Saturday, August 24, 2019

This Is Why I Can't Stay Still.

A friend of mine spent many years working with the same Gaffer on the same type of shows. Almost exclusively. Which is great for him. The hours were never very long. The work was pretty predictable and easy. And the Gaffer liked what he liked and used a lot of tungsten lights. They were almost always shooting on a stage and those lights are affordable, reliable, and did what they needed them to do. They're a classic for a reason.

Unfortunately for my friend, his Gaffer is in a slump and hasn't landed a new show in some time. So out in to the pond my friend went, looking for a new crew and a new show to work with. What he found, he was shocked by.

"Oh my God A.J.," he started when we met up for lunch one day. "Things are so different out there."
"What do you mean?"
"I ended up on a rigging crew for a week and we had to set up these new [LED lights that have been out for a few years now]. There's so many pieces to them! And they're heavy! We had to hang a couple dozen of them. It was crazy."
"And it used to be that we just dropped some stingers, bates and splitters by the distro boxes. But guess what we have to put out now, too? DMX cable! DMX CABLE. Everything is controlled by the board now!"
"It's so different out there now. Not at all like when we started. Wait until you see. You'll get what I'm saying," he said, thinking I didn't understand what was going on.
"No, I get it," I tell him. "But it's nothing new."
"What do you mean? Things are totally different!"
"For you, yeah. You've been with the same Gaffer for the past several years doing the same kind of jobs. You do the same shit day in and day out and then brag about how easy your job is. Meanwhile, I've been out on different jobs with different Gaffers and yeah, this is how stuff is done now. Has been for a while."
"No, I don't think you get it. But you will. You'll see how much things have changed," he insisted.

I just shook my head and went on with our meal. This whole "new" world was such a shock to him that he might as well have been Columbus "discovering" America without noticing that the natives were here all along.

I'm not knocking him for staying with a Gaffer and crew he liked on the easy jobs. It was a system that worked for him and that's great. But to not realize that the world moves on outside of your bubble is absurd. To have that phone in your pocket be more advanced with each passing year but not even consider the fact that your own industry would be advancing as well is akin to sticking your head in the sand. To see your own shows being shot on film to video to GoPros and even cell phones and not even think twice about how technology is effecting your department shows a lack of self awareness.

I'm not trying to say that he needs to go out and work on new crews. Or learn every new light that's out there. That's pretty much impossible. Every time I think I've at least gotten the basics down of one unit, another one pops up with a whole new set of buttons and operating menus. But what I am saying is maybe he should poke his head out of his shell every once in a while. Just because he doesn't work with LEDs and console controlled lights doesn't mean there isn't a growing demand for them, and just because he doesn't know how to work with them doesn't mean that I don't know either. The world continues on with or without him.

While I myself sometimes miss the days when lights were just things you plugged in and flipped a switch without having to scroll through a menu system, I understand that this industry is one that doesn't stand still. And I choose to move with it or risk being left behind.


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