Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Vampire Weekend: "Cousins"

I'm sure we've all seen a music video or two (probably more) where the band rocks out with some Maxi Brutes flashing around in the background. Sometimes it's because the Producer/Director/Lead Singer thinks it looks cool and sometimes (especially on the low budget level) it's kind of a "well, we can't frame them out... So fuck it! Let's put them IN the shot!" type of situation. Either way, I'm kind of tired of seeing them.

But in steps this Vampire Weekend music video. There's no ubiquitous Maxi Brute anywhere in this thing (thank goodness) but they definitely embrace another kind of film equipment in their shots.

I kinda like it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Current State Of Affairs.

My legs are covered in bruises from running into too many set pieces, ballasts, and awkward stands.
My arms have minor cuts and scrapes from brushing up against set walls, an unusually sharp-edged cart and who knows what else.
My hands are dry and calloused and in bad need of a manicure.
My muscles are tired and sore from lugging around cable, stands and lights.
I'll come home, plop my ass on the couch, and just lay there for a few minutes, confused. I often don't know which I want to do first: shower, eat or sleep.
And in a few short hours, it'll all start over again...

But I'm working. Oh hallelujah, have I been working. Maybe too much. I haven't had a real day off in weeks. But then again, after having suffered for a couple of years with little to no work, this sudden flow of paychecks is like raiding an unguarded maids' cart in a hotel hallway: You take more than you probably should, but do so because you'll never know when an opportunity like this will come by again.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's Kind Of Embarassing When...

... you're trying to book a job over the phone but you've been working so much that you don't remember what day it is.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What Would You Do?

Okay, here's a "hypothetical" situation...

Let's say you need to hire someone for a day of work and long story short, you have two possibilities and only two. And for simplicity sake, let's say that their professionalism and skill level are just about even.

Option #1 is kind of a friend of yours. The two of you aren't BFFs or anything, but he's definitely more than just a casual acquaintance. He's asked that you keep him in mind when jobs come up and you agreed to do so.

Option #2 is someone you don't really know. But, he's related to somewhat of a friend of yours who's in a better position than you. This friend has asked that you keep their sibling/cousin/kid/family member in mind when jobs come up and if you find him something, your friend will in turn, "scratch your back".

So what would you do? Would you bring on your friend who you know and are more familiar with and would like to see get ahead in the game?

Or do you bring on the other guy because now his relative will owe you a favor? A favor that can be very valuable for you down the line...

Are you loyal to your friend? Or your career?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Is This A Good Sign...?

Something interesting happened the other day. I got a phone call from a friend who's Besting on a low budget feature.

"Hey, a couple of my guys canceled on me for tomorrow. I'm having some trouble finding people to take their spots. I know you're already booked, but do you know of anyone who's looking for work?"

I told him not to worry and that I'd take care of it. This wasn't the first time he's come to me to make a few calls when he's short on guys and I usually have no problem sending quality people his way. With all the Union negotiations, strikes, and runaway productions* in recent years, this town, and my contacts list, is brimming with people looking for work. At one point, it wasn't all that uncommon for me to find a few "I'm looking for work. Do you know of anything?" messages on my phone a week.

But this time was different. I went down the list of usuals. The people I call first when I need a crew to make me look good. They were all booked. Okay. No problem. They're all stellar people and this was a last minute deal. No surprise there that they can't take the job.

Next on the list were the guys that I called when the usual suspects are already booked. They're usually the ones who haven't been in the game very long and while they're great on ultra-low budget, paid-in-peanuts shoots, they've never been on a job that fed them anything other than pizza for lunch. In other words, my friend's shoot would've been the biggest thing they've ever worked on. Which ultimately, would be good for them as they'd be moving up on the totem pole of movie-making.

Only, they were all unavailable as well.


So now I was scraping the bottom of the barrel. The guys that are fresh and new on the scene who've done nothing but a few days on a student film. I made a few calls to them and eventually found two guys who were free to work the next day.

I gave them the info they needed, hung up, then sat down for a breather. It was getting kind of late and I was starting to panic about not being able to come through for my crew-challenged friend.** Which made me realize how long it's been since I had this much trouble finding someone to take a job. Granted, it was a bit last minute, but I usually don't have to go past Name #3 on my list to fill a spot.

That got me thinking: Are things really that busy right now? Or did I just catch everyone at a busy time? Sure, the people I called aren't free the next day, but is that the only day of work they had booked that week? Or are they unavailable because they're on a show, Monday through Friday?

I had lunch with a cohort the other day who said he had the same problem filling his spot as well when he got called for a better gig. "I guess it's just really busy out there," he said, "That's good."

And yes, it definitely is a good thing if things are picking up, especially after how sucky the past few years have been. But at the same time, it feels a bit odd to me that things are suddenly so busy...

*A production that shoots outside of California to take advantage of the tax incentives.
**Yes, I know it wasn't really my job or responsibility to fill out my friend's crew, but he asked me for a favor and I like to see those kinds of things through. Plus, I'd rather have my friends working than a random stranger.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thanks For Nothing.

We're shooting on location in a tiny little house somewhere in the Valley. I'm on set, camped out in the kitchen next to a light all day while they cover scenes in the living room. Other than the occasional tweak, it's been a pretty chill afternoon, but I begin to get a bit restless. I'm also a bit thirsty, kinda hungry, and have to pee.

So I chalk it up to good timing when a co-worker comes into the kitchen offering to man my post for a bit while I get some fresh air. "That'd be fantastic," I say as I get up off my apple box, "I needed a break."

But no sooner had I began to fix myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich over at crafty when I hear the call over the walkie from the Gaffer, "Hey A.J. Pan your light to the left a bit."

I continue to spread peanut butter on the bread, keeping my ear open for my co-worker's reply that he's got it covered... Only the "copy" never comes.

"Shit..." I think to myself as I drop my un-assembled snack back on the table. I hustle my way over to the other side of the house as quickly as possible, slide into the back door by the kitchen, and bang my leg into the counter in the process. That's definitely going to leave a bruise.

I pan the lamp left. "How's that?" I radio to the Gaffer. "Yeah, that's good. Thank you."

As I rub the bump on my leg, I look around for my colleague who's supposed to be covering for me on set. I finally spot him standing next to the Gaffer in the living room, cracking jokes.

Yeah, thanks for covering for me, Jackass.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Kinda-Sorta-But-Not-Really Anniversay Post.

I started this blog sometime in the ass end of 2008 with the intention of just writing and posting about anything and everything. Whether it was about what I did that day, something cool I saw online, or just what I was feeling at that particular moment. You can call it narcissism if you want, but I thought it'd be fun so that's exactly what I did. I posted a lot of random things those first few months (hey, I had a lot of free time on my hands).

Eventually, I ran into a problem: I realized that no body cared. No body knew who I was. No one had an interest in what I was posting. I wasn't doing anything exciting, different, new or ground breaking. No one was reading this shit.

And I know having a blog is something you should enjoy doing for yourself, otherwise, what's the point? It's not like I'm making any money off this site. But at the same time, why bother posting anything at all if no one's going to read it?

So I re-thought this whole blog thing. Should I just scrap it and let it drift into the sea of other abandoned blogs that never posted anything past month two? Or should I just change direction?

Obviously, I chose the latter. I went back and deleted most of my non-sensical, random posts about nothing in particular, keeping only the ones I kinda liked. And since I needed an outlet for all the pent up frustration I've accumulated from whatever little work I got, turning "The Hills Are Burning" into an Industry blog seemed like a fitting choice.

And sometime after that, thanks to Michael Taylor and some Google Search hits, I have all you wonderful people visiting this site.

Anyway, I don't know what would be considered the "real" anniversary of this blog since it kind of changed directions once or twice. But it seems like August of last year is when it started to take off a bit, so I say let's pretend that's when this site was really born.

So thanks for following me for a whole freakin' year!

On that note, I thought I'd celebrate this feat by sharing with you the first page from my journal (yes, the pen and paper kind). I shit you not, this is word for word and somewhat embarrassing. Looking back on it, it feels like it was written by a dramatic tween on Livejournal or something.

Please don't judge me...  :)


First Entry - February 9th, 2007

     For a while now, I've wanted to start a blog and title it "Perpetually Sitting In Traffic" of "The Hills Are Pretty When They Burn" or something like that. I felt like I had all these stories to tell and no one to tell them to. But on second thought, I had no idea on how to make a web page look cool or how to get a page that people might actually read. Then I started to worry about remaining anonymous and how that should/could work if someone I knew ever stumbled up on it and recognized me through my writing and stories. And what if no one read it? I would still have all these stories to tell and no one to tell them to only now I'd have a lame looking web page. Then I saw a TV news report on how Anna Nicole Smith was dead and how there were already a number of homemade tribute videos to her and her son on YouTube. It reminded me of how everyone can be their own filmmaker these days due to computers and digital stuff, which is good, but also means more competition/less jobs for me. Especially since I'm more old-school and prefer film over video. Then it got me thinking about how everyone and their mother has their own blog. So I decided to keep a journal instead. People seem to be forgetting the many uses for a pen and paper these days. Sure, what I have to say won't be out there for everyone to read, but at least I know there's an actual record of them somewhere and I not just a bunch of ones and zeros going through some cable lines. I just hope I don't lose this damn thing and that I'll actually keep writing in it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It Sucks When...

... after you factor in the call time, breakfast, the commute, your morning shower, etc, you realize that you'll only get about four hours of sleep.
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