Saturday, December 03, 2005

Here comes the sun

There's something vaguely unwholesome about drinking a post-work beer at 7 am.

The world is just waking up, parents are dropping their kids off at school (well, not on Saturday, but you get the idea), lines are forming at coffee places, and I'm cracking open a cold one while I watch the morning traffic report, grateful to have made it home in one piece.

We shut the doors of our truck just as the sun was coming up - the end of our weeklong night exterior extravaganza.


Thank the deity of your choice that it's over. Night work is tough - just staying up all night is a pain, and when we're outside after dark, it's a lot of work for us (there's a huge difference between the movie version of dark and actual dark. Movie dark involves a surprisingly large number of lights).

People get tired and cranky, tempers get short - it's a contagious case of what one of the camera assistants calls "the pissy-pants".

Last night, however, the crew were not the crankiest people around - and I actually felt shamed into not complaining about being cold.

This movie takes place in the summertime, so last night we shot an outdoor pool party scene.

An outdoor pool party on a cold night in a pool that despite the rented water heaters never got over 68 degrees.

A pool that was full of actors pretending to be having fun on a balmy summer night which was actually 48 degrees with a very cold wind.

Poor bastards.

They did a good job, though. They didn't even visibly shiver on camera.

I came home, slept for about three hours and am going to try to stay awake until 8 or 9 tonight. I have to get back on a day schedule - we have a 6 am call on Tuesday (they're giving us an extra day off over the weekend to get re-adjusted, which is very, very nice of them).

Friday, December 02, 2005

I'm back!

For the past few days, my favorite person in the world has been whomever invented Polartec fabric. I wrapped myself in about four layers of the stuff and was pretty damn warm at Castaic Lake.

The only thing that was cold was my face. My boss suggested one of those ski masks that cover your face, but aside from the bank robber look not doing it for me, how am I supposed to drink coffee while wearing one of those things?

The location itself was a pretty tough one - we had our trucks in the campsites just above the lake, and the set was 30 feet down the hill on the shore of the lake itself. The production company had stairs built (which was a good thing - that hill was steep), but they were really crowded (that and I don't do stairs well because of my knees), so I ended up just running up and down the hill all night (there was a little trail and it ended up being faster anyways). We kept two guys downstairs on the set and two guys upstairs by the trucks so we could meet in the middle with equipment - that way we were only running up and down half a hill all night.

I lucked out and got posted upstairs near the trucks - which also happened to be near the space heaters and the coffeepot. Maybe that's why I was warm.

On night one, we had some lights placed underwater (they make special lights for this), so one of the guys had to go into the water with them. Right before he went in, he asked our boss what his dive rate was on this show - normally, you get extra money for going in the water - and I jokingly turned to him and said "The dive rate's a cup of Cheez Nips and a punch in the mouth." (this is sort of a riff on the fact that there's a really low 'dive bump' on this movie).

It reads really lame now, but it was hilarious at 3 am. Now it's mushroomed into a huge joke on set ("Hey, great job! Come to the production office for your rate bump*!")

I went straight from my motel room in Castaic to last night's Granada Hills location - in a neighborhood that doesn't get filmed in very often (I can tell because the residents are putting up lawn chairs on the sidewalks to watch the movie being filmed. Normally the residents where we're filming shout curses at us while they're calling the permit office trying to get us shut down).

We're back there tonight, for a night exterior in the rain. That same guy's got to get in the pool tonight - and the water's just as cold as the lake was.

Don't worry, he'll get his rate bump.

*A rate bump is a temporary raise - generally for doing something extra shitty, such as wading into a cold body of water at night.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


The thing about the winter's first night shoot is I always underestimate how cold it's going to be - I've gotten used to summer, when a long sleeved T-shirt is enough. I bring a few warm things and think I'll be okay, but I usually have at least one body part that feels like it's going to freeze off.

Last night, in Chatsworth, the temperature was in the very low 40's (if you think that's not cold, then try standing outside all night in low 40's), and I didn't bring enough clothing (my torso was fine, but my legs were really cold). I also got stuck baby-sitting the condor (it's being sent up unmanned, but someone has to stay with it just in case). Had I gone up, I'd have had my sleeping bag and would have been fine. Instead I got colder and colder and ended up trying to burrow under the camo netting* to keep warm.

Camo netting is not an effective blanket.

I ended up having to hike the half mile back to the truck and get my rain gear because I needed the extra layer.

Call time: 2:30 pm
Wrap time: 4:30 am

For the next two nights, we're in Castaic, which is going to be super cold (the predicted lows are in the mid-forties, but we're shooting right on the shore of the lake, so it'll probably feel colder than that), but I'm ready. I've packed every warm thing I own, and if I have to, I'll wear them all at the same time.

Since Castaic is so far away (and we're on nights, so we'd be fighting the traffic both ways), we're being put up in hotels. I'll be back Friday morning.

*When a large piece of equipment which can't be moved might be in the shot (last night it was the condor base - it's normally our trucks), it's draped with military-style camoflauge netting. It looks cheesy as hell to the eye, but the film can't read it. Sort of. If you know what to look for, you can see it - but if you're looking at the background trying to see the camo netting, the movie's got bigger problems than a truck in the frame, now doesn't it?