Sunday, October 28, 2018


Milestones are often kept by years. 16 years passed before I got my license. 18 when I graduated high school. College when I was 22. First drink at 21*. First crush at 5. First love at 17.

And that's how I kept time for the first twenty-something years of my life. Time, and my life's moments, were marked by the number of rotations the Earth made around the Sun.

But lately, I find myself keeping time not to years, but to my jobs.

I can tell you when I had the long, lengthy locks I've had most of my life chopped off. It was right before that God-awful movie of the week that was shot in Long Beach. I remember the short strands blowing around my face as I walked through the parking lot into the rental house.

I can tell you when I totaled my car. It was when I was working on a T.V. show out in Burbank. The one that barely aired, but the crew was cool. They'd let me sneak out whenever I needed to call my insurance company.

My first yoga class was during pilot season. My phone had half a dozen missed calls about work when I got out.

I was on a pilot when I discovered I had to see a specialist for an underlying medical condition. I skipped the last day of shooting because that was the only appointment I could get for months.

I was on that show in the Valley when my Dad found an organ donor. The guys covered for me when I went to go see him.

There was a show I worked on that took place in Malibu. They'd park our trucks right by the ocean and I was staring out at the gorgeous view of the sand and water when I my friend called me to tell me he has cancer.

I was carpooling with the Gaffer on another show when I found out he had passed. (And I still miss him every day.)

I can tell you exactly how long ago these moments in my life happened, not by dates, but by shows. I don't keep track of years, but seasons. Season 5 is when I became the best boy of a show that actually aired on T.V. Season 2 of another one is when I quit working for a toxic Gaffer. And Season 4 of another is when I tried my own hand at gaffing.

During my first pilot season, I worked for legendary gaffer that had done some of my childhood favorites.

My third pilot season is when I met the gaffer I still work with to this day.

Time for most people is marked by days, months and years. Mine is marked by crews, shows, and the way my life changes with them.

*That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Fuck You, Friend.

I'm lazily scrolling through my phone when I get a text from a friend of mine. We met on a pilot a few years ago and work together often. Only now he was Rigging Gaffer on a show while I'm browsing the Internet on my couch on a Wednesday.

"Hey, A.J.!," he texts, "Do you wanna come in and work with us tomorrow and Friday? It's location rigging, but don't worry. I'll put you on fixture duty and have the guys do the heavy cable."

I stare at it for a good long while. Could I use the work? Sure. If he had left out the last two sentences, I wouldn't even be hesitating. But he did and I am.

Do I love rigging? Not particularly. My threshold for wrangling cable is about a week before my (still relatively young) back hurts. Hanging lights isn't fun for me either because you're usually either doing acrobatics on the top step of a ladder to get the light where you want or you're stuck in a tiny lift with about a dozen lights on stirrups hanging off of it and I'm a terrible driver.

But rigging is a good work out and I actually don't mind it every once in a while, especially if the crew is full of good people.

Fixture work is also part of rigging and usually involves sitting in a chair for while, wiring things up and putting things together before you crawl around the set, hooking things up. Despite the crawling on the ground, it's easier on your body than laying down a cable run.

And while I appreciated the thought of giving me an easier assignment, I also felt insulted by it. Having "the guys" do the heavy cable implies that I can't handle it. And further more, it implies to them that I can't. If I took the call, I know I'd get stares from the other guys who'd wonder why the new day player got the easy job while they're breaking their backs with the cable. They'd see favoritism and that, my friends, is how the rumors start continue.

I also can't tell him to put me on cable duty because I'm not going to volunteer to do it just to prove a point. I'd be different if he was going to put me on the heavy stuff to begin with. I'd totally be down with that. But even guys who could bench press my weight with one hand would get out of running cable if they could and I'm not about to insist that I'll carry cable that weighs almost as much as I do.

So I turn decline my friend's offer with a simple lie of saying I'm unavailable that day. It's the first time I've had to turn down work based on principle. It wouldn't be fair to me or the other guys if I showed up to take the easy day.

(And not gonna lie, his text had me reevaluating our friendship.)
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