Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Beggar's Beach

Now that pilot season is over, Hollywood has entered the Horse Lattitudes of what Peggy Archer – displaying her usual lyrical genius -- dubbed The Unemployment Season. Although work is scarce in town, it hasn’t vanished altogether. This isn’t the good old/bad old days when the late spring/early summer months were a graveyard for television production. Back then, features filled the void left by the television hiatus, but that was before so much feature production migrated to Canada, North Carolina, New Mexico, Michigan, and New Orleans, among many other increasingly attractive state-subsidized filming venues. And with Jim Cameron making noise about doing co-productions with – and possibly in -- China, the offshore flow of features could get even worse in the future.

True, the latest Star Trek franchise was filming at Sony while I worked on a pilot out there a few weeks ago, but that remains the proverbial exception that proves the rule. Like it or not, LA is now Television Town. With cable marching to its own internal drummer and the usual garbage truck-load of Reality Crap under way, there’s some level of ongoing production year-round. As the broadcast networks retool for the Fall season, new and returning cable shows of all kinds are gearing up or already filming – and that means there’s work to be had, if you know the right people.

Therein lies the rub. This being a tribal business at heart, we tend to run with the people we know, and thus keep on at whatever it is we’ve already been doing. We’re all free-lancers, and thus able to work on any type of production – feature films, music videos, episodic TV, sit-coms, Reality Crap, or commercials -- but the Best Boys who dial my number are mostly those I’ve worked with over the past few years on multi-camera shows. A few years ago I did a week on the ABC episodic “Criminal Minds,” but that was atypical – which is fine with me. A week of 16 hour location days is more than my back can take these days, so I'm happy to remain in the comfortable cloister of multi-camera shows. Besides, I don’t know too many Best Boys in the episodic world these days – and more to the point, they don’t know me. The same goes for features, commercials (once my bread-and-butter), and Reality Crap.

Right now, the future is muddled. My old show may or may not come back, but even if it does, won’t return until sometime in 2013. A lot can happen between now and then, and since I've got to make a living in the meantime, my fingers remain firmly crossed that seeds we planted during pilot season will indeed sprout and grow into a real show for the Fall  – and if not, that a slot will open up on one of those late-spring cable shows.

Not that I’m eager to get back in harness working for cable-rate, mind you, but beggars can’t be choosers -- and during Unemployment Season, were all camped out here on Beggar's Beach.

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