Thursday, July 22, 2010
Fun With Warnings!
It can get pretty loud on a film set. Unless the cameras are rolling, people from every department are hustling and bustling around, trying to get their jobs done. Art Department's trying to finish dressing the set, drilling holes in the walls, or what have you. Hair and Make-Up are swarming over the Talent and touching them up while Wardrobe crawls around the floor fixing hemlines or buffing shoes. The P.A.s are passing out sides and waters while the Background hits on them....
All in all, it can get pretty crowded and people end up standing or sitting where they probably shouldn't be. Then come in the Grips and Electrics, carrying their long, steel dolly tracks, pointy-legged stands, and hot-hot lights, and holy shit, you better get out of their way unless you want to get violated by a c-stand or whipped by a stinger.
Luckily, we Grips and Electrics are trained to yell shit out all the time, like "hot points!" when we're carrying something sizable and pointy. Or "line out!" when we're tossing stuff over a set wall we can't see over. When you hear either of those calls, it's a signal that you should either be damn sure you're out of the way or cover your head.
Sometimes though, Grips and Juicers are idiots lacking any kind of common sense. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "line out!" coming from someone as they're tossing something over the wall, making it impossible to react and get out of the way in time. Or worse yet, calling "line out!" and tossing something without giving a clue as to which direction they're headed. How am I supposed to be out of the way if I don't know which way you're going??
(One way to solve this problem: Call "Hey, behind the bedroom wall! Line out!" or bang on whatever wall you're going to be tossing over, shout "Line out!", wait a second, and then toss the line only as hard as you need it to travel. There's no reason to hurl the free end of a stinger like a football if you only need to go two feet.)
Another thing that bugs me is when we bitch about how no one listens or gets out of our way when we're not even calling out the warnings properly. "Hot points!" and "line out!" are pretty standard terms in our industry and anyone who's been working for any amount of time on a set knows what they mean. But sometimes, a Grip or Electric will try to amuse themselves and thinking they're being funny, will be a bit more "creative" with their warnings.
A few things I've heard over the years:
"Free rectal exam!" when you're holding something like dolly track at waist level.
"Free dental work!" when you're holding something like dolly track at shoulder level.
"Headache!" when you're tossing something over a set wall.
While some of those warnings may be amusing, it may not be clear to other people on set what's going on. A background actor probably knows what "Get out of the way!" means, but will probably stop and look around confused when he hears "Free rectal exams!"
And while I in no means am trying to be a party pooper, I'm a fan of safety and warnings like that should be clear to everyone. At the very least, make it understandable enough so that if you do end up beaming someone in the head or defiling them with a piece of track, you can't say that you didn't give them a fair warning.