Monday, October 20, 2008


Another early start with an early finish. So early in fact after rigging today's location, a number of small locations in the woods. We went back to the stage to chill for 3 hours before scooting home in time for lunch. Why not just go home you ask? The chill mode at the stage served 3 purposes. One, we needed to hang in the oft, oft chance there was some sort of emergency on set and we needed to get back there to help. After a couple hours, however, the shooters are on their own. No blame attached to us. Two, by chilling at the stage we gave the Monday morning rush hour traffic a chance to subside. Making for a very breezy ride home. More on that later. The third reason was for the guys with families. I don't think any of those guys wanted to get home before their kids got to school thereby plunking them right smack dab in the middle of the morning chores.
The ride home was awesome. The sun was shining, the roads were clear and my Ipod shuffle was the perfect sound forever. Every tune was a winner. The one after the perfect complement. It was uncanny. There was a point were I was speeding up I-95 singing (in full throat, of course) Jaheim's "Happiness" followed by Sophie Ellis Bextor's "Murder on the dance floor". Man, for this old huntin' dog, it don't git any better than that.
This got me to thinking about carpooling. And how I try to avoid it like the plague.
This country is in trouble on many fronts. There's a recession on and gas prices are ridiculous. The carbon footprint is enormous. We drive so much in this business, you would think people would be clamoring to carpool. I actually share a place with a guy I work with. Not really. I'm sure everyone has their reasons. For me the reason is simple. I like my space and I need to sing in the car. It makes me feel whole. After a bummer of a day, nothing gets me back to one like some hardcore (don't call it gangsta) rap. After days like that, I turn up the Mobb Deep and jet back to to the cultural warmth of the hood. Smooth Tha Hustla lets me know that its all about the dough and I remember that all this craziness is just business. Nas and Jay-Z are reassuring. I'm reminded that they can't touch me and that there is a deluxe apartment in the sky. Redman is like carpooling with the spirit of Redd Foxx. These raw displays of blackness would likely make my carpool mates a little uneasy. NPR is great for the drive in, but after work its go time. Then there are days like today when I just want to celebrate my freedom and make a joyful noise for the lord. Honestly, I can't sing a lick and nobody should be subjected to that, so everybody wins.
I consider myself a pretty green black guy. I recycle, I conserve. I read labels. I've been involved in organic farming in the hood and I try to ride my bike whenever possible. But there are some things a man can't budge on. I tend to luxuriate in the shower as well. Otherwise, I'm a pretty green black guy.

On the serious side however. Film sets can sometimes be ecological nightmares. Trucks idling all day long. Half filled plastic water bottles are strewn everywhere. And tons of materials wasted and then discarded. Even I, conscious of the situation find it hard to reign in my wasteful tendencies. It does takes extra effort. You tend to be really focused on whatever your doing and then on the move quickly. There are people paid to clean up after us so its really easy to lose the common sense about these things that at home most of us are more than willing to take care of. We all want to do the right thing, so when there is any kind of effort. We are more than willing to help out. I believe it was Carmen Diaz who bought a shitload of travel mugs for a production so that people wouldn't waste so many coffee cups.The production I'm on currently gave little out little flasks and then banned plastic water bottles from craft service. Commendable efforts both. I know there are probably many efforts across the country. The one that does a lot of good around here is called FaERI. It is headed up by the lovely and tireless Jodi Baldwin. The girl needs help. Its a massive effort. Look her up and help her out if you are so inclined. Better yet, start your own. It's a good thing and trust me, helping out does wonders to help ease the guilt of singing at the top of your lungs in an empty car.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Surrogates in Pictures Part 1

This was a pretty fun, yet grueling gig. A little over 3 weeks of work. I'm sure that the DMZ with all its containers stacked high into the sky will be a big waterslide attraction at Disney by this time next year.

The Surrogates in Pictures Part 2

More pics.

Sunday kind of worry

Friday was a breeze. I was on the highway home before a lot of people have breakfast. Nice.

This job is coming to an end. With that also will probably be the end of core crew employment for the rest of the year for yours truly. There are a couple of things starting in November, but I doubt that I will do anything other day play on those. Probably for the best. One thing I could definitely use is more time. The other thing I could really use is cash. I'm not really good at campaigning for jobs. This is the ritual of finding out who the best boy on the job is, calling him up, and throwing your hat in the ring. But I definitely will. There's probably at least another 3 weeks of work here, probably more with the dismantling of the stage. Still I worry. This is the life of the freelancer.

I love working in Providence. Its a beautiful, energetic city. They have been so welcoming to the film business over the last couple of years and both parties have benefited. Providence has a lot of wonderful things to offer. A lot of technicians have bought homes in the surrounding area and have been very happy. It has a ton of good restaurants and a ridiculous number of excellent coffee shops. We'll be talking more about those later. One of today's pics is from Olga's. A most wonderful coffee house.
Unfortunately, Providence may be a sign of things to come. The state and the city are broke, with some of the highest unemployment rates in the country. They've all but repealed their tax incentive. What they've actually done is put a cap on it limiting the number of productions that can take advantage of the benefits. This has cut down the number of films shot here dramatically.
It has also added to the number of people out of work in this state. Movies can help out in a lot of ways besides technicians. Security, Hotels, restaurants, transportation etc. We have a different incentive plan in MA. But these are tough times for America financially. They say that the film business is recession proof. But never before has it been so intertwined with state tax money and as a result state politics. It should be a very interesting year or so.

By the way. I was just kidding about working out.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Its not you. Its definitely me

Ok. I'm back.

I think.

The last few months have been weird and busy. After the romantic comedy, I worked as a grip on the second unit of a big budget science fiction flick. All stunts, car crashes and flying futuristic cops. Cool. Right after that I started the gig I'm on now. Rigging Electric on a tough guy television series. I think there was a commercial or two in there as well. I've had very little time off since this past winter. I've been very busy. In the last few months I've acquired A very cool, very raw loft space that needs a lot of fixer-upping. I've tried to put more effort into spending what little quality time with my lady and my family. I've started shooting a personal, short film, cut my dreads and grown a mustache. There's a lot going on. But something else has started to occur. I'm really burned out by work and have often started to wonder if its perhaps time to move on and do something else in my life. Its a very tough call as I've wanted to be involved with motion pictures since I was very young. What else would I do? I dunno. Teach maybe? Indulge my long buried passion to go back to school in order to bring urban ecology to my hood and hoods like it across the country. Maybe I'm just looking a gift horse in the mouth. Either way, I will try to keep in touch. Its also a matter of organization, As opposed to a few months ago, I have much more of a life. Unfortunately, I have even less time to blog. But I'm going to get on one of those schedules. Hell. I might even start working out

I've been working on a couple of longer "pieces". I'll be posting those in the near future. And pictures, lots of pictures.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Feeling yourself disintergrate

"Suddenly everything has changed"
The Flaming Lips

I guess I was in a bad place.
Its been hard to write. Hell, its been hard doing anything, everything. Fixing up my fixxer upper. Moving into said fixxer upper. Shooting my short film, reading or maintaining any sort of real balance. For the last 8 months or so I've been on a schedule, if you want to call it that of waking up wicked early. Driving a long way, working, driving a long way home eating and then falling asleep.
With a life like that, I guess I sort of shut down.
Looking back, its easy to see how this was the culmination of about of about 2 years and change of unchecked emotion. I know every one's life is full of challenges and catastrophe. I guess the ones in my life had started to get the best of me.

Lets take a trip down memory lane...

A couple of years ago I was feeling like things were going my way. I was living in an up and coming neighborhood in Brooklyn. A place I truly truly love. I was working as an set lighting technician on all the big movies. I had great friends I saw regularly. I was even playing music again. Life wasn't perfect, but I really couldn't imagine a better setup. As a kid I always felt that NYC was the place to be. I think whether they admit it or not, a lot of native Bostonians feel that way. Then over the course of 3 months, things became completely unraveled. Completely. First off, I had a accident. Working on a The Devil Wears Prada, I slipped on a plank, fell out of a catwalk and crashed on the stage below. I fell about 15 feet. Although I was truly the luckiest man ever to fall 15 feet, I managed to escape with relatively minor injuries. It did have a detrimental effect on my working life. I meant I had to be out of the work loop for a little while which was bad for a couple of reasons. Obviously, No dough. But also I was trying to get into the union there and it was essential to stay in the loop in order to have the support necessary to have people to vote for you. A month later I was being kicked out of my apartment. The building was sold to a young rich couple who did what was popular in NYC at the time. Find a brownstone in an just about to be up and coming neighborhood and turn it into a brownstone mansion. I started spending more time in Boston because I was getting calls and it was worth it to me to spend 15 bucks and 10 hours total travel to get a union days pay. Then the unthinkable happened. Someone I cared about very much became very ill due to a severe bi-polar spell. She then took her own life in a horrible fashion. I'm pretty sure I was the last person she talked to.

I had kind of an emotional meltdown.
I think on the surface, I hid it pretty well. I settled back in Boston. I kept working. Inside was a different story. I let myself die too. I guess I was in shock. Looking back now, it seems as if I just stop living inside. If I wasn't working, I just wanted to be alone, even when I was in a group. I lost contact with a lot of dear friends. Then I think I entered into a death wish phase. I took an unusual(for my age) interested in extreme sports. I started mountain biking like a man possessed. I started rock climbing, especially the particularly hazardous bouldering, which is basically rock climbing without safety equipment. Often, I would combine the two for these full days of terror in the woods. I used to get myself in some real scary spots. Riding off cliffs without clearly establishing a landing pad and that sort of thing. I really enjoyed jumping off of stuff in my neighborhood, which would freak out my neighbors I've had a unusually high number of brushes with death in my life. Some due to where I grew up, some due to really bad choices and like the fall, a couple at work. I've had this sneaking suspicion that I can't be killed. I'm not saying this in a cocky way. I'm saying this in a this probably means that I have a few more horrendous brushes with death ahead of me kind of way. My experiences on my bike both on rocks and cliffs as well as hostile Boston city traffic, oft times without helmet, confirmed this grim fact for me. I also started to become the kind of film technician that would lose his shit at the drop of a hat. I considered myself unlucky in love.
Slowly but surely the light started to come on inside. I had energy again. I went back to being a nice person at work. But I definitely felt a change. I clearly wasn't going to be the same person going forward that I had been. My priorities seemed to change. My crazy,loving family became more important to me than ever before. I became a best pal to my very young nephew who doesn't have a dad around.
I started volunteering for stuff. This has become a very important part of my life. Teaching film lighting to kids, organic urban farming and bike riding for good causes have become my favorite activities. I became far less interested in clawing my way up the ladder at work. I met a woman who cared enough about me to make me promise to stop with the death wish activities and to always wear a helmet.
The next thing you know I'm working full time, all the time. I got this huge loft space that requires a lot of time and money. My nephew is five now. I've got a girl fiend who wants and deserves a lot of attention. She has a job that literally makes mine seem like child's play. There simply not enough hours in the day to do all the things I want and need to do in my life. Organization is key now. I Think about Valerie Burgher every day. But its time to move on. At the time of her death, Valerie was a producer on a very interesting documentary about aids research in the South Bronx. It has since been released. Its called "All of Us". It made by the great filmmakers at Pureland Pictures. I encourage everyone who reads this to find a way to see it. Its dedicated to Valerie and its a lasting testament to the kind of things she cared about deeply. She certainly made me want to live my life differently. I think I'm still figuring out exactly how that's going to work.

I'm glad I got that off my chest.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I just threw my gloves down in disgust.

A rigger on the movies has two general responsibilities. Pre- rig the next location in advance of the shooters, and "baby- sit" or "wipe their prima-donna asses" depending on who you talk to. Today was an unfortunate yet classic example of the latter.
When we left work yesterday, we were told our call the next day would be 7am at the stage in Beverly, about a half hour ride from my house at that hour. Later that evening I got a call alerting me that the call had been changed to a 6:30am PRE-CALL on set in Manchester by the sea. About an hour and a half drive at that hour. Bollocks! This kind of abrupt change usually means there was trouble the evening before and there'll be trouble in the morn. We had the crew van driver stop at set instead of the customary catering, because a pre-call means you hit the ground running and get breakfast later. We get to set and start working on the things that obviously need to be done. Nothing crazy, just stuff shooters usually do to start the day. We notice that there are no actual shooters here lighting with us, save Geoff D. Whose first day it is. As the lighting starts to shape up, the shooters casually roll in, some still eating the catered breakfast. Wait a minute! Wasn't this a pre-call? Didn't I get up at 4am? We thought it was a pre-call. The shooting best boy was there. Apparently the rest of the shooting crew didn't get the invite. The Nerve! We interrupt our work schedule, get up early and drive an extra hour to help these clowns out and they stop by after nosh. The icing on the cake. We ate a full 2 hours after pre-call. If I was a shooter on this show I might have fainted from the malnourishment. LAME, lame,lame.

For an Electrician, the throwing down of the gloves is done in response to only the most egregious of indignities. Jokingly, I throw my gloves down 2 or 3 times a week. Today's the first time I ever meant it.

The pictures are of some fool trying to get to know the movie hawks just before feeding time. An unfortunate choice.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Week in Coffee

This crew drinks a lot a Java, man.
My day starts with two cups of Equal Exchange Organic Colombian. French Pressed of course. One with the morning news one for the road in my very spiffy FlatBlack(very nice local spot that we were actually banned from by production. It was the fancy danishes that did us in.) travel mug. I hop in the car with Mark, we pick up Justin and we head to Starbucks in Beverly, minutes from the stage we've been spending most of our time at lately. At coffee break we head to The Daily Harvest for some of their fine Atomic Cafe. This is my favorite coffee of the day as this is the time we get to read the paper and discuss the news of the day. This place is great. We sometimes call it the Milf Cafe. After lunch there is coffee. If were on set this is the time for the espressos and cappuccinos. you're pretty much on you're own for the afternoon coffee. Sometimes I pass on that one. Lately I've been grabbing a grande latte for the ride home. Roger was shocked to learn about the extra Starbucks. He acted like a jilted lover. On top of that, it was "corporate coffee". He threw his gloves down in disgusted. I felt dirty.

Tomorrow were back on set in lovely Manchester by the sea. On set with the shooters. That's definitely going to mess with my coffee. But trust me, we'll find a way to get to The Kitchen Witch. Best coffee(and loveliest ladies) in Manchester.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Week In Review

Another good week on the job. The only minor complaint is about the early starts. 6am tomorrow which means up at 4, out of the house at 4:30. Got a lot of sleep this weekend so at least Monday shouldn't be so bad.

We're just about halfway through shooting. Just about time to start worrying about the next job. Everyone is predicting a little slowdown after this round of films. We'll see.

The panel turned out to be not so bad. Got treated like kind of a celebrity for a few hours. Got lots of cool shwag and fantasized about being there with my first film, which was cool. The discussion was fairly interesting if not very in depth. I'm not sure I did a great job describing the job, but it didn't really seem to matter as people were much more interested in talking to the other three panelist, and AC, a production designer and the union rep. The truth is that I'm an grunt. My job isn't really that sexy to the outside world. Thats OK, I like it

Friday, April 25, 2008


another week is coming to an end. The weekend might be interesting. The very cool Boston Independent Film festival is in town and I'm going to be participating in a panel discussion about breaking into the film business around here. Thats going be hard. Besides the public speaking thing, I feel if I'm really honest, it will just bum everybody out. More on this later.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Day at the Beach

We started early yesterday, but we ended early as well. If I told you how early, I'd have to kill you.
what happens in rigging, stays in rigging. That's the rule.

The male lead of this film is kind of a jerk. My boss Roger and I were waiting to use the expresso maker. The two leads of the film were chatting about god knows what in front of the machine. This is not unusual. It seems the people who are not pressed for time(non-technicians) are the ones who spend the most time chatting and thus blocking access to crafty for people in a hurry, which Roger and I were not. But you get the point. After waiting for more than a few minutes while they ignored us and chatted, Roger decided to use the expresso maker. There was an empty cup in the machine, so Roger used it. After a few minutes the star is in a rage...

"Who stole my fuckin coffee?"

The star sees Roger enjoying his cappucino and angrily accuses.

"You fucker, you stole my coffee"

Roger calmly explains that we had been waiting for a bit to use the machine and when we did there was just an empty cup there meaning that the machine was probably not turned on when the star wanted to use it. The star looks kinda confused.

"That fuckin coffee machine sucks!"

Then he stomps off. Wow! I think that young man has anger issues.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Electric Dreams

where you been?

It has been a while, hasn't it. I was torn for a while as to whether I had anything to write about or not. The mega-movie certainly was an adventure unlike any I've ever encountered in this business. The moderate, big budget romantic comedy has turned out to be the best job I've ever had. Its not all shits and giggles, but it is a job that works on a lot of levels.

1) We care about Coffee. We never miss a coffee break. We talk about coffee. We strive for the best coffee available. So much so that we've been banned from several fine coffeehouses that were deemed " too expensive" by production. Seriously man, some days we've spent more on coffee break than lunch. Yesterday afternoon we had ice cream instead of coffee. Most of us grabbed a coffee from craft service when we got back to set.

2) I feel pretty confident that I'm going to get home alive and with all my fingers and toes every day. That was an issue on the mega-movie. I wonder if they've settled down at all. Except for the fact that I suck at basic household wiring, and I'm due for a big shock at some point. This gig is pretty smooth sailing.

3) Books, books, books. The story or whatever involves a publisher. There were thousands of unwanted books at the end of the shoot. I helped myself to a hundred or so. Love the perks of this business. I think at a brief point I became addicted to the books on that set. I wanted to read every ridiculous book they had.

4) The beauty. We are filming primarily on the North Shore. We are taking some of the most beautiful little seaport towns and turning them into Alaska(seriously). The views are breathtaking.

I really like being an electrician in the movies. I just gotta get a lot better at a couple of things. But I definitely feel better at the end of the day. unfortunately, my day is just starting and I gotta go.

Hi Nancy!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Is there a heaven for a grip?

I could get used to this.

The first day as a rigging electric on the big budget romantic comedy with the A-list starlet. We showed up at the stage, waited an hour for a truck to show up. Then we went to breakfast. Came back to the stage. No truck. We wait another hour, build some shelves and then went to lunch. Its probably become apparent that food is important to me, so I like the direction we're going in. After lunch, Mark and I, having been left to wait for a truck were not sure really exist are told it will not arrive until the end of the day. We decided to go to the mall. Its a little known fact that a lot of technicians are shop-aholics, and Mark and I are no exception. I purchased a spiffy new pair of hikers. If your going to do this job, your going to spend a lot of time on your feet. The shoes are important. Mark went off the deep end and bought the new macbook pro he's had his eye on for a while. Nice. The truck finally arrived at 5pm. we put in 2 solid hours of work and called it a day. Electrics work at a different pace than grips and we try to avoid carrying heavy stuff. I'm much more philosophically aligned with this way of doing things. I'm not totally trying to avoid hard work. But I'm not trying to kill myself either. I'm really looking forward to being an everyday electric for the next 9 weeks as well as going forward. I'm not totally ready to declare myself retired from gripping like Mark is. You never know what the future holds. But this is they way I see my career going, and I hope it continues.

I do forsee a "grip problem". The rigging grips on the shows are my boys. Guys I've worked with a lot. They are all awesome guys, but they are going to ride me hard. To them I am the greatest disappointment. A legitimate grip turned "maggot" (popular grip term for electrics, because they cluster to cable like a ...). Seriously, theres a lot of love between me and those guys. But practical jokes are very popular on a film set and I'd be wise to watch my back at all times.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Week In Review

Last day on the Mega-Movie. Starting the new job on Tuesday. Wish I had at least one day off in-between jobs, but that's the way it goes in the freelance world. 3 days off in a row certainly will help ease the pain. I am a little bit torn about leaving the big show, for a somewhat less big show. But its important for me to remember the days when working on movies that people actually saw in theaters seemed so far away. Its also important to remember why I'm taking the other job. Hopefully it will serve as the foundation for spending the rest(bulk) of my career as an electric. I love my grip brothers, and I have total respect for the many facets that make up the grip world. But in my heart of hearts, I know this is the way to go. Sometimes when I'm working as an electric, I feel like a rock star. Sometimes when I'm working as a grip, I feel like a punching bag.

I fear jinxing myself before the last day on the mega-movie. But its probably the best time to look at the things I'll miss and won't miss.


The big adventure - I got into this business to work on the biggest movies with the directors and DPs that inspired me. This is that. Maybe because I have already worked on a feature for this director(one of the direct reasons that I love movies and that I am here), it makes the decision a little bit easier. I hate to admit this, but I'll also miss the big death-defying stuff we pull off(most of the time) on this movie. I'm not sure I'll miss doing it, but I think I'll miss surviving it. Maybe there is a little cowboy in me.

The core crew - The core, permanent crew here is awesome. Scott, Andrew, Tom and Billy are true pros of the big show. Every day so far on this show they face adversity with a smile and class. They are great guys and I'll miss being on the team. I can only imagine what I'd learn from them over the run of the show. Hopefully Tobias will slide into the spot I'm leaving and it will continue to be all good. Fight on Brothers!

The Money - Brotha was gettin' paid on the big show. All the overtime, the forced calls and the meal penalties really paid off. This past week I took home more money in the film business than ever before. Next week should be even better. The next job should pay like a normal rigging job. Good, but not like this.

The food - The food on this movie is off the hook. The meals(when allowed) are fantastic, restaurant quality and served by the nicest people. The craft service is a delight too. Great snacks and Kashi Bars! I personally believe for the crew experience, these things are vitally important. it can really help you get through the day. The catering and craft service on this movie are 4 star, top of the line. The standard has been set.

The cute PAs - Look, I have a girlfriend, I'm very happy and I'd like to keep it that way. But DAMN. Like craft service, it can really make your day a little better.

The mole - I never did catch that spy. I couldn't get anyone to take me seriously either. I'll catch you yet.


The feeling that I might die or be seriously hurt - I just couldn't escape it. The rigging grip department on this movie is into some big dangerous stuff. And I did every single thing that was asked of me. The condors, the death sails, which we have not seen the last of, and the death cube. You can definitely get hurt messing with this stuff. I might miss the challenge of doing things not everyone would do, but I definitely won't miss the risk or the consequence. I've already survived one nasty accident doing this stuff. I just don't think I'm that lucky.

The long hours and the missed meals - A new grip came on the job the other day and asked another grip who had been on the job a couple of weeks for the skinny on the gig. When the grip described the crazy hours, the forced calls and the meal penalties. The new grip, a veteran in the local, was in disbelief. " In rigging?" he said while picking his jaw up off the ground. The reason you want to rig after doing this for a while is the stability. You usually work a fixed amount of hours, rarely miss meals, and can usually tell your loved ones with reasonable certainty when you'll be home. You make a little less money, and your not the hero like the guys on the shooting crew. But if quality of life is important to you than rigging is your best shot. This film has been very different in that way.

The "off-market rigger" problem - As mentioned in previous posts, the crew got a lot bigger after a week or so. For the most part this has been a good thing. We have added some veteran film people, a couple of young, hungry ones, as well as some longtime rock and roll stagehand guys whose experience with rigging truss, especially up in the air has proven invaluable. But there is one disturbing side effect to the recent boom in big budget feature film making, the "off-market dudes". These are guys with zero experience who get hired simply because there are more jobs right now than trained locals to fill them. This to me seems like an excellent opportunity to get into a largely respectable field that pays pretty well, without the pain of paying your dues on the $100 a day circuit for the same kind of backbreaking work and even more soulcrushing hours. What do these clowns do. Nothing. Literally. They don't get it, won't get it, and probably still wouldn't get it if it fell on them like a death sail that failed because of one of their bullshit knots. There 4 of these clowns on the crew.
THE TOOL-LESS WONDER: ok, so get a chance to work on a movie and its something you seem to want to do and the first day or two you get your ass kicked by all the things you have to learn to make it in this business. Happens to everyone. What do you do? You watch what the pros do, go home and tool up. The gear matters and if you buy a couple of basic tools and try make up for what you don't know in hustle and awareness, you'll likely be alright. Not this fool. He's on for a week, no tools. Gets fired. comes back a week later, because its so busy out there and STILL HAS NO TOOLS! What? The sad part is, I like the kid. But GET SOME DAMN TOOLS!
MR. NO-KNOTS: This coconut also has a tool issue as well but his problem is considerably more dangerous. He seemingly refuses to or is truly incapable of learning the 3 or 4 basic knots that are essential for safe gripping. There is a lot of nepotism in this thing and he's here because he rents a place from someone who knows someone. Whatever. But for the love of god man take the time to learn the knots that may save you or some other grip a lot of pain. I wont miss the snarling, hopelessly tangled clumps of rope that passed for knots from this numbnuts. I can only imagine this will continue until someone teaches him the noose. Seriously, its a safety issue.
JOEY PENGUIN: I've mentioned the penguin before when he wasn't there for me when the death sail was about to drag me into the drink. And thats what he specializes in. Not being there for you. The other day I was pushing a very heavy cart up a hill on a gravel road when the penguin walked right by me.
"hey brother, can you give me a hand"
"waaah, I gotta go to da head, waaaah"(I think thats what he said)
So much for that whole fraternal order thing. It turned out someone from another department saw I was in trouble and helped me out. It was embarrassing. The penguin also has a horrible bawston accent and tells stories about getting blow jobs from hookers. Gross!
The tool thief - This dude is the lowest. Yeah, he went home and tooled up. WITH YOUR STUFF. This punk stole my $25 dollar gloves and the kept trying to steal them after I checked him on it. Unbelievable. When I finally pried them out of his thievin little mitts, I discovered they were all ripped up. Not even an apology. No Class!
I love this job and it is a time honored craft. It rubs me the wrong way when people come into this thing without paying dues and don't appreciate and respect the hard work of others before us and don't respect the great fortune of doing a job that can entertain and enlighten millions. Were lucky to do it. Respect it and protect it.

Ear infections - Riggers rarely wear walkies. they are usually unnecessary and unwanted. To wear an earpiece takes an act of congress. Of course, because of "Marty time", you have to rock both 24/7. I can't seem to keep mine clean enough and I always get ear infections. Yuch!

Warm hugs and firm sincere handshakes to peanut 80, joke, ncgirl, lighthouse and ladylipstick. Knowing that people are actually interested in this side of it is really having a positive affect on the way I view my job. Thanks.

The Joggers are the best rock band in America, really.

NCAA Tournament
East regional results:

Mount St. Mary's-74


Charlotte is not one of my favorite cities, but that could definitely change next weekend.

Have a great week.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Thats how I escaped my certain fate!


East Boston/Ipswich

Somebody got hurt today.

It was "Pop", one of 12 guys who came on the crew last week. I wasn't there. I was still in Eastie dismantling the death sail family in the rain sleet and snow on the dock. Even while being destroyed, the death sail family inflicted pain and misery upon everyone who came near it.
Apparently, Pop slipped on a large, slippery in the rain, piece of plastic called visqueen. It was installed by the special effects department for a rain gag that was to take place inside the tent we were building. He collided with the rails of the tent and went down hard. He broke his ankle in two places and will be out of work here or anywhere for at least 6 weeks. That is a bad deal for a freelancer. By the time we got to Ipswich, he had already been taken to the hospital. It was a freak accident, could have happen to anyone. I know. Two years ago, I was the luckiest man to ever fall 15 feet out of a catwalk. I was back working, in pain, 2 weeks later. I was really lucky. It does painfully underscore the fact that perhaps a movie, directed by a man who didn't even bother to thank the crew in any way during an Oscar winning acceptance speech is not worth risking your life.

Having mastered the Death Ship. We now have bigger fish to fry...


The Death cube is a VERY large tent built on one side of this mansion. Its purpose is to once again control lighting, but it also serves to contain a rain gag to make it look like its raining outside of a window. Its huge! 24x40x30. When the East Boston crew arrived in Ipswich, the Death cube was a skeleton made out of scaffolding. The final pieces, which were 30ft pieces of truss were being air lifted by crane and placed with the help of grip power on top of the cube. Working on that thing was hairy as hell. On the sides there were very slippery 2x12s to walk on. Yes, that's one foot wide travel area 24 feet up in the air in the pouring rain. I hated every moment of it. The vibe of Pop's unrelated accident was everywhere and every misstep or slightly too far reach gave my heart a slight stir. Maybe I worry too much but when darkness fell, I was worried. The talk amongst the crew, because we still do not get any reliable information before hand, was that we were going to work until 11pm. Holy Shit! We worked 7 hours in Eastie, getting our asses handed to us by the death sails, drive an hour and a half to Ipswich, where the guys there had been getting their asses kicked all day by the death cube, and now we have to work until 11? In the dark? In the rain? What The Fuck! Not content with one guy in the emergency room. These cowboys won't stop until they fill up the hospital. All the sudden, at 8:30 the word came to come down and get ready to call it a day. Thank god.

Because some of the crew lived within the bullshit 60 mile "as the crow flies" zone. The production refused to offer those of us housing. A courtesy that can easily be extended by a production of this size. As a result some of us would be forced to share rooms, an unacceptable option for union work and a playa such as myself. Luckily, Todd, a fellow grip, offered Mark and I the chance to use his family discount at slightly upscale hotel in nearby Peabody. We happily accepted and got to chill in a couple of very sweet suites, have a nice dinner and drinks at the hotel bar and sleep in super comfortable beds for minimal cost. And no one had to share rooms at the other place. I recommended Todd for the union recently and already its paying dividends. Seriously, with the exception of the failure to get online(shame on the hotel that doesn't offer wireless), it was a civilized end to a brutal day. Thanks brother.

out: 8pm

It's essentially my last day on this picture(at the 11th hour I was offered and took work on Monday which allows me to take full advantage of the holiday pay rules) and one thing I am definitely not trying to do today is mess with the death cube. Yet an hour into the day there I was, on top of the death cube in the rain putting the final touches on it. Again it sucked. Add to that, confusion, frustration and anger was apparent both on the ground and up in the air. Everybody was pissy. While up in the air, trying to avoid having anther accident, I started to wonder if I was an experienced enough technician for all the crazy shit we do. When it finally finished the day would get a lot easier except for the fact that I got got caught on the top of the death cube during "Marty Time"
"Marty Time" is anytime the director is on set. No matter what is happening, there is to be complete silence and all work is to stop. I was stranded up there for a half hour. At that point, I decided that I had to go for it. quietly negotiating my way down the death cube was a nightmare. The original path up the cube was now covered in waterproof cloth material and the Pop-killer visqueen. I had to make it up as I went along. I slowly, carefully had to navigate my decent down by moving all over the side of the cube. It was the climbing wall from hell. It was still raining outside the cube. I sometimes had to open sealed parts of the cube to make my way down, and then attempt to reseal them after I was through. It was now raining inside the cube, even harder. It took about 25 minutes to finally escape the death cube to disapproving and angry looks from the young production assistants whose jobs it is to keep everyone quiet during "Marty Time".
The rest of the day was considerably less stressful, albeit long. There were a few more trips up the death cube required. but it was OK. Although we missed the catered breakfast, lunch was fantastic. Chateau Briand and Alaskan king crab. The conversation was priceless.

"Alaskan king crab fishing. Isn't that the worlds most dangerous job?" - Bill, the rigging key
"Uh, I think this job is." - Scott, who happens to come from Alaska

"Gone with The Wind might have been the greatest grip achievement ever" Tom, the best boy
"what were you Tom, the best boy on that?" - Bill, the rigging key

The day ended nicely because we were informed that would indeed have the next day off because of the holiday. There was a collective huge sigh of relief.
My girlfriend was able to come out and spend the night at the swank suite, which we had reserved for another night again at minimal cost.

One more day(for now) on the mega-movie. I'm not volunteering for anything on Monday. The next movie is big too. but not this big. It should be considerably less dangerous.

The hands in the picture belong to Tobias. A fellow grip and all around sweet guy. They perfectly illustrated the physical demands of the job. In the afternoon, we suggested to the rest of the crew that we all participate in the traditional end of week dollar day drawing. Its 5 dollars to play and 3 plays for 11 dollars. We would put Pop's name on every dollar and hopefully we would win and kick the money over to Pop to help out in the recovery. It wasn't my idea but I thought it was really good one and wanted to help out. Tobias said I was "Humanitarian grip of the year".
In this business, its the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.

The title of this post is also the title of a song by the great Mission of Burma. If you don't know, you better ask somebody.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Death From Above 2: Death Takes A Holiday

East Boston

"We'll make it safe next time"
-The rigging key grip

The headache ball started dropping from the crane at about 5:45am.

The first death sail of the day was in place by 6:30am.
then we went to breakfast. Breakfast, what's that?
Down about a block from where we are shooting is one of the most breathtaking views of the skyline that this city has to offer. It was an outstanding breakfast.

The entire Death sail family flew without incident. The death ship(70x40), the two death sail jr's(30x40 each) and the two baby death sails(20x30 each) all went up, flew and moved several times without a hitch. We flew 5400 square feet of death sail. Its amazing, when things go right, we actually look like we know what were doing. I must also add to yesterdays casualties was a walkie, currently residing in the bottom of the harbor. With the death sails seemingly working fine. I've turned my attention to a new issue.

We have a spy in our midst.

Thanks to peanut80, I was able to get an early look at an item in The Boston Herald about the death sail incident. In the piece they mentioned they have a spy on set. Someone's trying to steal my thunder. I will not rest until they are smoked out. Seems a little like an oscar winning movie I know.
I'm totally exhausted and can't go any further tonight. I promise better blogging tomorrow. And a picture. I'm just too wiped out.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Death From Above

East Boston

Today I completely lost enthusiasm for this project. Today was unlike any day I've ever had in this business. The stories from today will definitely have legs.

The day started at 4am. Which sucked. Then all efforts are put towards getting the 70ftx40ft frame ready to fly for crew call at 6. Even though breakfast was ready at 5:00. We were not allowed to sneak away for a quick bite to start the day. Its what every person in this business is entitled to, yet when Andrew realized there was a 20 minute gap between when the 70x40 was ready to fly and when the crane could get to it, he asked if there was a way to sneak people away for a quick bite in shifts on the walkie, he was met with management silence. Followed by a call for all hands to do something inconsequential. Anyway, the 70x40 starts to go up on a crane...

If you take a kite to a dock on the harbor, its going to fly, no matter what.
The wind was 17-20mph on the ground. In the air, it might have been 25.

There are 12 grips on the ground trying to control this thing but its tough. The 70x40 full of sea breeze is almost impossible to control. But we manage to get it into place and tie it off. As should be expected, the DP wanted to see the flag in a slightly different position. While moving it, an enormous gust of wind takes the 70x40 and snaps several of the tie lines, leaving one.
Mine. The rigging key, focussed only on positioning the death sail, does not see the disaster ensuing and only notices that my line is getting a lot of tension. He says to me into the walkie, "Ok, the tension is coming your way, so your doing most of the work now". At this point, the rope starts to pull me across the dock, quickly. For some reason, I realize, perhaps foolishly, that there is still plenty of rope on my line and if someone can tie it off quickly, maybe I and the 70x40 can be saved. I scream to the grip(holding a completely limp line) next to me to grab the line and tie it off. Instead of quickly acting, which I like to think I and many would have done. He starts to waddle around in a circle, sort of like a drunk penguin. For the second time on this show, I think I'm going to die. Then Christine, an actual quick thinking grip, grabs my line. But its too late, the line is dragging both of us into the drink. We let go in the nick of time and the death sail takes off. Spinning out of control from about 60 feet in the air it first slams into the crane. Then crashes into the boat full of crew members, now scrambling. Then punctures a huge storage container before nosediving into the Boston Harbor. The sounds this thing made upon impacting everything were unbelievable. The sight of hundreds trying to escape the death sail will stay with me for a while. Once in the water, The DP and key grip decide that they are not going to try and use the 70x40 today. The crane operator says he wont touch the death sail until we remove the flag. I was hoping it would sink to the bottom. The death sail rescue mission is pictured above.
The injuries are relatively minor, cuts, bruises, one black eye and the trauma of a grip who was standing 5 feet from where the death sail punctured the storage container. As we were regrouping, I happened to walk by the rigging key, who kinda looks like Randy"Macho Man" Savage from pro wrestling and Slim Jim commercials fame. He was completely high on some twisted adrenaline rush, practically beating his chest screaming "Yeah, now those fuckers see how dangerous our shit is, yeah!"
I am terrified of the rigging key.
Don't get me wrong, I signed on for this kind of adventure with both eyes open. I'll jump into the fire every time. In a way I love to do it. But I have a BIG PROBLEM with coming to work at 4 am on a very cold day to chase death if you don't even care that I have a little breakfast and some coffee to keep me warm and awake while I chase death. We were scheduled(6 hours after call, its in the contract!) to eat lunch at 10am. We got food at about 2pm, and that was after they tried to make us work while EVERYONE ELSE ate lunch. This is untenable. What do we do after lunch? Fly our other two big death sails in the same crazy manner.

we were told at the end of the day, that they were going to try the 70x40 again first thing tomorrow.
If we keep this shit up, someone's going to get seriously hurt.

My mama didn't raise no cowboys, no siree Bob!

Oh yeah,
ACC Tourney Final
UNC 86
Clemson 81