Sometimes you've just gotta do what you've gotta do...
While dropping in at Overcranked the other day – and any of you young wannabe PA/griptricians out there can learn a few things from “Jessie M’s” odyssey as he claws his way towards a professional film career – I came across a link to a site called “Shitty Rigs.”
As the name suggests, Shitty Rigs displays photos of some very creative rigs -- and looking at those pictures reminded me what a blast it is to come up with an impromptu solution to a technical problem on set. Solving problems under less than ideal circumstances, using what you’ve got rather than what you wish you had, is extremely gratifying. Although the results aren't always pretty, and maybe a bit dicey, when your "ghetto rig" works without incurring any collateral damage -- thus allowing the DP and director to get the shot and move on -- it's a great feeling.
The image above from Shitty Rigs captured my full attention, a couple of Number Three grip clips taped up with electrical cables and the caption “At a rental house in Brazil, this was presented as our tie-in kit.”
Wow. Having tied-in more times than I care to admit, this photo gives me the willies.
While working as a gaffer on a ten day AT&T commercial in Mexico City in the early 90’s, I watched our local crew use similarly crude power distribution equipment, and while nobody got hurt, that home-made gear made me very nervous. Still, when in Rome -- and when working with Romans -- you sometimes have to work as the Romans do, and if nothing else, the experience gave me a renewed appreciation for the built-in safety features of our lighting equipment here in Hollywood.
Once again, a little perspective is a good thing.
Low budget film-making is often a chaotic process in which you can't always follow the straight and narrow path, or every last little Industry safety rule. When you're up against it, you do what you've gotta do.
Just don't do anything really stupid -- and make damned sure you don't hurt anybody in the process.