Saturday, April 01, 2006

It's over!

Of course, I managed to avoid the 'set cough' for almost the entire run of the show - also of course, I started getting a scratchy throat right after lunch yesterday, but I feel better today (I want to meet the woman who invented "Airborne" and give her a HUGE hug).

Our wrap party is tonight, and the producers are asking for voluntary donations for the women's shelter where we shot a good bit of the show.

They (the shelter, not the producers) provide services to women in need of transitional housing, and they're on a really tight budget - the building they're housed in needs repairs (badly), and they were in such need of money that they let a movie crew disrupt their lives (graciously, I might add - I've never met a nicer group of people. Both the residents and staff were friendly and co-operative throughout the entire time we were there, even though it was clearly a massive inconvenience).

In Los Angeles, there are surprisingly few services for women in need of emergency housing, and this one really needs help.

So, should you have some money burning a hole in your pocket and would like to help out your sisters with a tax deductible contribution, please contact the Sunshine Mission in Los Angeles.

Or, mail checks to:
Sunshine Mission
2600 S. Hoover St.
Los Angeles, Ca
Please write a check if you can spare it - tell 'em you were with the movie crew.

We're downloading the truck on Monday, and then I'm onto something else Tuesday and Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Chasing the last bit of sunlight

In Southern California's summer, day exteriors are a leisurely thing.

The sun rises at 5 am, and it's not fully dark until almost 9 pm.

This time of year, however, when it's fully dark by 6:30 pm, day exteriors are a rush - we have to get done before we run out of light.

When the daylight runs out and there's still day exterior stuff on the schedule for the day(this happens all the time), we start having to set up more and more lights in an effort to finish the day while fighting the ever-deepening twilight. The trick is to do the wide shots (where you see the world) while there's still light and then do the close ups after it gets dark - it's easier to fake daylight on a shot where we're only seeing the actor's face and a bit of surrounding area.

No matter how you try to make night look like day on a wide shot, it never, ever works.

Luckily, last night we only ended up with six lights (all big ones - which have to go onto the shelves before we fill the aisle of the truck with carts - but having one's truck "puked" on the last shot of the day seems to happen fairly often. ) off the truck at wrap and got out of there fairly quickly - good thing, too. We almost missed our "hard out"*.

*A "hard out", also called "tail-lights", means that we have to have our trucks pulling out at a certain time - this means that 'camera wrap' must be called an hour or two before hand, so that we can get our trucks loaded in time to make the hard out. In some parts of LA, this time is more flexible than others. Malibu is notorious for having a VERY inflexible hard out time of 10 pm.
It still amazes me how many times a production will shoot past the camera wrap time, get fined or whatever happens to them, and then blame the crew for not wrapping our gear fast enough - particularly if we've told them ahead of time that we have a two hour wrap and they only leave us 45 minutes until the out time.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

So tell me... Do you feel lucky?

Once again today, we were shooting in a small set with only one entrance.

Generally, everyone tries to keep out of the doorway, because no one wants to obstruct someone else from getting in. It's a very complicated dance, but we manage to do it and make it look easy somehow.


The one guy (I think he was either a producer or a network exec) who would refuse to move and then stare balefully at whomever was trying to get by- as if daring us pathetic drones to challenge his mightiness. He did it to us, grip, the set dressers and even camera (who normally don't get quite as much shit as the rest of us).

So - if you happen to be someone who thinks that refusing to move out of the door into the set we're lighting is some way of reminding us that you're important, remember this:

If - while you're trying to show me how inconsequential I am by not moving out of my way - I accidentally slam into you with a burning hot light or the pointy end of a steel stand, I'll get fired.

My boss will send me home early after telling me that I really fucked up this time and he can't hire me until the next show, and while I'll feel a twinge of guilt about my brothers and sisters working the rest of the day with a short crew, I'll have the afternoon off.

I'll go to the gym, have lunch with a friend, maybe see a movie. Then, when I come home, I'll make a few phone calls and be working on another show the next day. Plus, I'll have a really, really good story.

You, on the other hand, will go to the hospital and will be lucky if you just get stitches.

Really now, who do you think is the winner here?


Saturday and today I was working on an insert shoot for the last movie. Inserts are those really really close up shots - a pack of cigarettes, the face of an alarm clock, a hand reaching for something, a newspaper headline.

They're usually not shot at the same time as the main movie, and they usually don't use the actors - since all you're seeing is extreme close ups on body parts, a double will do.

The editor's usually there as well, since he or she knows what needs to be shot. They have playback of what's been cut together so far - and the playback is checked constantly, as they have to match the lighting, costumes and props so everything will cut together (although a lot of time the lighting in inserts doesn't match at all and they're counting on the fact that you - the moviegoing public - won't notice).

This time, they have the DP from the movie (running "A" camera. The "B" camera DP wasn't on the movie), the same gaffer, the same electricians and the same grips. This is a very good thing as we usually remember how we lit something - especially if we did something unusual - in Saturday's case, it was a scene in a diner where the gaffer had put a really yellow light outside the window, and the B camera DP wouldn't have been able to match it had we not been there.

Tomorrow I'm back on the TV pilot. It's supposed to rain, so it's a good thing that we're on a stage.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

I have to see that guy more often.

It all started last week - I got that sciatica pain (right at the top of the butt) that normally goes away if I can just get everything to adjust. Normally, all I have to do is swing my hips around and it goes away, but not this time. This time, as the pain continued and I kept swinging my hips around to try and make it stop, more and more things started to hurt - by the end of this week, whenever I moved wrong, one of my hips would make this horrible popping noise which hurt enough to make me yelp like a puppy.

Last night, I called my chiropractor and begged him to see me after I got off work (he'll see me on a Saturday night if I can convince him that it's really an emergency). When I got there, his comment was "Wow - you're really fucked up" and then he proceeded to make it better.

I love my chiropractor. I hadn't realized how bad I'd felt until I felt better.

The problem with working long hours (and having 10 hour turnaround every night) is that it's impossible to get anything done - I come home, go right to sleep, get up and go right to work. So, when I do get a day off, I don't rest - I have to fit a week's worth of life into 12 or so hours - laundry, stuff around the house, grocery shopping, car stuff, etc.. Plus, I feel guilty when I don't work out, so I usually try to go to the gym.

According to the chiropractor, I've been running myself into the ground (not to mention eating too much crap and drinking too much coffee) and am 'toxic' and dehydrated, which has led to some sort of musculoskeletal freakout. When I told him I'd had plans to swim today, he hit the roof. "No swimming, no gym, no bike riding! I want you to rest tomorrow - stay home, stay off your feet."

"I can't stay in bed all day" I protested.

"Well, you should, but try to keep the activity to a minimum tomorrow. You have got to rest."

So, although I didn't work out, I did have to run some errands, so I was on my feet for a few hours. I hope this means I'm not going to hurt like hell for the rest of the week - this morning was the first day this week I've not had any pain, although my feet started to hurt near the end of the day.

Pilot season's almost over, and in a couple of weeks there won't be any work at all, and I can rest like hell then, but I have to work as much as I can while I've got the chance. I just need that smartass spine-mangler (and I say that with love) to get me through the next couple of weeks.

He's also put me on a special diet - no meat, no sugar, limited caffeine, and lots of water. This is going to suck at work. One can only pee so often before it starts to become an issue with one's boss (not to mention the problems finding something edible on the crafty table).

Tomorrow is some additional shooting for the last movie (so it should only be a 12 hour day), and then I'm back on the pilot for the rest of the week.