With so many different jobs on set, many of them with obscure names (grip, best boy, crafty), it's common for the newcomers to be confused on who does what, especially in the indie world where the lines tend to blur. And every so often, you're asked to do a task that isn't in your job description.
That's when you have two choices: Be nice and do it anyway or decide that this shoot's already too much of a pain in the ass and being asked to do something that doesn't involve a light or a c-stand is the last straw.
On one such occasion, I choose the latter. A stand-off ensued and threw off the production schedule by a good hour.
Like so many low-budget productions, the grips and electrics had to share a truck with production, and the last thing that was loaded into the truck the previous night was a couple of coolers as well as some wardrobe and props. So in the morning, after the truck arrived and parked for the day, we opened up the back and waited... and waited...
"Why aren't you guys unloading the truck?" asked the DP as he wandered by. "Because we're waiting for someone to move the coolers," explained the Best Boy. "We can't unload our stuff until that's cleared." "Oh. Okay." And the DP walks away.
The same exchange happens a few minutes later, this time it's with the AD. "Oh, okay. Let me go find someone to get started on that," he says.
So we waited... and waited...
Finally he comes back and is surprised to see that nothing's been touched. Apparently, he never did find someone to move them and just assumed that we'd get tired of waiting and do it anyway. "Can't you guys just unload it all?" he asks. "No," says the Best Boy. "We don't want to be held responsible for stuff that's not ours. Someone else is going to have to move them."
After some back and forth, someone finally gives in and the coolers get unloaded. By the time that happened though, the schedule had been seriously thrown off. Later on, an extra was hanging out by the truck and was remarking how ridiculous the whole scenario was.
Him: "Were you guys really arguing for an hour about who was going to unload the damn coolers??"
Him: "But they're coolers. They're not that heavy and it takes ten seconds to get them off that truck."
Me: "True, but have you ever read If You Give A Mouse A Cookie?"
Him: "The kids book? What does that have to do with anything?"
Me: "Well, if we unloaded those coolers, who do you think they're going to turn to when its running low on ice? Granted, it's not all that hard to dump a bag of ice in there, but if we do that, they'll expect us to fill it up with water and sodas as well. And when that happens, who do you think people are going to turn to when crafty is running low on chips and crackers? And when you're rummaging around for the crackers, would you mind looking for the coffee as well? Oh, and since you're the one who found the coffee can, you might as well brew a nice big pot of it. Then, before you know it, we end up being responsible for an entire department that's not ours. And what happens when there's no more ice? Or we run out of water? Or the coffee's bad? All of a sudden, we're taking shit for stuff we shouldn't even have to be doing in the first place."
Him (nodding his head in thoughtfulness): "Yeah... I guess you have a point. But come on man, they're just a couple of coolers."
Me: "Oh really? So you wouldn't mind unloading them tomorrow then?"
Him: "Me? No... That's not my job."
My thoughts exactly.