Monday, June 26, 2017

Adventures In Excessive Shushing, pt. 2.





Dear P.A.s doing lock ups,

You have a job to do. I get it. If someone makes a peep on set while we're rolling, all hell breaks loose on your walkie channel (and in turn, in your ear) about finding the source of the sound and eliminating it.

We all totally understand it.

All we ask is that you use a little bit of common sense and judgement before you go all ape-shit on us for making the tiniest bit of noise.

Shushing us when we're ten feet away from video village and giggling at a YouTube video? Fair game. Shush away!

But when the set and video village is in the back room of a sizable house and I'm outside in the front, down the long driveway and on the other side of the property wall? Did you really have to shush me for cracking open a bottle of water? Really?

Trust me when I say that no one's going to hear that when there's three walls and 150 feet between us, so the vein popping "SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!1!!!" you threw in my direction was totally unnecessary.

Thanks,
-Crews everywhere.




Previously.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Set Photo Of The Day.




I don't even want to know what prompted the creation of this sign... For a built set... In the middle of a sound stage... Oh, and the set only has three walls.

Nope, don't wanna know...



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Marry The Night.


"Hey moon, please forget to fall down
Hey moon, don't you go down."
-Northern Downpour Panic! At The Disco


Most people dread night shoots. Most people get a sour look on their face when they see "5pm crew call" written on the top of the prelim.*

Me? I don't mind them so much. Since I'm a night owl anyway, switching from a day schedule to a night one isn't that hard for me. Plus, unlike most days, there's a definite end in sight. The company can only shoot night scenes until sunrise, and this time of year, that usually limits us to a 12 hour day, or less. And who doesn't like the sound of that?

But sometimes, I will admit, I wish the nights were longer. Sometimes, the weather is calm and just right; the city is quiet and still; the crew is jovial and in sync with each other; and your own department is taking a rare night off from drama. Crafty is bringing in a food truck and a coffee truck, and it feels less like work and more like a social thing. Sometimes, things just click.

Sometimes, you have a moment where you sit on the back of a tailgate, surrounded by your favorite people and just shoot the shit while looking at the stars. Sometimes, you get so caught up with running around in the day time so you can get home that you miss the night and what it has to offer. The quiet and peace that it can bring. The darkness that allows the city to twinkle and shimmer.

Sometimes, with the rest of the world so quiet and asleep, you feel like you have the whole city to yourself. Sometimes, it feels like your show is in it's own happy little bubble. It's like the best parts of a good day without any interruptions from the real world.

Call me crazy, but sometimes, the night shoots changes your crew in a good way. And sometimes, it allows you to look at things in a different light. And it's times like those that I don't want the night to end.






*Preliminary Callsheet.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Crush.



I don't remember the first time I saw him, but I remember the show. A shitty low budget thing that took place mostly at the beach starring B List actors.

While I normally love the people I'm working with, the majority of this crew was hit or miss. Some of the drivers were assholes, a few of the grips would whine about anything and everything, and production was a disorganized mess more than usual.

But despite the low rate and shitty company, this guy was pretty chill. And all kinds of cute and kinda hot. And young enough that I know it probably wouldn't work out between us, but not so young that I felt weird about admiring him from afar.

Or rather, secretly because I didn't exactly avoid him. In fact, I kinda did the opposite. I'd always gravitate towards him under the guise of needing to talk to someone in his department. If I saw him around set somewhere by himself, I'd (maybe not so) slyly find a reason to venture over there too. I'd always watch for him out of the corner of my eye, keeping tabs on his whereabouts in an almost stalker-ish way. We'd start off with some small talk, with me hanging on his every word. And while our conversations never got super deep, I learned enough about him to know that I wanted to learn more. He wasn't the type I usually go for or see myself with, but there was just something about him that I was drawn to.

Then the show ended and we went our separate ways without even a goodbye. The last I glimpsed of him, he was in a pass van leaving for crew parking while I headed down an alley to wrap the last of the 4/0.

I thought about him constantly for weeks after, but as time moved on, so did I. Eventually, he settled into a spot in the back of my mind categorized as "that one guy from that one show that I thought was hot and had a small crush on."

Years went by and since I never worked with that crew or production company again, I figured the chances of me seeing him again were slim to none.

Then, one day earlier this year, I opened a pass van door at crew parking and there he was, just sitting there as cool as can be. And just as good looking as I remembered.

We caught up with small talk as much as we could in the ten minute ride to set, and I pathetically found myself falling in the same pattern as I did the first time we worked together. It was almost as if no time had passed. I'd stalk him out of the corner of my eye. It'd just "happen" to be the two of us at crafty. Oh, what a coincidence! We're in the same van together again!

I was behaving like a school girl half my age. Or, if I really wanted to be honest with myself, I was behaving like a school girl a third of my age. It was pathetic and I couldn't help myself. And I'm actually really shocked that no one noticed my slight obsession. And if they did, I'm grateful it didn't become set gossip like this still usually ends up being.

After a couple of weeks of me slyly watching him more than I was watching the set, he vanished once again. A casualty of being a day player. And once again, I watched him pulling away in a van at the end of the night while I was in the truck finishing up some paperwork.

After that, I'd secretly hope he'd come back to day play again. I'd sit through production meetings, hoping big scenes would get even bigger so there'd be a chance for more day players to return. Every time we'd prep to go out on location, I look for his name on the call sheet.

Eventually, the show wrapped without him making another appearance on set and that was that.

Sometimes I wonder what would've happened if I was in that last pass van with him. Would we have said an actual goodbye this time? Would I have gotten over him easier if I had that closure? Would I think of him every time I saw a pass van turn a corner? Sometimes I think it's better this way, with me just admiring him from afar. After all, we do have such an age difference between us, and apparently we do, on occasion (though not enough in my opinion) work together. But sometimes, usually in my daydreams or when I have time to think, I can't help but wonder about all the "what-ifs".

In the meantime, the best I can hope for is that sometime soon, thoughts of him will once again settle into the back of my mind, this time categorized as "the guy I had a crush on that made me behave like a teenager."

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Unemployed.


Around this time last year, I found myself so busy that I was rejecting about two calls for work a day.

Around this time two years ago, I was simultaneously wrapping one show while prepping another.

Around this time three years ago, I was on a show full time.

But this year? I find myself with a lot of free time on my hands. I'm not sure if it's the looming writer's strike, the lack of work in general, the fact that I've been off the day-playing market for so long or what, but for the first time in about four years, I find myself with more days off than not.

At first it was fabulous. I'd spend days leisurely catching up on some reading, visiting new museums and restaurants, and checking out a new hiking trail I've been meaning to try for the last year and a half. I was having a great "staycation" in L.A., slowly making my way through the touristy things this town has to offer, but we never take the time to do.

It was great. I loved finally having some time off and exploring the little pockets of L.A. that I've always driven past but never stopped to see. Ramen in Little Tokyo? Check. Ube milkshakes in Eagle Rock? Yes, please! Artisan ice cream in Los Feliz? Been there, done that. Seeing the Endeavor space shuttle at the California Science Center? Did it and would do it again. "Unemployed"? More like "Funemployed!"

They say "unemployment is fun for about a week." I always scoffed at that whenever I'd hear someone say that at work. I always thought anything less than a week and a half off was just a tease. But I've now learned that for me, unemployment is fun for about three weeks.

Am I done bumming around L.A.? Hell no. And I don't think I'll ever be. There's so much left on my L.A. Bucket List that it's actually growing. For every one thing I cross off, I learn about two others I want to tackle.

But as much as I love eating and sightseeing my way around town, I can't help but notice that my bank account is shrinking. Los Angeles isn't a cheap town, and neither are the touristy things. I'm not close to being past due on bills by any means, and I did work non-stop all those years to ensure I had a nice nest egg for the slim times like this, but it's hard to justify treating yourself when you haven't had a paycheck in a while and don't know when the next one will come along. After a few years of non-stop work, I've finally convinced myself that it's okay to take time off because there will always be another job around the corner. And now, the calls are coming few and far between. Those old fears come flooding back.

Not only that, but I've re-learned that having all this time off gives you too much time to think. Without the distraction of being on set thirteen hours a day, or your body being so tired you fall asleep the second your head hits the pillow, your mind starts to wander to things that are hard to think about. Like what if you never get as much work again? What if your best years are behind you? Am I on the right path in my career? What will happen to me if I never get there? What if I lose my health insurance? If I get really sick or injured, who will help take care of me? Why do I not have any close female friends here? Do I have any friends here that aren't in the business? Is that normal? Wow, has it really been that long since I've been on a date? Wow, has it really been that long since I've been in a relationship? Wow, has it really been that long since I graduated high school and/or college? And what do I have to show for it? Am I not where I thought I'd be because I was too naive and ambitious? Or is it because I just don't have what it takes? Can I still lead a happy and fulfilled life if I never find "The One"? Yes. No. Yes? I think so? I hope so? I'm happy on my own now, but will that always be the case? Oh, who the fuck knows.

Unemployment leaves a lot of time for self reflection and I'm not sure I'm ready to see what's staring back at me in the mirror.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Cost of "Busyness".


If you have a few minutes, read this article about the working hours of America compared to other countries. I found it to be interesting and informative without being thrown too many numbers and percentages in my face. And I couldn't help but compare what the author was saying about the work culture in our country to our industry, and boy, did it raise some scary questions for me.

But if you don't have the time (and according to the article, you probably don't), you can read my Cliffnotes version of it!

- It's illegal in France to send work emails after working hours. (WE NEED THAT LAW HERE!!!)
- My warzone of an apartment was probably considered fine 55 years ago. Apparently technology just creates a higher standard of things, thus creating more work and stress. ...Kind of like how this "digital" thing was supposed to make everything easier and/or cheaper, but kind of doesn't and just creates a different kind of work.
- We're missing out on 12 paid vacation days a year. And apparently, 12 is considered too little.
- Long hours leads to being less productive, which leads to long hours... which leads to being less productive... and the cycle continues. So if the study was based on the average American work week of 33.6 hours, then what the hell does it mean for our industry when 65 hours a week is the norm? Can we be more productive with less hours?
- And if all this stress is making the average person sick, how much worse is it for us?
- I'm moving to Luxembourg... Or Denmark. Or at the very least, France.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Don't Do The Crime If You Can't Pay The Fine.


It's a pretty common practice* that if you're late to work, you buy coffee (either Starbucks or equivalent) for your department. Since that usually includes a drink of choice for the DP as well as the driver who takes you on the coffee run AND their Captain that gave the okay for a van to go M.I.A. for a half hour, the tab for the 9+ drinks adds up fast and is usually sufficient punishment enough for being a few minutes late. The same price is usually paid whenever someone comes back late from lunch from running an errand, or leaving early because of a doctors appointment, etc. Basically, any time your colleagues are covering your ass, you owe them a beverage.

Which is baffling when a colleague of mine was complaining about how much money he had spent on coffee this month.

"You're making me do a coffee run again, A.J.? This is my third time in two weeks!"
"Um... Then don't show up late, ask to come back to lunch late or leave for lunch early because you scheduled a doctor AND a dentist appointment during work hours?"





Bonus Points!

* On decent paying shows, anyway.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Blink Of An Eye...


It was just a wink. That was all it took to calm me down.

He was wrapping a pile of stingers while overhearing the myriad of instructions I was given by my boss on top of the already growing laundry list of things I had to do before the day ended. We only had so much time to get everything rigged and that time was rapidly coming to an end. We would barely finish in time as it was and these new notes were about to push me over the edge.

To say I was stressed would be an understatement. Add "panicked" and "on the verge of a meltdown" and you'd be closer to what I was feeling. I even contemplated throwing in the towel and just going home to a nice hot bath and an episode of Project Runway.

I glanced over to him after my boss walked away and he looked up from the stinger he was tying and gave me a wink.

It was such a simple, almost imperceptible gesture, but that blink of a single eye let me know that I could do it. That I've got this. That it'd all work out in the end. That he's on my side. That quarter of a second move made me stop, breathe, and collect myself before addressing my crew about the latest change in plans.

And in the end, we did the near impossible and got everything done in time with literally not a minute left to spare. But it was done. Mission accomplished. And I couldn't have done it without him

He had calmed me down when I needed it the most, did his job with efficiency, sensed the seriousness of the situation and reacted in kind, yet he'd make a small joke to get me to smile when appropriate. And usually when I needed it the most. He kept the rest of the guys on track when I wasn't around and didn't complain one damn bit though he had every right to.

And when this job ended and another one landed in my lap shortly after, I knew immediately who I wanted beside me to weather the next few months: him. As I learned more and more about what the upcoming job entailed, the more apparent that, once again, I'd be challenged and pushed to my limits, and I couldn't think of anyone else I'd rather have by my side. He'd be my support. My silent cheerleader. A physical reminder that there is someone who believes in me and will be there to help me if I needed it. With this daunting new show ahead of me, I wanted him with me. Badly.

But he turned me down in favor of an offer from his old crew. He said they needed him. Understandable, sure. But didn't he know I needed him, too?

That's when I stopped myself. Did I really need him? I enjoy the comfort and support he brings, sure. But do I need it?

I've been in this business alone for about a decade now, and I think I've done pretty well for myself so far. Sure, I've had moral supporters and a helping hand or two over the years, but no one that really stuck by me through the thick and the thin. No one to hold my hand when things got difficult. No one to help me make the tough decisions. I may have turned to people once or twice for advice, but at the very heart of it, it's just been me the whole time.

I've never had to depend on anybody. And I wasn't about to start now.

I stand alone. And I guess I will continue to stand alone.

I may want him, but I certainly do not need him.

I've got this.

I can do this.

And sometimes, as depressing as it may sound, sometimes it's good to have a reminder that I don't need anyone to hold my hand or give me a reassuring wink.

I may want the support. And things may be easier with someone on my team. But I am strong enough to stand on my own regardless.

I. Am. Enough.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Stop Working Before Call.




As I've touched on before in a previous post, while every effort is usually made to be on set and ready to work at your call time, you technically aren't "in" (read: "on the clock") yet if crew parking is a van ride away. Instead, your call time is what time you're supposed to be at crew parking. So if the callsheet says your call time is 10:30am and crew parking is a twelve minute drive away from set, you technically shouldn't be working until 10:42am, even if you're already at the truck because you got there early (usually because of the lure of breakfast). 

Best Boys and Gaffers who understand and actually enforce that rule are few and far between, so when I find a department head that insists on it, I want to give them a big ol' hug.

But what I don't get are colleagues that start working despite our Gaffer telling us not to. 

One guy on our crew in particular was adamant starting work "at call" no matter what, and when one guy starts working and everyone else is just standing around, it doesn't make our department look good, even if that one person is going rogue. So one day, as Mr. Company Man started to unload carts from the truck before our official working time, I reminded him that we still had a few minutes until we were "in."

Since this wasn't a new discussion on this show, he sighed before turning to me, and said, "That's a stupid rule."

I stared at him blankly in return. "Do you want to work for free?"

"What? Hell no," was his immediate response.

"Then stop working before call."

It's as simple as that, people. If you're working before you're paid to work, you're working for free. It's not a hard concept to grasp.

I personally haven't worked for free since I stopped answering job ads that promised "copy, credit and meals," and I refuse to go backwards.
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