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, August 5, 2015

Just for the Hell of it -- Episode 25

                       The worst night backing ever…

Not only was my now dead-and-gone-forever show more fun to work on than my current tie-me-to-the-whipping-post death-march of a show (I prefer adult humor to the drivel cranked out by the writers of kid's shows), but it was much easier on the lighting crew --  two reasons I miss that show a lot.  But the reality of working in Hollywood is that shows come and go, and Melissa and Joey now lives on in the Hollywood Heaven known as syndication, which means the cast and myriad producers (including writer/producers) will be getting checks in the mail from that show for a long sweet time to come.  

But it's all just a memory for the rest of us, gone with the Hollywood wind.

One thing I don't miss is the scenic backing pictured above -- one of the worst examples of a night backing I've ever seen. I couldn't get a good angle and didn't have a wide enough lens to fully display the poor quality of this backing, but some things are obvious. The lighting is terrible, as if the photographer set up some BFLs with no thought at all, then made no effort to control or shape the light. He (or she) doubtless used strobes rather than big movie lights, but the effect is the same -- a light-blasted "night" on a suburban street that looks like nothing any human has ever seen in real life.  

A suburban neighborhood at night is generally dark, lit by pools of light from street lamps (cold or warm light, depending on the type of globes in those lamps), with a warm glow coming from the windows and porch lights of the houses.  Maybe you'd see a few warm or multi-color accent lights shining up under the trees, but not much else.  The house and trees in this abomination look to be lit by the nocturnal airburst of a nuclear bomb twenty miles away. It's just a god-awful backing.  In this small photo, you can't see the orange stingers running across the lawn, presumably to power the strobes -- but they were clearly visible to us on set.  The photographer couldn't be bothered to use black stingers, which would have been nearly invisible, or fix it in post by photoshopping the orange cords out of the picture.

Clearly a bargain-basement job.

I'm sure the production company got a good deal on it, but I wonder how much all the phony trees cost -- trees they had to rent (or buy) that we used every week to hide the glaring flaws in that lousy backing -- along with the additional rental of lamps we then used to illuminate those trees.  Sometimes a "bargain" isn't such a good deal after all.

BTW -- that's a grip on the left and a stand-in on the right, both good people who had the misfortune of being in the way when I snapped this pic...


Now a question for the more digitally-conversant among you. This blog has experienced a surge of traffic over the past six weeks, very little of which emmenates from the usual sources. A Sunday post typically gets anywhere from a hundred to two hundred hits over a two or three week period, but the recent tally has topped a thousand per post, with one garnering fifteen hundred hits (and climbing) thus far. In the past, that kind of increase only happened when Reddit or The Anonymous Production Assistant shared a link to the blog, but neither has happened lately. Instead, "referring URLs" readout displays more than nine hundred hits per week from Google UK.  But as you can see, clicking that link took me to a dead end. 

I'm happy to (apparently) have more readers stopping by, but don't know what to make of it.  Given that all these referring hits are apparently coming from the U.K., the "traffic sources" statistics from Great Britain should be way up -- but they're not.  I'm getting the usual twenty to thirty hits per week from England.  I'd assume that some kind of spam-bots have targeted the blog, but I'm not seeing any spam.

So my question to the more digitally-literate, internet-savvy readers is this: what's going on here? This old analog dog is scratching his head…


A couple of years ago, a filmmaker named David Sandberg finally finished and launched on Utube a trailer for a movie he wanted to make called Kung Fury -- this after spending two years making that trailer at home, with very little help. The story of how it led to a Kickstarter campaign that succeeded beyond his wildest dreams and an invitation to Cannes is a good one -- a tribute to what can happen when someone is bold (or crazy) enough to follow a dream.*  

The story and podcast come to you from the good people at Studio 360 (a great weekly radio show), and includes Sandbergs's giddily over-the-top trailer, so check it out.

I think you'll be glad you did.

* Of course, he could just have easily ended up broke, having wasted two years of his life… but this time the magic worked.


Ed (sloweddi) said...

Why it has happened on a blog?? Google get hit with a lot of take down notices that they auto check and then decide that it was in error. The RIAA could see the first part of the blog title as an attempt to do something nefarious with a certain contemporary jazz-rock American music group from the late 60's.
Could be malware doing their masters bidding of screwing with people. I have one I have been trying to get rid of forever.
I would just blame it on Communism.

Happy Trails

P.S. Yes that is horrible lighting.

Jeff said...

The referring URL may be from Google UK, but that doesn't necessarily mean these readers are from the UK. It's possible that someone linked to a Google UK search for your blog (like this)—or even a specific article—and then posted that link somewhere that is highly trafficked (reddit, facebook, twitter), so the referring URL is listed as Google UK regardless of the actual location of the reader who clicked through. Though, I'll admit, that does seem a bit convoluted.

Michael Taylor said...

Ed -- maybe you're right. Damned if I know…

Jeff --

Ah -- that makes a certain sense. The ways of the Internet continue to baffle me. Thanks!

JD said...

Orange extension cords (very stiff, abused, dirty orange extension cords..), what else would a still photographer use to power his strobe packs. Did one job as photographer's assistant on a corporate shoot for a large law firm. Not only did he have shabby cords, he didn't believe in taping them down in areas that the clients walked in (no rubber mats either).

Michael Taylor said...


I've seen that kind of thing too -- some still photogs really are clueless.