Saturday, July 23, 2011

Stop Helping.

Hey people in other departments,

I like that you want to be nice and a "team player" and realize how miserable a Juicer's job can be, but please, stop "helping" us.

It's really considerate and all that you try to do little things that make our lives easier, like wrap a stinger when you're done with it. But did you know that there's a right way and a wrong way to coil the cable?* And when it's done backwards, not only does it throw us off the next time we use that stinger, but it also screws around with the insides, eventually making it unusable?

And when it's not just the right size with the right amount of loops in it, it doesn't pack well into the crates, and we have to re-do it all anyway.

And yes, sometimes we can be kind of inconsiderate and leave piles of banded or 4/0 in the middle of the floor in anticipation of coming back with a cart to pick it all up later, and we understand that sometimes those coils may end up in your way. But please just wait the thirty seconds it takes for one of us to get over there and move it for you. It's great that you'll sometimes save us the hassle and stack it into piles for us, but if you must do that, please, can you at least check to see if the coils are tied before moving them? Because let me tell you, trying to discern between one hundred pound coil of cable from the next when they're untied and stacked on top of one another is NOT fun and usually ends up in us having to re-do it all.

And ADs, yeah, we get that sometimes we may fall behind schedule, resulting in a mad rush for us to wrap out of a location before Production gets slammed with overage charges, but please stop sending your PAs to "help" us out. You may think you're just sending them over to move things around, and hey, how hard can that be, right? But did you know that we often leave the latches open on some of the lights and if they're not closed when you move the heads around, the lens can fall out and shatter into a million little pieces? I know a few PAs who learned that the hard way (as well as a few Best Boys who weren't to pleased with the L&D**).

While we're at it, I love that on a smaller shoot, even the Director wants to jump in and lend a hand. That shows passion and dedication. But guess what? Live power is no joke. What you see us doing may look kinda simple, but we also (more or less) know what we're doing. That distro box I caught you disconnecting the other day (true story)? That had live power going through it. And that camlock*** you took out first? Yeah, that was the ground. Long technical mumbo jumbo short, that could have ended in a very bad day for you.

Sure, to the naked eye, what we do on the job every day may seem simple and require nothing but brute strength. "Drop this cable here and match the colors together." "Put that light there and plug it in." Etc, etc. But let me tell you, the Devil is in the details. For every simplistic action you see us do, there are about a dozen thought processes involved that you don't see. Picking up a light? Are all the scrims out of it and accounted for? Are the barn doors on right? Is the lens still in there? And while we're at is, where's the lens case? Is the latch closed? Is the rocky mountain leg retracted? Is it unplugged? Are all the knuckles locked down? How hot is the head still? And that's just what goes on in our head for simply moving a light. It gets even more complicated when we're dealing with distro and live power.

Bottom line, our jobs are more complicated than you think and one wrong move on your part (no matter how well meaning may be) could mean disaster on our end.

To sum it all up, I really appreciate the fact that you all want to help. I really do.

But please, stop helping.

* Go clockwise.
** Loss and Damages. Basically, shit that breaks and need to be paid for.
*** Normally, I'd include a link to help explain the more technical terms in my posts, but in this case, if you don't know what I'm talking about, then you really shouldn't be helping. :)


Niall said...

Yeah this is defiantly a rough one for me. I just throw stands and dirt in their hands and let them pile it in a corner for a muscle cart. Lights, cable and frames, hands off.

I heard a story where a DP got a PA to go disconnect a DPD Box. What neither of them knew was six 4ks were still burning at the end of the line. Before the PA could disconnect the neutral the BBE kicked them from the box.

I'm all for a Director, DP or a PA grabbing simple stuff but if can shatter, tear, rip, splinter, or electrocute when miss handled, NO TOUCHY!

Nathan said...

You and I will get along just fine on set. I totally had my fill of lugging heavy dirty shit when I worked in the rental house. I happily look at any and all of it now and think, "Not my job!"

Michael Taylor said...

That's one of the benefits of working union jobs here in LA -- untrained hands rarely touch your equipment. Non-union gigs -- with smaller budgets and crews -- often devolve into an all-hands-on-deck frenzy, which is when so many accidents happen.

A.J. said...

Niall - I've heard that same story before as well. And even if it's just stands and sand bags, I still have an issue with letting people outside of my department handle stuff. But I think that has more to do with me making a point to production that they should've just let me hire another guy rather than the fear of anything bad happening. :)

Nathan - The feeling's mutual. Whenever there's an unexpected alarm that goes off or a grumpy police officer looking for a permit, I happily think to myself, "Not my job!"

Michael - I guess you can say that's one of the downsides of working union jobs as well. I remember on one low budget shoot some time ago, some people would randomly switch departments (with everyone's consent, of course) for a shot every once in a while. This gave the opportunity for the Gaffer to try his hand at operating, a P.A. learned how to dolly and an A.C. found out just how difficult it was to hold a boom. It was a way for everyone to try a department they were always curious about and ended up being kind of fun. No way would that have happened if it were a union job.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License .