In one of those weird "I need a crew at the last minute and got your name through a friend of a friend" types of calls, I ended up Besting on Electric side for a few days on a short film with a crew I was totally unfamiliar with. It's a little odd, but eh, work's work.
Most of my crew members were fine. It was a mish-mash of experience levels, but overall, we weren't too bad for a rag-tag team of strangers thrown together at the last minute....
Except for one guy.
You'd give him an order, and he'd stand there and stare at you for a while, as if you just ordered lunch in Italian instead of asking him to unload the truck or grab some tape. Ask him to get a light, and it wouldn't occur to him to bring along the scrim bag and a stand. Ask him for a 100amp cable and he'll bring you a 60amp. He'll bring you a 4 bank kino fixture with a 2 bank ballast...
I'd be willing to chalk those mistakes up to inexperience, but even non-industry related tasks seemed to baffle him. While going through his paperwork, I noticed a few pages where his signature was missing, despite bold, red letters stating "SIGN BOTH PAGES."
On one form, instead of writing in his name as it was asked, he wrote in his e-mail address.
He's a member of Local 728.
This guy is a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees as a Studio Lighting Technician. In other words, this guy is a Union member and therefore eligible to work on big, multi-million dollar, studio funded productions (and he has) as a juicer. Which means that he'll often make more money in a day than I will in a week... For the same exact job.
I know of some pretty kick-ass grips, juicers, etc who do nothing but live, eat and breathe their jobs. They work hard, know their craft inside and out and have been trying to reach the holy grail of Union life longer than I have. And yet, they've never been able to reach it.
Those are the guys that should be in the IA. Not the kid who was with me the other day, tying the wrong knots onto cables.
This was just another reminder of how unfair this Industry is. How every day, the blind powers that be pass over talent, skill and training in favor of those with plain, dumb luck.
Welcome to Hollywood.