Monday, September 26, 2011

Where's Here??

This is a note to all the Gaffer's out there.

In case you never really considered it, walkie-talkies are pretty much made for you to communicate with people who aren't right next to you. Like between cars going on a road trip. Or between two eight-year-olds who live down the street from each other.

And when you're on set, they're made so you can communicate with your fellow colleagues, and if you're gaffing, they're a great way to get stuff done. All you have to do is get on the radio and start calling for things.

"I need a zip over here, and a tweenie over there," is all you need to say before the desired lights start flying into the set.

The problem with that though, is that these lights will rarely land where you want them because none of us actually know where "here" is. Most of us are behind the set walls, by staging, crafty, or just coming back from a bathroom and/or cigarette break when we hear your voice transmitting from your microphone to our ears, and not only are we not sure where you are, but we sure as hell can't see where here or there actually is.

The same goes for when we're doing things like adjusting a light outside a window while you're inside, behind a curtain, deep into the room. The phrase, "give me some light on this thing over here" isn't very helpful if I can't see you or the thing you're referring to.

Bottom line: we're not always within eyesight of you so when you're calling for things, please be more specific.

"I need a zip camera right and I need a tweenie by the window, inside, giving our actress an edge."

Since we're not on set just yet, we may not know where the camera is or where the actress will be, but with instructions given like that, there's a very good chance we'll figure it out once we get there.

Please keep this in mind. Nothing's more frustrating than carrying a heavy light onto an already crowded set, fighting your way through the sea of Camera Assistants, P.A.s, Vanities*, Grips, etc, frantically searching for the Gaffer to get placement for your light, only to discover that you're totally nowhere near where you need to be.

So remember, Gaffers: We can't see you. Use your words.

Thank you.

* Hair, Make-Up, Wardrobe.


Anonymous said...

Why, just the other day I was bringing in some gak that was generically called for.

"A blahdeblah to set please" I take it in from my cart, walking through entrance of set, and radio "Here's the whatever-it-was, where would you like it?" "ON SET" The Key snaps back over walkie..

Jesse Berger said...

This is a really great blog!

Michael Taylor said...

Power corrupts, as the saying goes, and I've seen more than a few former Best Boys turn into Little Napoleons when they finally become gaffers or key grips. Suddenly they're much too busy schmoozing with the DP and camera assistants to bother issuing clear, coherent commands over the walkie -- then they get pissy and sarcastic when their crew turn out to be poor mindreaders.

How quickly they forget...

A.J. said...

Anonymous - I get that answer all the time and it's always frustrating!

Jesse - Thanks!

Michael - How quickly they forget indeed! It's odd how there are a lot of Gaffers and Keys who, intentionally or not, make things harder for their crew. Don't they remember when they used to be in our shoes?

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