. That explains the cluster fuck that is first unit on this show - of course we all got sucked into lighting the set with first unit (except for my boss who conveniently 'had to go to the perms to count stuff' just as soon as they showed up).

Most riggers hate working first unit. I don't mind being 'show boy', but I have to be mentally prepared. When I'm told it's a rigging call, I expect a more relaxed pace, so I'm not ready for the 14 hour hustle that is first unit.

Anyways, we had to hang a bunch of lights while the A.D.'s (Assistant Directors - they do all the dirty work so the Director just has to worry about actually directing) kept asking every 5 minutes how long it would be until we were finished. Hanging lights takes a bit of time - they have to be hung from the grid (which in a dressed set means using ladders as you can't get lifts in around the furniture), powered, and aimed. Having an A.D. stop you every five minutes to ask you how much longer just makes things go slower.

When first unit finally got up and running, we had to start returning equipment - which involved trying to sneak stuff out of the stage between takes so the dock boys could do the check ins (and take the stuff away) outside where we could make noise - at Sony, the lamp dock comes to your stage and counts the stuff there, which is nice - makes things go faster.

My toe still hurts, and of course I dropped a 'chicken coop'* on my foot as we were loading them into the tuggers to go back to the dock. I still have no idea what's wrong with the toe, as the labs haven't come back yet.

Returns took up the bulk of the day's work - we had to hang some more lights when first unit went to lunch, but once that was done we were out of there - just in time to hit traffic on the way home, of course.

I think the prose version is considerably less pathetic.

* chicken coop: An overhead suspended light box that provides general downward ambient or fill light (definition courtesy of "The Set Lighting Technician's Handbook"). Also called a 'coop'. They look like this: