Monday, January 28, 2013

A New Year.

It's the last day of a shoot and it's feeling bittersweet. You hated the long hours, the crappy food and stupid locations. But you loved the people and enjoyed working with them. Despite the sucky conditions, you never failed to cheer each other up; keeping spirits high.

You'd joke around with the craft service people, girl-talk with hair and make-up, and trade knowing glances with the P.A.s. You even like the grips enough to join them for a drink or two after work. And when it's time to light the set, you and your fellow juicers work in such tandem that it sometimes feels unreal. As if you've been working with them all your life instead of the past few months. You see them as brothers and you all look out for one another. This was as good as it gets.

But this is the last day of the show, and like all shows, it will come to an end. After they call wrap, each department will disappear, spreading to whichever corner of the world (or Hollywood) the wind takes them. You might see a camera person or a grip or two somewhere down the line, but never again will all of you be on the same set. It will never be like this again.

After wrap, you'll say your goodbyes and give your last hugs. You'll walk away a little sad that you won't see these people every day anymore.

Tomorrow, you'll be alone.

But eventually, you'll find another set to be on. You'll find that you get along with this new crew just as well as your old crew, but in different ways. And you'll forget the little inside jokes you had with the set decorator. And you'll forget how you lived for the warm cookies that craft service would bring out. And you'll even forget the little crush you had on the camera assistant. Instead, you'll find yourself on your new set with new jokes, new snacks and new crushes...

It won't be long before that old crew will be nothing but a fond, distant memory.

But tonight, for just a little bit longer, they're still your family. And tonight, for just a little bit longer, you're still theirs...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Reverse Sexism Still Screws Me Over.

"Hey, look who it is!"

I automatically look up from my morning pancakes to see where the voice is coming from and who it's directed to. The boisterous salutation was for me and I recognized the friendly smile immediately.

"Hey you!" I jump up from my seat, almost knocking over my coffee in the process. I give him a big hug. It was an old colleague of mine who I hadn't seen in over a year or two. We used to work on the same micro budget "passion projects" back in the day and when I moved on to bigger and better things, we didn't see much of each other anymore. I had missed him and it was great to know that he had made it out of the ultra-low budget world (read: ultra-shitty) and making better money. He deserved it. Plus, it's always nice to see a familiar face; especially one you've shared so many battle scars with.

It turns out that we're both day playing on this show today, and after a pretty fast paced and hectic morning, we sit together at lunch and catch up.

He fills me in on how his wife and kids are doing and I fill him in on what projects I've been working on. And then we start reminiscing about the companies we used to work for and eventually he fills me in on what happened to some of the guys we used to have on the crew after I had moved on.

"Well, [Juicer A] had to move back home to live with his parents. But [Juicer B] actually got lucky and started working on bigger things this past year," my old friend said, beaming. When I left his crew for better jobs a few years ago, he had said he was sad to see me go, but was oh-so-proud of me for "making it". I could see by the way he was beaming that he felt the same way about Juicer B."He's actually a Best Boy now."

"Yeah, I heard!" I had always liked Juicer B. "I saw him about a year ago when he called me for a one-day job. He hasn't called me since though."

"Yeah..." my old friend said with a weakened smile on his face. "Between you and me, he told me he won't hire you."

"What?" I was perplexed. Although we never work together anymore, Juicer B and I do run into each other occasionally and he always seemed to happy to see me; never failing to give me a huge hug and a friendly kiss on the cheek.

My friend goes on to explain that Juicer B had heard I started working for [Juicer X], a female Best Boy who, according to Juicer B, "only hires other girls." And seeing as how he'll never be in with the "chick clique," he won't hire anyone in that circle, including me.

After a thoughtful pause, my friend continues, "I guess it's a little bit like reverse sexism, isn't it?"

I nodded and explained to my lunch companion about what was so wrong with Juicer B's logic. I hadn't worked for Juicer X in a couple of years, and even then, there were definitely guys on that crew. Though there may be more women in this business now than ever before, staffing a competent all female crew is still next to impossible* and although there were a higher number of ladies in the department than usual when I was working for Juicer X, there were still plenty of guys on board. To top it off, most of the guys were regulars; I on the other hand, was a just a day player. Plus, I haven't worked for her in a couple of years because she won't hire me anymore (for reasons I'll save for another post). So the fact that Juicer B won't hire me because he thinks it's unfair that Juicer X won't hire him because he has a dick and will hire me instead because I don't is something I find completely preposterous.

Honestly, I was disappointed to hear this from Juicer B. I always thought he was the type to hire based on skill and ability; not based on what was (or wasn't) between my legs.

We finished our lunch and went back to work, but I couldn't stop thinking about Juicer B and his reason for not calling me anymore. In essence, he won't hire me because Juicer X does. But Juicer X doesn't.

Does this make sense to anyone?

If it is like reverse sexism, why is it that I'm still the one getting screwed...?

* A sizable crew, that is. If the entire department consists of two people, the challenge is a bit easier.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Bite's Worse Than My Bark.

"Sigh... I'm so in the hole right now."

My day-playing colleague had a look of desperation on his face. We had some down time between set ups and were taking the opportunity to chat and get to know one another better after meeting that morning. He then proceeded to tell me how last year had been so terribly slow for him. How he lost his car a few months back. And how his kid's sick and needs treatment that's hard for him to pay for without insurance. I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel bad for the guy who's so down on his luck.

I thought about how I've managed to stay fairly busy recently despite being "just a day player". And I thought about how I have my health, no mortgage to pay and no other mouth to feed but my own. I thought about how well I've been doing these past couple of months compared to just a few years ago. And then I thought about how it wasn't that long ago I was just about as broke as this guy was, and I remembered how hard it was just to scrape by.

I felt for this guy. I really did.

I was slated to be on this job for the next few days, but when his sob story reached the Gaffer, the boss requested to the Best Boy that he be kept on and I let go. When I got the news that my spot was being given to my new colleague, I didn't even protest. I just nodded, understanding the situation. He needed the work more than I did. I'm sure they would've done the same for me had the roles been reversed.

And as the day went on, I'd even help the guy out. I'd remind him that the light he's about to bring on to set needs a scrim bag. That the Gaffer had asked for 1/2 CTB instead of 1/4. And which size Chimera ring went with which light.

Then came a little more downtime and we found ourselves in another chat; this time about what we've both worked on, how long we've each been in the biz, etc. I mentioned that I've been fortunate in staying pretty busy lately, when he stopped me with a snarl and this: "You get hired because because you're like a puppy. You're cute and new."


I couldn't believe he had just said that after having worked side by side with him all morning. While I can understand if someone makes that assumption at first glance, I had hoped that a few solid hours of working with each other would have convinced him otherwise. Especially when I had to remind his dumb-ass about the basics of the job several times already. Either he really was just that dense or I really was just as useless as a puppy. Either way, whatever compassion I had for the guy flew right out the window. Fuck him. I've got better things to do with my time than help a guy who thinks so little of me.

I finished the conversation as civilly as I could and walked away to start the next lighting set up, this time letting the guy do everything on his own. Like plugging a hand squeezer into a dimmer line and putting a safety screen in the blonde instead of a single. I didn't even say anything to him when I saw him sit down in the middle of the set (and therefore, in front of everyone; the Director, Producers, and other crew members, including the Gaffer) and whip out his phone as if he was just casually waiting for the bus.

It was quickly becoming apparent to everyone why he was having such a hard time landing work.

Right before wrap, I was called into the Best Boy's office. I was back on the schedule tomorrow and the "new" guy was out.

That was fine by me.

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