Wednesday, December 20, 2017

In Defense of Taylor Swift, "The Nazi Princess."

"There will be no further explanation. Just reputation."

For various reasons, Taylor Swift has gotten a lot of hate these past few years; mostly because she's a "serial dater" (uhh... She's in her 20s. That's what people in their 20s do.) and then writes songs about her exes (uhh... She's a songwriter. That's what songwriters do!).

But the other day, I saw a ridiculous comment on an article from one woman about how she can't respect Taylor Swift being on the cover of Time Magazine because "She's a Nazi Princess." When another commenter asked how Taylor's a Nazi Princess, the original poster replied that Swift had been hailed as a "Nazi Princess on a Pro-Nazi website and she hasn't publicly denounced Nazism. Therefore, she's a Nazi."

Uhh... Okay...

Let's forget the fact that the initial claim of Nazism came from a website that had little to back its claim other than Taylor herself is white. Or that Taylor has featured people of color in her music videos before, and her current ensemble of back up singers aren't exactly white. Or that out of all the hate on Taylor I've heard over the years, not once has it been centered around her saying anything racist.

Let's instead focus on what happens when ridiculous rumors start flying around about you and why I think Taylor is actually smart for not denouncing those baseless claims made about her.

For those of you that don't know, I'm a bit of an anomaly in this business. I'm a woman in a department where the working pool to pull from is >97% male. Of the <3% in set lighting that make up my gender, most of them are bigger and/or physically stronger than me, making me stand out like a sore thumb. Therefore, I'm constantly watched, talked about, and speculated on.

And whenever that happens, so do the rumors. Some of the more outlandish ones I've heard about myself involve me breaking up relationships and hooking up with married men. Which is quite an impressive feat since apparently, according to some people in this business, I'm a lesbian.*

All these rumors lead me to have a policy on not commenting about my personal life at work. Not only because there are so many rumors that commenting on every single one of them would be exhausting, but because before I put this policy into place, this is how one of those conversations would go:

Them: Crafty thinks you're a lesbian.
Me: Ha. No. I'm straight.
Them: That's what we thought. But we hadn't heard you mention a boyfriend before.
Me: That's because I don't have one.
Them: Yeah? When was the last time you did?
Me: Um... It's been a while.
Them: Like months? Years?
Them: So do you, like, just go to bars or something?
Me: What?
Them: What do you do when you're looking for a hook-up?
Me: I don't really do one-night stands.
Them: So you haven't had a boyfriend in a while and you don't do hook-ups... Oh... Are you asexual?

I SWEAR I WISH I WAS MAKING THIS UP!!! (And yes, this is based on real conversations I've had.)

...And that's how easy it is for a simple denouncing of my lesbianism turns into a conversation about my sexuality and personal life for all our colleagues around us to hear.

If at any point I were to stop the conversation, it'd be assumed that my silence on the matter answers their questions one way or another:

Them: Like months? Years?
Me: I'm not going to answer that.
Them: Oh... So like several years.

Sometimes they'll even get angry because apparently, answering one question about my personal life means it's okay to ask me all the questions about my personal life. And apparently me answering me one question means they're entitled to all the answers. Then suddenly, I'm a stuck up bitch and not a team player if I don't comply.

Them: Like months? Years?
Me: I don't want to talk about this anymore.
Them: Geeze, no need to get defensive. I'm just trying to get to know you better. I can't ask you a simple question?

So basically, the only way for me to ensure the original rumor isn't built upon and for me to have a semi-sane workplace is to take a page from Publicity 101: neither confirm nor deny. Just let it ride.

Them: Crafty thinks you're a lesbian.
Me: Ha.

[End of conversation.]

The same method could be applied to Taylor and her Nazi rumor:

Them: Taylor's a Nazi.
Them: ...

[End of conversation.]

By not joining into a conversation based on ridiculous claims, we side-step all the other ridiculous mess that would surely come after it.

"But how can denying being a Nazi be a bad thing?" you might ask?:

Them: You're a Nazi.
Her: No, I'm not.
Them: Prove it.
Her: I marched with the counter protesters. 
Them: You marched with the counter protesters but you didn't do the Women's March?? You must hate women's rights!!!
Her: No, I don't hate women or their rights.
Them: Prove it.
Her: (Sigh...)

See? Ridiculous.

Again, acknowledging one claim sets the precedence that you must acknowledge them all, and answering one question makes them feel entitled to know all the answers to their questions. The headache that usually follows makes rebutting rumors totally not worth it.

And often times, those who spread nasty rumors about someone (famous or not) are just looking for any reason to hate someone anyway.

When Kesha was going through her legal battles with her producer, Dr. Luke, Taylor was hated on for not Tweeting in support for her fellow female artist like many other pop stars were. I repeat: She was hated. For. Not. Tweeting. **

Then it came out that while everyone was accusing her of not supporting Kesha, Taylor had donated a quarter of a million dollars to Kesha's legal fees (!!!). And she was still hated; this time for just "doing it for the publicity" and because it's just a small percentage of her net worth and she could've done more.

In other words, there's no winning. Haters gonna hate. You're basically damned if you do, but you're only slightly less damned it you don't say anything at all.***

* Main reason for the rumor: apparently the only reason why a girl like me would be interested in a job like this. Also, people are stupid.
** She's still hated for not Tweeting now, this time for not jumping on #MeToo, despite her having a very public sexual harassment trial this year where she sued for a symbolic $1.... AND WON. If you haven't already, do yourself a favor and read about her badass testimony. And by "badass," I mean, seriously, it's the most times "ass" has been said in Colorado federal court.
*** Please note, I'm specifically talking about addressing ridiculous rumors. If an injustice is happening, MOST DEFINITELY SPEAK OUT.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Harassment, Pt. 2.

Unless you've been hiding under a literal rock lately, I'm sure you've at least heard about all the sexual harassment scandals rocking Hollywood right now. And no, I'm not only speaking to those of you based in this town, or even this country. I mean the whole world. Seriously. I've had friends from other countries tell me it's all over their newspapers.

With one scandal after another, Hollywood (or at least on the executive level) is burning (haha. See what I did there?).

But one co-worker in general seems to be obsessed with all the news. Every minute of down time he gets, he's looking at his phone for the next guy to be exposed as a creep. And when the Weinstein scandal first broke out, it was nearly impossible to have a conversation with him without it being brought up.

"Did you hear about this Weinstein shit?"
"Decades! They're saying DECADES. What the fuck?"
"His wife just left him!"
"Gwyneth Paltrow! Rose McGowan! Mira Sorvino! Angelina Jolie!!"
"Did you hear this thing about what he did in front of a reporter to a plant??"

He was following the scandal closer than the grips were following their fantasy football picks (which is saying a lot).

One day, in between set-ups, he was waving around his phone again with the latest Weinstein update when I asked him, "Why are you so obsessed with this?"

"It's just so crazy! Can you believe this shit happened??"

I just stared at him and nodded. Because I was speechless.

I was speechless because I suddenly realized why he was so fixated on the scandal. It was new to him. He's never heard of such a thing before. Never witnessed it. Never experienced it.

Never was made uncomfortable on set. Never had someone in power make a pass at them. Never been inappropriately grabbed. Never been "accidentally" brushed up against. Never felt unsafe at work.*

Never been catcalled on the street. Never had to make sure you parked under a streetlight because you knew it was going to be dark by the time you left. Never had to walk to said car with your fist around the key ring, keys between your knuckles like mini Wolverine claws. Never got inappropriate calls or texts in the middle of the night. Never got sent an unsolicited dick pic. Never had to make sure no one touched your drink when you weren't looking. Never had to "watch what you wear".

I realized he was fascinated with the harassment scandal because he didn't know such things happened with such regularity.

I, on the other hand, wasn't surprised at all the accusations.

So yes, Weinstein Obsessed Colleague, I can believe this shit happened.

What I am surprised about is that not only is it all coming out, but it seems like people are actually taking notice this time (yes, I said "this time"). It gives me hope that maybe now women's voices will be taken seriously and finally hear what we've been trying to say for years. It gives me hope that maybe one day soon, sexual harassment, no matter what sexual orientation or gender one might be, will be gone from film sets.

I love this industry dearly and can't see myself doing anything else, but I'm also growing tired of this "boy's club" and "boys will be boys" mentality.

I'm hoping something good will emerge from these ashes this time, and no longer swept under the rug like so many scandals before it. And I don't mean more useless "sexual harassment training" that everyone just complains about having to attend despite never hearing a word that's being said anyway because they're too busy fucking around on their phones. No one (no department heads that I've ever met anyway) takes those seminars seriously. Those are good for nothing more than pleasing the lawyers. They do jack shit in preventing actual harassment.

I'm hoping that we as an industry will band together. I'm hoping that people will realize the phrase "I was just joking" will not negate the fact that your comment about my body or sex life is inappropriate. I'm hoping that when we see someone being made uncomfortable, we'll stand up for them. That when someone says something disgusting, we'll call them out on it. That when we witness inappropriate behavior, not only will we report it, but that our reports will be taken seriously, no matter who the accused is, and that we can do so without fear of retaliation in our current jobs and future ones.

Then, and only then, can our industry change.

Previously. And previously.

*And I don't mean, "Gee, that FX guy sure doesn't seem like he has enough fire extinguishers for our big explosion" kind of unsafe. I mean the "I don't trust this guy enough to be alone in a room with him" kind.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017

I'll Pick A Table Over 4/0 Any Day.

"Hey A.J. Can I get a hand moving this table?"

I always thought being the On-Set Dresser* sucked since you're essentially moving around furniture all day and then restoring everything back down to the smallest detail, all while navigating around 50+ crew members who do nothing but set lights, stands and dollys in your way and fuck around with your set dressing when you're not looking. So when our On-Set Dresser made a simple request, I was happy to oblige. After all, he's been pretty cool with all of us sitting on the furniture all the time and the least I can do is help move it once in a while.

So on the count of three, I helped him move the dining room table to the other side of the room and out of everyone's way. Then I thought nothing of it.

...Until the next day.

"How's your back doing?" he asked me.


"How's your back doing? From lifting the table the other day?"

"...It's fine. Thanks. Why do you ask?"

"Well, because it's a pretty heavy table. Afterwards, I regretted asking you to help me. That thing's so heavy and awkward. I should've asked someone else."

"It was awkward, yes. There's no good place to grab on that thing. But heavy, no. The weight was fine. But thanks for checking up on me."

"So, it wasn't too heavy for you?"

"Friend, let me tell you about this thing we have called 4/0..."

*For those of you who don't know, Set Dressers usually come in shortly after a set is built and before we come in to shoot it, and "dress the set" (move in the furniture, put curtains on the windows, drop in floor/table/desk/hanging lamps, pictures on the walls, stuff on the desk, thing in the cabinets, etc). The On-Set Dresser is the one that stays with the shooting crew to move that all around as needed (ie: "Move the desk out so we can put a camera in that corner," or, "Do we have moving boxes or something to hide that cable in the corner?") and then has to painstakingly restore it all to keep continuity. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

You Can Never Go Home Again.

I was so excited to see him.

I was counting in stingers to load in a new show when I look up and who should I see? A juicer I used to work with pretty much all the time when I was first starting out. We were like two peas in a pod on set back then, finishing each others sentences, coming up with the same stupid jokes, and we were so in sync that setting up lights on set was almost like a choreographed dance.

Show after shitty show we did together until one day, I had the opportunity to ascend to bigger and better things and I left our merry band of ultra low budget-ers in favor of jobs that paid more than just "copy, credit and meals".

We'd run into each other in passing over the years every now and then, but the sightings were few and far between. While we were both now out of the super shitty low budget world, we no longer ran in the same circles.

So when I learned we were going to both be full time on the same show for the next couple of months or so, I was ecstatic. Despite all our years apart, I had never found anyone I had as much fun working with as him. The nostalgic part of me yearned for the easy going work relationship we had all those years ago and I couldn't wait to work the set with him.

But, I guess the old saying is true: You can never go home again. While we were both still kick-ass electricians, we never really found our groove and clicked like we used to. We no longer finish each others thoughts or play silly set games anymore.

The years spent apart, we had spent growing as people. Him, with his side businesses, new house and soon-to-be-wife. And me... well, I don't know. I don't have any of those things, but I definitely don't feel like I'm the same person I was when I met him.

Whatever bond we had before that put us on the same wavelength didn't feel broken. Just gone.

Things weren't totally awkward though. We had a great time catching up with each other and reminiscing about the stupid things we used to do. Hardly a day went by where one of us didn't go, "Hey, remember when..." or "Whatever happened to...?" and then laugh at whatever story that came up after it. And every so often, you'd see the glimpses on set of the dynamic we once shared. But nothing that really stuck like old times.

And as much as I still enjoy working with him, the sad truth is that when they call "wrap" on our show for the final time and we both go our separate ways again, I'll look back at our time together fondly, but I won't itch to work with him again like I had in the past years. I won't miss him like I used to.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that we've seemed to have lost that je ne sais quoi we had going on, but in a way, I guess it's a good thing. It's a wake up call that I can't live in the past, no matter how good it was. That I should keep moving forward because everyone else seems to have. And while the guy from several years ago will ALWAYS be one of my favorites, this new man before me isn't him. I spent all these years hoping to recapture the magic we had, but now I know it can't be recreated. And in an odd way, knowing that doesn't give me a sense of sadness. Instead, it gives me a sense of knowing peace.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Adventures In Excessive Shushing, pt. 3.

Real thing that happened on set today:

P.A.: "Rolling!"
Other P.A.: "SHHHH!"

Yup. A P.A. shushed another P.A. for calling out "Rolling."


Sunday, July 9, 2017

It's Hot As Fuck Out And I Don't Know What To Wear To Work.

It's a typical Southern California day. Sun shining, one or two fluffy clouds in a bright blue sky, with temperatures on the slightly warmer side of comfortable.

I'm taking a break outside the stage between set ups, enjoying some warmth and vitamin D while shooting the shit with some drivers next to the crafty trailer when one of them points out a set dresser loading furniture on to a truck.

"Look at her," he says with almost disgust in his voice. "Look at what she's wearing. I know she's new to this business and all, so I went up to her earlier as a friend and told her what she's wearing was inappropriate, but she just brushed it off. Don't you think what she's wearing is inappropriate here, A.J.?"

I look down the alley at the girl. She's wearing brightly colored shorts that stop a couple inches below her butt and a tight tank top that fit her well. If she wasn't wearing work gloves, she'd look more like she was ready to spend the day walking around the Venice Beach Boardwalk than on a studio lot.

I turned to the driver and shrugged. "I'm not going to say what a woman can and cannot wear. She's an adult and can make her own choices," I said. The driver dropped the subject and I went back in shortly after.

And while what I said was true, that she's a grown woman capable of making her own choices and I'm not going to slut-shame a fellow female for what she's wearing, the question still lingers: Was her outfit inappropriate for the workplace? More specifically, a work place where t-shirts and shorts are acceptable attire three four seasons out of the year (this is SoCal, after all)?

Would I personally wear something like she did to work? No. But I also wouldn't wear those god-awful t-shirt tanks with the sides cut out either, which no one bats an eye at when a guy is wearing one on set. I also wouldn't run around the perms with my shirt off and I've seen plenty of guys do that, too. And again, no one bats an eye at that.

And would her attire have caused such a ruckus among the guys if they were darker colors instead of neon and pastels that made her stand out like a steak on a bed of salad? What it she was in her 40s or 50s instead of her early 20s? Would her shorts and tank top be inappropriate then?

If I ever re-live that conversation from that day, I think I would ask him what about her outfit was inappropriate. Was she showing a lot of skin? Yes, but so do a lot of the other guys we work with (see above paragraphs). And especially when it's hot out and especially when your job is moving heavy objects around all day. Is it a safety violation? Somewhere written in some guidelines states that we should all be wearing pants, long sleeves and steel toed work boots, but 98% of us don't even come close to following that rule. So she's technically not breaking anymore safety rules than any one of us. Hell, it could even be said that her clothes are safer since there's less loose fabric to get caught on things.

Does her attire impede her from doing her job? No. From what I saw, she made more trips to that truck than her colleagues.

Is she maybe drawing unwanted attention to herself? Yes. Will some people take one look at the way she's dressed and assume she's only hired to be eye-candy? Yes. But I feel like that's more their problem than hers, not to mention that there are some assholes that will think that no matter what she wears.

The bottom line is that her important bits and pieces are covered, she's not violating any safety rules more than the next guy, and she's still able to do her job. If what she's wearing is inappropriate, then someone should implement guidelines that we all need to follow, instead of just singling out women just because they happen to look good in a pair of shorts.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Adventures In Excessive Shushing, pt. 2.

Dear P.A.s doing lock ups,

You have a job to do. I get it. If someone makes a peep on set while we're rolling, all hell breaks loose on your walkie channel (and in turn, in your ear) about finding the source of the sound and eliminating it.

We all totally understand it.

All we ask is that you use a little bit of common sense and judgement before you go all ape-shit on us for making the tiniest bit of noise.

Shushing us when we're ten feet away from video village and giggling at a YouTube video? Fair game. Shush away!

But when the set and video village is in the back room of a sizable house and I'm outside in the front, down the long driveway and on the other side of the property wall? Did you really have to shush me for cracking open a bottle of water? Really?

Trust me when I say that no one's going to hear that when there's three walls and 150 feet between us, so the vein popping "SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!1!!!" you threw in my direction was totally unnecessary.

-Crews everywhere.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Set Photo Of The Day.

I don't even want to know what prompted the creation of this sign... For a built set... In the middle of a sound stage... Oh, and the set only has three walls.

Nope, don't wanna know...

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Marry The Night.

"Hey moon, please forget to fall down
Hey moon, don't you go down."
-Northern Downpour Panic! At The Disco

Most people dread night shoots. Most people get a sour look on their face when they see "5pm crew call" written on the top of the prelim.*

Me? I don't mind them so much. Since I'm a night owl anyway, switching from a day schedule to a night one isn't that hard for me. Plus, unlike most days, there's a definite end in sight. The company can only shoot night scenes until sunrise, and this time of year, that usually limits us to a 12 hour day, or less. And who doesn't like the sound of that?

But sometimes, I will admit, I wish the nights were longer. Sometimes, the weather is calm and just right; the city is quiet and still; the crew is jovial and in sync with each other; and your own department is taking a rare night off from drama. Crafty is bringing in a food truck and a coffee truck, and it feels less like work and more like a social thing. Sometimes, things just click.

Sometimes, you have a moment where you sit on the back of a tailgate, surrounded by your favorite people and just shoot the shit while looking at the stars. Sometimes, you get so caught up with running around in the day time so you can get home that you miss the night and what it has to offer. The quiet and peace that it can bring. The darkness that allows the city to twinkle and shimmer.

Sometimes, with the rest of the world so quiet and asleep, you feel like you have the whole city to yourself. Sometimes, it feels like your show is in it's own happy little bubble. It's like the best parts of a good day without any interruptions from the real world.

Call me crazy, but sometimes, the night shoots changes your crew in a good way. And sometimes, it allows you to look at things in a different light. And it's times like those that I don't want the night to end.

*Preliminary Callsheet.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


I don't remember the first time I saw him, but I remember the show. A shitty low budget thing that took place mostly at the beach starring B List actors.

While I normally love the people I'm working with, the majority of this crew was hit or miss. Some of the drivers were assholes, a few of the grips would whine about anything and everything, and production was a disorganized mess more than usual.

But despite the low rate and shitty company, this guy was pretty chill. And all kinds of cute and kinda hot. And young enough that I know it probably wouldn't work out between us, but not so young that I felt weird about admiring him from afar.

Or rather, secretly because I didn't exactly avoid him. In fact, I kinda did the opposite. I'd always gravitate towards him under the guise of needing to talk to someone in his department. If I saw him around set somewhere by himself, I'd (maybe not so) slyly find a reason to venture over there too. I'd always watch for him out of the corner of my eye, keeping tabs on his whereabouts in an almost stalker-ish way. We'd start off with some small talk, with me hanging on his every word. And while our conversations never got super deep, I learned enough about him to know that I wanted to learn more. He wasn't the type I usually go for or see myself with, but there was just something about him that I was drawn to.

Then the show ended and we went our separate ways without even a goodbye. The last I glimpsed of him, he was in a pass van leaving for crew parking while I headed down an alley to wrap the last of the 4/0.

I thought about him constantly for weeks after, but as time moved on, so did I. Eventually, he settled into a spot in the back of my mind categorized as "that one guy from that one show that I thought was hot and had a small crush on."

Years went by and since I never worked with that crew or production company again, I figured the chances of me seeing him again were slim to none.

Then, one day earlier this year, I opened a pass van door at crew parking and there he was, just sitting there as cool as can be. And just as good looking as I remembered.

We caught up with small talk as much as we could in the ten minute ride to set, and I pathetically found myself falling in the same pattern as I did the first time we worked together. It was almost as if no time had passed. I'd stalk him out of the corner of my eye. It'd just "happen" to be the two of us at crafty. Oh, what a coincidence! We're in the same van together again!

I was behaving like a school girl half my age. Or, if I really wanted to be honest with myself, I was behaving like a school girl a third of my age. It was pathetic and I couldn't help myself. And I'm actually really shocked that no one noticed my slight obsession. And if they did, I'm grateful it didn't become set gossip like this still usually ends up being.

After a couple of weeks of me slyly watching him more than I was watching the set, he vanished once again. A casualty of being a day player. And once again, I watched him pulling away in a van at the end of the night while I was in the truck finishing up some paperwork.

After that, I'd secretly hope he'd come back to day play again. I'd sit through production meetings, hoping big scenes would get even bigger so there'd be a chance for more day players to return. Every time we'd prep to go out on location, I look for his name on the call sheet.

Eventually, the show wrapped without him making another appearance on set and that was that.

Sometimes I wonder what would've happened if I was in that last pass van with him. Would we have said an actual goodbye this time? Would I have gotten over him easier if I had that closure? Would I think of him every time I saw a pass van turn a corner? Sometimes I think it's better this way, with me just admiring him from afar. After all, we do have such an age difference between us, and apparently we do, on occasion (though not enough in my opinion) work together. But sometimes, usually in my daydreams or when I have time to think, I can't help but wonder about all the "what-ifs".

In the meantime, the best I can hope for is that sometime soon, thoughts of him will once again settle into the back of my mind, this time categorized as "the guy I had a crush on that made me behave like a teenager."

Thursday, April 27, 2017


Around this time last year, I found myself so busy that I was rejecting about two calls for work a day.

Around this time two years ago, I was simultaneously wrapping one show while prepping another.

Around this time three years ago, I was on a show full time.

But this year? I find myself with a lot of free time on my hands. I'm not sure if it's the looming writer's strike, the lack of work in general, the fact that I've been off the day-playing market for so long or what, but for the first time in about four years, I find myself with more days off than not.

At first it was fabulous. I'd spend days leisurely catching up on some reading, visiting new museums and restaurants, and checking out a new hiking trail I've been meaning to try for the last year and a half. I was having a great "staycation" in L.A., slowly making my way through the touristy things this town has to offer, but we never take the time to do.

It was great. I loved finally having some time off and exploring the little pockets of L.A. that I've always driven past but never stopped to see. Ramen in Little Tokyo? Check. Ube milkshakes in Eagle Rock? Yes, please! Artisan ice cream in Los Feliz? Been there, done that. Seeing the Endeavor space shuttle at the California Science Center? Did it and would do it again. "Unemployed"? More like "Funemployed!"

They say "unemployment is fun for about a week." I always scoffed at that whenever I'd hear someone say that at work. I always thought anything less than a week and a half off was just a tease. But I've now learned that for me, unemployment is fun for about three weeks.

Am I done bumming around L.A.? Hell no. And I don't think I'll ever be. There's so much left on my L.A. Bucket List that it's actually growing. For every one thing I cross off, I learn about two others I want to tackle.

But as much as I love eating and sightseeing my way around town, I can't help but notice that my bank account is shrinking. Los Angeles isn't a cheap town, and neither are the touristy things. I'm not close to being past due on bills by any means, and I did work non-stop all those years to ensure I had a nice nest egg for the slim times like this, but it's hard to justify treating yourself when you haven't had a paycheck in a while and don't know when the next one will come along. After a few years of non-stop work, I've finally convinced myself that it's okay to take time off because there will always be another job around the corner. And now, the calls are coming few and far between. Those old fears come flooding back.

Not only that, but I've re-learned that having all this time off gives you too much time to think. Without the distraction of being on set thirteen hours a day, or your body being so tired you fall asleep the second your head hits the pillow, your mind starts to wander to things that are hard to think about. Like what if you never get as much work again? What if your best years are behind you? Am I on the right path in my career? What will happen to me if I never get there? What if I lose my health insurance? If I get really sick or injured, who will help take care of me? Why do I not have any close female friends here? Do I have any friends here that aren't in the business? Is that normal? Wow, has it really been that long since I've been on a date? Wow, has it really been that long since I've been in a relationship? Wow, has it really been that long since I graduated high school and/or college? And what do I have to show for it? Am I not where I thought I'd be because I was too naive and ambitious? Or is it because I just don't have what it takes? Can I still lead a happy and fulfilled life if I never find "The One"? Yes. No. Yes? I think so? I hope so? I'm happy on my own now, but will that always be the case? Oh, who the fuck knows.

Unemployment leaves a lot of time for self reflection and I'm not sure I'm ready to see what's staring back at me in the mirror.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Cost of "Busyness".

If you have a few minutes, read this article about the working hours of America compared to other countries. I found it to be interesting and informative without being thrown too many numbers and percentages in my face. And I couldn't help but compare what the author was saying about the work culture in our country to our industry, and boy, did it raise some scary questions for me.

But if you don't have the time (and according to the article, you probably don't), you can read my Cliffnotes version of it!

- It's illegal in France to send work emails after working hours. (WE NEED THAT LAW HERE!!!)
- My warzone of an apartment was probably considered fine 55 years ago. Apparently technology just creates a higher standard of things, thus creating more work and stress. ...Kind of like how this "digital" thing was supposed to make everything easier and/or cheaper, but kind of doesn't and just creates a different kind of work.
- We're missing out on 12 paid vacation days a year. And apparently, 12 is considered too little.
- Long hours leads to being less productive, which leads to long hours... which leads to being less productive... and the cycle continues. So if the study was based on the average American work week of 33.6 hours, then what the hell does it mean for our industry when 65 hours a week is the norm? Can we be more productive with less hours?
- And if all this stress is making the average person sick, how much worse is it for us?
- I'm moving to Luxembourg... Or Denmark. Or at the very least, France.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Don't Do The Crime If You Can't Pay The Fine.

It's a pretty common practice* that if you're late to work, you buy coffee (either Starbucks or equivalent) for your department. Since that usually includes a drink of choice for the DP as well as the driver who takes you on the coffee run AND their Captain that gave the okay for a van to go M.I.A. for a half hour, the tab for the 9+ drinks adds up fast and is usually sufficient punishment enough for being a few minutes late. The same price is usually paid whenever someone comes back late from lunch from running an errand, or leaving early because of a doctors appointment, etc. Basically, any time your colleagues are covering your ass, you owe them a beverage.

Which is baffling when a colleague of mine was complaining about how much money he had spent on coffee this month.

"You're making me do a coffee run again, A.J.? This is my third time in two weeks!"
"Um... Then don't show up late, ask to come back to lunch late or leave for lunch early because you scheduled a doctor AND a dentist appointment during work hours?"

Bonus Points!

* On decent paying shows, anyway.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Blink Of An Eye...

It was just a wink. That was all it took to calm me down.

He was wrapping a pile of stingers while overhearing the myriad of instructions I was given by my boss on top of the already growing laundry list of things I had to do before the day ended. We only had so much time to get everything rigged and that time was rapidly coming to an end. We would barely finish in time as it was and these new notes were about to push me over the edge.

To say I was stressed would be an understatement. Add "panicked" and "on the verge of a meltdown" and you'd be closer to what I was feeling. I even contemplated throwing in the towel and just going home to a nice hot bath and an episode of Project Runway.

I glanced over to him after my boss walked away and he looked up from the stinger he was tying and gave me a wink.

It was such a simple, almost imperceptible gesture, but that blink of a single eye let me know that I could do it. That I've got this. That it'd all work out in the end. That he's on my side. That quarter of a second move made me stop, breathe, and collect myself before addressing my crew about the latest change in plans.

And in the end, we did the near impossible and got everything done in time with literally not a minute left to spare. But it was done. Mission accomplished. And I couldn't have done it without him

He had calmed me down when I needed it the most, did his job with efficiency, sensed the seriousness of the situation and reacted in kind, yet he'd make a small joke to get me to smile when appropriate. And usually when I needed it the most. He kept the rest of the guys on track when I wasn't around and didn't complain one damn bit though he had every right to.

And when this job ended and another one landed in my lap shortly after, I knew immediately who I wanted beside me to weather the next few months: him. As I learned more and more about what the upcoming job entailed, the more apparent that, once again, I'd be challenged and pushed to my limits, and I couldn't think of anyone else I'd rather have by my side. He'd be my support. My silent cheerleader. A physical reminder that there is someone who believes in me and will be there to help me if I needed it. With this daunting new show ahead of me, I wanted him with me. Badly.

But he turned me down in favor of an offer from his old crew. He said they needed him. Understandable, sure. But didn't he know I needed him, too?

That's when I stopped myself. Did I really need him? I enjoy the comfort and support he brings, sure. But do I need it?

I've been in this business alone for about a decade now, and I think I've done pretty well for myself so far. Sure, I've had moral supporters and a helping hand or two over the years, but no one that really stuck by me through the thick and the thin. No one to hold my hand when things got difficult. No one to help me make the tough decisions. I may have turned to people once or twice for advice, but at the very heart of it, it's just been me the whole time.

I've never had to depend on anybody. And I wasn't about to start now.

I stand alone. And I guess I will continue to stand alone.

I may want him, but I certainly do not need him.

I've got this.

I can do this.

And sometimes, as depressing as it may sound, sometimes it's good to have a reminder that I don't need anyone to hold my hand or give me a reassuring wink.

I may want the support. And things may be easier with someone on my team. But I am strong enough to stand on my own regardless.

I. Am. Enough.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Stop Working Before Call.

As I've touched on before in a previous post, while every effort is usually made to be on set and ready to work at your call time, you technically aren't "in" (read: "on the clock") yet if crew parking is a van ride away. Instead, your call time is what time you're supposed to be at crew parking. So if the callsheet says your call time is 10:30am and crew parking is a twelve minute drive away from set, you technically shouldn't be working until 10:42am, even if you're already at the truck because you got there early (usually because of the lure of breakfast). 

Best Boys and Gaffers who understand and actually enforce that rule are few and far between, so when I find a department head that insists on it, I want to give them a big ol' hug.

But what I don't get are colleagues that start working despite our Gaffer telling us not to. 

One guy on our crew in particular was adamant starting work "at call" no matter what, and when one guy starts working and everyone else is just standing around, it doesn't make our department look good, even if that one person is going rogue. So one day, as Mr. Company Man started to unload carts from the truck before our official working time, I reminded him that we still had a few minutes until we were "in."

Since this wasn't a new discussion on this show, he sighed before turning to me, and said, "That's a stupid rule."

I stared at him blankly in return. "Do you want to work for free?"

"What? Hell no," was his immediate response.

"Then stop working before call."

It's as simple as that, people. If you're working before you're paid to work, you're working for free. It's not a hard concept to grasp.

I personally haven't worked for free since I stopped answering job ads that promised "copy, credit and meals," and I refuse to go backwards.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License .