Saturday, October 29, 2011


Listen up, you motherfucker. You're an amateur. You've never worked on a real set your entire life. You wanna know how I can tell? Because you gave me shit every time I asked you to call out "flashing"* when you used your camera.

The fact that I even had to remind you shows how little experience you have. But that, I forgave and even took the time to explain to you why such a small gesture has such a big impact on my department. The fact that you still rolled your eyes every time I asked you to call it out? That shows me how little respect you have for the jobs of others.

 And for future reference, if by some miracle, you find yourself on another set, you're supposed to say "Flashing!" loudly, right before you use it, every time you use it.

Tapping me on the shoulder and saying, "Hey A.J. I just wanted to let you know I'm going to be using my flash in a few minutes," all while giving me snide look is not the proper way to do it.


*Some departments (ie: make up, wardrobe, set dressers, etc) often take flash photographs on set. It's customary for them to call out "Flashing!" before snapping a photo because a camera flash looks very similar to a bulb blowing out. If you want to be mean, go ahead and use the flash on your camera without calling it out, and watch the electricians suddenly looking up at all the lights, wondering WTF that just was.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hmm... This Sounds Familiar...

Only reversed... And more awesome.*

(I don't know how to make this a more readable size and still have it fit in the Blogger allotted space, so here's the original link.)

*If you don't know what I'm talking about, then count yourself lucky that you haven't spent much time looking for work on Craigslist or

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Paradox Of 4/0.

On the first day of a new crew, we were laying out cable. When it came to putting down the first stick of 4/0, my seasoned coworkers promptly came to my side, gave me a mini lecture about how I should never pick up a coil of that stuff on my own (a rule a whole-heartedly agree with) and we continued our work by double-teaming the cable each time a coil needed to by lifted.

A couple days later, the job ended and I never heard from the Best Boy again. After running into a former colleague, I heard that the reason I never get called to work with that particular crew is because the Best Boy didn't think I could "handle the work." (Read: "I wasn't able to lift a coil of 4/0 by myself.")

Sometime later, I'm on another crew. We're counting in the cable. We get to the 4/0 and I ask my partner, who's been in this business for a long time, if we could two-man the hundred pound coils. He gives me a look and says he'll just do it himself. It's just easier that way. So I sit back, let him do his thing, and eventually, I'm assigned to other, non-cable related tasks.

Sometime after that, I find myself on another new crew peppered with seasoned veterans of the business. One of the "old timers" and I start chatting while we wait for the next shot and we land on the topic of putting in a cable rig. The first thing he says to me about it? "Don't you EVER pick up a stick of 4/0 by yourself." Again, I wholeheartedly agree.

But inside, I'm thinking, "If only it were that simple..."

It's one of those things where I feel like I'm in a no-win situation. If I lift it by myself, I fuck up my body and possibly my future in the biz. If I don't, I lose out on work. And while no job is worth the damage you could to do yourself, I also have a reputation on the line. Best Boys don't go around saying, "I never saw her lift a hundred feet coil of 4/0 by herself. She always had a second hand on it." Instead, they go around saying stuff like, "She couldn't handle the work load" or "She always needed help." That's a big difference.

And even if I'm on a crew where my colleagues are telling me that we should never handle the stuff by ourselves, that view may not necessarily be shared by our boss and vise-versa.

I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Pet Peeve.

Okay people, listen up.

"Electrocuted" means that you died from an electrical shock.

So if you're telling a story and you say something like, "I brushed my hand against the stupid bus bar on the generator and got electrocuted" you're lying. Yes, bus bars on a genny are generally stupid.* But unless you dropped down to the ground, your heart stopped and were declared legally dead, you weren't electrocuted.

You were just shocked.

So to recap: You may use the word "electrocuted" if you (or the person you're talking about) died. Otherwise, you were just shocked.

Please remember that and use the term properly.
Thank you.

*I've rarely seen them used and the placement of them in generators are stupid, in my opinion.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hitting Pause.

I was invincible.

Hopping from show to show, a day here, a day there. I was on about as many different shows as there are days in the week. Such is the life of a day player. But this time, not only was the money rolling in pretty decent, I was also on a winning streak.

The calls I'd get were a mix of old friends and new contacts; each day was either filled with familiar faces or new friends. And just when I thought I'd finally get a day or two off, my phone would ring again with a new offering. It was busy and I loved it.

And each shoot was different. Commercials, features, music videos... Valley, studio, downtown... Call times at morning, noon, night...

It was hectic at times. It was often sleepless. And I was having a lot of fun.

Bouncing from crew to crew, from set to set, proving myself to the new crews and holding my own with the old ones, pushing myself to take the next job and do just as well on it. I was proud of myself. I was proud that I had built up enough of a reputation that my phone kept ringing. I was proud that I kept giving 100% to each job despite still being tired from two days ago. I was proud that where so many others would've taken the weekend off to recover from the craziness, I just kept on truckin. I felt like I was unstoppable.

And then, one morning, that all stopped.

I woke up feeling more tired than usual and my throat felt like it was on fire. I tried to shake it off. I went to work anyway, hoping that this crummy feeling I had would disappear as the day wore on; as I was distracted by cable runs and lamp placement.

I drank warm tea with my breakfast. Got some pills from the medic. But nothing seemed to help. And as the day wore on, I noticed my feet were dragging and I groaned at the thought of moving another light, no matter how small it might be.

That's when I admitted defeat.

I told my Best Boy I needed some time off, and thus ended my stellar run.

I finished out the day as best as I could and when I got home, I immediately took a hot shower and went to bed, where I slept... and slept... and slept...

It was as if everything had caught up with me at once. All the short turnarounds and missed sleep. All the heavy cable and late nights working in the cold. All those times I didn't rest when I should've... It all came back to bite me in the ass.

I was invincible. I was unstoppable. I was in demand. I was on a roll.

But that all came to a crashing stop with a sneeze...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Oh, Those Pesky Interns...

This may be old news by now (hey, I've been busy) but I stumbled upon this article the other day and it piqued my interest.

Basically, two "unpaid interns" who worked on the movie Black Swan are suing Fox Searchlight for unfair labor practices. From the article:
“Fox Searchlight’s unpaid interns are a crucial labor force on its productions, functioning as production assistants and bookkeepers and performing secretarial and janitorial work,” the lawsuit says. “In misclassifying many of its workers as unpaid interns, Fox Searchlight has denied them the benefits that the law affords to employees.” 
Some of the tasks the interns were asked to do included making coffee and ordering lunch.

I gotta admit, I'm kinda torn on this one.

On the one hand, I'm all for getting paid for your work. Obviously.

But on the other hand, I kind of get the feeling that these guys don't really get how things work and/or are throwing a hissy fit because the experience wasn't what they were expecting. I mean, it's an unpaid internship. You're supposed to get college credit. If they didn't, then that's a different conversation.

It's also an internship. A position that's widely understood in this industry as being below P.A. level, which is (no offense) pretty low to begin with. So these guys should've expected to run the occasional errand, make coffee or pick up lunch. And in exchange for such "grunt work," they get to work on a major motion picture. They get to put "Fox Searchlight" on their resume. They get to brag to their family and friends that they "worked" with Natalie Portman. And even more importantly, they see how the business works firsthand (because let's face it, film school does a poor job of this) and get the opportunity to meet new people who might further their careers.

Sure, I guess if they're doing work, the company could afford to pay them minimum wage. But you know what? If the company was putting them on payroll, they might as well just hire another P.A. The way I see it, interns are the ones who come in without any experience at all. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who has an issue with being paid the same as the guy with less experience.

Also from the article:
Fox Searchlight acted illegally, the lawsuit asserts, because the company did not meet the federal labor department’s criteria for unpaid internships. Those criteria require that the position benefit the intern, that the intern not displace regular employees, that the training received be similar to what would be given in an educational institution and that the employer derive no immediate advantage from the intern’s activities.
Given those guidelines and the description of the tasks the interns were asked to do (basically, P.A. work), then yeah, I'd say they have the makings of a lawsuit there. But at the same time, I'm confused by the guidelines themselves. What's the point of having an intern if the company doesn't benefit from it? If I was an employer, I'd see no advantage of having a snot nosed kid hang around me all day, asking me questions and trying to learn "the biz" if he didn't at least bring me a cup of coffee now and then.

When I was in college, you bet your ass I had unpaid internships. And yeah, I answered phones, made coffee runs, took lunch orders and filed a bunch of stuff. Does this mean I was taken advantage of? Yeah. Was I aware of it at the time? Yeah. Did I complain? No. Because I like to think I was taking advantage of the situation as much as it was taking advantage of me. I learned everything I could at my internships. I asked questions (at appropriate times, of course). I made great contacts (not every one was able to get me anywhere, but it was still a start. There are some that I still keep in touch with). I even gained a few office supplies.

I guess another thing that rubs me the wrong way about this whole thing is what one of the plaintiffs say:
“The only thing I learned on this internship was to be more picky in choosing employment opportunities,” Mr. Footman, 24, said in an interview. “ ‘Black Swan’ had more than $300 million in revenues. If they paid us, it wouldn’t make a big difference to them, but it would make a huge difference to us.” 
First off, if you're starting out in the film business, there's no such thing as being "picky in choosing employment opportunities." Hollywood has a loooooooooooooong line of people outside her door, just waiting for a chance to stick their foot in. If you really wanted to work in this business, you take any and every opportunity you can get if you're just starting out. Save the being picky part for when you have more than one internship under your belt.

And secondly, "Nobody knows anything." The fact that the movie made that much money is moot. If you're on a production, there's no telling if the movie's going to be the next big thing or the next big flop. So it's kind of tacky in my opinion to say, "Well, they ended up making a lot of money, so now I'm saying they should've paid me." Unless, of course, they signed up for back end points, which again, is an entirely different conversation.

But I do agree that if Fox Searchlight had given them something, it would've made a difference. In this business, a little respect goes a long way.

Like I said, I'm kinda torn on this one.
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