Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Just Another Day At The Office.




My assignment seemed like a simple one: wire up all the practicals on our newest set before production was scheduled to shoot on it later today. Easy peasy...

...Until I saw the set.

It was an odd shaped room about a 100 feet long built on a stage and set dressing had amorously peppered it with sconces, lamps, televisions and computers every few feet... And not a whole lot of options when it came to plugging these devices in and making them work. Most of them would require a hole being drilled in the set somewhere just to able to feed a stinger through where the camera won't see it. And if you've ever fed power through a set wall (especially a double layered one), you know it can involve a lot of blind and frustrating finagling as you try to reach the other side. Not to mention that a number of these practicals didn't have a plug on them, which added an extra layer of "fun" to this challenge.

And I only had a couple hours to make it all work.

The first thing I did, as is with any kind of mission, was to gather supplies. I emptied out a nearby milk crate and filled it with cube taps, power strips, hand dimmers, wire nuts, sash, tape, zip cord*, add-a-taps, bailing wire, and anything else I might need. And then I went to work.

I spent the next few hours on my hands and knees, crawling around the floor trying to plug stuff in, or on a ladder as I tried to feed wires through the ceiling; only pausing to chase down other departments for more tools and supplies (a drill from construction, N.D. from grips for a light that can't dim, a wire hanger from wardrobe so I can fish cable through otherwise impossible walls, etc).

Eventually, my boss wandered to my set to check up on my progress. He saw how much I had left to do and how little time we had left, and immediately sent a colleague in to help me.

Two people tackling this job was better than one, but we soon encountered another road block: we were running out of supplies. My once filled milk crate was almost empty, leaving us with a dozen or so practicals left with no way to wire and power them.

That's when we started scrambling. With the shooting crew almost on their way, we pillaged and stole stingers, dimmers, zip cord*, etc from other sets. We dove into our own personal supplies of cube taps and ground lifts. It became a "do what you gotta do" moment.

And we had just gotten the last practical plugged in and burning when the company started rolling in...

Whew.

I had scrapes on my arm from reaching between set walls; bruises from various pieces of furniture; a minor wound from being stabbed by a stray wire; my knees hurt from crawling around and I desperately wanted a snack from crafty. But I was proud of what we had accomplished. It was not a lot of time for the task at hand, nor did we have the proper tools to make it work, but we pushed through, did our best, and despite some frantic moments in the last hour, we got the job done.

There were just a couple of final touches that needed doing, like labeling the lunchbox where we plugged the last few practicals in. So I was just on the other side of the set wall when I heard the Director say this as he was trying to figure out his first shot on this new set: "Can I see what this looks like with all the practicals off?"

And they stayed off for the entire scene.







*...or not.. ;)

3 comments :

Phillip Jackson said...

Ouch, those are the worst moments but they happen all the time. I always try and tell myself it's better to be safe than sorry.

Michael Taylor said...

I think we've all been there and done that, but it hurts every time. Still, the only way to know for sure that the director really will want to see every practical burning is if you don't bother to wire them in the first place -- and then everybody on the set lighting crew looks bad.

There's no winning these things.

But hey, you did a good job and got a great story. Sometimes that has to be enough...

A.J. said...

Philip - Absolutely better safe than sorry! But sometimes, I'd rather just not know whether my work gets used or not...

Michael - I have several stories that end the same way. :)

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