Saturday, January 21, 2006

I hate it when things are my fault.

Carrying lights into or out of a set can be tricky - a light on a stand is about five feet tall and the whole contraption must be balanced on the shoulder as it's carried through tight quarters packed with people (some of whom heed the call of "hot points" or "watch your back", some who don't).

The solution (for me, anyways), is to keep the stand closer to vertical - it makes it easier to go around turns without knocking out someone's teeth, but means that I'm carrying 4 feet of steel above my head.

Every now and then, some joker of a set designer will put a ceiling in a set*. This is just mean. It means we can't light from above the set, the sound guy can't put the boom mic over the set, and it means that the four feet of steel I'm carrying is suddenly a HUGE problem.

Today (yesterday, actually as it's after midnight), as I was doing the 'get me into the hallway' limbo, I broke a VERY expensive light fixture, that was hanging from the low ceiling in the kitchen (I'm guessing the fixture was probably 8 feet from the ground).

For the rest of the day, the set dressers (who thankfully didn't sell me out when the AD stormed into set demanding to know who the hell broke the fixture) teased me like crazy. Every time I'd come into the set with a light, one of them would say something like "Look out - there's glass!" or "Watch out behind you!".

We were in the same set all day - plus we had a stunt**, so all day, the single remaining kitchen lighting fixture hung from the ceiling; a reminder for the set dressers to keep razzing me.

*Or fill the set with expensive furniture - most furniture on set is really cheap crap, because they know it's going to get fucked up, and the camera really can't tell the difference between something pricey and Ikea that's been painted to look expensive.

**There are stunts and then there are Stunts. Although yesterday's stunt was probably more of a pratfall (actor loses consciousness, falls over humorously), anytime an actor does anything that could result in an injury, it's called a stunt, and must have a stunt guy, crash pads, medic, etc...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Oh, no way.

Big budget movies shoot very, very slowly. On this particular movie, they're averaging two pages per day.

To stave off insanity, we speculate about things - our next contract and what the international's going to screw us out of next, where in the world Osama's hiding, who's screwing whom, why we can put a man on the moon but can't come up with sneakers that don't stink after 14 hours of wear. High-speed wireless internet access on stage makes such speculation far, far more fun (and more current than last night's news or the morning paper).

This particular movie takes place in New York City, and one of the ongoing discussions among the crew is about the cost of the character's apartments.

On stage, this production has built an entire floor of a Manhattan apartment building (with no wild walls, of course. There must be something going around), and our characters (all young, single, and not overly wealthy) have HUGE one and two bedrooms in a pre-war building - supposedly somewhere in the Village.

I understand that reality doesn't play well on film, but this is a bit of a stretch, isn't it?

When you have high-speed internet access on your stage, the people with computers can price rentals in Manhattan and figure out exactly how much that a young, single and not overly wealthy person would have to pay for a 1200 square foot one bedroom (with foyers, wood floors, charming arched doorways, full kitchens and built-in bookcases).

NYC Rentals on Craig's List

One of the actors has a theory that everyone in the building has a sugar daddy, but how many of those are really running around NYC?

I hate it when this happens.

After years of erratic hours, my sleep patterns are pretty well fucked up.

Sometimes it's not too bad, but this morning I woke up at 6 am and couldn't go back to sleep.

I've got a 9:30 am call (same place as Monday), which means I'll be at work until 10:00pm (at the earliest).

Lucky for me crafty's got some great coffee.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

What the hell is that, anyway?

It's funny how your brain blocks out certain things - sights, smells, or in this case, sounds.

The stage seemed fairly quiet - until midmorning, when the gaffer got on the walkie with a question:

"The sound guy's going nuts. Can anyone find the source of that noise?"

"Uh, what noise?"

"That humming noise. You can't hear that? Wait until we roll again."

Sure enough, as soon as we were made aware of it, we all heard it - and boy, was it loud*.

Usually, humming noises on sets are, in fact, our fault. When certain types of lights are dimmed down, they hum (skypans are notorious for 'singing'), but we didn't have any of those lights burning at the time.

After all of us had made repeated circles of the set during takes (while tipping our heads from side to side trying to figure out where the damn noise was coming from, and getting scowls from the PA's for walking during takes), one of the guys said "It sounds like it's coming from under the floor".

Turns out, this stage has it's electrical transformers in the basement (good idea in theory, bad one in practice), and we could hear them humming through the flooring of the stage.

Transformers are usually placed outside the building. Seeing (or hearing, as the case may be) them under the floor is a first for me.

*Loud is a relative term. Sometimes I'm really surprised at what the sound department can hear - whispered conversations from three rooms away, heavy breathing, weight shifting from one leg to the other. I once worked with a sound recordist who was notorious for screaming "No swallowing during takes!" and "Stop breathing through your noses, dammit!".

This particular noise - although we could only hear it when the stage was quiet during takes - was loud in the respect that none of us were surprised that the sound guy could hear it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

When's a late call not a late call?

When I have to drive into the San Fernando Valley at rush hour.

I've got a 9:30 am call (which is late - probably because of the Golden Globes last night), but since my commute will take me along the ridiculously traffic-clogged 101 freeway, I have to leave at 8:15 (breakfast is a half-hour before call, and I always try to get there then. That way if I have a delay I've got some extra time. No delay, and I get to take my time and eat).

Actually, I'm surprised (but very, very happy) to be working at all in January - and since it's currently pretty cold in Los Angeles (last night, parts of the city were in the low 30's), I'm doubly happy that I'll be working on a stage today.

This particular best boy usually only calls me when he needs a condor operator (being 80 feet up in the air when the temperature is below 40 sucks, and I was nervously eyeing my cold-weather gear, wondering if it would hold up), so guess I'd say I have triple happiness about the stage. It's always good knowing that I'm not going to freeze solid and will have access to the bathrooms and the crafty table.

Whenever I'm this happy before 8 am, the day's either totally great or goes horribly wrong.

I'm betting on great, since I really like the guys on this crew.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

I needed that.

For my birthday (which was a few months ago), a friend of mine bought me a gift certificate for a massage.

I had completely forgotten about it until I found it today. I can't get massages while I'm working - there'd be no point. I'd be knotted up again before lunch the next day.

I highly recommend the 80 minute deep tissue massage at Burke Williams - the massage therapist was great. Even though she couldn't get the knots out from under my shoulder blades (I get them from wrapping cable), the rest of me feels great.

I'm going to go lay on the couch and try to stay awake until 8.