Pot, meet Kettle...
I've been carping about the increasing ubiquity and abuse of cell phones on set ever since the earliest days of this blog. To label my struggle a losing battle would be a massive understatement -- truth is, I've been pissing into the wind of a technological and cultural hurricane all this time.
Which means my shoes are sopping wet at this point. Time for a new pair.
"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" the saying goes, and having at long last joined Generation Wireless with my own smart phone, I'm forced into the decidedly uncomfortable position of viewing what once seemed like a clear-cut, black-and-white issue from the other side -- because in struggling to cope with the terminal tedium of my current brain-dead, soul-crushing show, I too find myself staring into that little glowing screen as the cameras roll, and roll, and roll.
I get it. The daily routine on set can be very boring, and it's nice to have a small device at hand that's capable of bringing the larger world in -- and as the pot who made such a big deal of calling the cell-phone kettle black for such a long time, it's my turn to eat a little crow while shaking hands with that very same kettle... to mix, mangle, and obliterate my metaphors in the conceptual cuisinart.
The phone remains in my work bag during our three lighting days each week, which are when the really heavy lifting takes place, but come those two (or sometimes three) grindingly endless shoot days, the phone has a spot in my tool pouch, ready to whisk me off to Google, Facebook, Gmail, or one of my favorite sites, The Electric Typewriter, to help pass the time and ease the drip, drip, drip torture of slow brain death -- or what my gaffer (in a brilliant turn of phrase) refers to as "content poisoning."
And sometimes -- very rarely, and only when strictly necessary -- I'll even make a quick phone call at work. Imagine that.*
Although I see some of the younger juicers and grips losing themselves in on-line games of one sort or another with their phones, the appeal of this eludes me. But hey, when it comes to dealing with tedium, to each his own.
Still, I always keep one eye and ear tuned to whatever's happening on set, ready to jam that phone back in my tool pouch and answer the call. An old analog dog might be able to learn a new digital trick or two, but work habits forged over the decades die hard. If you want to call it "old school," fine -- that's not a bad thing in my world.** However stupefyingly boring the action in front of the cameras can be (and oh Sweet Jesus, does this show put me to the test each and every week…), doing the job right means paying attention.
And if you can't do that, you shouldn't be on set.
* Which leads me to another revelation -- I finally understand the massive popularity of texting. Given that the audio quality of a $650 dollar smart phone is unbelievably crappy, it's no wonder people prefer to tap out a print message than deal with the frustration of a mutually unintelligible voice conversation.
** Or you can just call me old. There's no denying the truth anymore...