Sunday, September 24, 2017

I'll Pick A Table Over 4/0 Any Day.


"Hey A.J. Can I get a hand moving this table?"

I always thought being the On-Set Dresser* sucked since you're essentially moving around furniture all day and then restoring everything back down to the smallest detail, all while navigating around 50+ crew members who do nothing but set lights, stands and dollys in your way and fuck around with your set dressing when you're not looking. So when our On-Set Dresser made a simple request, I was happy to oblige. After all, he's been pretty cool with all of us sitting on the furniture all the time and the least I can do is help move it once in a while.

So on the count of three, I helped him move the dining room table to the other side of the room and out of everyone's way. Then I thought nothing of it.

...Until the next day.

"How's your back doing?" he asked me.

"What?"

"How's your back doing? From lifting the table the other day?"

"...It's fine. Thanks. Why do you ask?"

"Well, because it's a pretty heavy table. Afterwards, I regretted asking you to help me. That thing's so heavy and awkward. I should've asked someone else."

"It was awkward, yes. There's no good place to grab on that thing. But heavy, no. The weight was fine. But thanks for checking up on me."

"So, it wasn't too heavy for you?"

"Friend, let me tell you this thing we have called 4/0..."




*For those of you who don't know, Set Dressers usually come in shortly after a set is built and before we come in to shoot it, and "dress the set" (move in the furniture, put curtains on the windows, drop in floor/table/desk/hanging lamps, pictures on the walls, stuff on the desk, thing in the cabinets, etc). The On-Set Dresser is the one that stays with the shooting crew to move that all around as needed (ie: "Move the desk out so we can put a camera in that corner," or, "Do we have moving boxes or something to hide that cable in the corner?") and then has to painstakingly restore it all to keep continuity. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

You Can Never Go Home Again.




I was so excited to see him.

I was counting in stingers to load in a new show when I look up and who should I see? A juicer I used to work with pretty much all the time when I was first starting out. We were like two peas in a pod on set back then, finishing each others sentences, coming up with the same stupid jokes, and we were so in sync that setting up lights on set was almost like a choreographed dance.

Show after shitty show we did together until one day, I had the opportunity to ascend to bigger and better things and I left our merry band of ultra low budget-ers in favor of jobs that paid more than just "copy, credit and meals".

We'd run into each other in passing over the years every now and then, but the sightings were few and far between. While we were both now out of the super shitty low budget world, we no longer ran in the same circles.

So when I learned we were going to both be full time on the same show for the next couple of months or so, I was ecstatic. Despite all our years apart, I had never found anyone I had as much fun working with as him. The nostalgic part of me yearned for the easy going work relationship we had all those years ago and I couldn't wait to work the set with him.

But, I guess the old saying is true: You can never go home again. While we were both still kick-ass electricians, we never really found our groove and clicked like we used to. We no longer finish each others thoughts or play silly set games anymore.

The years spent apart, we had spent growing as people. Him, with his side businesses, new house and soon-to-be-wife. And me... well, I don't know. I don't have any of those things, but I definitely don't feel like I'm the same person I was when I met him.

Whatever bond we had before that put us on the same wavelength didn't feel broken. Just gone.

Things weren't totally awkward though. We had a great time catching up with each other and reminiscing about the stupid things we used to do. Hardly a day went by where one of us didn't go, "Hey, remember when..." or "Whatever happened to...?" and then laugh at whatever story that came up after it. And every so often, you'd see the glimpses on set of the dynamic we once shared. But nothing that really stuck like old times.

And as much as I still enjoy working with him, the sad truth is that when they call "wrap" on our show for the final time and we both go our separate ways again, I'll look back at our time together fondly, but I won't itch to work with him again like I had in the past years. I won't miss him like I used to.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that we've seemed to have lost that je ne sais quoi we had going on, but in a way, I guess it's a good thing. It's a wake up call that I can't live in the past, no matter how good it was. That I should keep moving forward because everyone else seems to have. And while the guy from several years ago will ALWAYS be one of my favorites, this new man before me isn't him. I spent all these years hoping to recapture the magic we had, but now I know it can't be recreated. And in an odd way, knowing that doesn't give me a sense of sadness. Instead, it gives me a sense of knowing peace.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Adventures In Excessive Shushing, pt. 3.





Real thing that happened on set today:

P.A.: "Rolling!"
Other P.A.: "SHHHH!"

Yup. A P.A. shushed another P.A. for calling out "Rolling."

Sigh....




Sunday, July 9, 2017

It's Hot As Fuck Out And I Don't Know What To Wear To Work.


It's a typical Southern California day. Sun shining, one or two fluffy clouds in a bright blue sky, with temperatures on the slightly warmer side of comfortable.

I'm taking a break outside the stage between set ups, enjoying some warmth and vitamin D while shooting the shit with some drivers next to the crafty trailer when one of them points out a set dresser loading furniture on to a truck.

"Look at her," he says with almost disgust in his voice. "Look at what she's wearing. I know she's new to this business and all, so I went up to her earlier as a friend and told her what she's wearing was inappropriate, but she just brushed it off. Don't you think what she's wearing is inappropriate here, A.J.?"

I look down the alley at the girl. She's wearing brightly colored shorts that stop a couple inches below her butt and a tight tank top that fit her well. If she wasn't wearing work gloves, she'd look more like she was ready to spend the day walking around the Venice Beach Boardwalk than on a studio lot.

I turned to the driver and shrugged. "I'm not going to say what a woman can and cannot wear. She's an adult and can make her own choices," I said. The driver dropped the subject and I went back in shortly after.

And while what I said was true, that she's a grown woman capable of making her own choices and I'm not going to slut-shame a fellow female for what she's wearing, the question still lingers: Was her outfit inappropriate for the workplace? More specifically, a work place where t-shirts and shorts are acceptable attire three four seasons out of the year (this is SoCal, after all)?

Would I personally wear something like she did to work? No. But I also wouldn't wear those god-awful t-shirt tanks with the sides cut out either, which no one bats an eye at when a guy is wearing one on set. I also wouldn't run around the perms with my shirt off and I've seen plenty of guys do that, too. And again, no one bats an eye at that.

And would her attire have caused such a ruckus among the guys if they were darker colors instead of neon and pastels that made her stand out like a steak on a bed of salad? What it she was in her 40s or 50s instead of her early 20s? Would her shorts and tank top be inappropriate then?

If I ever re-live that conversation from that day, I think I would ask him what about her outfit was inappropriate. Was she showing a lot of skin? Yes, but so do a lot of the other guys we work with (see above paragraphs). And especially when it's hot out and especially when your job is moving heavy objects around all day. Is it a safety violation? Somewhere written in some guidelines states that we should all be wearing pants, long sleeves and steel toed work boots, but 98% of us don't even come close to following that rule. So she's technically not breaking anymore safety rules than any one of us. Hell, it could even be said that her clothes are safer since there's less loose fabric to get caught on things.

Does her attire impede her from doing her job? No. From what I saw, she made more trips to that truck than her colleagues.

Is she maybe drawing unwanted attention to herself? Yes. Will some people take one look at the way she's dressed and assume she's only hired to be eye-candy? Yes. But I feel like that's more their problem than hers, not to mention that there are some assholes that will think that no matter what she wears.

The bottom line is that her important bits and pieces are covered, she's not violating any safety rules more than the next guy, and she's still able to do her job. If what she's wearing is inappropriate, then someone should implement guidelines that we all need to follow, instead of just singling out women just because they happen to look good in a pair of shorts.



Monday, June 26, 2017

Adventures In Excessive Shushing, pt. 2.





Dear P.A.s doing lock ups,

You have a job to do. I get it. If someone makes a peep on set while we're rolling, all hell breaks loose on your walkie channel (and in turn, in your ear) about finding the source of the sound and eliminating it.

We all totally understand it.

All we ask is that you use a little bit of common sense and judgement before you go all ape-shit on us for making the tiniest bit of noise.

Shushing us when we're ten feet away from video village and giggling at a YouTube video? Fair game. Shush away!

But when the set and video village is in the back room of a sizable house and I'm outside in the front, down the long driveway and on the other side of the property wall? Did you really have to shush me for cracking open a bottle of water? Really?

Trust me when I say that no one's going to hear that when there's three walls and 150 feet between us, so the vein popping "SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!1!!!" you threw in my direction was totally unnecessary.

Thanks,
-Crews everywhere.




Previously.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Set Photo Of The Day.




I don't even want to know what prompted the creation of this sign... For a built set... In the middle of a sound stage... Oh, and the set only has three walls.

Nope, don't wanna know...



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Marry The Night.


"Hey moon, please forget to fall down
Hey moon, don't you go down."
-Northern Downpour Panic! At The Disco


Most people dread night shoots. Most people get a sour look on their face when they see "5pm crew call" written on the top of the prelim.*

Me? I don't mind them so much. Since I'm a night owl anyway, switching from a day schedule to a night one isn't that hard for me. Plus, unlike most days, there's a definite end in sight. The company can only shoot night scenes until sunrise, and this time of year, that usually limits us to a 12 hour day, or less. And who doesn't like the sound of that?

But sometimes, I will admit, I wish the nights were longer. Sometimes, the weather is calm and just right; the city is quiet and still; the crew is jovial and in sync with each other; and your own department is taking a rare night off from drama. Crafty is bringing in a food truck and a coffee truck, and it feels less like work and more like a social thing. Sometimes, things just click.

Sometimes, you have a moment where you sit on the back of a tailgate, surrounded by your favorite people and just shoot the shit while looking at the stars. Sometimes, you get so caught up with running around in the day time so you can get home that you miss the night and what it has to offer. The quiet and peace that it can bring. The darkness that allows the city to twinkle and shimmer.

Sometimes, with the rest of the world so quiet and asleep, you feel like you have the whole city to yourself. Sometimes, it feels like your show is in it's own happy little bubble. It's like the best parts of a good day without any interruptions from the real world.

Call me crazy, but sometimes, the night shoots changes your crew in a good way. And sometimes, it allows you to look at things in a different light. And it's times like those that I don't want the night to end.






*Preliminary Callsheet.

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