Tuesday, February 14, 2017
It was just a wink. That was all it took to calm me down.
He was wrapping a pile of stingers while overhearing the myriad of instructions I was given by my boss on top of the already growing laundry list of things I had to do before the day ended. We only had so much time to get everything rigged and that time was rapidly coming to an end. We would barely finish in time as it was and these new notes were about to push me over the edge.
To say I was stressed would be an understatement. Add "panicked" and "on the verge of a meltdown" and you'd be closer to what I was feeling. I even contemplated throwing in the towel and just going home to a nice hot bath and an episode of Project Runway.
I glanced over to him after my boss walked away and he looked up from the stinger he was tying and gave me a wink.
It was such a simple, almost imperceptible gesture, but that blink of a single eye let me know that I could do it. That I've got this. That it'd all work out in the end. That he's on my side. That quarter of a second move made me stop, breathe, and collect myself before addressing my crew about the latest change in plans.
And in the end, we did the near impossible and got everything done in time with literally not a minute left to spare. But it was done. Mission accomplished. And I couldn't have done it without him
He had calmed me down when I needed it the most, did his job with efficiency, sensed the seriousness of the situation and reacted in kind, yet he'd make a small joke to get me to smile when appropriate. And usually when I needed it the most. He kept the rest of the guys on track when I wasn't around and didn't complain one damn bit though he had every right to.
And when this job ended and another one landed in my lap shortly after, I knew immediately who I wanted beside me to weather the next few months: him. As I learned more and more about what the upcoming job entailed, the more apparent that, once again, I'd be challenged and pushed to my limits, and I couldn't think of anyone else I'd rather have by my side. He'd be my support. My silent cheerleader. A physical reminder that there is someone who believes in me and will be there to help me if I needed it. With this daunting new show ahead of me, I wanted him with me. Badly.
But he turned me down in favor of an offer from his old crew. He said they needed him. Understandable, sure. But didn't he know I needed him, too?
That's when I stopped myself. Did I really need him? I enjoy the comfort and support he brings, sure. But do I need it?
I've been in this business alone for about a decade now, and I think I've done pretty well for myself so far. Sure, I've had moral supporters and a helping hand or two over the years, but no one that really stuck by me through the thick and the thin. No one to hold my hand when things got difficult. No one to help me make the tough decisions. I may have turned to people once or twice for advice, but at the very heart of it, it's just been me the whole time.
I've never had to depend on anybody. And I wasn't about to start now.
I stand alone. And I guess I will continue to stand alone.
I may want him, but I certainly do not need him.
I've got this.
I can do this.
And sometimes, as depressing as it may sound, sometimes it's good to have a reminder that I don't need anyone to hold my hand or give me a reassuring wink.
I may want the support. And things may be easier with someone on my team. But I am strong enough to stand on my own regardless.
I. Am. Enough.
Monday, January 16, 2017
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.
Friday, December 30, 2016
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
"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."
"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.