Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Accumulation Of Gear.

On the very first day ever of working on a film set, you show up empty handed. You think to yourself "All I need to show up with is me. I'm just moving around lights and stuff." After the first few days of that, you look down at your hands which are now blistered, calloused and probably scraped and bleeding in at least two places. "Hmm... Maybe I should buy a pair of work gloves."

So the next job you get, you show up on time with a pair of work gloves. Awesome. But now you're starting to get a hang of the job and you're assigned tasks that are more complicated than moving things around. You end up borrowing a knife from co-workers a lot. No big deal though since there's always someone around that has one.

At the end of the show, your best boy or gaffer or DP comes up to you and thanks you for all your hard work. They give you a wrap gift: your very own utility blade. It's kind of cheap, but it works. And you cherish it because it means someone noticed the work you did and appreciated it. The next job you get, you show up with gloves and the blade in your pocket.

As the jobs keep rolling in, the budgets get bigger. Sooner or later, you find yourself on a job with walkie talkies. It's your first time using one of these, so you get assigned a "McDonalds" head set. You last two days with it before you throw it on the ground and buy yourself a pricey surveillance kit. You're just getting started in this business and the damn thing costs more than you're making, but it's worth it. Until you wear it for a few hours. The next day, you spring extra for the molded ear piece.

Shortly after, you get a job that's shooting at an odd location. Instead of the usual mish-mash of flags and lights on stands, things now have to be rigged and special equipment brought in. Things that require wrenches and screws and rachetting. None of which you have, so you borrow from your co-workers again. Luckily, the job ends around the same time you were planning on visiting the folks, so during your next visit, you "borrow" some of your dad's tools.

Now you're showing up to work with gloves, a knife, a surveillance kit, tools, etc. Do you buy a tool bag? No. You dig up the back pack you used in the 7th grade from the back of your closet. It works just fine.

But now you're running back and forth between set and where your bag is every time you need something. So when you get your next pay check, you spring for a work belt, a pouch, and while you're at it, a glove clip. You also "accidentally" walked off your last job with some left over gels, tape, and cube taps in your pocket. Now you feel like a real grip/electric.

Then comes winter where the days get shorter and the nights get longer. You find yourself working more and more in the dark. Holding a flash light in one hand while trying to wrap cable in the other just isn't cutting it anymore. So that year, you ask Santa for a head lamp.

The holidays come and go, and spring comes back. With it comes heavy rain and for the first time ever, you find yourself running around in thick mud and huge puddles, all while the sky gushes buckets of water on you. For 14 hours straight. That day, right after work, you race to the nearest sporting goods store while you're still soaked to the bone and buy yourself some rain gear. It costs more than your paycheck, but it's worth it.

Eventually, as time goes by, so does your gear. One by one, your tools start breaking or disappearing, your bag now has holes in it, and your headlamp was dropped one too many times. But by now, you're making enough money that you can justify the expense of getting a new wrench, a better light, and a proper tool bag. You look, act, and feel like a pro every day you show up for work.

After some time, a friend asks you to do them a favor and help them out on a project of theirs. The rate's kind of low, but it's a good friend, so you agree to it anyway. On that set, you notice a kid, fresh out of film school, running around, eager to help anyone with nothing more than a pair of gloves on his hands and a smile on his face. In a way, he reminds you of yourself, not too long ago. On the last day of the shoot, you say your good byes and thank him for all his hard work. But before you leave, you dig around your tool bag. At the very bottom is the knife you got all those shows ago. It's a little scratched and worn, but it's still as trusty as it ever was with familiar gleam to it. You hand it to the kid and explain to him how it's been your good luck charm.

As you walk away, you see him out of the corner of your eye, gingerly examining your parting gift. And with a nodding smile, he slides it into his pocket, ready for the next job.


Nathan said...

I got a big smile out of this A.J.

Classy move!

Vender said...

(First post, love your blog, Hi!)

What a wonderfully sweet tear jerker!

A.J. said...

Nathan - Being classy is my new goal for 2010. ;)
Thanks for the link!

Art - Thank you. I'm glad you liked it!

Keith Wilson said...

This is such a metaphor for the way our lives should be. Thanks for the smile.

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