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
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
In a post from earlier this year, an Anonymous* reader (semi-)recently left this comment:
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!
Sunday, October 9, 2016
Before you read the rest of this post, please read this piece written by a female rigger out in Portland, Oregon. (Thanks to Michael Taylor who tipped me off to it.)
Okay, first off, let's set a few things straight since I know some readers will focus on minor details instead of the bigger picture.
- "Juicer" doesn't necessarily mean "rigging electrician."
- In California/Hollywood, she didn't have to join a union. You can keep working union jobs if you're not a union member, but it's a weird, complicated thing.
- The sexual harassment meeting isn't "her fault." Based on what I know is shot in Portland, paired with what I know about the size of her show, I can make a fairly accurate guess about which show it was. And in turn, who the production company is. That production company is known for sticking to the book and legally covering their asses in every which way, and that includes mandatory sexual harassment meetings, often more than once in a season, and often a general one PLUS one for department heads. Believe me, it's not something they only whip out just because a woman is on the payroll.
- Her "feminine emergency" taking too long is bullshit. For those of you guys out there who think us taking slightly longer than usual bathroom breaks is cutting into precious work time and unfair to those who don't have a bleeding vagina to use as an excuse to duck out of work, just think back to all those times you and/or your colleagues had to 10-2. I've waited on more guys to finish taking a shit far more times than they've had to wait for me when I'm menstruating. Not to mention all the countless smoke breaks. At least ours is only for a few days each month.
Okay, now back to the meat of the article. What happened to her sucks, and sexual harassment and sexism is unfortunately not uncommon. What is uncommon is that she reported it. Because, and this is the sad, harsh and unfair reality of it, what did she expect the outcome to be? That "The Boss," who technically is free to hire whoever he wants*, will bring her back after she filed a claim on him? That even if production made him hire her, a day player, back, that he'd do so with open arms? As much of an asshole The Boss was, one thing he did get right was when he said "it can never be the way it was." Even if, best case scenario, The Boss is fired and she gets back to work, I feel like her colleagues would be so full of resentment anyway that they'd get rid of her the first chance they get. Plus, it'll always be the elephant in the room, making the 10+ hour workday seem even longer.
That's not to say she shouldn't have filed a complaint against the scumbag. I'm just pointing out the lose-lose situation. And while her complaint doesn't get her job back (and it sounds like it was lost before she filed anything), it does shed a light on how unfair this business is in practice. So, yay for that.
Now, let's get this straight: IN NO WAY AM I BLAMING THE VICTIM HERE. It is not her fault her boss is a total douche. There's no way for her to know that a system disguised to protect her (such as the sexual harassment meeting, the Bureau of Labor and Industry) is really a way for companies to cover their own asses. And she's new to a world where she, in my own total outside-of-the-situation opinion, was too nieve to handle.** Which, in a perfect world, her inexperience with the industry shouldn't matter, but we are far from a perfect world here.
That said, if I could turn back time and travel to Portland and find this girl (or really, any other woman in this situation), I'd tell her:
1) If you want longevity, diversify. Either in your capabilities (on set juicer, board op, etc) or, more importantly, your crews. Don't stick with just one if you can help it so when shit hits the fan, you a) have another crew to fall back on and b) possibly have a character witness on your behalf when you need it, whether it be on an official level or just as a job reference to a Best Boy.
2) Think about who else you can list as a witness to your boss' assholery other than co-workers. If his "special job on the truck" comment was on an open radio, was anyone else, other than the grip, around to hear it? Any P.A.s, Crafty, Background, etc, around any of the times he made inappropriate comments? Has he made sleezy comments to anyone else? In my experience, someone who creeps you out has probably creeped someone else out, too.
And documenting every time, place and comment made probably wouldn't hurt either. Even if there's no witnesses, showing the higher ups a detailed list of offenses holds more weight than "sometime last week, he said _________." And on that note...
3) If you don't trust your union rep, e-mail them your situation and have them write back in the e-mail what they think you should do. You're essentially preparing for a legal battle here. Cover your ass and get as much of it in writing as possible. Show the BOLI that you followed all the appropriate steps and don't let them make it a game of "he said/she said."
4) If you're still in the union, put yourself of the availability list. You said yourself, when it gets busy, people have to hire union members before they can hire anyone else. It may not me the ideal situation, but it may be your best if all your want to do is get back to work.
I do hope that, while she may never be given the chance to work as a rigging election again, her speaking up will put a target on her former boss. That people will be more aware of what is and isn't acceptable behavior in the workplace. That perhaps her speaking up about what happened to her will shed light on how sexist this business can be and hopefully change something for the good. You may think if she was in L.A., she could avoid this stuff / it'd be easier for her to find work. I believe that is false. A bigger work pool just means there are more assholes here, and also more gossiping going on. Portland is just a microcosm of us. If I was in her shoes, would I have filed a formal complaint? Hard to say. But I will say, that her coworkers who were unwilling to testify?
They're no better than her asshole boss.
* Technically speaking, he's actually hiring on behalf of the Producer, but it's not like they usually give a shit who's actually hired for such a low-on-the-totem poll position.
** The Boss saying "Girls don't do this kind of stuff" when they first met is what sent a whole bunch of alarms ringing in my head. From my experience, guys who say sexist shit like that right off the bat are the ones not worth working for. And if you do have to work for them, proceed with extreme caution.
Monday, September 5, 2016
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.
HAPPY LABOR DAY!
** Unless someone feels like doing a Jamba Juice run.
Friday, August 5, 2016
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 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. :)