Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Which Job Are You On?


"Hey, let's get an 18K on a roadrunner in the backyard." 

The call came over the radio and we all snapped into action, some of us heading to the yard to scope out the power situation while others head over to the truck to start pulling the pieces. Everyone got to work except for a dayplayer still looking at his phone. "I'll catch up in a minute," he said. "I'm almost done with my paperwork for the job I'm on tomorrow."

Okay. Not a problem. There's more than enough people to handle one light.

Later on another call came over the radio. "Camera sees some of our gak and cable in the shot. Can we get some people over to the west side of the building to clear it?" 

Again, we snap into action and in seconds we're all grabbing a piece of cable to move it out of frame. 

...Everyone except for that one guy. 

"It's okay, dude. We got it," one of my colleague says to him rather sarcastically.

"Oh, sorry. I'm in the middle of e-mailing production on my job next week about my rentals."

Some more time passes and it's time for us to light a new scene. We clear out the old lights and reposition everything on the other side of the yard. It's a pretty busy set up and surprise, homeboy is no where to be found.

Finally we're all set and return to staging where we find him plugging in his phone. "I was on a phone call with the best boy I'm working with tomorrow," he explained. "Did I miss anything?"

Shortly after, another call for a light comes on the radio and again, everyone starts moving except for the dayplayer. "I gotta answer this text. It's about the next job I'm doing."

My other colleague has had enough at this point, stops what he's doing and asks him, "Okay. But which job are you on now?"

The dayplayer takes the hint, puts his phone away, and grabs a light. 

Listen, we all know dayplaying can be a hustle. You're trying to fill your week with calls and that means occasionally being on the phone while you're on another job. But constantly dealing with other shows while ignoring the one you're supposed to be working on is poor form. 

Don't ever forget what job you're actually on. 

Sunday, January 3, 2021


One of these things is not like the other.


"So how did you end up working with the Gaffer?"

I was helping a day player button up his condor for the night when he asked me this question. I had been with this particular crew for some time now, but this was the guy's first day with us so our conversations were peppered with getting-to-know-you questions.

"Oh, I did a pilot with him a while back."


"Yeah. One of his guys threw my name in the hat because production wanted more diversity in their crew and apparently I was the only option available," I said, adding a slight chuckle at the end of my reply. I thought back to how on my first day with them, I was expecting to see different genders and ethnicities peppered into the crew but when I showed up, my entire department was made up of white males with the exception of me. "Three years later and I'm still here."

"Oh, yeah," the guy replied, though he didn't seem to find the humor in my answer, "My usual Gaffer ended up doing a show like that. We had to let go of a few of our regular guys." The way he said it made it clear that he wasn't happy about that. 

Nor do I really blame him. I like most of the people I work with and am always sad when I no longer get to work with any one of them, but at the same time, he didn't seem to see what his comment was implying: that his usual crew was made up entirely of white, straight, males. And in addition, it didn't seem like he saw any problem with that. 

As more and more shows are pushing for diversity and gender parity, and that's a great thing, I will say that I don't always agree with their tactics. (But that's a much longer post for another time.) And while it has happened more than a few times now, I'm not exactly thrilled that the only reason why I'm on a crew is because "production made them hire" me. I'm a set lighting tech, not a human prop. But in all the times I've been hired in the name of "diversity" I've never once not been called back to work with a crew, even when they move on to shows without a quota requirement. So while they probably would have never hired me on their own to begin with, I'm obviously good enough to keep around when given the chance. 

I'm not saying that any "diversity hire" my day playing colleague's Gaffer had to bring on is any better than any of the guys he had to let go, but the fact that there wasn't someone already in his repertoire shows that he doesn't really give a shot to those who don't come with a certain type of privilege to begin with. And that's a problem. If there was any diversity in his crew at all, their unit would still be intact.   

The conversation died and we packed up the rest of the gear in silence. Then he headed in one direction while I headed in another.

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