Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I'm A Day Player. Not An Idiot.

Depending on what kind of show you're working on, and more importantly, who you're working for, the Standard Operating Procedure varies from show to show, set to set, Gaffer to Gaffer. In other words, there's more than one way to skin a cat, there's more than one way to crack a nut, and there's more than one way to light a set.

Some examples:

- Some crews prefer to "race-track" excess cable. Others prefer to wrap it in a figure 8.*

- Some Gaffers want you to turn on a light as soon as it's ready to go. Others prefer that you wait until they call for it. Some want you to wait for the Grips to put a frame of diffusion in first. Others want you to fire it up regardless.

- When setting up HMI Pars, some crews prefer the lenses be put in the slot furthest out while others want you to put it in the slot closest in.

- When setting up HMIs, some crews run it with double head feeders even if the light's only going to be fifteen feet away from the ballast. Some will just run it with a single head feeder.

- Some Gaffers want every light you bring to set to be on a dimmer, variac or hand squeezer. Others only want them brought with specific lights.** Some want none brought unless specifically called for.

- Some Gaffers want you to always put the diffusion on the inside of the barn doors. Others want you to always clip it to the outside of the doors.

- Some guys will call a Par Can a Par 64. Some guys will call Mole Par a Par 64.

Needless to say, it can get kind of confusing if you're like me and work on different sets with different crews all the time.

So if it's my first day with you on a crew that's new-to-me, please don't look at me like I'm an idiot if I ask you what the Gaffer meant when he says "Short-four." It's not that I don't know what a 2ft, 4 bank Kino is, it's because I've heard them called Twenty-Fours, Forty-Twos, Fat Boys, Squares, etc, but never "Short-Four."

Don't act like it's my first day ever on a set if I ask how you guys like to put the lenses in an HMI Par.

And don't give me a condescending lecture about what does or doesn't "always comes with the light" when I ask you if the Lite Panels came with batteries.***

I'm not asking this stuff because I don't know how to do my job. I'm asking because I don't know how you like the job to be done.

I realize that some guys spend most of their career with just one Gaffer and therefore, always does things only one way. That's fine. But to look at me like I just fell off the turnip truck and then gruffly say "There's only one right way to do things" just shows me your lack of experience.

I was on 36 different shows last year. (To put that into perspective, there's only 52 weeks in a year. That's a lot of jumping around.) And not one of them did everything exactly like another. Frankly, it's naive to think every set you go on will be exactly the same, and if you keep insisting to me that your SOPs are universal, I'm going to conclude that your grasp of the "real world" my be a little stale.

I'm a day-player. Not an idiot. I'm a guest on your set, and as such, I'd prefer to do things your way. As a courtesy to you. So please don't be an arrogant, know-it-all asshole about it.

And if you hand me a walkie-talkie that's set to a different channel that's not 7, don't roll your eyes at me if I ask, "Are we supposed to be on 7?"

* We don't leave heavy cable in a coil when there's a load in it because it might overheat.
** Usually a Leko/Source 4. 
*** FYI, you're full of shit if you give me that lecture. I've gotten them from rental houses as a complete kit with everything in it to just the Lite Panel itself, and every combination in between. So go fuck yourself.


JD said...

......"Short-four.", a new one for me. 4 by 2 Kino, Fat Boys, Skinny Men, etc., but "squares", Twenty-Fours, no. Dimmers or hand-squeezers, always for practicals, variacs for set lights only when called for.

Slang use is silly when it changes geographically or is used to demean a person.

A.J. said...

JD - There's a zillion and one names for that kind of Kino. Although if someone told me to get a "Skinny Man," I'd assume it's a 4ft, 2 bank or single. Not a 2ft whatever.

I agree with the dimmers on practicals, but I've been on a set or two before where they Gaffer wants you to bring a variac or dimmer for every light. They won't even call for it because they assume you'll do it automatically. Again, as I've pointed out in the post, SOPs vary from set to set.

Slag can be kind of silly, but I think it can be amusing as well ("Run DMC," anyone?). I only find it to be a pain in the ass if the Gaffer's making something up for the pure sake of being different, and/or if they other guys roll their eyes at you if you don't know what calling for a "hand grenade" means because every other set calls it a "brick light" (aka: a "Lite Panel Miniplus").

Niall said...

I try to just stick with basic set SOP when hanging with a new crew. Hang back for a day and just help run the outskirts of set and keep a close eye on how they run things. Dimmers with all practicals seems to be a standard but there are those guys that want them only when they say (I usually only pair those with Ball's, and lekos). No matter what you do if they're not understanding of you needing to learn their way, they by far less professional than you.

Also anyone that confuses a par can with a mole par or par 64 needs to compare them side by side. I'm not say they're stupid or any thing negative; it's just they are different things with different looks.

Jesse M. said...

Knew a guy who called sandbags "Daytona." As in Daytona Beach - beach - sand - yeah yeah you get it. Whatever, still made me clench my jaw whenever he called for it.

As for Kinos, it's always been # of tubes x # of feet.

Also most of the sets I've been on only have that makes it easy. Though the first time I heard some one call for it, I almost grabbed a 4x4 frame of diffusion...

A.J. said...

Niall - It can be a bit confusing, but a lot of people refer to the globes themselves as Par 64s. And as such, I've had Gaffers call for Par 64s (meaning Mole Pars) and Par 64s (meaning Par Cans). Unless you know what this particular Gaffer means when he calls for a Par 64, you have a 50/50 shot of getting it right. And as usual, it's probably best not to point out to the Gaffer, that you indeed, technically, bring him a Par 64. :)

Jesse - Daytona? That's a new one to me.

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