Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Is My Name on the Call Sheet?

Although I'm a little down on my particular union, I've worked enough low budget, non-union stuff to see what Hollywood would be like without the unions and I do think they're a necessary and important part of the equation. The problem, or at least my problem with the union is a difference opinion of what the fundamental duties of a union are.

Film work isn't like other work. It is, by it's nature, transitory. You work for a few weeks and move on to the next job. That next job is part of the problem and ultimately part of what I think is wrong with union.

As a camera assistant, when I worked on a film I got a paycheck from, say, Warner Brothers. But Warner Brothers didn't hire me. In fact, Warner Brothers most likely had no idea who I was. That's because, in a very real sense, I wasn't working for Warner Brothers. Who I was working for was the Director of Photography (or the First Assistant if I was working as a Second.) That's because it was the D.P.(or 1st, etc.) who hired me. That's not necessarily a strange situation in the sense that I could have been hired by a manager at a normal company. The difference is that on a film set a HUGE part of my job is making sure the DP (or 1st) is happy with me so I get hired on the next job, which may be next week, next month or tomorrow. You see to have a career, the people who hire you have to be happy, they have to get along with you and they have to like you. No problems equals continued employment.

The problem lies in the fact that that goes all the way up the line. The D.P. has to keep the director and the producers happy and they have to keep the studio happy, etc. Unhappiness leads to unemployment. But what happens if the studio (or producer) is screwing you? To whom do you complain? You can't complain to the DP, because it's not his problem, nor can he do anything about it, nor does he want to do anything about it. You can complain to the producers, but that may not get you anywhere as they may be the problem. Or, you can complain to the union, which may solve your problem, but may, in the end, cause you far greater problems. Let me give you two examples to illustrate what I'm talking about.

Example One: Complaining to the producer: I was working on a union commercial and they were killing us. We were on location working long hours in crazy conditions. Our meal breaks kept getting later and later and craft service was minimal. Finally a few of us started talking about meal penalties (which are not automatic - you actually have to put on your time card.) Of course the producer was upset about this as it would affect his bottom line and "talked" to the D.P. We're not entirely sure what was said, but the result was the D.P. came to us and asked us what the problem was. He was concerned. What wasn't said, but was implied was, this was a big account for him, we all got a lot of work out of it, stop rocking the boat. Now we understood all that and we understood that was part of the business so we had waited until the problem was pretty bad. Now, mind you, we were talking about putting in for something for which we had a contractual RIGHT.

But the seed had been sown. WE were trouble makers. The DP was "concerned." Suddenly the next gig was in jeopardy. Should we call the union? What do you think?

Here's another example.

Example Two: Complaining to the Union: I was working on a show where the producers were nickel and diming us at every turn. We were on a weekly salary. You make less per day this way, but if there's a day off, you're supposed to get paid, so it evens out, right? Not if the producers change the deal and put you on a daily rate for the week there's a day off. Mind you, this is a CONTRACTUAL VIOLATION.

What happens? A phone call or two is made to the union. Reps come down, talks happen. Everything is settled. Then, a week or so later rumors start to come out of production. It seems the producers have put the word out, they're looking for reels. They're thinking about replacing the DP next season.

Nerves tighten.

Perhaps it isn't connected.

Perhaps that's not really what's going on. Maybe it really isn't a quid pro quo. Maybe.

Then it happens again. Two more times. The lesson has been learned. The fourth time no one calls the union.

I could go on, but lets leave it at two examples.

The problem here again is that next job, in the case of a commercial, it's truly the next job, in the case of a series it was the next season. In the case of all jobs, it's tomorrow's call sheet.

In the film business, in the UNION business, your job security is only as good as your name appearing on the call sheet.

What does the union do about that? Generally nothing. You can be fired by not really being fired at all. The union should represent it's workers because in this business we put ourselves in jeopardy when we represent ourselves. There needs to be some kind of mediation, some kind of way for things like this to work out. The problem is that the union represents itself a protector of worker's right, but really, fundamentally, all it is someone to provide a framework of rates, health insurance and a pension that any of us may or may not see.

I don't know what the solution is. I wish I had one. On the other hand what these examples point out is that even with the union in place, even with a contract and rules and possible penalties the employers will do whatever they can get away with. Even with the union, you can get screwed, without the union you can get really screwed. You can get screwed because the truth of it is the only true solution to the problem is to find another job.

I always laugh my ass off when I hear people in other parts of the universe talk about how hard it is to fire a union employee.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Microsoft bails Out on Apple

Well, not entirely. But they've announced officially that they're abandoning any further development of Explorer for the Mac. Now, since I haven't really used Explorer for the last two years (being far more partial to Safari and now, that's it's improving, Firefox (on which I write this blog, mostly because a some of the functionality doesn't work in Safari (like linking)) I really don't care much. But I think it's interesting. It also gives me one more reason to sell those useless shares of Microsoft that I bought a few years ago (right in time for an extended period of ZERO growth.)

The next big part of the space race between MS and Google is apparently on a whole different front and from what I hear Google is in the lead on this (as with everything else.) Check this out. Apparently the internet now functions at sufficient speed to use MS Word online. Meaning, that instead of booting up your Mac or PC and opening up the copy of MS Word that you bought (which by the way, you do not technically own) you will now log into MS Word which will be stored on a mainframe up in the pacific northwest. Eventually the goal is to have your computer's entire operating system on someone else's computers.

Why does this matter in a film blog? Well, mostly because Apple has been one of the major players in changing the future of film. Final Cut was a revolutionary piece of software that put film production into the hands of children (and I use that word in the sense that on set we, the crew, would sometimes refer to above the line people as the grown-ups) the way nothing else has before. Sure there are PC based non-linear editors but FCP lead the way.

By the way - I don't know if anyone has noticed, but the spell check in blogger pings the words, "blog" which is a bit like questioning your own existence, and "Google" which is I guess it's nod toward atheism as Blogger was created and is run by Google.

Forgive me. I just took a look here - and discovered that Google didn't create Blogger, but did buy it from the guys who did and now runs it. Pardon.

UPDATE on this one. I've been doing a little reading and apparently this has more to do with Mac's migration to Intel. I guess the process of Intelizing the Mac OS is kind of complicated and since no one is really using IE on Mac anyway, MS decided to blow it off. On the other hand, I'd prefer a good conspiracy story.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Union

I posted a comment over at Totally Unauthorized regarding an experience I had on set and a few commented on my comment basically saying, well if it's a rule, they have to follow it and if it's Union thing they have to follow it.

I could get all snarky here and say something like, I guess those people haven't been in the business that long, but I won't. (though I do find it a little hard to believe that anyone could actually, seriously say that if it's a rule, the producers have to follow it, and keep a straight face.) But they may be in a different Local and in different Locals things work differently (in the film business, all the grips are in one local (80) the Camera Assistants in another (600) and so on with each job classification having their own locals and their own rules but all operating under the banner of IATSE.) The truth is - and I'm not trying to hide it - I'm bitter about the union. Or, at least, I'm bitter about my union (600.) Actually that's not true, while I'm kind of bitter over all the money I paid them over the years, really I'm disappointed. But since I'm no longer in it I guess I really shouldn't complain. Though I could. I could complain on and on and on and on for page after page talking about all the things the union did for me (or failed to do.) But I won't. I won't talk about how in my experience being a member of the union was like paying AAA for roadside assistance for 10 years and the one time you need your car jump-started no one ever shows up. But I won't. I posted a great example over at the other blog and that's where I'll leave it.

All right, you talked me into it. One story. But this'll be a mild one.

I was starting a film and we were in prep. It was a fairly low budget film, under $10 million, so the Union had cut one of it's low budget contracts with the producers to cover it. Let me pause here to point out an absurdity in the film business and a great example of free-market economy. A few years ago to combat the flight of production jobs to Canada the union started cutting special deals with production companies that essentially resulted in lower and lower pay for it's members. Now the reasoning was that it was better to work than not and we were keeping the jobs here, damnit! Besides it was only supposed to be for the small companies that couldn't afford the big union contracts. But guess what? Pretty soon those big companies (like DISNEY) started saying, hey - why can't we have that deal - I guess we'd better go to Canada.

Where was I? Oh yeah, I was starting a job with a new contract and of course every time we asked for something or asked about something production would say, "It's in the contract." But we had never seen the contract so we would call our local and they would say, "Well that must be what the contract says." But after a while it started getting ridiculous so we asked our union to fax us the contract (at Panavision H'wood) so we could see it. So they said,

Sure, we'll call the IATSE and see if we can get it.

and I said,

Aren't YOU the IATSE.

But I guess they meant the main office.

And ---- it never came. I called back and left a few messages but it never came (not to mention the fact that no one ever called me back.)

AND THEN - five days later, while we're out on set, I call Panavision to get a few extra pieces of gear and they say, "hey, you know a fax came in for you guys today, should we toss it in a case and send it with the gear?"

Of course I say yes.

And then it comes. Our fax from the union.

It was the crew list.

No contract.

**By the way I changed the setting on comments so anyone can comment now. Sorry about that - didn't know it was set that way.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

These Two Cowboys Walk into a bar...

Two cowboys head up into the mountains with a herd of sheep...

Sounds like the start of a joke to me.

Anyway, I keep hearing a lot about Brokeback Mountain, the gay cowboy movie. I've heard it's good, but reviews that say things like "Deeply flawed" and "Beautifully shot, tediously paced" don't exactly inspire me. Plus Ang Lee has a tendency to take movies with interesting subjects and flog the life out of them turning them into movies that are deeply flawed and tediously paced though beautifully shot. Hmmm.

I am curious with the way the media has jumped all over this and how the Golden Globes (which is a corrupt and laughable organization) is publicly erect over it. I even heard commentary on NPR about how, yes, this is the first gay cowboy movie, but since most cowboy films took place in settings where there were no women there was a lot of "situational homosexuality." I mean, what can you say?

"John Wayne was a fag."
"The hell he was!"
"He was too, you boys, I installed two-way mirrors at his pad in Brentwood and he come to the door in a dress."
-miller, repo man.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Why You Can't Tell People What You Do

Getting back to the reason for this blog I thought I'd offer a bit of advice to those who might be reading herein. I may have written about this already, but to be honest, I don't remember. I guess I could look back over the blog but since I'm already writing this to avoid writing the script I'm supposed to be working on I shouldn't make it worse.

Back when I made my first film, Learning to Surf, I was still busting my ass on a regular basis as a camera assistant. I was still clawing my way up rocky hills with Panavision cases on my back and picking ticks from my crotch and wondering if I'd come down with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. (I was working on a commercial in Wyoming and we were standing in weeds for a good part of the day. I didn't actually notice the little fucker until I was back at the hotel showering.) Anyway, I was a poor, factory-floor, Union-dues-paying hump working from job to job and NOT telling anyone I had just directed a film. Why, you ask, would I not tell anyone? Well, for one, I still needed to work. I needed the paycheck and what happens in film land is that when you tell people you're doing something else, they stop hiring you to do what you're doing. The rational, if there really is one, is that if you've begun to move up there's no way you can be serious about your current job and why would I want to hire you. It sucks because everyone goes through it.

Here's a great story. Way back when I decided I wanted to learn camera as a profession, I befriended a camera man (whose name I will change to protect myself to) Joe. Now Joe was a good guy, creative, friendly and willing to give me a break. I soon wound up as a regular on his crew and stuffed many a mag for him. We became friends and I consider him one today. But I didn't tell him I had directed a film. Now, right about the time of my directorial debut I started to 1st (as opposed to 2nd) A.C. and my friend Joe had begun hiring me to pull focus for him. I wasn't his first call, but he was giving me the chance to fill in when his main dudes were not available on a fairly regular basis. So one day, I'm working on a commercial with him and he asks me why I didn't tell him about the film I'd made. Knowing I'm fucked, I explain to him that I'd made it a rule not to tell ANYONE because I still needed to work. He could not have agreed more and commiserated with me about how the business sucked that way. He even told me a heart-felt story about moving up himself and how someone he worked for wouldn't hire him after that. It was all love and tears between us - a pinnacle of understanding and emotional bonding.

He never called me again.

I'm speaking about this, of course, from a crew perspective, but it happens everywhere. Directors are often pigeon-holed as horror directors, or drama or comedy or whatever happened to be the genre of the first film they hit with. I grapple with this all the time now as I try to write and meet with agents (who constantly ask me what kind of director I see myself as,) knowing that what I say now may define my career the rest of my life (assuming I have a career, that is.) it's frustrating, but it's the way it is.

Sin City

I totally forgot to include Sin City in my last post, though I haven't finished watching it yet. I think I'm about 3/4 of the way through and so far I LOVE it (events around the house have prevented me from watching it in it's entirety.) There's a ballsyness to it, the way it's shot, the subject matter. It's not that it's edgy, it just kind of goes where you want it to go. It's a film that seems to respect it's primal urges. Does that make sense? Maybe I should wait until after I finish watching it before I start getting philosophical.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Deep Throat, The Guide and Cinderella Man

Sure I'm chasing some cheap web counter hits by using "Deep Throat" in the title of this post, but what the hell, I'm a whore (I work in the film business don't I?) I'll take readers anywhere I can get them.

In fact what this is about is I've gone on a film watching binge - well a binge for me. In the last few days I've watched:

Inside Deep Throat
The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy
Cinderella Man
Sin City

Now of course I'm a little behind in this as all these films have been out for a while, but having a child at home limits my theater going. Besides, I'm just doing what all those studio chiefs have been accusing the audience of for the last few years.

Now, you may notice that two of the films on the list are connected, if you're as big a film geek as I am, in that both "Inside Deep Throat" and "Cinderella Man" were produced by Brian Grazer - a man I have a lot of respect for, for two reasons. One is because he has an incredible body of work and two because he works with Ron Howard who I think is really one of the master filmmakers of our day. (Full Disclosure: As a fresh college graduate a friend's father introduced me to Ron Howard who invited me to his home for a chat. He was extraordinarily gracious and nice to me offering me sage advice and encouragement.) And I guess a third reason would be that there is the slimest chance (something like 1 in 1,000,000,000,000 that he might read this and be so flattered that he offers me a job.

Anyway, I have mixed feelings about one of those films. "Inside Deep Throat" was one I have been looking forward to seeing. I'd heard a lot about it and have been fascinated with the story of that film for a long time. Overall I liked it, but I felt it was flawed in that it lost the essential storyline - and a lot of it's heart - in the effort to point out how really God awfully bad censorship is. Now, while there is ample reason to dislike censorship in all it's forms, it's been done before. In fact, it's in danger of being done to death. (Full Disclosure: Done to Death was the title of play I performed in during my senior year of high school. I played the part of Stage Manager.) To me the fascinating part of that story was not that society got it's metaphorical panties all in a knot over this fellatial film, but the people involved in the film itself. Who they were, what they were doing and why they were doing it is the amazing aspect of the story itself. The film touches on this and skims over each of the main players, especially Linda Lovelace and her insistence that she was forced to do the film, but it never gets very deep. It also touches very briefly on the Mafia involvement but then kind of glosses over it on it's way to "fellatio film, groundbreaking/ censorship bad. Ah well.

"Cinderella Man," on the other hand, was spectacular. It's funny because I'm not a very big fan of either Russell Crowe or Rene Zelwigger (I could look it up and see if I'm spelling that correctly but I'm not going to,) and yet I thought they were excellent in this film. I also liked Paul Giamatti but I like him anyway. It was a wonderful story, wonderfully put together.

According to The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy adapting novels to feature films is an extraordinarily dangerous business that should not be attempted except by pan-dimensional beings capable of visualizing four separate realities at once. In fact, there has only really ever been one successful adaptation of a novel to feature films. It was produced by a multi-dimensional film producer in the Crab Nebula named Thorgrat Hosselwarbler who managed a passable adaptation of The Great Golgon Brain Wave Trilogy. It was 14 Million hours long and has never been successfully reviewed due to the fact that no film critic has been able to sit through it and also because Thorgrat Hosselwarbler hired rabid multi-dimensional Mungus Wolves to sit in the lobby and eat anyone who came out before the credits rolled. As the film is still running...

Anyway... The Hitch Hiker's Guide was lame.

I was VASTLY disappointed in this film and I think it is a perfect example of why it's important to hire directors who know what they're doing (or at least understand that a feature film is not a collection of little scenes spliced together to make one really long, and really cool experimental film.) There were so many problems with this film that came down to directorial misconduct (to coin a phrase) I don't even know where to start. I was a huge fan of this novel as a kid and realize that as written it would be extremely difficult to turn into a single feature film, but the film that was made was so disjointed and plodding (in fact I think the overall pace of the film succeeded in slaughtering whatever comedy it may have contained) that the brilliance of the novel never had a chance to come out.

Anyway, that's the post for today.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Damn Disney

As the dad of a 3 1/2 year old it drives me NUTS that Disney puts so many ads on the beginning of their videos. On the DVD it's a little easier to buzz past them, but my wife has a collection of Disney movies on tape that my daughter LOVES to watch and you have to fast-forward through all that crap. It especially drives me NUTS that half of them are ads for Disney movies that aren't available anymore.

By the way, sorry if my last post was a little too politcal. I try not to get into that kind of stuff since there is no end to political blogs, but you now, every once in a while...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tookie and the Movies

I read a piece in the LA Times this morning by Steve Lopez. He went to talk to prisoners about the pending execution of Tookie Williams and found that most of the prisoners he talked to either had not heard of Tookie's message of personal redemption or his children's books or if they had heard of him they hadn't gotten the message. In some cases, they finally got the message when they were facing life in prison. It was an interesting piece because not only did it point out that perhaps those Tookie Williams is said to be helping are not really being helped, it reminded me very much of a film I love and it pointed out to me why film can be a true looking glass into our world.

Angels With Dirty Faces was a 1938 film staring James Cagney, Pat O'Brien and Humphrey Bogart. It was directed by Michael Curtiz (who later went on to direct, among others, Casablanca.) It was the story of two men, a gangster, Rocky, played by Cagney and a Priest, Jerry, played by O'Brien who grew up together but lead vastly different lives. It's also the story of a group of kids (The Dead End Kids) who idolize Rocky (Bogart played a supporting role.) The part of it that speaks today and the part of it that Lopez's piece reminded me of was at the very end. Rocky is on death row awaiting execution when Jerry comes to see him. He tells Rocky, who remains cocky and defiant even hours before his execution that he can have a heart, that he can basically redeem himself at the end, by dying a coward - making a big show of being afraid to die. Rocky is a hero to the kids who are headed toward a gangster life and he will be idolized in death. But if he "dies yellow," then, maybe the kids will see things differently. Maybe they'll see that life is worth living the right way.

Though I am opposed to the death penalty (my libertarian leanings just refuse to let me wrap my mind around the State taking someone's life, regardless of the crime,) I still feel a little uneasy about this case or at least the furor surrounding it. The calls for clemency all revolve around Tookie's alleged jail house redemption (though not around his claims of innocence, which I find curious) and of his so-called value to society. He's written children's books, after all, trying to dissuade kids from a life of crime (though of dubious value if the Lopez piece is accurate - who, besides death penalty opponents is reading these books?) and has been nominated for Nobel Prizes. But it strikes me as a little ingenuous. What is the message we send with this? You can live a life of crime, you can rob and murder, but if you write a few kids books it's alright, the world will come to your aid in your final moment and save you. Who, exactly, is going to be dissuaded from a life of crime by that?

It presents one of the problems with capital punishment in a modern world and it's exemplified by this film. It's an issue that isn't in the film itself, it isn't even in the backstory, but it is an issue that is within the setting of the film. It is not the issue of whether Tookie Williams is executed or not executed (though I imagine that it is very much the issue for Tookie,) it isn't the issue of whether or not he is truly redeemed, it isn't the issue of a few kids books or a Nobel nomination. It's the issue of our society's attitude over this and over him. It's an issue over the message we're sending. The message from "Angels with Dirty Faces" is one of pride, one of honor and one of courage. It is also a message of redemption, but the redemption in that film is not set against a demonstration of sympathy. Rocky, in that film, went to the chair an intentional coward (we think, though it's left ambiguous in the film,) a different kind of courage, as Father Jerry in the film calls it, and by doing so accepted responsibility for his life and his actions. It is his mea culpa. It was a hugely dramatic moment and clearly pulls the rug out from under a group of starry-eyed youngsters (the Dead End Kids) who see themselves as little Rockies. That, and not his defiance, showed the kids that the life they were headed down was wrong. It sent the message in a huge way - their hero was gone and he died not during the execution, but in the moments before it. What made that story work and what made that message poignant - and why it is important today - was the fact that Rocky was going to be punished for the crimes he committed. It was black and white, cut and dry, there was no way out because society at the time said - this is how it is, you break the law and you pay - that was the setting. It was a lesson that was far stronger than what's going on today. The kids were able to see it because it was strong and it was clear. It was not cluttered by arguments over the morality of Rocky's life or the morality of his death. He was wrong. What's more is he was allowed to be wrong.

In that sense it presents a problem with the death penalty. Death penalty opponents are so vociferous in their convictions that they are (or seem to be) willing to overlook the crime and send the message to kids (and perhaps other adults) that no matter what you do we're going to protect you - because society is wrong - it is society that is committing the crime. (It also makes life in prison seem like the easy way out.) The message that's being sent is not whether Tookie's life of crime was right or wrong but whether society is right or wrong. Tookie is the poster boy (for both sides, with the victims being overlooked in both cases.)

The sad part is that the kids who are supposed to be helped by this, the kids who are supposed to be dissuaded from a gang life, either by Tookie's books or by the deterrence of capital punishment are being given an entirely different message. The message that they are being given is ambiguous at best, ingenuous at worst. Clearly the case for deterrence is weak and clearly the only people reading Tookie's books are Nobel committees. The only way this will be solved - the only way these kids are going to get the message - is if society, as it was in 1938 in Angels With Dirty Faces, is all on the same page. But that was a long time ago. In that world there was no debate (or very little) regarding capital punishment. In this world there is. It is the debate that is the problem - it is the debate that is obscuring the nature of punishment - that is obscuring the message - and there is only one solution. Until the death penalty is off the table there can be, in our world, no true deterrence, no true punishment - there can be no clear message.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Dawn of the New Media

People have been talking about New Media for years now and in general they been talking about blogs. But blogs are really just a throw-back to the days of pamphleteering. But the New Media the New Media in terms of distribution of stories, the New Media that will sink the studios, close the networks and make the unions obsolete is finally here. In fact, though it's been here for a while, it is exemplified by the video iPod and Google.

I've been thinking about this for a while, ever since I gained the ability to shoot and edit an entire film in my garage, but now that I have the ability to distribute it to a worldwide audience, also from my garage I'm thinking about it more. I'm also thinking about it because of my recent departure from the union and because SAG and the WGA are rumbling about another strike.

There's been a lot of talk over the last few years regarding digital distribution of feature films - theatrical distribution, that is, but it hasn't really happened yet. Theater owners are reluctant to spend the money to upgrade projection systems since the economic benefit of such a system goes to the studios. But the studios have backed away from this for reasons including technology, piracy, and the cost (how many theaters worldwide would have to be converted?) There's also another reason which no one talks about and I'm not sure why. That reason is very simple and gets right back to me sitting in my garage. If theaters go digital and it winds up costing no more than the price of a blank DVD to produce a film print, then all the studios have left is their ability to make huge blockbusters that cost hundreds of millions of dollars and their advertising budgets.

But if I make a film that people want to see, one with, presumably, a great story and great characters (something that isn't guaranteed by hundreds of millions of dollars and advertising budgets) that doesn't cost much to produce, say something like (a modern) Maltese Falcon (though minus the star names) and can get it out and build word of mouth and people want to see it - then (and I'm fantasizing here for a moment) I'm not going to need the studios. I can post it on free on iTunes and someone, in their quest for Desperate Housewives, may find it there and like it and email it to a friend and if enough people like it (now I'm really fantasizing) they'll email it to more friends and they'll email it to friends and if enough people get interested and enough people want it I can sell the DVD to make back my money (or simply charge a small fee to download it) or a theater chain may pick it up and if all I have to do is burn DVDs... bye, bye Universal.

And bye, bye Unions. You see at that level I'm not going to need SAG or the WGA or the DGA or IATSE. Sure they'll come after me for my next film, but I'll only need them if I sign a huge contract with a studio. If I make my next film the same way I made the first then who needs unions? Of course the obvious question is what about star names? You can't sell a film without star names, but you see in this world of new media - the PROCESS is the star name.

Sounds implausible? Sounds far too simple? Sounds hilarious? Laugh away, but this is exactly how Google became - well, Google. And by the way, it only took one Google to shake up the Web.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Two in One Day

I read a story in the LA Times this morning about a blog called, Totally Unauthorized. It's written by a female juicer and done quite well. At least it's got me all misty and nostalgic for the 14-17 hour days (and nights) of pain and suffering.

In truth, I liked working on a film crew. There's something about it that's exciting and fun and you can, though not always, get paid pretty well for it. I always loved it when we blew stuff up and did big stunts, stuff like that - stuff you just don't see in everyday life (unless you live in Iraq.) It's funny too, how the horror stories, the stories of freezing cold, or blazing heat always seem to get me nostalgic. I made great friends and even got one of two on screen credits (though not many.)

But it's been a while and I'm on to other things (the last real show I worked on, other than commercials, was Lizzie McGuire and it was a wonderful way to go out. Great crew, great cast, everyone was friendly and nice and we had KILLER hours. I would actually be home by dinner most nights.) As I mentioned in my earlier post, I'm out of the union and officially done ACing. It was a tough decision for me to make, because getting in was an accomplishment that I was proud of and I put 10 years into it, but I can't go back to crew work now. It's too hard on family life and it's too hard on a directing career. I thought that working on crew, working your way up from the factory floor, as a mentor of mine once said, would give you some credibility (I actually know HOW to make a film) but it doesn't. I started to get a lot more responses to my directing resume once I took my camera assisting work off of it.

The problem is I love the business and I'm good at what I do (pardon the tiny ego trip.) In fact I've become kind of an idiot savant about film making and I feel it's what I was meant to be doing. The trick is I'm not very good at promoting myself and pushing myself (in spite of my mini ego trip only a couple of sentences back,) and in Hollywood that's 98% of the job. Looking back on it, I think it would have been a lot better had I been good at say, real estate or law or finance, but alas...

It's slow

My world has slowed down. Not my actual world, but my film world. I have so many things going on, so many ways I'm trying to actually make money that my film world has taken a back seat. Well, until now. I've started writing again in earnest and I intend to make something happen soon.

It seems, Grande Con Carne, the film, has died on the vine. One of my principal actors has moved to another state and although that shouldn't stop me, I may let it. The idea of writing a film as I went along and shooting it as I went along, seemed like a lot of fun, but it actually drove me NUTS. It wasn't right and although there were shining moments - and I discovered some very happy things about friends - the overall experience wasn't my cup of tea. Given the way I like to direct, given how I want to know everything there is to know about a story, inside and out - this just wasn't the way to do it.

THOUGH - my crew and cast were fantastic and I think I can easily make a film with them - with the technical limitations that we had - I just need it to be the right film.

In other news, I'm officially out of the camera union. Thank God.