Saturday, January 30, 2010

Isolation On Set.

Cell phones are awesome. They fit perfectly in your pocket, you can carry them wherever you go, they're great in case of an emergency and you can instantly Google the answer to something the next time you're caught in an "I wonder...." type of conversation.

But when are they not so great? When you're on set.

And I don't mean because they'll go off during a take (ironically, it's usually the AD or Sound Guy's phone that does that) but because it kind of sucks when you're the only one on a crew without a Smartphone. While your co-workers are checking their e-mail and updating their Facebook status, you're left out with nothing to do and no one to socialize with. It's like lunch time in the cafeteria all over again.

There's also nothing that makes you question the state of your generation more than looking up and seeing all your peers, with their faces illuminated by the ghostly blue glow of a tiny screen, eagerly typing away with their thumbs, oblivious to the fact that they're sitting just inches away from another person. Why have a real conversation with an actual human being when you can have one in 160 characters or less? Why should you get to know the people you work with when you can play a game of solitaire in the palm of your hand? Suddenly you find yourself surrounded by people, but essentially alone, which is a shitty feeling.

Same with iPods. Everyone loves music. It's a passion for some. I get it. But to have it playing in your ear the whole time you're at work? That, I don't get. Not only do you end up missing calls over the walkie with music blasting in your ear, but sometimes the sound bleeds into your own mic and suddenly the whole crew has to listen to Coldplay while you tell them your 20.

I'm not saying that I haven't been guilty of sending the occasional text from my phone while at work, but I usually save it for when I'm by myself babysitting a light, or during a take when you can't talk anyway. And I understand the need to be on the phone for professional reasons, like booking your next job, calling rental companies, looking up manuals and the like, but in my opinion, there's also such a thing as overdoing it.

Call me old fashioned, but sometimes I yearn for the days when cell phones weren't so prevalent. I miss the days when time between takes was filled with conversations with your fellow crew members. When you got to know more about your colleagues than if they're Blackberry or iPhone people.


Gabby said...

Haha this is so true. I have a crap little Samsung phone that came free with the plan. When people show me the games -yawn I don't care. And being even more addicted to Facebook could not possibly be a good thing. The thing that sucks though, is that as a PA I almost feel like the qualification for work will soon be do you have a license, do you have a 3G phone? It's probably not already because they just assume I have one!

The times that I've been sent on random errands while on location it has been really embarrassing to have someone with an iPhone give me directions. It feels unprofessional not to have one. Things are just too tight right now for me to justify buying the phone, upgrading my plan, etc.

A.J. said...

Gabby - Yes! Another thing about iPhones, along with games that I don't care about, is that it's essentially a mini-TV and everyone's compelled to show me their last project or something. Now I'm stuck holding their phone for 5-10 minutes while I watch some poorly shot indie film. No thank you.

And I've always wondered about PAs and their cell phones. Generally speaking, most of them make less than I do and I can't even afford a data plan. As for your getting directions predicament, can I suggest investing in a GPS? A basic one will probably cost less than a new phone.

Nathan said...

I finally knuckled under an bought a Droid a couple of months ago. I was getting too many pitiful glances about not being able to text or get my email from out of the office.


A.J. said...

Nathan - I was going to shame you for giving in, but Holy Toledo, you couldn't even text?? I didn't even know phones like that still existed, so I gotta admit, even I would have given you a pitied look. ;)

Nathan said...

Strictly speaking, I could have texted, but the keyboard on the phone was just the numbers (plus 'star' and 'pound') with three letters for each number...just like on a landline. There was no way in hell I was pecking my way through that crap.

And no email. No matter how many times you tell people you won't see a reply email until you're back in your office, they still send you emails that demand an immediate reply.

(Truth be told, I liked being semi-unreachable in certain times and places.

A.J. said...

Nathan - Okay, I take back my pity look because that's exactly the kind of phone I have. (And I'm perfectly happy with it, thankyouverymuch.) But with T9 and a little practice, it's actually pretty easy.

But I totally agree. Sometimes, it feels good to be unreachable.

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