A couple of days ago, I got called to help with a load-in for a show my friend was doing. Unfortunately, I'm not part of the permanent crew, but hey, work is work. Besides, if I'm just on for a day, load-in days are the good ones. You spend the day in a rental house counting and checking out the gear and most of the time, you get to go home in less than eight hours. (And if you're lucky, you'll run into someone you know on a different crew and possibly drum up some future work. No such luck for me this time around though.) The work may be tedious, but I'm definitely not complaining.
Especially since I was lucky to even land work for a day. Word on the streets is that it's still pretty slow out there in terms shooting. Almost every juicer, grip and cameraman I've spoken to since I got back into town early last month has been out of work. Sigh. So much for the rumors.
But something weird was going on at the rental house though. They were missing a lot of gear. We had to cross some things off our order list simply because they didn't have any more inventory on their shelves. There were a few items we had to sit and wait around for because they just got returned. And often times, we ended up with the older style lights and stands (aka: stuff that's rusted, banged up, and/or somewhat questionable) because that's all they had left. By the time we got there, there wasn't even any more milk crates! And this was a pretty well known and sizable rental house too.
So what's going on here? Why is it that most people, union and non-union folk alike, are pretty much starving for work, yet a major rental house is running out of equipment? This makes no sense to me. Where is all this gear going and who is being hired to operate it??
Am I missing something?