Sunday, March 22, 2009

The New Kid.

It's no secret that things have been slow in Hollywood lately, which is why I got excited when I got a call for work last week. I mean, the kind where you jump around your apartment kind of excited. Not only was it a decent rate (for me anyway) but it was a commercial for a well known brand and it was a union job. Unfortunately, because of certain rules, the union can't know about me being there, so it took some creative finagling to get me on the crew and I wouldn't get any permit days out of it (I need 30 to be union eligible and I have none so far). But I didn't care. This job meant that I'd get a paycheck, a chance to hang out with some big-time union boys and hopefully a new connection or two for future jobs. Woot!

So anyway, I got all excited, counting down the days and making sure my gear was organized and accounted for. When it was time to work, however, I was surely disappointed. I don't know if it was because of the way I looked (female), or because I was simply the only non-union person therefore deemed incompetent, but most of those guys treated me like I didn't know one end of an extension cord from another. Only one guy was smart/nice enough to ask me if I've been on a shoot before, and he was the only one to actually put me to work (when there was work to be done anyway. It was a pretty easy day).

The best/worst offense was before the day even started and we were waiting for the pass van to take us to the location. I had just met the key grip and we were standing by the catering table and truck where breakfast was being served. Despite the fact that I've been there for half an hour and already ate the breakfast offered, the key goes on to actually explain the concept of breakfast to me, as well as how to get it, etc. (And for those of you who've never experienced an on-set breakfast, think a buffet style catered party. It's pretty self explanatory how you get food.) Seriously?? I genuinely think he was explaining it to be helpful and nice, but WAS HE SERIOUSLY EXPLAINING BREAKFAST??

I should've known that his comment was a prelude to the rest of my day. I didn't run any cable because they didn't think it was appropriate to "throw me into the physical part of it just yet" and someone actually came out to babysit me while I was babysitting a light. *sigh*

But I did try to be a good sport about it though. After all, I was the new girl on the block and these guys who've been working with each other for years have no idea who I am or what's on my resume. The sad thing is that no one bothered to ask me. I guess the final annoying straw came when I was being nice and returning a piece of gear to the grip department:

Me: Hi, where do you want me to put this offset for you?
Grip: huh?
Me: This offset. I'm returning it to you. Where does it go?
Grip: Well, this is called a baby offset. It goes on top of a stand and it's used to...
Me: (impatient... kinda snapping) Yeah, I know what it is. I'm just wondering where it goes back to. One of your other guys used it for the Joker, but we're taking the rig apart.
Grip: oh... Well, I don't know...
Me: (sets it on one of their carts and walks away...)

I did feel a little bad after that happened though. I mean, as annoying as this whole baby treatment was, the guy did think he was doing me a favor. But on the bright side, after that exchange he did wise up enough to ask me if I've worked on set before (though he did assume it was only once or twice before) and we had what could actually be classified as a conversation. *gasp!* Too bad it was near the end of the day when it happened. Perhaps I should've shown my bitchy side earlier.

In the end, I didn't really get anything out of the experience other than a (much needed) paycheck. I was kind of disappointed. I guess it's my fault though. Despite me usually working on small potato productions, I've had my fair share of run ins with "old timers" and union folk, and they almost always turn out the same: they take one look at me and assume I can't do the job.

Whatevs. In all honesty, I'm starting to become jaded about working with guys like that. If they want to take work away from me under the assumption that I can't handle it, so be it. Chances are, they're getting paid more than I am anyway and who am I trying to impress? No matter how good of a job I do, I know that once a guy makes a snap judgment like that, there's no way he's going to hire me in the future anyway. Fuck em.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I'm Used To Leaving Satisfied... What A Tease.

Since things have been so slow in terms of work, I decided to at least take advantage of the down time and go back to school. The cool thing is that I don't have to write papers or read X chapters by Tuesday, but instead, I'm taking a class on how to be an on set electrician. Because let's face it, I may know how to lay the cable and focus a light, but I suck at actually figuring out how much each cable can hold and troubleshooting a light with bad wiring.

Though so far, the class hasn't been all that informative (but then again, I've been on a few sets before) but I have learned something about myself: I love lighting.

I love laying down the cable runs. I love wrapping them all back up at the end of the day. I love the way a 1k baby feels right when you take it off the head cart. And I love the teamwork that goes into lighting every scene.

And yes, I've always loved lights. Ever since I was about 10, I knew I wanted in some way or another be the one to design the lighting for movies. But it wasn't until today, when after sitting through what seemed like hours of "on the set" anecdotes from a guest speaker, that I realized just how much I loved the craft.

It started dawning on me as I made my morning commute to class. I was actually excited about the day. It's been too long since I've been on a real set, lugging things around and driving home exhausted and I was looking forward to running some cable in class. And after a long lecture from out guest, we were finally ready to lay down some cable and do some lighting. My body was humming with excitement.

Unfortunately, I didn't get very far. Since I was technically a "beginner", I had to either spend my time shadowing a stiff, humorless "advanced" student or grouped with the other newbies who are just learning what a stinger is. What should have been a two person cabling job was done by ten of us and before we got anything really done, it was time to call it a day.

Talk about a tease.

I'm used to dragging my tired and beaten body to my car at the end of the day, and I'd leave the set feeling satisfied. There's no better feeling in the world than feeling like you were productive, and aching feet mean that you've definitely done your share. Barely laying out two sticks of banded before heading home? I've got so much energy to burn still that I have no idea what to do with myself. Ugh. There's no way I'm going to sleep well tonight.

But there's always tomorrow. I'm not due back in class until Thursday, but in the meantime, I get to day play as a grip on a friend's shoot. My body's humming with excitement already.
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