Monday, January 16, 2017

Stop Working Before Call.

As I've touched on before in a previous post, while every effort is usually made to be on set and ready to work at your call time, you technically aren't "in" (read: "on the clock") yet if crew parking is a van ride away. Instead, your call time is what time you're supposed to be at crew parking. So if the callsheet says your call time is 10:30am and crew parking is a twelve minute drive away from set, you technically shouldn't be working until 10:42am, even if you're already at the truck because you got there early (usually because of the lure of breakfast). 

Best Boys and Gaffers who understand and actually enforce that rule are few and far between, so when I find a department head that insists on it, I want to give them a big ol' hug.

But what I don't get are colleagues that start working despite our Gaffer telling us not to. 

One guy on our crew in particular was adamant starting work "at call" no matter what, and when one guy starts working and everyone else is just standing around, it doesn't make our department look good, even if that one person is going rogue. So one day, as Mr. Company Man started to unload carts from the truck before our official working time, I reminded him that we still had a few minutes until we were "in."

Since this wasn't a new discussion on this show, he sighed before turning to me, and said, "That's a stupid rule."

I stared at him blankly in return. "Do you want to work for free?"

"What? Hell no," was his immediate response.

"Then stop working before call."

It's as simple as that, people. If you're working before you're paid to work, you're working for free. It's not a hard concept to grasp.

I personally haven't worked for free since I stopped answering job ads that promised "copy, credit and meals," and I refuse to go backwards.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Why I Get Depressed During The Holidays.

My parents were watching the local news when they featured a guy and his very ambitious Christmas light display. After hearing the house was just an eight minute drive away, they planned to take me when I did my annual holiday visit.

After spending a half hour in front of a stranger's yard with about thirty other strangers watching a plethora of Christmas lights rather impressively synced to music, we finally decided to head home so we can warm up and feel our toes again.

My Dad was still marvelling about the display long after we got home.

"You know, the news said it took him about four months to put that all together."

I, being the trouble maker of the family, of course, decided to play devil's advocate.

"Um, I'm pretty sure he didn't really spend that long on it. He may have started four months ago, but I heard he has a job at some tech company so really, he probably only worked on it maybe a couple hours a day or something like that when he got home from work. Or just on the weekends when he had time. That definitely didn't take a full four months."

"Really? How would you know how long something like that takes?"

"I... do this stuff for a living?"

"You can make lights move and flash like that?"


"But you can't program them to a piece of music like that."

"Uh... Yeah, I can."

At this point, I am more aware than ever that my father not only has no idea what I do for a living, but he also doesn't have faith that I'm very good at it.

"No. You can't. You're making that up."

"How do you think we control lights at work?"

"Okay then. Prove it. Next year, make my house like his and program lights to music."

"Okay. The going Union rate for a lighting programmer is $42 an hour. It'll take one person about three days, or twenty four working hours, to make a similar set up to what you saw. You pay me my rate and you have a deal. Oh, and that price is just for labor. Lights and equipment not included."

"Really? You'd charge your own father that?"

"Really? My own father wants me to work during my one solid break from work a year? ...And for free?"

He stays silent for a second so I continue.

"You want skilled labor? You'll have to pay for it."

"You can really make lights flash like that?"


He still seems skeptical but doesn't want to pony up the money to call my "bluff", so he lets the matter drop.

By the way, in highschool, my first job was running (and programming) the lighting console for a local theatre company. So not only does my Dad have no clue what we do at work, he apparently has no idea that I could've been programming his Christmas lights since I was sixteen and my going rate was minimum wage.


Hope your holidays have been more enjoyable than mine! Have a happy New Year's and I'll see you all in 2017!!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Just Ask Them To Move, For Fucks Sake.

"Can you believe the hair and make up people on this show?" my day-playing colleague vents to me at wrap. "They've been getting on my nerves all day."

I spent the better part of the last twelve hours rigging another set and therefore had no idea what he was talking about.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, they've been in the way all day. They set up their chairs right by our staging and every time we had to bring in a light, we had to maneuver around them. So I started making exasperated noises and sighing heavily every time they were in my way. I also started giving them dirty looks, and then they had the nerve to look at me like I'm the asshole when they're the ones in the way! Can you believe that??"

I let a good second pass before I asked my colleague, "Did you... ask them to move?"

Another long second passed as he looked at me dumbfounded.

"No. I did not ask them to move."

"...Why not?"

"I was making enough exaggerated noises and giving them enough dirty looks that they should've known to move!"

Now it was my turn to sigh and give him a look. I mean, really??

You don't have to be in this industry for more than a day to realize that some people are just oblivious to their surroundings. If that weren't the case, we wouldn't need to be calling out "points" and lift gate warnings all damn day. Nor would producers congregate in front of the coffee maker at crafty when everyone else is trying to get a cup of joe, and the DGA wouldn't be fondly known as the Door Guardians of America.

Granted, I've had worked with various wonderful people who knew exactly when they were in the way, but I've worked with even more who had no clue that their chair in the middle of a doorway was creating an obstacle for the rest of the crew. However, as oblivious as people may be, I've worked with exactly none who'd refuse to move when asked. In fact, not only do they usually immediately move when asked, but they do it apologetically and they'll even ask if their new location works for all involved.

I tried to explain this newfangled concept of asking people for what you want to my colleague, but he just kept saying how he was rolling his eyes enough that they should have taken the hint and figured it out.

I can't help but think of how ironic it'd be if he went home and his wife was pissed at him, but won't tell him why because "he should know." Maybe then he'd realize how ridiculous he was being.

Friday, November 25, 2016


I am thankful for friends who don't forget about me, even though I don't always make time for them.
I am thankful for the people I work with, and how this new crew welcomed me with open arms.
I am thankful for those who have my back when they were among those who didn't like having me around.
I am thankful for finally achieving the kind of financial security where I don't have to worry about the occasional dry spell.
I am thankful that there hasn't been a dry spell in a while.
I am thankful to those who continually check my availability even though I'm continually unavailable.
I am thankful for the craft service guy who tries to order my favorites for second meal.
I am thankful for the caterer who knows my breakfast order and has it waiting for me when I walk up.
I am thankful for the cheery script supervisor who manages to laugh no matter the situation and makes the day go faster.
I am thankful for the boss who doesn't yell, even when he's frustrated.
I'm thankful for the colleagues who see the hard work and hours I put in despite some rumors that say otherwise.
And I'm thankful that those who do believe those rumors are smart enough to leave me alone.
I am thankful for the opportunities I've had in this life.
And I'm thankful that, pass or fail, I've been able to grow from them.
I am thankful that I have an outlet to vent and a way to express myself though the ups and downs of this business.
Though my identity may be anonymous, my experiences are not.
And I am thankful that I am able to share them with you.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Rub A Dub Dub.

The water pelts my back. Shockingly cold at first, but it doesn't take long for it to heat up. Almost too warm, but I know it will even out in a minute. Like a new director, my shower has always gone from one extreme to another before settling on a happy medium.

I turn to face the spray, letting the water wash over me like an urban baptism. I put some cleanser in my hands and rub it on my nose and cheeks. I smear some on my forehead as well and I can feel a layer of dirt, oil, and dried sweat come off my skin. The signs of a long day working in a field of dust. I rub away the lines around my eyes, formed by squinting at the sun as it dipped further into the horizon, wondering if we'll make our day.

I take my loofah and squeeze on some girly scented soap an aunt gave me last Christmas and begin to lather it up. I work the sponge down my arms and notice that my new "tan" from the day is easily washed off. I wash away the aches in my biceps, triceps and joints acquired from carrying lights all day. I rub away a knot in my shoulder from where coils of banded sat when I walked the pieces to a cart. I move the loofah down to my stomach and scrub away the indigestion from catering and the regret of having a third slice of second meal.

I continue down to my legs; my thighs, calves and ass feeling the burn from pushing carts up hills, driveways and lift gates. I feel the lactic acid building in my muscles as if I had just done a hard day at the gym instead of a typical day at work. I finally end at my feet, tired and sweaty from standing all day, it feels good to give them a bit of a rub and a squeeze at the arch.

I straighten out to face the spray of my shower head once again and I being to rinse. My hands follow the same path again, this time helping the water remove any film left clinging to me from the day. As the bubbles rinse off my body, with it goes the aches in my back, the fatigue in my limbs and the weariness from my face. I stand there under the water that has suddenly turned too warm again until my skin turns a bright pink and I can see the day swirling around the drain at my feet.

The long hours, the hot sun, the demanding gaffer, the interdepartmental drama, the clueless producers, the dickhead actor, the barely edible lunch, the soreness from my aging body, the exhaustion from my face... All of it gets cleansed from my body tonight, and every night I come home from work. I shut the water off and watch the rest of it spiral down the drain, with a gurgle at the end like a door slamming shut.

I emerge from my shower, no longer the beaten down, dusty, aching girl who went in. Instead, I feel clean, fresh, and new. I spread my towel out behind me like butterfly wings before I wrap it around myself and smile.

Today is already gone. Forgotten. Swirled down the drain.

And tomorrow is a new day. And I'll start it with a clean slate.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Crazy Comment Corner, Pt. 2!

In a post from earlier this year, an Anonymous* reader (semi-)recently left this comment:

Anonymous said...
Why would you force your way into a business you knew had no appreciation for women.

There are sooooo many answers that I feel are so obvious that I'm perplexed as to why this question was asked in the first place.

1) Why wouldn't I?
2) Because I want to light movies.
3) Why did Rosa Parks sit in the front of a bus that she knew had no appreciation for blacks?
4) Change has to start somewhere and You must be the change you wish to see in the world (-Ghandi)
5) Do you usually give up just because something is hard?
6) Why does a business who has no appreciation for half of the world population exist in the first place?
7) Because this business is better with me (and other women) in it.
8) Maybe a better question is, why are (some) men trying to force us out?
9) Because I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman, hear me roar.
10) Because it's kinda fun to stir up the status quo.
11) ...And this is something that needs to be stirred up.

Feel free to comment if I missed anything.

*Bonus!: Click the link to read a semi-reasonable comment the same Anonymous may or may not have left!

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