Thursday, May 7, 2015

My Days Off.

I'd have so much fun with these...

2015 started with me finishing up a show, finishing up another one, and then working on a string of pilots that somehow (more or less) seamlessly flowed from one to another.

And then a funny thing happened: the shows all ended.

WTF? Anyone who reads my blog on a semi-regular basis knows I'm usually going from one thing straight on to another.

Even more odd, the next thing I had lined up didn't start for at least another two weeks, which means that for the first time in what seems like forever, I have some real time off.

Sure, I've had occasional days off in the past couple of years, but only a day or two here and there and usually just long enough to take care of some business, like finally having that weird noise in my car checked out, and maybe meet up with a friend for lunch.

But two whole weeks before I get another callsheet seems unheard of.

I spent the first week finally tackling the mess that is my apartment, sorting through the clutter and stacks of mail that inevitably pile up when I'm working. I even cleaned out my closet and finally got the door to shut! The place still isn't what I'd like it to be, but it's an improvement and good enough for now.

I decided my second week of off time should be dedicated to me.

I met up with friends, went to museums, ate at new restaurants, ate at old restaurants, got a massage, sat outside and read a book trashy magazine, and bought something silly for myself.

But oddly enough, the thing I was most excited about doing? Growing out my nails and painting them.

It may sound weird and kinda gross, but having longish (not super long, but long enough to make a "clackity-clack" sound when tapped on a table), brightly colored nails is a luxury for me. Throwing around 4/0, wiring practicals and moving lights around all day makes having short nails a necessity, despite wearing gloves. Anything longer than cut down to the nail bed is just asking to be broken, split, or torn. And nail polish, no matter what it says on the bottle, WILL ALWAYS CHIP THE FIRST DAY. (Nail polish manufaturers, if you're reading this, feel free to send me your best "anti-chip"/"tough-as-nails" polish and I'll prove to you that it won't last a day in my world.) Not to mention all the gross gunk and grime that gets caught underneath. Ew.

For me, having "girly" nails is just one of those little things you can't have when you work on this side of the industry and I reveled in having them, even if it was just for a week.

Which makes me wonder what other simple pleasures do other people indulge in once they finally get some time off? Wear flip-flops everywhere instead of work boots? Spend hours in the kitchen cooking a great meal? Bust out the margarita pool?


Monday, April 27, 2015

"We Mourn, We Remember, And We Will Never Stop Fighting."

April 28th is Worker's Memorial Day here in the U.S. (and Canada's Day of Mourning).

The IATSE is trying to organize a moment of silence at 1pm (EST)/ 10am (PST).

You don't have to be a union member to participate. Or be in the industry. Or even have a job. Workplace safety is something that affects everyone no matter who/where they are and I think it's something we often take for granted.

To read more about it, go here. And here. And here.

I know it's kind of late notice, but please participate if you can.

Bonus points: Google this Bad-Ass Mother!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Producer Logic.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, "Producer Logic" is often the answer to why some things seem totally stupid and ass backwards.

Some examples...

- Production denies your request for more manpower for the day because they don't want to spend the money. So instead, the set ups take even longer because you're shorthanded, and therefore, cost production even more.

- Production doesn't want to pay for a rigging and wrap crew, so they have to pay the entire shooting crew to do it along with giving everyone meal penalties for their pre-call and late wrap... While in double time. Oh, and a forced call penalty if they don't finish before their turnaround time.

- Production cuts down your equipment list due to budget, but then spends more on manpower and time as your crew leap-frogs lights around from set to set.

- Production doesn't want to pay the extra money for leveling blocks for the condor, rendering the condor they paid for useless since we now can't use it because (surprise!) it's not level.

- Production spends its money paying for big name actors and DPs, but doesn't have any money left over for crew and amenities to support those people.

- Production wants to use a location because it's "free," but has to deal with time restrictions, sound issues, it takes transpo over an hour to move the trailers over, etc and has to fix a bunch of shit in post and/or do re-shoots.

- Production skimps on the caterer in the beginning but then has to splurge on a really good caterer when everyone complains about the food... Including their bosses. (Hint: If you had just gotten a decent caterer to begin with, you wouldn't have had to splurge on the really good one later.)

- Production doesn't want to buy a $400 putt-putt because it's "too expensive." Instead, you add it to the equipment rental where they're paying $85/week for it... for six weeks.

- Production wants zero L&D but then only gives you one day to load a truck by yourself, undercuts your man power for the whole show, rushes you through wrap to avoid paying overtime, and then wonder why things get lost and broken... All while paying you a little more than minimum wage.



Thursday, March 26, 2015

And It All Comes Down...

Recently, Michael Taylor, big brother to Hollywood blogs everywhere, had a show end. It's no surprise. We've all been there. If you're working in this industry and have never been on a show that ended, then congratulations on what must be your first day/show in the business.

But while getting laid off is inevitable in our line of work (the camera assistant on the very first set I was ever on told me, "I get laid off every day.") that doesn't mean some endings aren't harder than others. And this seemed to be one of those times for Michael. He knew he'd never work with this exact group of people again. And he knew the chances of finding magic like that on another show were slim.

But what he didn't know was that I was watching. I had figured out which show he was on long before he announced the title on his blog (after all, how many shows end a season with a bathtub crash?) and some time after (a long time after, actually) I found myself on the same lot, stationed ridiculously close to the stage with "Melissa & Joey" emblazoned on the elephant doors.

The next few months had me drifting in and out of there as is the life of a perpetual day player, but my eyes would always linger a little longer than necessary whenever I passed by those open doors on the way to or from my own stage. A long time reader of his blog, I wanted to catch glimpses of the lights he'd precariously/carefully hung and then wrote about, despite it looking just like every other sitcom rig I've ever seen.

Then news came of the show's inevitable end and I watched as it all came down. Day by day, every time I passed by those elephant doors, which were now perpetually open to facilitate the process of wrap, the stage looked emptier and emptier. Set walls were gone, lights came down, and soon, even the scissor lifts and carts that were the only constant during the whole demolition process were gone, leaving only piles of miscellaneous items on the stage floor.

At that point, as years of work was dismantled in just a matter of days, I was on the lot almost daily and wondered how odd the stage I had stalked from afar would look once it was completely empty and hollow.

Only that day never came.

As the stage became emptier and emptier each time I passed by, I had walked by expecting this glance to by my last as I was sure it had to have been totally cleared out by now, only to find that the piles I saw on my previous pass had grown instead of diminished. And they grew again when I passed by once more a little later. And before I knew it, a whole new set had done up.

I couldn't believe it. Melissa & Joey hadn't even been out of the building a full day before another show came and took its place.


I wasn't naive enough to think that nothing would inhabit that stage ever again. After all, a piece of property like that sitting around unused looses money for the studio, but it was a little odd to witness another show moving in before the last owner even got a chance to shut the door behind them.

It's just another reminder that Hollywood doesn't care. Stage 14 was a place 120+ people had called home for the past five years, but as the saying goes, "the show(s) must go on." No time for mourning. No moment of silence for what once was. No adjustment period. Just an unending stream of disassembling and re-assembling. Of acquiring and releasing. A constant cycle of out with the old and in with the new.

That, is the core of Hollywood.

It doesn't give a shit. It don't got time for that. It doesn't care that you spent five or ten or twenty, or even fifty years here. It has no loyalties to you or anyone else. It's an unstoppable force that churns out hits and flops, one right after another. And it'll continue on whether you and I are here to help it or not.

Eventually, the show I was on called it quits for the season, only I didn't feel the same melancholia as Michael did when his show ended. I wasn't around this season long enough to form an attachment to any department other than my own, and I knew I'd see those guys around the corner. This was one of the times I wasn't too sad to see a show end.

But as we were in the middle of wrapping out our stage, we had to suddenly stop what we were doing and move everything we had on the ground to the other side of the stage. We had a few more days of wrap left, but the new show scheduled to come in after us was moving in today and they needed some room.

Just like Michael's show, Hollywood couldn't wait to get us out of here so it could get a new one in. Our cable wasn't even cold yet.

Hollywood can be such a bitch.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

You Know You're On The Right Track When...

... You're going through your annual pile of W-2s when you realize the total on one of them is more than what you made the whole year not too long ago.

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