Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Most Annoying Guy On Set.

If I wanted to spend time in front of a camera, I wouldn't be lugging around cables and stands all day. I'd be going to auditions and looking for an agent. In fact, despite working around a camera all the time, being in front of one makes me ridiculously uncomfortable. So to me, the most annoying guy on set is the EPK guy, aka: the guy who's shooting the "behind the scenes" video.

In case you haven't noticed, most of the stuff I work on are low budget projects that aren't good enough to be listed on IMDB, let alone be seen outside of a cast and crew screening. So it always perplexes me when Production brings on a guy to shoot behind-the-scenes footage all day, every day.

For example, a job I was on earlier this year shot for 5 days. The EPK guy was there the whole time. Give or take a few breaks here and there, that's about 40-50 hours of behind-the-scenes footage.

For a 15 minute short.

Is that really necessary??

Now normally, I wouldn't care who Production hired to do what... Unless it effects my ability to do my job. And this is where the "annoying" part comes in.

This guy (and the many others like him I've encountered over the years) was always in the way. With his eyes behind a view finder the bulk of the time, his focus is only limited to whatever is in front of the camera. Forget the crew dodging all around him, trying to set up a scene. Forget the cables he's about to trip over, or the stand he just kicked. He's so focused on getting the interesting "action" shots of everyone working that he doesn't notice he's on a ladder that the grips need to use or standing directly under a lamp that needs to come down.

Plus, the "interviews." Oh dear lord. That's the most annoying part of it all.

I'm handling a really hot light. He comes up, totally invading my personal space with a camera in hand, and asks a stupid question like, "So, can you tell me a little bit about what you're doing?" Dude. I'm trying not to burn myself and you're not making it any easier. Go away.

We're about to roll, and everyone's waiting on a last minute tweak. But I can't rush onto set because the EPK guy, totally invading my personal space with a camera in hand, is standing right in front of me, trying to get me to say some words of praise about this wonderful production I'm on.

There's a call over the walkie for a light. I hop onto the truck, grab whatever it is I need to grab, and turn to hop back out. Only I can't. Because the EPK guy is there. Totally invading my personal space. Camera in hand. Cornering me between the shelves and equipment carts. "Hi. Can you tell me your name and occupation on this shoot?"

Ugh. Really? Can't you harass me when I'm not working??

I'm usually a nice person. I can be sweeter than an ice cream sundae. But I do have to wonder how many times the guy has me on camera saying "Get out of the way," "Not right now," and "Get that fucking camera out of my face."


Nathan said...

Just for the hell of it, I always cross out the part of my Deal Memo that says I'm releasing the studio to use my image and voice in "behind the scenes" footage. I don't really care if they use it, but I like to see if anyone ever notices.

(They haven't once in the ten years since I started doing that.)

A.J. said...

Nathan - Ironically, they seem to cut me out of the footage whenever I sign a release. But on the shows where I don't give permission? I'm in a bunch of shots they use. Go figure.

The Grip Works said...

I have never encountered EPK guys like that, they are usually extremely proffessional. What you describe sounds unbelievably annoying.
One way to make sure they are never in your way again ... drive a Mombo Combo leg into their foot. Or a piece of track into them. It may seem harsh but they will make a lot of room for you after that.

Peggy Archer said...

Oh, I would go completely fucking ballistic if an EPK guy went onto my truck and started shooting while we were trying to work.

Normally, they just set up and interview the actors and borrow lights and that's it. Still annoying, but not quite so invasive.

A.J. said...

The Grip Works - Unfortunately, professionalism seems to go out the door when the words "low budget" is used to describe your shoot. Although, I am tempted to "accidentally" swing a hot light in front of their face the next time one of them gets too close.

Peggy Archer - I've encountered that kind of EPK guy as well. But let's just say they don't always ask where it's safe to plug those lights in...

Hugo Fuchs said...

Perhaps take a hint from Quentin Tarrantino. :D

Sound Guy said...

I work EPK once in awhile as accompanying sound guy and the main concern myself and the camera ops I work with is to not hinder the crew. If that means me renting a wireless camera hop from a friend so be it. We usually only deal with the director and talent for the interviews, never a crew member.
On the other side of that I've "accidentally" let the ass end of my boom come close to grazing the annoying as hell paparazzi guys head when hes creeping in while we're out on location...but they often deserve to be hit...

D said...

I'm with Gripworks. I've never had an EPK guy act in this way. These jackasses were probably just brought in by the producers so they could watch it in their own homes and talk about how they're making a movie. When people get in the way of the dolly, I warn them nicely. After that, it's all on them.

British Grip said...

I once worked on a promo that not only had an EPK going on but the EPK guy bought with him someone else (with an even smaller silly digital camera) who was making a TV slot for some show about what goes into making an EPK! Three minute music promo with 2 days of EPK footage AND 2 days of EPK of the EPK.

A.J. said...

D - On the low-budget productions that I tend to work on, Producers often bring on an EPK guy to shoot behind-the-scenes footage for the DVDs. Why they think anyone would want to watch the extras on a mediocre short is beyond me.

British Grip - Wow. That's so ridiculous and meta at the same time.

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