Saturday, November 19, 2005


There's a lot more involved in loading a truck than one might think. Everything has to be tested (to make sure the lamps burn, the bolts in the stands are tight and the cable's good), marked (if you're carrying a rigging crew, everyone picks a different color tape to mark their equipment with - since the rental house bar codes everything, this helps keep everyone's equipment in their own truck and makes end-of-show returns easier).

On this show, the gaffer is using a lot of his own lights, and he's just come back from Canada (he left X-Men 3), so we've been having to change out the plugs on all the lights (and test them - a lot seem to have been broken by the shipping company), mark everything with our tape color (hot pink for us, yellow for the rigging crew), test fire everything, and then load it in the 48 foot trailer - and it has to be loaded in such a way that it can all be seen, found and gotten out quickly if the gaffer calls for it.

The cable all goes in the belly (lighting trucks have 'belly boxes' which are storage areas under the chassis of the trailer - they're for heavy things like cable and distro, and they're also good places to sneak a nap), the small lamps get loaded onto carts (so they can be rolled close to the set), and the BFL's (Big Fucking Lights) and lights that don't get used often get stowed on the shelves.

Since the rental house closed at 6 (and once the rental house closes, there's nothing to do), I had the luxury of a free Friday night - which I utilized to the fullest by falling asleep halfway through The Magnificent Seven.

Exciting, huh?

I'm back on the low budget Monday.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Turnaround Blues

"Turnaround" is the time between when wrap is called at night and call time the next morning. Generally, it's between 10 and 12 hours (anything over 12 hours is cause for celebration), but that only applies if you stay on the same show everyday. If you move from one show to another, all bets are off.

I decided I needed a mini-vacation from the low-budget beatdown and took a two day call loading a truck with some really good friends of mine (whose show happens to be paying scale).

Of course, Tuesday was a 15 hour day on said low-budget beatdown - We closed the doors of our truck at midnight (at our location in bumfuck - a 45 minute drive for me), and today's call time was 8 am at the rental house.

I'll fill in on the load-in (Loading the truck at the beginning of the show = load in. Unloading the truck at the end of the show = load out) tomorrow.

Right now, I'm tired.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Fun with Teamsters!

For the last week, we've had a good-natured argument with the Teamsters over our truck being too far away from set (our truck's actually been very close to set - right behind camera).

This is actually a big deal - having the truck close means being able to get stuff into set quicker, and means less distance to schlep things - plus, no matter how much stuff you've got staged right outside the set, the gaffer will always call for something that you've left on the truck. I think they have radar or something. If the truck's two blocks away, that's a huge problem.

Normally the camera truck is the closest to set (of course - they have the most pressure on them and the loader's always running in and out of the truck), but grip and electric (separate trucks - having two departments share a truck is a fucking nightmare) are next in line. Murhpy's Law being what it is, whomever's truck is the furthest away will always get peeled and have to empty their truck (if you empty your truck completely, you say you've "puked the truck").

Of course, if you piss off the Teamsters, they'll make damn sure your truck is always the furthest away. I can walk onto a new show and tell you right off the bat who's pissed the Teamsters off just by where the trucks are parked in relation to the set.

Today, we were shooting in a diner in the Valley ("Heavenly Pancakes"), and our driver literally put our lift gate four feet away from the back door of the restaurant.

Whenever our driver would walk by, our boss would say "Dammit, could you have gotten us any further away?" and then we'd all laugh.

We have a great bunch of Teamsters on this show.

Call time: 9 am
Wrap time: 10:00 pm.

Day 6

We've been in the same location for five days now, which has been nice, but tonight was the night we had to wrap out. Since we're not carrying a rigging crew, that means after they called wrap, we worked for two hours after everyone else went home. We had to load our truck, and pull up all the cable we laid down on Tuesday of last week.

The rest of the movie's going to be like this. I don't think we'll be in the same place for more than three days again.

We're also going to be on 'splits' (a late morning call or near noontime call as there's both day and night work) for the rest of the week. I don't mind splits - I can still do things like go to the bank in the morning.

Right now I'm tired, and I have to be back at work in nine hours.

Call time: 9:00 am
Wrap time: 9:30 pm
We finished at 11:00 pm

Sunday, November 13, 2005

I never thought this was actually going to happen to me.

I ache. On Sunday night, I still ache.

I must have walked 15 miles Friday (night exterior - lighting up an entire suburban block with only four of us. Between call and wrap, I sat down for a grand total of an hour - and that's including lunch), and when I got up Saturday morning, I could barely walk. Normally I swim for an hour or so and then I feel fine, but no dice this time.

I remember telling my grandmother that the liniment she rubbed on her joints was gross and that I'd never do it. She'd just give me that look and say "you'll be surprised the things you do as you age." Sure enough, I've smeared my knees and ankles with this nasty smelly Chinese shit and am now wearing leg warmers to keep the chill off in the hopes that I'll be able to walk without hobbling in the morning.

I so totally did not expect this to happen while still in my 30's.

One week down, five to go.

I'm not sure I'm gonna make it.