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.


Crews Control said...

Hello there! I just stumbled upon your site today and wanted to let you know I really enjoyed reading this story. I can't tell you how many times I have found myself in similar situations as a PA. I look forward to reading more articles from you. Consider me subscribed ;)

Michael Taylor said...

We've all suffered through dry spells from time to time, but for most people with good job skills and the right attitude, the tide will eventually turn... which means you have to wonder when hearing a sad story of endless woe on set.

There's usually a reason behind such stories. Some people just never bother to learn the basics of working below the line, and until they do -- if they ever do --they'll have a hard time in this business.

I'm just glad your side of this story had a happy ending for a change. That's a good way to start the new year...

A.J. said...

Crews Control - Thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying the blog. :)

Michael - Sob stories on set are tricky. They're a dime a dozen, but I feel like a bitch if I just brush them off. Luckily, this guy made it easy for me.

Jesse M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jesse M. said...

To be fair, he could have just folded the 1/4 ctb in half...right? Or is that considered bad form?

also: what a numbnut.

Whiiiskey said...

I just found your site through theBlackAndBlue. So glad I did. Ha. Great story. Already subscribed.

A.J. said...

Jesse - In theory, yes, but it's usually considered bad form.

kangster - Thanks! And welcome!

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