Monday, September 5, 2016

Happy Labor Day!

In a post written years ago about how Production was trying to scam their crew out of paying meal penalties and how one person/department standing up for themselves resulted in benefits for all their colleagues, Anonymous recently left a comment that seemed to totally miss the point of the post:

Wait, you're telling me you make like $600 a day and you get fed breakfast AND lunch and there is craft service table with food on it all day long, and sometimes someone will come around and give you a smoothie. What a great job.

 Okay... There are so many things wrong with this comment.

1) I didn't say I make "like $600 a day."
2) I don't make "like $600 a day."
3) We don't always get lunch. (On the show I'm working on now, walk-aways are the norm.)
4) There is craft service, but you know what we don't get?
    - Actual breaks (other than lunch).
    - "Normal" working hours...
    - ... And on that note, what most people would consider a reasonable turnaround time.
    - Health insurance, pension, etc.*
    - Paid holiday leave.*
    - Paid sick leave.*
    - A guaranteed paycheck.
    - Someone coming around and giving me a smoothie.**
5) And the benefits we DO get? We get because, long history short, our industry (and labor in general) is so fucked up that we were getting screwed left and right so certain rules and laws had to be put in place. Either by state law or union rules that have become the industry standard even if we're not on a union show. So thank you, unions!

I'm not sure if Anonymous is trying to be snarky since I was "bitching" about a job were I "get fed breakfast AND lunch" and/or they just don't understand the complexities of the job we do, but either way, I just wanted to set things straight. While yes, I'll admit, the job does come with some cool perks, those perks also come with a price. After all, nothing is free.


*Non-union work.
** Unless someone feels like doing a Jamba Juice run.

Friday, August 5, 2016

I Don't Want Him Here.

I have tried to get in with this crew for years. I like the Gaffer. I like the projects they choose to do. I like the way they run their ship. And I patiently waited my turn as just a day player* while they went through a revolving door of lamp ops, show after show, always wondering why I wasn't offered a spot on the team over bringing someone on that they didn't know.

Eventually, and finally, that day came and I found myself not only a full time member of their crew, but an invaluable one at that. I fit in better than I thought I would. Long story short, after years of day playing, I finally felt like I had found my people. I had found a home. I belonged.

Not only that, but when the days were busy, I got to bring on people I knew to come and day play with us. Bringing some of my old contacts onto my new job for a day here and there was a great way to keep my friends working and see the occasional familiar face, which brought me comfort. It was kind of like when you move off to college and a friend from back home comes to visit. You're in a new place with new people, so it's super good and revitalizing to see an old friend from your past who knows you so well. But at the same time, you don't want them hanging around too long because you know you really need (and want) to explore this new life on your own. It was a pretty sweet situation I had going on.

So imagine my surprise when my very good friend that I had previously brought in to day play told me that he was offered a full time spot on my Gaffer's next show and he's going to take it.

Wait. Hold on. I need a minute here.

After day playing for five days on the last show, he got offered a full time spot while I had to wait FIVE YEARS for mine.

And not only that, but while my friend and I obviously know some of the same crews, this one was mine. It may sound weird and petty, but this was one crew I had worked for where he didn't know everyone. The stories that happened here were mine and didn't involve him. Sure, this may make us sound like an old married couple, and he's the friend I swap set stories with on a semi-weekly basis, but I liked the fact that despite me often venting to him, he didn't know everyone and everything that was going on. This little piece of Hollywood was mine.

His presence also puts my rank into question. Despite me taking half a decade to earn my spot, once I was in, I quickly excelled, earning myself the position of Gaffer's right hand man (so to speak). And as such, I was gaining some footing in the ladder of moving up in this business. I was now privy to decisions and conversations I otherwise wouldn't be allowed to listen to, and covering for the Best Boy, and even sometimes the Gaffer, in their absence. With my friend there, I could very easily be knocked off my pedestal. He's very good at his job and is often offered better positions before me. Who will my bosses now turn to for things when he's around?

And to top it all off, despite me considering him to be a good friend, I do need some time away from him. He's a great guy, but there are some things about him that make me roll my eyes or exhale in frustration. Our work past together mostly involves one of us either day playing and/or the other being in a Best Boy position, leaving a nice buffer between us for breathing room. We didn't see each other five days a week, or if we did, we weren't in the same room for over 12 hours a day. Being around each other for 60+ hours a week on set might put a strain on our friendship... and my sanity.

Do I realize how petty this all sounds? Yes.

Do I know whether or not he's on my new show isn't my decision to make? Yes.

Am I happy to have such a good friend with me everyday?


I am the kind of girl who likes to keep work and my personal life separate. I'd prefer it if I could embark on this new show, and wherever it would take me, on my own. But like a friend from back home, know that the support is there if I need it. Key word being "there" and not "here." He's a friend I share almost everything with, but I like to keep some things for myself. Something that's "mine" and not "ours".

And while some may see this as a plus, having such a good friend be a possible ally on a new show, I don't want an ally. I worked hard to get in with this crew. On my own. And I want to see how much further I can take it in this business, and with them, on my own. At the end of the day, and at the end of my career, I want to be able to stand there and be proud of how far I made it, on my own, and not have to think, "but thank goodness he was there to help me every step of the way."

But me not liking the fact that he'll be on my show is my own hang up. Not his. He really is good at his job and deserves every offer he gets. He doesn't need my permission to join a crew. I may not like it, but it's just something I'll have to figure out how to deal with when the time comes.

A "day player" is someone who isn't there every day but brought on as needed, whether it be because they need extra people that day, someone got sick, etc.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

I Need A Personal Cup Holder.

I might have to resort to getting one of these.

I have a legitimate question for everyone:

Let's say it's been a hectic day on set so far and you're really thirsty. You walk over to the coolers and grab that nice, icy soda you've been craving for the last half hour. You crack it open with a satisfying "pfssst" of the tab and take a refreshing swig.... And that's as far as you get before all hell breaks loose on the radio again and the Gaffer's calling out orders like a stoned frat boy at a drive thru.

What the fuck do you do with the opened can of soda?*

You don't want to chug it.
You can't put it on top of your set cart because you have OCD colleagues who'll toss it out.
You can't put it on a shelf of a lamp cart because that's where you pull lights from and spilling is a high possibility.
In fact, putting it on any cart is generally a bad idea.
Putting it on set furniture (tables, cabinets, etc) or any type of set dressing for that matter is a no-no.
So is putting it on the back of set walls.
As well as setting it on, or next to, a distro box.
Anywhere else (truck, gold room, etc) is too far away.

Where can you safely set down an open beverage on set? The same question goes for when you just got a plate of food/snack from crafty.

* Dolly grips, I don't want to hear you bragging about your own personal cup holders on the dolly.  :)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Lunch Times.

When the company breaks us for a one hour lunch...
"Ugh. Why is it one hour? I want to get out of here faster! Just give us a half hour lunch so we can wrap a half hour earlier and I can get home that much sooner."

But when the company breaks us for a half hour lunch...
"Ugh. Thirty minutes? I've been running around all morning! A half hour isn't long enough to for us to get our food and run an errand and/or take a real break."


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I'm A Bossy Ass Bitch.

"Hey, I'm going to set up my station here. Is this a good spot for you to run me a lunch box for power?"

I didn't think much of the wardrobe girl's request, actually appreciating the thoughtful nature of her question. After all, how many times have we cursed other departments for setting up exactly where we don't have easy access to a distro box?

My colleagues, however, had other opinions.

"Sure, we'll run you something right now," replied Juicer 1. Then to us, he says, "Why doesn't she just say she needs a lunch box there? Why did she ask us if it's okay? If she wants one there, she should just tell us."

"Yeah. It's like that article I showed you the other day," Juicer 2 chimes in. "About how women don't ask for what they want?" He then turns to me. "We read this article the other day about how this one company paid their male employees more than their females. When confronted about it, the guy said that after all his years running the company, not one woman ever came in to his office and asked for a raise. But the men would, and that's why they'd get paid more. Women have a tendency to not ask for what they want in the work place. I think they need to be more assertive. Don't you agree, A.J.?"

I stood there for a moment, grateful for colleagues who read articles on inequalities in the workplace and trying to create a dialogue about it instead of hiding under a rock, and at the same time, shocked at how naive and over simplified their solution was.

"Yes, I think overall, there is an issue with women not asking for what they want at work," I started, "but I think if Ms. Wardrobe had just said, 'I need a lunch box here,' you would've probably thought she was a bitch."

Juicer 1 slowly nodded his head in contemplative thought. "Yeah. That's a good point. I hate to admit it, but I that's probably what I'd do." Juicer 2 didn't say anything.

Moments like that echo in my head a lot these days. Over the past several months, I've had a few opportunities to step up in my department. In other words, I've been given the chance to lead instead of follow. And let me tell you, it's been fun. I love being able to run things my way and I absolutely enjoy the perks of being the boss, even if it's only for a short while.

However, as those opportunities arise, I've noticed more and more that critics of my work tend to fall in to two camps: those that think I'm a great leader, and those who think I'm bossy.

Let me preface this by saying that my superiors (and often their bosses as well) think I do a fabulous job. Everyone I've stepped up for wouldn't hesitate to hire me again. I'm proud of the work I do and the results I get, and in the end, that's all that should really matter and fuck the rest, right?*

So why does this bother me so much?

Because there shouldn't be such a distinction between the two ways I'm described. I approach every job the same way and treat my crews the same. So realistically, I should be considered either bossy or a good leader. And yes, while one could argue that the two terms aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, in this case they are since "bossy" is always used in a negative way while "good leader" is always meant as a compliment.

This leads me to wonder if I'm seen as bossy because I'm actually bossy (in every negative sense of the word) or if I'm "bossy" because that's how they describe assertive women? If it's the former, how did I go from being bossy to a good leader (and vise-versa) when I'm doing the same thing on every job and if it's the latter, well shit, where do I go from here?

I've run into issues like this before and when brought up, most men see it as making it a feminist issue when it isn't one and "sometimes a bossy bitch is just a bossy bitch." So how do we address a problem when those who perpetuate it don't realize they're perpetuating it?

Am I a bitch? Am I a good leader? Am I bossy? Or am I just an assertive woman?

Do the latter two mean the same thing?

*In theory. I'm not even going to get in to the fact how rumors circulating around about me being a bossy bitch will affect my future job prospects.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


At some point last year, the unthinkable happened and I landed on a job full time, putting my perpetual day-player status on hold for several months. As such, my usual 3-4 day work weeks turned into full time 65+ hour work weeks with little time to spare that wasn't spent inside the walls of a sound stage.

With virtually no free time left, I fell behind on a lot of things, like housekeeping (not that I was ever caught up to begin with), keeping in tough with friends, and blog reading, just to name a few. Now with my show ended and the tsunami of pilots that came with it slowing down to a trickle, I can finally attempt to catch up with my neglected reading, and I spent the day gorging on the past several months of Michael Taylor's blog (hey, some of you binge on Game of Thrones; I binge on Blood Sweat and Tedium).

His recent(ish) sharing of a reader's tale of how he was shushed over ice on set reminded me of the most ridiculous shushing moment I've witnessed so far. We were shooting downtown in a new hipster loft (aka: new studio apartments made from converted warehouse space) so the square room and cinder block walls made any sound echo and magnify. Which no one really minded or paid much attention to until we were between set ups.

Now, being a film crew in a small space meant you were going to have some noise, but we were doing our best to keep it down to a minimum out of respect for the neighbors. That, however, didn't keep the AD from yelling at us to be quiet and constantly shushing us.

Funny thing is, the noise didn't stop despite him almost hyperventilating from all the shushing.

At this point, I should mention that while we did our best to use our "inside voices," there was also a large piece of crumpled up blackwrap laying on the concrete floor. Add that to about two dozen people coming and going, accidentally kicking it around in a small room that is built like an echo chamber, and the rustling from an unassuming piece of blackwrap is going to sound loud.

So yes, the AD was getting quite pissed off at us for not keeping it down when he really should have been yelling at a piece of foil.

After a few minutes, I tried to explain to him that his frustration should be aimed at an inanimate object, but he just glared at me and kept "shhh-ing" so I went about my own business. I thought about ending the ridiculousness by simply picking the damn thing up, but with so many people scattering about, I'd be like Simba in a stampede.

Eventually, I think the AD finally understood why his pleads for working quietly seemed to be ignored, and by that point, everyone had more or less settled down. That's when he walked over to the offending piece of blackwrap, picked it up off the floor, glared at me and said, "Now, was that so hard?"

ADs. You gotta love 'em.

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