Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Harassment, Pt. 2.

Unless you've been hiding under a literal rock lately, I'm sure you've at least heard about all the sexual harassment scandals rocking Hollywood right now. And no, I'm not only speaking to those of you based in this town, or even this country. I mean the whole world. Seriously. I've had friends from other countries tell me it's all over their newspapers.

With one scandal after another, Hollywood (or at least on the executive level) is burning (haha. See what I did there?).

But one co-worker in general seems to be obsessed with all the news. Every minute of down time he gets, he's looking at his phone for the next guy to be exposed as a creep. And when the Weinstein scandal first broke out, it was nearly impossible to have a conversation with him without it being brought up.

"Did you hear about this Weinstein shit?"
"Decades! They're saying DECADES. What the fuck?"
"His wife just left him!"
"Gwyneth Paltrow! Rose McGowan! Mira Sorvino! Angelina Jolie!!"
"Did you hear this thing about what he did in front of a reporter to a plant??"

He was following the scandal closer than the grips were following their fantasy football picks (which is saying a lot).

One day, in between set-ups, he was waving around his phone again with the latest Weinstein update when I asked him, "Why are you so obsessed with this?"

"It's just so crazy! Can you believe this shit happened??"

I just stared at him and nodded. Because I was speechless.

I was speechless because I suddenly realized why he was so fixated on the scandal. It was new to him. He's never heard of such a thing before. Never witnessed it. Never experienced it.

Never was made uncomfortable on set. Never had someone in power make a pass at them. Never been inappropriately grabbed. Never been "accidentally" brushed up against. Never felt unsafe at work.*

Never been catcalled on the street. Never had to make sure you parked under a streetlight because you knew it was going to be dark by the time you left. Never had to walk to said car with your fist around the key ring, keys between your knuckles like mini Wolverine claws. Never got inappropriate calls or texts in the middle of the night. Never got sent an unsolicited dick pic. Never had to make sure no one touched your drink when you weren't looking. Never had to "watch what you wear".

I realized he was fascinated with the harassment scandal because he didn't know such things happened with such regularity.

I, on the other hand, wasn't surprised at all the accusations.

So yes, Weinstein Obsessed Colleague, I can believe this shit happened.

What I am surprised about is that not only is it all coming out, but it seems like people are actually taking notice this time (yes, I said "this time"). It gives me hope that maybe now women's voices will be taken seriously and finally hear what we've been trying to say for years. It gives me hope that maybe one day soon, sexual harassment, no matter what sexual orientation or gender one might be, will be gone from film sets.

I love this industry dearly and can't see myself doing anything else, but I'm also growing tired of this "boy's club" and "boys will be boys" mentality.

I'm hoping something good will emerge from these ashes this time, and no longer swept under the rug like so many scandals before it. And I don't mean more useless "sexual harassment training" that everyone just complains about having to attend despite never hearing a word that's being said anyway because they're too busy fucking around on their phones. No one (no department heads that I've ever met anyway) takes those seminars seriously. Those are good for nothing more than pleasing the lawyers. They do jack shit in preventing actual harassment.

I'm hoping that we as an industry will band together. I'm hoping that people will realize the phrase "I was just joking" will not negate the fact that your comment about my body or sex life is inappropriate. I'm hoping that when we see someone being made uncomfortable, we'll stand up for them. That when someone says something disgusting, we'll call them out on it. That when we witness inappropriate behavior, not only will we report it, but that our reports will be taken seriously, no matter who the accused is, and that we can do so without fear of retaliation in our current jobs and future ones.

Then, and only then, can our industry change.

Previously. And previously.

*And I don't mean, "Gee, that FX guy sure doesn't seem like he has enough fire extinguishers for our big explosion" kind of unsafe. I mean the "I don't trust this guy enough to be alone in a room with him" kind.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017

I'll Pick A Table Over 4/0 Any Day.

"Hey A.J. Can I get a hand moving this table?"

I always thought being the On-Set Dresser* sucked since you're essentially moving around furniture all day and then restoring everything back down to the smallest detail, all while navigating around 50+ crew members who do nothing but set lights, stands and dollys in your way and fuck around with your set dressing when you're not looking. So when our On-Set Dresser made a simple request, I was happy to oblige. After all, he's been pretty cool with all of us sitting on the furniture all the time and the least I can do is help move it once in a while.

So on the count of three, I helped him move the dining room table to the other side of the room and out of everyone's way. Then I thought nothing of it.

...Until the next day.

"How's your back doing?" he asked me.


"How's your back doing? From lifting the table the other day?"

"...It's fine. Thanks. Why do you ask?"

"Well, because it's a pretty heavy table. Afterwards, I regretted asking you to help me. That thing's so heavy and awkward. I should've asked someone else."

"It was awkward, yes. There's no good place to grab on that thing. But heavy, no. The weight was fine. But thanks for checking up on me."

"So, it wasn't too heavy for you?"

"Friend, let me tell you this thing we have called 4/0..."

*For those of you who don't know, Set Dressers usually come in shortly after a set is built and before we come in to shoot it, and "dress the set" (move in the furniture, put curtains on the windows, drop in floor/table/desk/hanging lamps, pictures on the walls, stuff on the desk, thing in the cabinets, etc). The On-Set Dresser is the one that stays with the shooting crew to move that all around as needed (ie: "Move the desk out so we can put a camera in that corner," or, "Do we have moving boxes or something to hide that cable in the corner?") and then has to painstakingly restore it all to keep continuity. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

You Can Never Go Home Again.

I was so excited to see him.

I was counting in stingers to load in a new show when I look up and who should I see? A juicer I used to work with pretty much all the time when I was first starting out. We were like two peas in a pod on set back then, finishing each others sentences, coming up with the same stupid jokes, and we were so in sync that setting up lights on set was almost like a choreographed dance.

Show after shitty show we did together until one day, I had the opportunity to ascend to bigger and better things and I left our merry band of ultra low budget-ers in favor of jobs that paid more than just "copy, credit and meals".

We'd run into each other in passing over the years every now and then, but the sightings were few and far between. While we were both now out of the super shitty low budget world, we no longer ran in the same circles.

So when I learned we were going to both be full time on the same show for the next couple of months or so, I was ecstatic. Despite all our years apart, I had never found anyone I had as much fun working with as him. The nostalgic part of me yearned for the easy going work relationship we had all those years ago and I couldn't wait to work the set with him.

But, I guess the old saying is true: You can never go home again. While we were both still kick-ass electricians, we never really found our groove and clicked like we used to. We no longer finish each others thoughts or play silly set games anymore.

The years spent apart, we had spent growing as people. Him, with his side businesses, new house and soon-to-be-wife. And me... well, I don't know. I don't have any of those things, but I definitely don't feel like I'm the same person I was when I met him.

Whatever bond we had before that put us on the same wavelength didn't feel broken. Just gone.

Things weren't totally awkward though. We had a great time catching up with each other and reminiscing about the stupid things we used to do. Hardly a day went by where one of us didn't go, "Hey, remember when..." or "Whatever happened to...?" and then laugh at whatever story that came up after it. And every so often, you'd see the glimpses on set of the dynamic we once shared. But nothing that really stuck like old times.

And as much as I still enjoy working with him, the sad truth is that when they call "wrap" on our show for the final time and we both go our separate ways again, I'll look back at our time together fondly, but I won't itch to work with him again like I had in the past years. I won't miss him like I used to.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that we've seemed to have lost that je ne sais quoi we had going on, but in a way, I guess it's a good thing. It's a wake up call that I can't live in the past, no matter how good it was. That I should keep moving forward because everyone else seems to have. And while the guy from several years ago will ALWAYS be one of my favorites, this new man before me isn't him. I spent all these years hoping to recapture the magic we had, but now I know it can't be recreated. And in an odd way, knowing that doesn't give me a sense of sadness. Instead, it gives me a sense of knowing peace.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Adventures In Excessive Shushing, pt. 3.

Real thing that happened on set today:

P.A.: "Rolling!"
Other P.A.: "SHHHH!"

Yup. A P.A. shushed another P.A. for calling out "Rolling."


Sunday, July 9, 2017

It's Hot As Fuck Out And I Don't Know What To Wear To Work.

It's a typical Southern California day. Sun shining, one or two fluffy clouds in a bright blue sky, with temperatures on the slightly warmer side of comfortable.

I'm taking a break outside the stage between set ups, enjoying some warmth and vitamin D while shooting the shit with some drivers next to the crafty trailer when one of them points out a set dresser loading furniture on to a truck.

"Look at her," he says with almost disgust in his voice. "Look at what she's wearing. I know she's new to this business and all, so I went up to her earlier as a friend and told her what she's wearing was inappropriate, but she just brushed it off. Don't you think what she's wearing is inappropriate here, A.J.?"

I look down the alley at the girl. She's wearing brightly colored shorts that stop a couple inches below her butt and a tight tank top that fit her well. If she wasn't wearing work gloves, she'd look more like she was ready to spend the day walking around the Venice Beach Boardwalk than on a studio lot.

I turned to the driver and shrugged. "I'm not going to say what a woman can and cannot wear. She's an adult and can make her own choices," I said. The driver dropped the subject and I went back in shortly after.

And while what I said was true, that she's a grown woman capable of making her own choices and I'm not going to slut-shame a fellow female for what she's wearing, the question still lingers: Was her outfit inappropriate for the workplace? More specifically, a work place where t-shirts and shorts are acceptable attire three four seasons out of the year (this is SoCal, after all)?

Would I personally wear something like she did to work? No. But I also wouldn't wear those god-awful t-shirt tanks with the sides cut out either, which no one bats an eye at when a guy is wearing one on set. I also wouldn't run around the perms with my shirt off and I've seen plenty of guys do that, too. And again, no one bats an eye at that.

And would her attire have caused such a ruckus among the guys if they were darker colors instead of neon and pastels that made her stand out like a steak on a bed of salad? What it she was in her 40s or 50s instead of her early 20s? Would her shorts and tank top be inappropriate then?

If I ever re-live that conversation from that day, I think I would ask him what about her outfit was inappropriate. Was she showing a lot of skin? Yes, but so do a lot of the other guys we work with (see above paragraphs). And especially when it's hot out and especially when your job is moving heavy objects around all day. Is it a safety violation? Somewhere written in some guidelines states that we should all be wearing pants, long sleeves and steel toed work boots, but 98% of us don't even come close to following that rule. So she's technically not breaking anymore safety rules than any one of us. Hell, it could even be said that her clothes are safer since there's less loose fabric to get caught on things.

Does her attire impede her from doing her job? No. From what I saw, she made more trips to that truck than her colleagues.

Is she maybe drawing unwanted attention to herself? Yes. Will some people take one look at the way she's dressed and assume she's only hired to be eye-candy? Yes. But I feel like that's more their problem than hers, not to mention that there are some assholes that will think that no matter what she wears.

The bottom line is that her important bits and pieces are covered, she's not violating any safety rules more than the next guy, and she's still able to do her job. If what she's wearing is inappropriate, then someone should implement guidelines that we all need to follow, instead of just singling out women just because they happen to look good in a pair of shorts.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Adventures In Excessive Shushing, pt. 2.

Dear P.A.s doing lock ups,

You have a job to do. I get it. If someone makes a peep on set while we're rolling, all hell breaks loose on your walkie channel (and in turn, in your ear) about finding the source of the sound and eliminating it.

We all totally understand it.

All we ask is that you use a little bit of common sense and judgement before you go all ape-shit on us for making the tiniest bit of noise.

Shushing us when we're ten feet away from video village and giggling at a YouTube video? Fair game. Shush away!

But when the set and video village is in the back room of a sizable house and I'm outside in the front, down the long driveway and on the other side of the property wall? Did you really have to shush me for cracking open a bottle of water? Really?

Trust me when I say that no one's going to hear that when there's three walls and 150 feet between us, so the vein popping "SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!1!!!" you threw in my direction was totally unnecessary.

-Crews everywhere.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License .