A VERY INTERESTING DAY YESTERDAY
After 6 days of waking up at 5am for work, today was the first day I was able to kind of sleep in. I'm still technically "working," but it's just equipment pickup for the bullriding adventure tomorrow, when I fly out to Oklahoma. It's amazing how nice it feels to sleep, knowing that you don't have anything pressing to make you leap out of bed.
Tuesday and Wednesday I worked on some shoe commercials for a Mexican shoe company. It was nice to be back on a set, despite the usual production problems. It's nice to travel and to be operating, but there's something in the order and rightness of a film set. There's a routine inspite of the changes of each shoot. Plus, I got to hang out with some grips that I hadn't seen for awhile. Film in LA forces you to make mini-families out of each show, where you become fairly close but then not see the person for ages, if at all. It's like a little reunion each time you work with someone again - most of the time a feeling of pleasure and happiness at seeing a familiar face. Unless the person is a total tool, then it's dread.
On Thursday I started work on a short film that I joined from a friend passing my name along to the DP. It was a 1st AC gig on a panasonic sdc 900, which wasn't complicated at all, so I gladly accepted. One of the weirdest shows i've ever been on. Period.
The concept of the film involved a kid being admited to a psych hospital to undergo electric shock therapy and causing his doctor to die through various mental manipulations. The cast was "names" - Daryl Sabsara (of spy kids fame), Margo Kidder (the original Lois Lane), Margaret Travolta (yes, John's sister) and 2 other gentlemen who have been in a million movies and you recognize on sight but can't place them. All very cool people. The crew, for the most part, was pretty good. The DP was not familiar with video and tried to overcompensate, which led him to be neurotic and bossy, which pissed a lot of people off. I got along with him ok, but he was hard to support because I didn't agree with how he treated a lot of the crew. He brought in an operator so he could concentrate on lighting, and that guy was awesome. Bryan definitely made the show much more bearable and I don't know if I could have survived it without him.
The first 3 days went relatively smoothly. Lots of issues, but thankfully none in camera. Focus was kind and the camera behaved, so we just had to watch other departments scramble around with limited equipment and poor communication between keys. Good times.
It was yesterday (sunday) that was the kicker. We started out in Norwalk, at the mental hospital where our first 3 days took place. Shot there for about 5 hours, then after much hemming and hawing, moved up to a house in Studio City, up in the hills. (the whole move, to get everyone from A to B took about 3 hours) The house was one of those odd architectual creations that rich people think are awesome but are completely unfriendly and uninviting. The only redeeming factors were 1) the view of the whole san fernando valley 2) the giant sliding glass doors that opened up the living room and 3) the hot tub that had the water flowing over the brim so it had the infinity effect. Anyway, we got to the house, figured out where the first shot would be and the adults went off to plan. That led to a stedicam op being called on an hour's notice and more hours spent trying to figure out that shot. That went off relatively smooth and we moved into closeups.
Here's where it started to go wrong. We set up to do the closeup of Daryl, and in the scene he walks through the kitchen with a knife and scares his mother. I set up the camera and we were setting Daryl's mark. I leaned down to place the mark, not realizing that he was holding the knife. Yep, you guessed it. I stabbed myself in the head with the knife. Just a little cut, not deep but it bled a lot and still hurts like hell. The worst part about it is Daryl felt really bad, even though it was my carelessness that caused it. I told him he had a great story to tell how some AC pissed him off so he stabbed her. That at least got him smiling. We finally got the shot, with my poor forehead with its bandaid.
Then we moved back to the basement, to redo the first shot with the stedicam. While setting it up, the homeowner (who was now drunk) started to argue with the producers over the rate and payment for the rental of the house. The homeowner then cut the breaker box twice, causing the director to scream at him, "we'll pay you your fucking money." One producer and the homeowner started to yell at each other and the homeowner pushed the producer. This led to an all out brawl, with the producer punching the guy in the nose and the producer's shirt being ripped to shreds. The other producer (note: both producers were ex-marines) got the homeowner in a hold and finally subdued him. All this time the guy's girlfriend (who was the location contact) was screaming at the top of her lungs, which made it sound like someone was being killed. We got the hell out of the house as soon as possible and went to a bar down the road to unwind.
Strangest shoot ever.
Spending the morning recovering, then lots of errands this afternoon. Flying super early tomorrow, but it gets me into Dallas around noon, then Ardmore, Ok sometime early afternoon. Yay for seeing Josh!