Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Okay, I know I've bitched about the topic before, but damn, I feel like the cell phone problem is getting progressively worse.

Some examples of what I had to encounter today...

• I'm standing on top of a 12 step ladder. Due to the position of the light and the logistics of the location we're in, I'm kind of dangling off the side of it in extremely awkward position trying to adjust a light that's barely-but-not-quite within reach. Working on ladders that are taller than I am make me nervous to begin with, but being at the top of one in a weird, twisted stance fiddling with a burning hot light while an army of set dressers, grips and PAs mill around below make me more tense than a geek playing dodgeball in gym class. So imagine how even more nervous I am when the steps starts to quiver a bit just as I reach out to the light. I look down at the guy who's assigned to hold the ladder while I'm up there. The asshole's not even paying attention to the hot light dangling above him or the girl who's safety and well being depends on him. He's too busy texting (with both hands).

• I get sent away to pre-rig the next scene when I realize that I forgot to retrieve something from staging. On my way back, I end up walking in on a take. I got yelled at. I made my department look bad. And it was extremely embarrassing. Why didn't the P.A. who was doing lock-up stop me from crashing the scene? Because he was on his iPhone. Playing Connect Four.

• A BFL* is called for and three of us were setting it up. One of us walked away to grab another cable for it while me and the other guy finished getting the rest of it prepped. But now the two of us are waiting around for the other guy to come back. Tired of waiting around (especially since the set was waiting on us), I go in search of the guy to find out why a two minute trip was taking more than five. I found him as soon as I stepped on the truck. He was standing next to the needed cable, on his phone. He stands there, chuckling, then looks up and says to me, "Guess what my friend just said on Facebook." Are you fucking kidding me?? Not only was the whole set waiting on us/him, but he left me and another guy to do a three person job so he could check his FACEBOOK??

• "Last set-up guys! The faster we get this lit, the sooner we get to go home." At the end of a long day, this was music to my ears. My colleague and I were instructed to bring a grocery list of items to set. We snap into action, but as I turn the corner, I notice that he's no longer walking beside me. I stop and look back. The guy's just standing there, looking at his Blackberry. "Uh... Hey, you want to come help me with these lights or what?" He doesn't even bother to look up from his phone. "You go ahead first. I'm just going to deal with this e-mail real quick and I'll help you when I'm done." I roll my eyes, but since I want to get out of there before hour 14 hits, I continue on without him. By the time he's finished with his fucking "LoL, OMG, look at these cute cats!" e-mail, I had finished the hard part and all he had to do was help me wheel things in to set.

People need to do their motherfucking jobs and stop staring at a tiny screen all day.

*Big Fucking Light.


Ed "sloweddi" said...

I have been doing this for 35 yrs and in my experiance it's not the cell phone, its the idiot holding the cell phone.
In my business (laptop repair) it is the guy who finds some strange esoteric problem and takes two days to diagnose a 10 minute problem. Or better yet, the repair was a wipe and reload, no save (that is wipe the computer clean and reload a system without saving any data. A 1-1/2 hr job and our money maker). Three days later the laptop was still not done. Or the guy who leaves his computer on all weekend when the shop is closed so he can download a really large file, which locks up the network for everyone and we spend all day replaceing what we think are bad switches.

You can't really complain, all you can do is call them on it and if it happens again refuse to work with them.

Michael Taylor said...

Ed --

With all due respect, it IS the cell phone. Fixing computers is doubtless a demanding, frustrating, complicated business, but the work itself is very different from toiling on a film set. Juicing or gripping is an intensely physical job where the entire crew is needed to share the load and get the work done safely. Everybody has to pay attention to make the machine work. While it's true that stupid, inattentive, lazy-ass workers have been around since the beginning of time (tolerated only because they're usually related to someone much higher up the food chain), cell phones seem perfectly designed to turn otherwise normal human beings into morons.

AJ --

I'm glad to see you address this subject with such fervor. I've posted about cell phones in the past, but as a certified Industry geezer, have no credibility with younger readers when carping about the problems cell phones create on set. The kids just roll their eyes while muttering something about old people and rotary phones -- then they resume texting. You're their age, you speak their language, and maybe they'll listen to you.

Under normal circumstances on the job, there's a time and a place to use your cell phone: during a coffee break, bathroom run, or at lunch. Otherwise, unless the best boy or gaffer gives you the okay to make or return a call, leave the goddamned phone in your pocket when you're on set, and pay attention to your job. Making calls or texting while the rest of the crew is busy working is extremely unprofessional. And believe me, best boys and gaffers notice who's doing the work while others yak on their phones. If you abuse the privilege afforded by this amazing technology, you'll eventually find work a lot harder to get.

You should have dropped your crescent wrench on that clown who was supposed to be holding your ladder...

Nathan said...

Repeated creative (and utterly rude) text messages to the offenders might do the trick. At the very least, it'll interrupt their conversations.

Ed "sloweddi" said...

You are totally correct Michael... just venting after a tough day.

However, in the mid 80's I did work for a few years doing sound for an un-named studio at 5555 Melrose. Good but...

Azurgrip said...

A local camera assistant coined a word - or rather an acronym: GOYFI

"Get Off Yer Fu*k'n Iphone!"

I'll admit that I have one, and the apps are pretty cool - it's almost done away with my laptop use, so I have to watch my usage on set. What a wicked web we weave...

A.J. said...

Ed - While I agree that a large part of it has to do with the idiot holding it, the cell phone is an enabler. It's like rain and drivers in L.A.: It turns everyone into morons.

Michael - Unfortunately, I can post until I'm blue in the face, but I don't think it'll make a lick of difference. I do hope you're right about the Best Boys and Gaffers noticing who's on the phone and who's not though (that is, if they're not one of the phone fanatics). That way, I can climb the ranks and someday fire (with much fanfare and enthusiasm) those below me who are on their phone while the rest of us are working.

Nathan - The problem with that solution is that I then become one of the problem texters. Paradox!

Azurgrip - While they're a little too gadget-y for my taste, I do have to admit that iPhones can be useful at times. But I guess it's all about finding the right balance of usage and knowing when it's appropriate to use it work.

Unknown said...

You might enjoy this new track from Lord Refresher. It's currently sweeping the nation, and I thought you should have a heads up!


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