Friday, March 21, 2008
Thats how I escaped my certain fate!
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!
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.
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.
THREE DAYS OFF IN A ROW!