Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Changes Are Coming.

I've mentioned in my previous post that I'm doing just fine and dandy during this whole "no-work-stuck-at-home" quarantine thing. I don't miss the crack-of-dawn early call times, the end-of-a-fourteen-hour-day location wraps, the sitting in traffic, the perpetual state of exhaustion. I don't miss the judgey assholes who I have to keep proving myself to. And I sure as hell don't miss shit, mold, dust and rat infested locations that for some reason the location department thinks is are great places to shoot.

And while I'm still enjoying what I suppose was a much needed break from the grind, there are a few things that I do miss.

I miss working with a great crew.

I miss the all encompassing hugs from colleagues I haven't seen in a while.

I miss seeing the resident cranky guy crack a smile when I happen to say something witty or funny.

I miss the creative 2nd meals crafty sometimes comes up with.

I miss whispered gossip with the hair and make-up team about the latest drama in their trailer.

I miss being introduced to new locations and places in this town that I haven't been to or seen before (Shit Alley excluded).

I miss digging through a cooler full of ice, looking for the one can of the one flavor of La Croix that I like. Having to work for it made it taste better somehow.

I miss checking off the scenes we've done on the callsheet, like a scoreboard that tells us how many more innings we have left in our day. It was always so satisfying to physically cross something off.

I miss fiddling with the knick-kacks on set (sorry, set decorators! But rest assured, I always put things back where I found them).

I even miss riding around in pass vans with my favorite driver.

And while it may still be a little while before we get the all clear to return to work* I'm getting glimpses of what life would be like while working during a pandemic.

No more hugs from old friends that make me feel loved. No more just hanging out with your fellow crew members at staging between set ups. No more huddling around phones or tablets or anything else with a screen and an Internet connection whenever a game is on. No more self-serve meals.** No more whispering of secrets in my ear about the latest work-place scandal. No more cool locations to explore (even possibly no locations at all). No more callsheets to check the day off on. No more driving around, crammed into a van like a family on a road trip during Summer vacation. No more sneaking away from set to do a coffee (and the occasional milkshake) run. And worse of all, the discussions about possibly having a "studio system" of sorts for day players mean I may no longer get to choose who I will (awesome, milkshake loving people) and will not (assholes) work for.

Basically, almost everything I love about my job will either be gone or altered in some way.

But at least on the flip side, gone too are the unsanitary locations, the ridiculously long days,*** and until the unemployment rate goes down, traffic will be lighter.

Ungodly call times and assholes aren't banned though, so at least some parts of this business will still be recognizable.

*Yes, I'm aware of this article, but as of the time of this writing, LA County hasn't give the okay yet, not to mention pre-production would have to start first, making shooting at its earliest, still at least a few weeks away.

**I know this one sounds trivial in the grand scheme of things, but you're talking to a gal who generally likes to try a little bit of everything, but can also be kinda picky or have to limit my consumption of certain types of food for health reasons.  Self service meals mean I can scoop whatever I want and it'll all get eaten. Pre-packaged or caterer-served, and you're looking at a LOT of uneaten food on my plate (and I hate food waste, as should you), and I'm gonna be cranky and hungry again in a little bit. Also, "bring your own lunch" isn't really an option unless a microwave and fridge are provided (per labor law. Plus, who wants to lug around a full tool bag AND a cooler to work every day, or eat a cold lunch all the time), in which case, that's another potentially contaminated/unsanitized shared space, not to mention, unless we're only working 8 hour days, Mama doesn't have time to work a full day AND make two nutritious meals that can be easily packed and may or may not need refrigeration every night. I don't care if you think I'm spoiled. Production is supposed to provide meals and I'm on the side of making them pay for as many things as possible since they're so reluctant to spend money of things like manpower, equipment, and various safety issues. And this ends my food rant for the day. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

***While the white paper does call for shorter work days, it declines to give an actual number for recommended hours worked. I've heard various guesstimations of what those days may look like, and while they do sound shorter than what we're used to, they're still longer than the 8 hour days our non-industry friends enjoy.


Michael Taylor said...

I'll believe the "shorter work days" when I see it -- or rather, when my still-working friends in the biz tell me that's how things are in the Age of Corona once Hollywood gets back to work. Unless and until the "no double-time until 14 worked hours" cable-rate contract is changed to conform to the same overtime terms as full-scale jobs, crews will continue to suffer through long days and nights on set regardless of the Covid protocols. Still, my real concern is with the non-union, low-budget projects -- the kind of shows that slide under the radar, where so many newbies get their start. Being desperate to launch their careers, those kids are unlikely to stand up for themselves and demand proper Covid-protection measures. They'll be at risk.

If I hadn't retired three years ago, this would certainly push me out to pasture. Much of what was fun about working on set will be gone with the Covid Wind for a long, long time to come. It's the new reality that can't be ignored or wished away.... and it sucks.

Kristen said...

I got an email of some spam comment replying to a comment I made on your blog back in 2015 (L-O-freaking-L) but I would like to thank the spammy bot because I had totally forgotten about your blog!! I left the film world behind almost 4 years ago, I never had the intention of and never wanted to leave but one thing led to another (life) and it's all begrudgingly worked out, so no regrets. I'm so glad you're still writing! I just went through the last several months of posts and now I'm super nostalgic and although I'm happy with where my life has ended up, I never stopped missing on set life and now I miss it even more!! :)

Kristen said...

Oh man and Michael Taylor's blog!! Haha I just saw his comment above mine and now I'm about to go down the rabbit hole and catch up on what his retirement life has been like! This spambot just made my day.

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