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)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Just for the Hell of It -- Episode 24

Not a UFO, nor a giant flying yamaka, but a balloon light being rigged at dusk.

I don't recommend film industry gear or services very often, maybe because I've been working mostly on sound stages the past six years, and thus have been using much of the same equipment I first encountered more than three decades ago. When you don't work with  new technology, there isn't much reason to say anything about it one way or the other.*

My new show is so different from the last one that I'm not sure you can call both "multi-camera sit-coms" -- although that's what they are -- and this one is much harder on the lighting crew than anything I've done in a very long time.  At three weeks in, we'd already done one full day filming exteriors under a hot sun along with two night exteriors, one of which blew right through midnight into Fraterday. With the busy pace and full schedule causing the fatigue to accumulate week by week, our entire crew has begun to feel like we're working on a feature film.

This isn't quite what I had in mind when I wished for a show to come my way... but you take what you can get in this town, and right now this is it -- and it is what it is.  Still, it's always good to scrape the rust off old skills and learn some of the new tricks that have turned up since I last did exterior location shoots.

Balloon lights certainly aren't "new" -- they've been around for quite a while now -- but the technology has evolved over the years to the point where they've become an essential part of the equipment package for many night shoots.  For our first night exterior work on this show, we used the calm, capable, and supremely competent services of Brian Glassman and 1 Stop Lighting and Grip, who specialize in all aspects of balloon lighting and post-shoot helium recovery, which lowers the cost to the production company.

Brian was just great -- an industry veteran who knows what's what, but hasn't sunk into the  dismal swamp of despair that turns some of us into bitter old cranks.  He knows what he's doing and brings a great attitude to the job.  Once his balloon was up and lit, he helped our lighting crew place, move, power up, and adjust the tungsten lighting package until the AD finally called wrap. He didn't have to do any of that -- he could have concentrated on hoovering up all the snacks at craft service -- but he's not that kind of guy.  Whenever we needed an extra hand, he was there, and when the balloon had to be moved or adjusted, he got it done fast, with a minimum of fuss.

I was impressed, which is why I have no problem recommending Brian and 1 Stop to anybody who needs balloon lights for a night shoot -- and you'll notice a permanent link to 1 Stop now under the list of Industry Resources over on the right side of this page.**


Next up, here are 13 signs that you work in the film and television industry.  The bit about over-and-under only applies to sound and video people these days -- juicers wrap all cable clockwise, all the time -- but the other twelve hit the nail on the head.


Last, here's another pithy meditation on the industry and modern culture from veteran writer/producer Rob Long at Martini Shot.  It's a good one.

Those are your picks of the week -- so check 'em out...

* I have discussed LED lights a few times, but that technology is still climbing the steep part of the developmental curve.  With things changing so fast, there isn't much point in recommending or dissing the current offerings.

** Those of you reading this on a cell phone will have to click "Web Version" at the bottom of your screen to see all those links.

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