Thursday, May 26, 2011

Video Break.

Things have been pretty hectic here lately and sadly, the upcoming holiday weekend is adding to the craziness instead of providing me with a much needed break. Unfortunately, that means that I haven't had time to actually sit down and write a real blog post but until I do, I leave you with a music video.

It was brought to my attention the other day and although I can't say that I love the song, I am enamored with video itself. It's another example of how a simple concept can make a big impression, and for some reason, those are the kinds of projects that stick with me.

Plus, big thumbs up to the boom op about half a minute in! (Also, a boom op in a music video??)


Friday, May 20, 2011

What I Learned Today...

What does a gorilla do after it's done throwing poo?
-Sets a c-stand.

What do Grips and Electrics have in common?
- Grips don't want to be Electrics either.

How do you spot an Electric walking down the street?
- He's wearing hundred dollar shoes and a free t-shirt.

Why do Sound Guys say, "One, two, one, two?"
- Because on "three" they gotta lift.

What's the biggest thing Grips carry?
- Art Department.

What did the Production Manager give his kids for Christmas?
- Nothing, but he promised to make it up to them on the next one.

Ba dum bum!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

It's Never Good Enough.

It's sunny. It's hot. And I'm outside by myself.

I look out at the work I have to do ahead of me and see several hundred yards of cable (three phase!) that need to be wrapped. I'm a team of one, so those several hundred yards could've been miles of the stuff and it wouldn't really make a difference in my eyes. A lot of cable is a lot of cable.

I start by following the run and undoing the connectors whenever I came across some. When doing a big cable wrap job like this, I find the assembly line approach to be best. Undo all the knots and connections first. Wrap it all. Tie it last. Wrapping the heavy mutherfuckers is the most daunting part of it all, but the trick is to get a good rhythm going with it and don't stop. Pausing every twenty seconds to tie each finished piece slows you down and prolongs and adds to the misery, despite it all being the same amount of work in the end.

As I walked the run, I'd pause and groan every once in a while at the stupidity of the task at hand. Every corner I turned seemed to reveal another layer to this hell. I'd find things like empty pallets, dumpsters or even set walls on top of the cable, making a "basic" wrap job into one that involves even more heavy lifting.

Eventually, I reached the end of this rubber coated copper trail of misery and now the fun part began: The wrapping.

If you've ever wrapped any significant amount of cable all at one go, I don't have to tell you that it sucks, especially for those of us out there who don't exactly weigh much more than the stuff. Your arms get tired after the first few sections, but you gotta keep moving lest you never finish. And then your back starts hurting. A big cable job can wreak havoc on your lower back as you're constantly bending while pulling all that weight.

But one by one, I'd finish each leg of cable and move on to the next one. As the sun beat down on the concrete surface, I somehow managed to keep slowly, but surely, moving along the cable trail, leaving plops of neatly coiled cable in my wake, just waiting to be tied and loaded onto a cart.

And finally, the finish. The last piece of cable. I was in halfway through wrapping it when the Gaffer walked by. The one and only soul from the crew I've seen since I've been out here.

"How's that cable wrap going, A.J.?" he asks me, shielding his eyes from the bright daylight.

"Pretty good." I replied, not pausing from my wrapping movements. "This is the last piece of it right here." Aaaand done. "It just all needs to be tied and picked up."

"Wow...." He looks past me at the coils of cable dotted around what used to be their shooting ground. "You finished faster than I thought you would. Anyway, take a break and then come on inside. We're switching sets and I need you to be in there with me for that one. I'll send some of the other guys out a little later to tie and pick up the cable."

I nod and guzzle a bottle of water before I head to set. It's dark and cool inside, providing me with much needed relief from the scorching sun I was sweating in just moments earlier. After I grab a quick snack from crafty, I join in with the rest of the guys as we scramble to get the new shot lit.

Once things were up and running, we were informed that the set up probably wouldn't change much for a little while. "Now would be the perfect opportunity for all that cable outside to be picked up and sorted," the Gaffer announced over the walkie, "Best Boy, you can take whoever you want, but A.J., you're with me on this set."

So I stayed behind with the Gaffer as the Best Boy and the rest of the crew marched outside into what was rapidly becoming a rather nice and cool evening.

I had just settled into a cozy, unseen corner by camera where I would await my next orders when I hear the Best Boy over the walkie.

"Geeze, A.J. You couldn't tie this stuff up while you're at it?"

I sat there in silence because all I could think was "What... the... fuck."

I was out there, by myself, for hours, by myself, in the hot sun, BY MYSELF, wrapping all that heavy ass cable BY. MY. SELF. And there are FOUR of them out there right now in the cool air. None of them had to wrap a one single piece of that stuff and now they're bitching about having to tie them??

Was I really hearing this??


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dear Dolly Grip....

I love you. I really do. I think you're an awesome person and you're really nice. And I'll run you a dolly bump whenever you need it. Usually before you even ask for one.

But do you think that maybe, just at least one of these times, you don't drop the hot stinger into a puddle of water when you're done with it?


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"You're Lucky You're Working."

Times are kinda tough right now.

With the pilots (mostly) done and over with and network shows on their season hiatus (and not to mention, runaway productions), the town is kinda dead save for a few cable shows and the usual mix of commercials, music videos, reality TV and independent projects.

In other words, most industry people I know aren't working right now.

Which makes it all the more miraculous that I've managed to keep slightly busy these days. Granted, I'm not exactly doing the 80+ hour work weeks like the previous month, but it's been enough to keep my head above water while most of my friends are coming up with nothing.

What sucks, however, is the form of guilt that comes with working when everyone else isn't. I'll be sitting on set in the sweltering hot California sun, or have an ungodly call time of 3am, or be on hour 16 of what was supposed to be a 12 hour day, and I can't say a damn word about it. Because no matter what the sucky situation, the reply from whoever's listening usually is, "You're lucky you're working. A lot of people aren't."

That answer always rubs me the wrong way.

Yes, I realize that a lot of people aren't working. And that sucks. And yes, I realize how easily I could have very much not be here, but I wouldn't exactly call it "luck."

Some odd years ago, when I was young and new to this town, I was chatting at lunch with a co-worker. During our small talk, he revealed that he had gotten a full ride scholarship to the rather prestigious school from which he had graduated from. "Wow..." I remarked, thinking how I wish I could've had my tuition paid for. "You're lucky."

"No." He looked at me straight in the eyes to make sure I'd understand his next point. "I wasn't lucky. I worked damn hard for that scholarship. It had nothing to do with luck."

And he was right. It's not like the school threw his name into a hat with a few others and pulled out a winner. I don't know what exactly the scholarship guidelines entail, but I'm sure it had something to do with years of community service, extracurricular activities, a history of impeccable grades, and a kick ass essay or two. Either way, it wasn't something that happened over night. He had earned that full ride.

Which leads me back to my issue with the whole, "You're lucky to be working" response I often get this time of year. Yes, I suppose I do owe part of me working to "luck." Some say that "luck" is when opportunity meets preparation and I wouldn't have a paycheck if the "opportunity" part of it wasn't there, but what about the rest of it?

Like my colleague and his scholarship, the powers that be didn't just throw my name into a hat and randomly draw one out like a cast member on Five Dollar Fridays. I'd like to think that I somehow deserved to be there. That somehow, my years of hard work, networking, and knowledge of the craft is what is keeping me employed. With so many people filing for unemployment right now, there's a long list of other people the Best Boy could've called to fill my spot, but he didn't. He called me. So I'd at least like to think that hiring me can be attributed to me doing something right and not just random luck.
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