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.


Ladylipstick said...

Things your blog makes me realize:
-at least I get to work indoors.
But, we are an Equity stage with a non-IA house, so:
-no overtime
-no meal penalties
and, I have to deal with the public. I hope you get a chance to follow the link and check out my blog!

doug said...

Hey man, great blog. The death sail sounds pretty dangerous. One of my greatest fears is having a boss "braver" than myself...

I'm also trying to work my way into Electric in NYC, good luck with it man!