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 15, 2016

Pilot Season, Part Eight -- Wrap

Bathrooms -- and who gets to use them -- are in the news a lot these days. The tug of war in that cultural-political kerfuffle lies far beyond the reach of this blog, but it does provide a roundabout point of entry to this post. Our main stage on the pilot includes two small bathrooms, which meant none of us really had to exit the stage when Nature called... but I did anyway. To me, those cramped bathrooms were for our young actors, the AD crew, and other production personnel whose job requires them to remain on set. With three juicers working the floor on our crew, any one of us could leave the stage for a "10/100" (or whatever…) at pretty much any time without causing a problem. If the grip and electric crews were to use those easy-access stage facilities on a regular basis, the actors and on-set production personal might have to leave the stage to answer The Call, which would only slow down the pilot machine -- and that's the last thing any of us wanted.

Besides, I like to get off stage whenever possible just to see the sky, feel the sun on my face, and remember that there's a real world out there beyond the hermetically sealed, air-conditioned, hurry-up-and-shush of life on set. 

But now it was wrap, and with the actors, cameras, and production personnel long gone, there was no reason not to use that on-stage bathroom -- but once was enough. The large, rather disturbing poster mounted directly above the solitary urinal was sufficient to discourage further visits. 


This just isn't  the kind of image I want to stare at while performing an essential bodily function, but that's how it goes during wrap, when we have the luxury of being irritated by things we'd pay no attention to under the pressure of the shoot.

Lighting all those sets was a slow, painstaking process that took two weeks and required constant adjustments to make sure each of the two hundred-plus lamps was exactly right on every set before the cameras rolled -- but wrap was the exact opposite. We tore it all down as fast as possible, then reassembled the component parts into a very different order to do inventory and keep the boys on the lamp dock happy.  

               First the lamps come down, are carefully organized and counted

                ...then they're loaded onto carts and hauled back to the lamp dock…

                          ...where somebody else puts them away.

The production company wanted us to do the whole wrap in only three days, but our Best Boy wanted five -- so he fought the good fight and settled for four. Hey, you can't win 'em all, and down here in the gutter of low-budget shows, you take what you can get, then move along.

Which is what I'll be doing now: moving on. To what, I have no idea. If this pilot gets picked up, maybe I'll have one more cheap-ass, cable-rate wave to ride all the way onto the (hopefully) sunny beach of retirement -- but if not, I'll day-play for whoever will have me until it's time to push on through the exit door. As always, what comes next is up to the Gods of Hollywood.  

All I know for sure is that I've done my last pilot -- and that's okay. In this old post, I mused that come retirement, I'd miss the intense, uphill struggle of doing pilots, and in some ways I probably will... but that was written in 2008, and the intervening years have taken a toll. Pushing that big rock up the steep hill of pilot season holds very little appeal for me now. 

Enough is enough.

(In the event you somehow stumbled upon this post out of the cyber-blue, and are wondering what the hell I've been blathering about here -- this will take you back to the beginning…)


JD said...

" First the lamps come down, are carefully organized and counted…"

Man, what a luxury.

How does one loose the 16" barndoors and scrims to a lamp? Nothing looked strange as the HMI was loaded into the truck sans barndoors, nor was anything odd noticed as the HMI lens was placed back in it's road case, leaving one slot empty. Why would the case have an extra slot?? Don't know, don't care, muttered the anonymous spark.

Michael Taylor said...

JD --

Nice -- stick a classy title on that comment and you've got a juicer's poem: an ode to the despair of wrap.

I've always found location wraps to be more problematic than wrapping a stage. A location provides so many places for gear to disappear, especially at night after working a long day -- but on stage, you know the gear is there, somewhere… you just have to find it. Still, stuff does vanish from time to time, which is why it's important to remain on good terms with the boys in the lamp dock. They can cover a Best Boy's ass when necessary and help cut his L&D...

JD said...

The "dummy check" why do some guys not do it? On a stage, we lost one of our C-stands and gained one of "their". Hey people, .....notice anything different with this C-stand? Our gear has red on the castings, this one is shiny and where is the head and arm??