Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Photo courtesy of the 728 website.

Most experienced electricians, young or old, generally avoid working with 4/0 if possible. It's a monster beast of a cable, weighing in at about a pound a foot. Wrapping a hundred foot piece of it will make any man sweat, let alone someone like me who barely weighs more than the coil of copper to begin with.

But today, I craved it.

I had a string of disappointments lasting about a week long, and yesterday's was the final straw. I won't get into the details of what happened, but by the end of the day, I was feeling dejected. And suddenly, I was re-living all those rejections and disappointments not only of the past week, but of my entire professional career. The assholes who didn't think I knew anything. All those times I've been accused of being hired because of my looks. All those times I've been denied work because of them. The kind looking man who ran the crew for a big show, telling me that I'd never make it in g/e because I'd never be "one of the guys." The scruffy looking old timer who'd tell me the same thing a few years later. All those times I've been called "lazy" and "useless" despite giving them my all...

All those voices and more just came flooding back at once; those memories filling my head like a bad song you can't stop humming.

You hear shit like that enough times and you start to wonder if it's true. You wonder if it's possible for all those people to be wrong. You start to wonder what the fuck you're doing in this town. You start to wonder what'll happen if you don't make it. You start to ask yourself why are you fighting so hard. Is it worth it? Are they right? Am I strong enough? What if I'm not? What will become of me?

It was feeling angry and confused and disappointed all at the same time. I was feeling all those things and more towards the people I was working with. At the situation. At no one in particular. At myself.

Honestly, I didn't know what I was feeling anymore. I know I just felt shitty.

I woke up this morning with those thoughts and voices still swirling around in my head. I was re-living every heart chrushing moment of it all. Again and again.

It's days like these I hope I get called for a 4/0 job.

Where it's no one but you and miles of cable that need to be wrapped. No need to pay attention to where your Gaffer is on the set. Or chasing around video village with a stinger. No making small talk with other departments. No sitting still in a corner while you wait for the next set up.

Just. Cable.

Best of all, you don't have to think. Once you get the hang of it, wrapping a piece of cable is nothing but a fluid, rhythmic motion. You pull with one hand as the other guides it into a neat coil. The only thing you need to concentrate on is how fast you're going and the size of your loops, and you're usually going at such a speed that nothing else but that occupies your mind. Meanwhile, with every length of cable you pull; every loop you make; every finished coil you tie up,* comes with a bead of sweat and somehow, all those bad thoughts that are swimming around in your head slowly ooze out of your pores. And all that anger and frustration you felt just hours ago evaporates with it.

It's cathartic.

And after a long day of nothing but cable, you go home tired as hell, but in a good way. All your aggressions have been worked out. You feel more at peace somehow. And the best thing is, negative thoughts no longer occupy your mind because all you can think about now is how badly you want a shower and start the next day fresh and clean...

Oh, how I long for a 4/0 job right now...

* That's usually as far as I'll go with it by myself.


John Myste said...

I did not understand a word of it. Well, maybe, cable, and yet I read the whole thing and now I am going to read the next one, and I am not sure why. Perhaps the title.

CJ said...

I gotta tell you, after being in the business as long as I have it's refreshing to hear someone talk about enjoying the physicality of the job. Can't tell you how many people I've met, one I had to recently let go, because the physical aspects of the job got to them. Not because of some injury or inability, but because that gung-ho attitude tends to get sucked out of you after a long 12 hours. Aside from being a techno geek, I always loved the physical labor and blood, sweat, and tears of our profession. Also, there's nothing like rigging in the perms or greens of some oldschool soundstage and realizing you are working where history was made.(got a little cheezy there.)
On a side note, being a Gaffer, best, and the like, I always called for extra hands when 4/0 needed to be handled. Every Gaffer is different, so my advice, keep up the good work, being a willing member of a team, and you'll have a bright future ahead of you.

Michael Taylor said...

I'm with CJ on this one. Other than sex appeal, sports, gym workouts or yoga, our culture doesn't put much value on physicality. Unless you're a pro athlete or super-model, there just isn't any money in it -- and as a society, we seem to know the price of everything but the value of nothing.

For me, one of the appeals of going back to juicing (after nearly twenty years of BB'ing and gaffing) was the physical aspect of the job. Humans may have big techno-savvy brains, but we're still animals who evolved to live in and interact with the natural world. Even though most of us live or work in the urban environment now, we need to work our muscles and use our bodies in the real (not virtual) three-dimensional world.

I'm not in love with 4/0 -- my last really heavy cable day just about broke me in half -- but I totally understand where you're coming from in this post.

A.J. said...

John - Welcome! I guess some of my posts are a little hard to understand if you're unfamiliar with the toil of the film industry. But I hope you learned something new, or at the very least, enjoyed your visit to my blog!

CJ - I'm not saying I'd like to do nothing but handle 4/0 day in and day out five days a week. But I definitely don't mind wrangling the stuff if I have some extra energy to burn or aggressions to work out. In those cases, I say bring it on, baby.

Thanks for the kind words and I hope to work with more Gaffers like you in the future.

Michael - Some people may walk or go for a jog to clear their heads. I prefer to use 4/0. :)

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