Friday, December 23, 2005

Holiday Checklist

I'm off for a few days to visit the family.

Since I've been on a movie set for the past few weeks, I thought I'd write myself a reminder list - since I'm sure I've forgotten how to behave around folks who don't think farts are funny.

1. "Hey, motherfucker" is not an appropriate greeting.

2. The dessert course is not the "Abbey Singer*".

3 The proper response to someone passing gas is not to stand and applaud.

4. If someone asks me to do something, do not reply with "Copy that**".

5. Don't inhale dinner - I've got more than half an hour to eat***.

6. When we're almost done opening presents, do not yell "This and two moves us to pie!+"

7. I do not have 'cinematic immunity' in my rental car++.

8. If my mother manages to drag me to church on Christmas eve (she's usually unsuccessful, but she does try), I do not get night premium.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

I'll be back on December 28th.

*Abbey Singer was a famous assistant director from 'old Hollywood' who was famous for saying "just one more shot, just one more shot". Now, the second to last shot of the day is called the Abbey Singer. The last shot is called the martini. Okay, it was a lame joke. Merry fucking Xmas.

**Walkie-talkie speak. "Copy that" means "I've understood what you've said."

***You can always spot film production folks in restaurants - we inhale our food, faces a few inches off the plate, eating as fast as we can. It's from years of only having a half hour for lunch. The faster you eat, the more time you'll have to sleep on the lift gate of the truck.

+More production-speak. "This and two moves us" means, well, this shot and two more moves us to wherever we're supposed to be next.

++ "Cinematic Immunity" refers to film crews flagrantly breaking traffic laws in front of police officers, and not getting busted.

Another one in the can*.

I always feel several emotions at the end of a show - relief that it's over, the same kind of sadness I got as a kid when summer camp came to an end, and a slight panic at the idea of resuming the 'day player hustle'.

We ended up wrapping out Wednesday night after all (once again, they really cracked the whip on that poor director and we wrapped 12 hours after call time), although our 2+ hours of work to get everything back into the truck meant that we missed the impromptu party at a nearby bowling alley (this happens a lot - there will be a huge party around us, while we're working our butts off. It usually ends just as we close the truck doors). It's just as well - I'm sure none of us smelled all that great, and we all just wanted to go home.

We met at the rental house yesterday, unloaded the trucks which we've called home for the past five weeks, checked our equipment in, and when we were done, shook hands all around and went our separate ways - all of us on our phones, trying to line up the next job.

* The expression "In the can" means that the film has finished shooting.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

One more day

On our set, you can feel that no one cares anymore. A few people have already left to go home for the holidays, and everyone else is just marking time until we're done.

Our wrap plans have gone seriously awry. Were going to wrap tomorrow night after we finished shooting (three hours of double time - since we're figuring it's going to be at least a 14 hour day and this contract doesn't pay double time until after 14 hours), do one day at the rental house and then have Friday off, but the UPM doesn't want to pay that three hours(which I can understand - she'd be paying double time for us and grip: about 10 people), so we have to go back to the school on Thursday (whatever time we get there - it'll probably be about 1 pm), wrap the location, send the truck to the rental house and unload the truck Friday morning. Although I was looking forward to having a day off before I leave town, an extra day of work is not a bad thing.

The 'eeewww' moment of the day was craft service setting out leftover pizza (last night's Domino's) drenched in ranch dressing - we figure it had to be a joke.

Please tell me it was a joke.

Monday, December 19, 2005

"I just wanted some coffee. I'm still not sure how this happened to me."

Today, we had a scene which required a security guard. The guy that the casting agency sent over didn't look much like a security guard, and the producer (and the director), at the last minute, decided that he just wouldn't do - he was more 'underaged hall monitor' than 'menacing authority figure'.

One of our juicers is the nicest, most fun guy in the world (and completely harmless), but he looks like he'd kill you and eat your skin for fun on a Friday night. Our producer ambushed him at the craft service table and talked him into playing the security guard role (no lines, of course -then they'd have to pay him more and possibly taft-hartley him into SAG).

His first question, of course, was "How much extra are you going to pay me?"

His second question was if our boss was okay with it - if you have one of your crew in front of the camera, then you're down a guy, and some gaffers are not okay with stuff like this.

Our boss said we were set up for the shot and he was fine, and the producer said that she'd pay him non-union background actor wages (I think it's $50 or $75 - and that's on top of what he's getting paid today), so he agreed.

They put him in wardrobe, he did the scene (where he looks menacing - and he did it really well. He didn't look stiff at all, even though he told us later that he was nervous as hell), and afterwards graciously endured about an hour of catcalls and wolf whistles from the crew.

As soon as he got back into his real clothes and onto the walkie, his first statement was "I just wanted a cup of coffee. I'm still not sure how this happened to me."

Quote of the night.

We have a 10 am call tomorrow. If I can, I'm going to go to one of those cheap tourist joints on Hollywood Blvd. and get him a fake Oscar (tm).

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I promise I won't kill anyone. Today.

I was cranky as hell Friday. The teenagers were driving me mad, my co-workers were driving me mad, the director was driving me mad, hell - the color of the walls in the school was driving me mad. Craft service and the caterer just about sent me over the edge, and a simple request from another crew member to read my newspaper sent me into a near-murderous rage.

The topper to the day was my accidentally locking myself in a bathroom (don't ask) at wrap and then having to pound on the door and scream for help until someone came to let me out (given how big a cunt I'd been all day, I'm really surprised that they didn't just leave me in there). I cursed at other motorists all the way home, and upon getting there the discovery that my saved take-out had gone bad (not surprising - it had been in the fridge for a week) resulted in yet another temper tantrum (and my having to scrub the walls of the kitchen at 2 am after I calmed down).

Although everyone's cranky near the end of a movie (spending too much time crammed into close quarters for 14 hours a day every day will do that) I figured out that my crankiness is because I haven't worked out consistently since this movie started. When I'm not working, I'm doing some kind of workout damn near every day (weights four times a week, cardio of some type six days a week).

I guess I've gotten addicted to it, as after two days of doing weights (arms yesterday, legs today) and swimming (both days), I feel much better -so much better that I don't want to kill anyone, and I even baked a bunch of cookies to take to work tomorrow as an apology for my being horrible on Friday.

Three more days - our last shooting day is Wednesday, and we wrap the truck on Thursday and Friday.