Saturday, September 09, 2006

I was only kidding, mostly.

It's been a busy couple of days, and what I've really learned is that when I ask for things, I need to be more specific.

On Thursday, the shit hit the fan (so to speak) and we actually did get fired - because of something that happened in another department (ye gods, how I love the film industry).

Here's how it went down:

We did as much of the rig as we could on Wednesday, because of the party. First unit's call time in the morning was 10 am, with the balloon tech* and set lighting on a one hour pre-call.

Rigging's call was 6 am, so we got there, found our driver, moved the carts over from the stage to the theater and then started to complete the rig (normally, you'd flip that - complete the rig first, and then move the carts, but we were going to lose the drivers because they had to move the trailers which is something they should have been able to do the night before, but there was that party) - until the guys who'd come in with the projection screens (they had a big banquet scene with giant screens all around the set) discovered that whomever had set up their stuff the night before had put the screens in the wrong place and they couldn't get a sharp focus, so the screens had to move because the projectors couldn't. Which meant the stage had to move, which meant the tables (all of which had a lamp on them which had to be powered) had to move - again.

Unexpected obstacles are the nature of the business, but we had so much to do that we would just barely have had enough time to get everything done even if nothing had gone wrong (we'd asked to come in at 4:30 or 5 am, but the production office said no). So, when the stage and tables moved (the first time - they ended up moving twice. Each time, set dressing had to strip off the place settings and then reset them, and we had to move all our lights from around the stage and re-wire the tables) we knew we weren't going to be ready.

Rigging crews have nightmares about still being on set working when first unit walks on. A great deal of the appeal of working on a rigging crew is that one avoids the chaos, panic and gratuitous random blaming ("we were fine until those bozos got in our way") that shooting crews sometimes fall into - when one is rigging, the goal is not only to never be seen, but never have the higher ups even notice your work**.

Then, the balloon tech came in half an hour late - the victim of a traffic jam caused by a horrible accident on the freeway - also stuck in the same traffic snarl were the director and our main actor.

So there was no way in hell they were going to start on time, but the Director of Photography, standing on set surveying the chaos at 10 am, chose to blame the rigging crew for the delay.

The first unit best boy pulled our boss aside around 11 am and said "Hey, DP thinks you guys caused the delay, and I'm hearing he wants you all fired. I'm going to sit him down at lunch and try to explain to him what happened."

Yeah, good luck with that. There are some "shooters" out there who have a really solid understanding of what it takes to get all that stuff set up and the potential for delay, but trust me, this guy's not one of them.

At our lunch break (which was the first time all day we'd been able to sit down), our boss said it best: "It doesn't matter what anyone says. If the DP wants us gone, then nothing can save us."

We all sat for a moment and looked at each other before simultaneously pulling out our phones and dialing - just as our boss got the official word. Note to production: never, ever fire a crew at lunch. We all could have just as easily walked away and told you to go rig your own fucking set - but we didn't, because that would have been a) unprofessional, and b) would have made the gaffer look bad.

After I'd made a few calls, I ran into our Paramount lot best boy***, and told him the story. "Can you help a sister out?" I asked.

"Lemme see who's picking up for tomorrow."

In 10 minutes he had me on the phone with the best boy of another show. "Sure, I've got a second unit slot for tomorrow. You want it?" he asked.

Does a bear shit in the woods? Of course I wanted it. My thanks to all of you from the bottom of my black little heart for another day's employment.

A few minutes after that I got another call (Paramount's a small lot - word travels fast) "Hey, heard you guys got fired. Sorry to hear it, but I've got some days next week for you. Call me Monday."


The fact of the matter is that with below the line crew, firings are completely meaningless. We had all gotten work (and on better-paying shows, I might add) by the end of the day, and to be brutally honest I'm more than a little bit glad to be walking away from that cluster fuck. The only thing I'm going to miss are the crew, who are all terrific folks and with whom I've had a lot of fun.

Oh, well. Color me itinerant. I'll see 'em all on another show and we'll have a good laugh.

I'd wanted some overtime, and boy did I get it.

Call time Friday was 6:30 am, wrap time was 10:30 pm. As my feet started to hurt and my reaction times got longer and longer with fatigue, I just kept chanting "double time baby, double time".

Mama needs a new car soon.

Which brings us to Friday (hey, it was taken on Friday, but after a 16 hour day I'm not coming home and sitting in front of the computer) Photo:

Can you spot the paparazzo?


More importantly, since I've never seen the show, is there anyone on Nip/Tuck who warrants being followed to the bowels of North Hollywood by a stalker photographer?

Just for the record, the guy seemed okay. He stayed hidden, and when a co-worker and I finally spotted him (I have no idea how long he was there) and waved, he waved back. When one of the ADs politely asked him to pack up and move on, he did so graciously.

*Note - the link to Airstar is intended for illustrative purposes only.

**Yeah, yeah. I know that just seems wrong, but it's true. If a producer or an executive notices me, then I've somehow fucked up.

***When you work on a studio lot, your show has two best boys. One best boy for the show, who handles manpower, scheduling and the like, and the lot best boy, who deals with equipment.

Couch of the Day:

From Frances Danger, who also just got fired, but who will also soon have a much better job (I'm sure of it):

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

If he can fire Tom Cruise, he can fire us too.

Tomorrow, we're shooting in the Paramount theater, and we rigged it today, but we could only do part of the work because tonight, Sumner Redstone himself will be at a cocktail party and screening in said theater, so we had to make doubly sure everything that we could put in got taped down really well - since Sumner taking a header because we didn't secure our equipment is a hilarious mental picture ("So then I said to Cruise that he should take a long walk off a ... woah!"), but would immediately result in all of us on the bread line.

Of course, this is a warm fuzzy fantasy for our little rigging crew - if we get fired, we can go and work another job without burning a bridge, so the running joke of the day was that we were going to "accidentally" clothesline Mr. Redstone and inhale the sweet air of freedom.

Last night was also the second night in a row that I've not been able to sleep at all - I get tired, but as soon as I go to bed I'm wide awake and stare at the ceiling all night. By today, the sleep deprivation made everything sort of furry. I've been laughing at jokes I know suck, and the whole 'trip up Sumner' running joke made me giggle so hard my purloined iced tea (when the craft service guy's back was turned) came out my nose.

After we spent 2 hours taping down all the cables under the tables (since we had to power the table lamps), the set designer waltzed in and announced that all of the tables would be moved back 10 feet first thing in the morning.

We're coming in at 6, and the shooting crew are coming in at nine. In the space of three hours we have to: move ALL the table power, finish the rig (because we have to tear some more stuff out of the set they were using today), and move all of first units carts from the stage to the theater.

Fun stuff. I'm going to give in and take a sleeping pill, otherwise I'll probably hallucinate tomorrow.

Couch of the Day:


Monday, September 04, 2006

Meet the new camera

My poor little Fuji Finepix. It took a hell of a beating for just over a year, but this morning when I whipped it out to take a couch photo, the zoom motor made a horrible noise and then died.

So I bought a Nikon Coolpix L3, on the recommendation of the very nice salesman who told me the Nikons are a bit more durable than Fuji cameras.

As of right now, I'm not completely in love with the interface, but since it's a Best Buy purchase I have 14 days to return it. I was veerrry tempted by the top-of-the line credit card sized Olympus that can be dropped from 5 feet and dunked in water without any damage (and has a correspondingly eye-popping price tag). Hey, Olympus? If you send me one for free I'll promo the hell out of it for you.

I can't always get what I want. Oh, well.

So, I tested Mr. Nikon out at Broad Beach (in super-scenic Mel-ibu), which is where I spent my Labor Day:

Broad Beach

And here's one more of Malibu (this was taken a bit further south):


Aaaand one of the cat, who's very angry with me about my interrupting her cricket hunt (they're hiding in the recycling basket), and is giving me the stink-eye:

Angry kitty

I may not like the interface that much, but for a sub-two hundred dollar camera, this thing's got a kickass lens.