Tuesday, July 27, 2010

WHAT THE FUCK DOES A GUY ON A MOVIE CREW DO ALL DAY?


You know how people are always talking about “the magic of Hollywood?” Up until five minutes ago when I talked to a friend of mine, that’s pretty much how I figured movies were made: magic. I suppose I knew that there were all sorts of people involved in making a film besides Spiderman and the guy with the camera and the clipboard thing, but I’ve never actually had any desire to be anywhere near a movie set myself, so who can say really?

I asked my buddy who works on movies as some sort of “crew member” what the deal was over there with whatever it is he does. I still don’t really know what that is, but skip ahead if you want because he talks some shit about famous people.

SBTVC: OK dude, I guess you’re like some kind of blue collar electrician guy? On movie sets? How does that work?

BLUE COLLAR ELECTRICIAN GUY:

Well, what it’s really called is a “Set Lighting Technician,” sort of a type of electrician but I don’t know how to wire a house or anything like that, and most electricians would have no clue how to do any of the shit we do because they’ve never seen the equipment we deal with. We spend a lot of time running heavy cable, a.k.a. horsecock, all over the place, moving giant and not so giant lights around and sitting in giant cherry picker type things called Condors with lights in them that are powerful enough to illuminate an entire city block or two. We also deal with generators that are big enough to run your whole town.

Zzzzz. When are we gonna talk about movie stars? Are movie people really as retarded as everyone makes them out to be?

BLUE COLLAR ELECTRICIAN GUY SET LIGHTING TECHNICIAN:

Well, that kind of depends on the crew. If you are talking about star talent, no, most of the talent are pretty affable and polite and sometimes downright humble. Many of them kind of grimace at the same shit that the crew does, like when we invade a neighborhood at 3 A.M. or something. Of course when there’s an exception it is the most cartoon-ish type of all. Like you get minor stars or kids who don’t know how it is and they generally get fucked over early and leave the biz. Like one kid who worked on an ice cream commercial and said “the mint chocolate chip sucks” in front of the clients and production and creative team. “OOOPS, GET THE BACKUP KID OUT HERE QUICK.” Tough luck, pal.

Short answer: Most actors are OK, all producers are the worst people on Earth. Writers who decide to show their faces on set usually suck, and the entourages of the actors are hired to be douches in place of the actors. Basically that’s how it works.

So who is a good dude that we might have heard of? Ever get shit-canned with the talent?

Ed Harris is an awesome dude because he hates the producers more than the rest of the crew. Most of these fucking guys hate to be stuck in a stinky trailer all day and when it’s due to incompetence of the director or whoever, they take it very personally. And it’s always awesome when they lash out, especially the dudes who you already know are crazy. Some movie, Morgan Freeman, black dude who has all the freckles or whatever, Oscar winner, he reads his lines and Casey Affleck fucks up his line and they say, “OK, that sucked do it again.” And Freeman (weird name for a black dude, but whatever) goes, “I got it right, make him do it again!” and goes back to the craft service table for a snack before he went back to his trailer, bullshitting with the crew the whole way. I’ve never gotten shit-canned with the cast, but that’s just because going near those fucks puts you on the immediate entourage and production radar and they’ll do whatever they can to extract a crew member from that situation with as much bullshit as possible.

So you’re like in some kind of “union,” right? Do those dudes still fuck people up as much as they do in the folk tales? Also, why are all union guys so lazy? 

The union I’m in has not fucked anyone up since I’ve been in the union. I have seen some tender infighting but never any outward malice or anything. They’re mostly good folks, hard working, etc. There are other unions that are more prevalent in the “fucking things up” scene but I don’t want to speculate who or which union that might be.

You big pussy. What’s the weirdest shit you’ve seen go down on a set?

About ten years ago I saw a group of members of one union totally gang up and attack a New York crew member at a motel bar. It was FUCKING AWESOME since everyone involved was a total fucking asshole who deserved to get fucked up or arrested, and I guess it turned out there were feds in the bar undercover already taking a look at the attacker union so it was a big deal for like a week.
I saw one of Kevin James’ handlers go bat shit because there were books on a shelf in one of his scenes that dealt with evolution, and apparently he’s pretty big on the creationism thing. Val Kilmer was a whackadoo. He smeared shit all over the mirror in his trailer and did the same thing in his hotel room. He also borrowed a knife off one of the grips and sliced up every leather surface in his rented Benz that he left abandoned in Roxbury. Uhhh, let’s see… Martin Lawrence was the king of the assholes and fired a production assistant on the spot for asking him to wipe his feet before he went into a mansion that we were shooting in. I saw a drunk driver sideswipe Brittany Murphy’s parked car and the teamster who was in the car took off after the drunk and was followed by a van with like five more teamsters in it. I hope the cops got there first.

Why would someone smear shit all over anything besides toilet paper? That is so bizarre. What was Brittany Murphy like? 

I guess Kilmer is notorious for doing weird stuff. I have nothing on Brittany Murphy as she was yanked from the set as soon as she uttered her lines. Some of these fucks are in need of total shelter at all times, I guess.

Too soon, dude. So how much drug use is going on over there on the job? See any good fights or fucking? What about drug-fueled sex fights?

I have seen all of these things. Fights usually happen when there’s people from LA around. They just don’t understand that [Boston] isn’t a place where people are used to seeing movie crews yet. So they inevitably piss citizens off and they inevitably start mouthing up and it gets ugly fast. I mean, like in any job you get your share of alcoholics and drug addicts on the gig, but these people are identified quickly because nobody wants to pick up their slack all day for 12 weeks or whatever. There are not too many crew instances of drug use that I can recall, but at one point there was quite a bit on the commercial sets, probably before my time.

Sure it was. What about boning?

I have tried very hard to witness sex but it’s usually two homeless people in an alley while I’m running cables and trying to avoid dog shit and hypodermic needles. Very glamorous work, showbiz.

Whenever actors talk about pretending to have sex for a film, they always say, “It’s awkward having all these big hairy crew guys watching, so it’s not sexual.” You’re big and hairy, right? Are they talking about you?

Actors are absolutely full of shit. That’s what they are paid to do: lie professionally. So when there’s nudity or a sex scene the set is closed and only essential persons are allowed in the location. Of course we all try to become “essential” when the shit goes down, but it never works. What the actors don’t really know is that the idiot who records video of the film for playback will always share the footage, including outtakes. This is where most of the shit on TMZ comes from for fuck’s sake. Christian Bale has made a policy of never letting the VTR guy out of his sight until his assistant has confirmed that his media drives have been secured by production. Someone’s always willing to talk though. Usually it’s a person like me who takes the confidentiality agreement out of the deal memo and crumples it up in a ball. I will never sign one of those fucking things. Fuck that.

Who is the hottest piece of ass you’ve had to deal with. Was it hard to keep your boner in check?

Um, let’ see… Drew Barrymore was really cute in person and she was also really nice to the crew. Unfortunately her idiot boyfriend from The Strokes was always sniffing around so it was tough to talk to her without him getting all eye-contacty and douchey. Couple of broads from TLC home improvement shows are hotter than hot and like to talk a good game. Local news chicks are always good to go. Um, what the fuck is her name… Goldie Hawn’s daughter was totally gorgeous and awesome, she walked around the room and said hi to everyone individually in a way that seemed totally sincere. She smelled really really nice. She was total boner material.

Are you satisfied with your lot in life? Is this what you always wanted to do? 

Yeah, this is a decent job and it allows me to make a very good living. I could have done what my dad suggested, which is work for the city or some shit, but I like this job. My immediate co-workers are great folks and it is a good way to stay connected with an art form that I’m totally interested in. Of course when I’m picking cable up out of dog shit at 3 A.M. in Chinatown my answer is different but yeah, you get the idea. Good dudes, decent money and whatever.

SBTVC

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