Friday, December 30, 2016

Why I Get Depressed During The Holidays.


My parents were watching the local news when they featured a guy and his very ambitious Christmas light display. After hearing the house was just an eight minute drive away, they planned to take me when I did my annual holiday visit.

After spending a half hour in front of a stranger's yard with about thirty other strangers watching a plethora of Christmas lights rather impressively synced to music, we finally decided to head home so we can warm up and feel our toes again.

My Dad was still marvelling about the display long after we got home.

"You know, the news said it took him about four months to put that all together."

I, being the trouble maker of the family, of course, decided to play devil's advocate.

"Um, I'm pretty sure he didn't really spend that long on it. He may have started four months ago, but I heard he has a job at some tech company so really, he probably only worked on it maybe a couple hours a day or something like that when he got home from work. Or just on the weekends when he had time. That definitely didn't take a full four months."

"Really? How would you know how long something like that takes?"

"I... do this stuff for a living?"

"You can make lights move and flash like that?"

"...Yes."

"But you can't program them to a piece of music like that."

"Uh... Yeah, I can."

At this point, I am more aware than ever that my father not only has no idea what I do for a living, but he also doesn't have faith that I'm very good at it.

"No. You can't. You're making that up."

"How do you think we control lights at work?"

"Okay then. Prove it. Next year, make my house like his and program lights to music."

"Okay. The going Union rate for a lighting programmer is $42 an hour. It'll take one person about three days, or twenty four working hours, to make a similar set up to what you saw. You pay me my rate and you have a deal. Oh, and that price is just for labor. Lights and equipment not included."

"Really? You'd charge your own father that?"

"Really? My own father wants me to work during my one solid break from work a year? ...And for free?"

He stays silent for a second so I continue.

"You want skilled labor? You'll have to pay for it."

"You can really make lights flash like that?"

"Yup."

He still seems skeptical but doesn't want to pony up the money to call my "bluff", so he lets the matter drop.

By the way, in highschool, my first job was running (and programming) the lighting console for a local theatre company. So not only does my Dad have no clue what we do at work, he apparently has no idea that I could've been programming his Christmas lights since I was sixteen and my going rate was minimum wage.

Sigh...

Hope your holidays have been more enjoyable than mine! Have a happy New Year's and I'll see you all in 2017!!!!




Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Just Ask Them To Move, For Fucks Sake.


"Can you believe the hair and make up people on this show?" my day-playing colleague vents to me at wrap. "They've been getting on my nerves all day."

I spent the better part of the last twelve hours rigging another set and therefore had no idea what he was talking about.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, they've been in the way all day. They set up their chairs right by our staging and every time we had to bring in a light, we had to maneuver around them. So I started making exasperated noises and sighing heavily every time they were in my way. I also started giving them dirty looks, and then they had the nerve to look at me like I'm the asshole when they're the ones in the way! Can you believe that??"

I let a good second pass before I asked my colleague, "Did you... ask them to move?"

Another long second passed as he looked at me dumbfounded.

"No. I did not ask them to move."

"...Why not?"

"I was making enough exaggerated noises and giving them enough dirty looks that they should've known to move!"

Now it was my turn to sigh and give him a look. I mean, really??

You don't have to be in this industry for more than a day to realize that some people are just oblivious to their surroundings. If that weren't the case, we wouldn't need to be calling out "points" and lift gate warnings all damn day. Nor would producers congregate in front of the coffee maker at crafty when everyone else is trying to get a cup of joe, and the DGA wouldn't be fondly known as the Door Guardians of America.

Granted, I've had worked with various wonderful people who knew exactly when they were in the way, but I've worked with even more who had no clue that their chair in the middle of a doorway was creating an obstacle for the rest of the crew. However, as oblivious as people may be, I've worked with exactly none who'd refuse to move when asked. In fact, not only do they usually immediately move when asked, but they do it apologetically and they'll even ask if their new location works for all involved.

I tried to explain this newfangled concept of asking people for what you want to my colleague, but he just kept saying how he was rolling his eyes enough that they should have taken the hint and figured it out.

I can't help but think of how ironic it'd be if he went home and his wife was pissed at him, but won't tell him why because "he should know." Maybe then he'd realize how ridiculous he was being.







Friday, November 25, 2016

Thankful.




I am thankful for friends who don't forget about me, even though I don't always make time for them.
I am thankful for the people I work with, and how this new crew welcomed me with open arms.
I am thankful for those who have my back when they were among those who didn't like having me around.
I am thankful for finally achieving the kind of financial security where I don't have to worry about the occasional dry spell.
I am thankful that there hasn't been a dry spell in a while.
I am thankful to those who continually check my availability even though I'm continually unavailable.
I am thankful for the craft service guy who tries to order my favorites for second meal.
I am thankful for the caterer who knows my breakfast order and has it waiting for me when I walk up.
I am thankful for the cheery script supervisor who manages to laugh no matter the situation and makes the day go faster.
I am thankful for the boss who doesn't yell, even when he's frustrated.
I'm thankful for the colleagues who see the hard work and hours I put in despite some rumors that say otherwise.
And I'm thankful that those who do believe those rumors are smart enough to leave me alone.
I am thankful for the opportunities I've had in this life.
And I'm thankful that, pass or fail, I've been able to grow from them.
I am thankful that I have an outlet to vent and a way to express myself though the ups and downs of this business.
Though my identity may be anonymous, my experiences are not.
And I am thankful that I am able to share them with you.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Rub A Dub Dub.




The water pelts my back. Shockingly cold at first, but it doesn't take long for it to heat up. Almost too warm, but I know it will even out in a minute. Like a new director, my shower has always gone from one extreme to another before settling on a happy medium.

I turn to face the spray, letting the water wash over me like an urban baptism. I put some cleanser in my hands and rub it on my nose and cheeks. I smear some on my forehead as well and I can feel a layer of dirt, oil, and dried sweat come off my skin. The signs of a long day working in a field of dust. I rub away the lines around my eyes, formed by squinting at the sun as it dipped further into the horizon, wondering if we'll make our day.

I take my loofah and squeeze on some girly scented soap an aunt gave me last Christmas and begin to lather it up. I work the sponge down my arms and notice that my new "tan" from the day is easily washed off. I wash away the aches in my biceps, triceps and joints acquired from carrying lights all day. I rub away a knot in my shoulder from where coils of banded sat when I walked the pieces to a cart. I move the loofah down to my stomach and scrub away the indigestion from catering and the regret of having a third slice of second meal.

I continue down to my legs; my thighs, calves and ass feeling the burn from pushing carts up hills, driveways and lift gates. I feel the lactic acid building in my muscles as if I had just done a hard day at the gym instead of a typical day at work. I finally end at my feet, tired and sweaty from standing all day, it feels good to give them a bit of a rub and a squeeze at the arch.

I straighten out to face the spray of my shower head once again and I being to rinse. My hands follow the same path again, this time helping the water remove any film left clinging to me from the day. As the bubbles rinse off my body, with it goes the aches in my back, the fatigue in my limbs and the weariness from my face. I stand there under the water that has suddenly turned too warm again until my skin turns a bright pink and I can see the day swirling around the drain at my feet.

The long hours, the hot sun, the demanding gaffer, the interdepartmental drama, the clueless producers, the dickhead actor, the barely edible lunch, the soreness from my aging body, the exhaustion from my face... All of it gets cleansed from my body tonight, and every night I come home from work. I shut the water off and watch the rest of it spiral down the drain, with a gurgle at the end like a door slamming shut.

I emerge from my shower, no longer the beaten down, dusty, aching girl who went in. Instead, I feel clean, fresh, and new. I spread my towel out behind me like butterfly wings before I wrap it around myself and smile.

Today is already gone. Forgotten. Swirled down the drain.

And tomorrow is a new day. And I'll start it with a clean slate.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Crazy Comment Corner, Pt. 2!


In a post from earlier this year, an Anonymous* reader (semi-)recently left this comment:

Anonymous said...
Why would you force your way into a business you knew had no appreciation for women.

There are sooooo many answers that I feel are so obvious that I'm perplexed as to why this question was asked in the first place.

1) Why wouldn't I?
2) Because I want to light movies.
3) Why did Rosa Parks sit in the front of a bus that she knew had no appreciation for blacks?
4) Change has to start somewhere and You must be the change you wish to see in the world (-Ghandi)
5) Do you usually give up just because something is hard?
6) Why does a business who has no appreciation for half of the world population exist in the first place?
7) Because this business is better with me (and other women) in it.
8) Maybe a better question is, why are (some) men trying to force us out?
9) Because I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman, hear me roar.
10) Because it's kinda fun to stir up the status quo.
11) ...And this is something that needs to be stirred up.

Feel free to comment if I missed anything.




*Bonus!: Click the link to read a semi-reasonable comment the same Anonymous may or may not have left!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

"Sexual Harassment in the TV Industry (When You're a Nobody.)"


Before you read the rest of this post, please read this piece written by a female rigger out in Portland, Oregon. (Thanks to Michael Taylor who tipped me off to it.)

Okay, first off, let's set a few things straight since I know some readers will focus on minor details instead of the bigger picture.
 - "Juicer" doesn't necessarily mean "rigging electrician."
 - In California/Hollywood, she didn't have to join a union. You can keep working union jobs if you're not a union member, but it's a weird, complicated thing.
 - The sexual harassment meeting isn't "her fault." Based on what I know is shot in Portland, paired with what I know about the size of her show, I can make a fairly accurate guess about which show it was. And in turn, who the production company is. That production company is known for sticking to the book and legally covering their asses in every which way, and that includes mandatory sexual harassment meetings, often more than once in a season, and often a general one PLUS one for department heads. Believe me, it's not something they only whip out just because a woman is on the payroll.
 - Her "feminine emergency" taking too long is bullshit. For those of you guys out there who think us taking slightly longer than usual bathroom breaks is cutting into precious work time and unfair to those who don't have a bleeding vagina to use as an excuse to duck out of work, just think back to all those times you and/or your colleagues had to 10-2. I've waited on more guys to finish taking a shit far more times than they've had to wait for me when I'm menstruating. Not to mention all the countless smoke breaks. At least ours is only for a few days each month.

Okay, now back to the meat of the article. What happened to her sucks, and sexual harassment and sexism is unfortunately not uncommon. What is uncommon is that she reported it. Because, and this is the sad, harsh and unfair reality of it, what did she expect the outcome to be? That "The Boss," who technically is free to hire whoever he wants*, will bring her back after she filed a claim on him? That even if production made him hire her, a day player, back, that he'd do so with open arms? As much of an asshole The Boss was, one thing he did get right was when he said "it can never be the way it was." Even if, best case scenario, The Boss is fired and she gets back to work, I feel like her colleagues would be so full of resentment anyway that they'd get rid of her the first chance they get. Plus, it'll always be the elephant in the room, making the 10+ hour workday seem even longer.

That's not to say she shouldn't have filed a complaint against the scumbag. I'm just pointing out the lose-lose situation. And while her complaint doesn't get her job back (and it sounds like it was lost before she filed anything), it does shed a light on how unfair this business is in practice. So, yay for that.

Now, let's get this straight: IN NO WAY AM I BLAMING THE VICTIM HERE. It is not her fault her boss is a total douche. There's no way for her to know that a system disguised to protect her (such as the sexual harassment meeting, the Bureau of Labor and Industry) is really a way for companies to cover their own asses. And she's new to a world where she, in my own total outside-of-the-situation opinion, was too nieve to handle.** Which, in a perfect world, her inexperience with the industry shouldn't matter, but we are far from a perfect world here.

That said, if I could turn back time and travel to Portland and find this girl (or really, any other woman in this situation), I'd tell her:
1) If you want longevity, diversify. Either in your capabilities (on set juicer, board op, etc) or, more importantly, your crews. Don't stick with just one if you can help it so when shit hits the fan, you a) have another crew to fall back on and b) possibly have a character witness on your behalf when you need it, whether it be on an official level or just as a job reference to a Best Boy.

2) Think about who else you can list as a witness to your boss' assholery other than co-workers. If his "special job on the truck" comment was on an open radio, was anyone else, other than the grip, around to hear it? Any P.A.s, Crafty, Background, etc, around any of the times he made inappropriate comments? Has he made sleezy comments to anyone else? In my experience, someone who creeps you out has probably creeped someone else out, too.

And documenting every time, place and comment made probably wouldn't hurt either. Even if there's no witnesses, showing the higher ups a detailed list of offenses holds more weight than "sometime last week, he said _________." And on that note...

3) If you don't trust your union rep, e-mail them your situation and have them write back in the e-mail what they think you should do. You're essentially preparing for a legal battle here. Cover your ass and get as much of it in writing as possible. Show the BOLI that you followed all the appropriate steps and don't let them make it a game of "he said/she said."

4) If you're still in the union, put yourself of the availability list. You said yourself, when it gets busy, people have to hire union members before they can hire anyone else. It may not me the ideal situation, but it may be your best if all your want to do is get back to work.

I do hope that, while she may never be given the chance to work as a rigging election again, her speaking up will put a target on her former boss. That people will be more aware of what is and isn't acceptable behavior in the workplace. That perhaps her speaking up about what happened to her will shed light on how sexist this business can be and hopefully change something for the good. You may think if she was in L.A., she could avoid this stuff / it'd be easier for her to find work. I believe that is false. A bigger work pool just means there are more assholes here, and also more gossiping going on. Portland is just a microcosm of us. If I was in her shoes, would I have filed a formal complaint? Hard to say. But I will say, that her coworkers who were unwilling to testify?
They're no better than her asshole boss.





* Technically speaking, he's actually hiring on behalf of the Producer, but it's not like they usually give a shit who's actually hired for such a low-on-the-totem poll position.
** The Boss saying "Girls don't do this kind of stuff" when they first met is what sent a whole bunch of alarms ringing in my head. From my experience, guys who say sexist shit like that right off the bat are the ones not worth working for. And if you do have to work for them, proceed with extreme caution.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Happy Labor Day!


In a post written years ago about how Production was trying to scam their crew out of paying meal penalties and how one person/department standing up for themselves resulted in benefits for all their colleagues, Anonymous recently left a comment that seemed to totally miss the point of the post:

Wait, you're telling me you make like $600 a day and you get fed breakfast AND lunch and there is craft service table with food on it all day long, and sometimes someone will come around and give you a smoothie. What a great job.

 Okay... There are so many things wrong with this comment.

1) I didn't say I make "like $600 a day."
2) I don't make "like $600 a day."
3) We don't always get lunch. (On the show I'm working on now, walk-aways are the norm.)
4) There is craft service, but you know what we don't get?
    - Actual breaks (other than lunch).
    - "Normal" working hours...
    - ... And on that note, what most people would consider a reasonable turnaround time.
    - Health insurance, pension, etc.*
    - Paid holiday leave.*
    - Paid sick leave.*
    - A guaranteed paycheck.
    - Someone coming around and giving me a smoothie.**
5) And the benefits we DO get? We get because, long history short, our industry (and labor in general) is so fucked up that we were getting screwed left and right so certain rules and laws had to be put in place. Either by state law or union rules that have become the industry standard even if we're not on a union show. So thank you, unions!

I'm not sure if Anonymous is trying to be snarky since I was "bitching" about a job were I "get fed breakfast AND lunch" and/or they just don't understand the complexities of the job we do, but either way, I just wanted to set things straight. While yes, I'll admit, the job does come with some cool perks, those perks also come with a price. After all, nothing is free.

HAPPY LABOR DAY!




*Non-union work.
** Unless someone feels like doing a Jamba Juice run.

Friday, August 5, 2016

I Don't Want Him Here.


I have tried to get in with this crew for years. I like the Gaffer. I like the projects they choose to do. I like the way they run their ship. And I patiently waited my turn as just a day player* while they went through a revolving door of lamp ops, show after show, always wondering why I wasn't offered a spot on the team over bringing someone on that they didn't know.

Eventually, and finally, that day came and I found myself not only a full time member of their crew, but an invaluable one at that. I fit in better than I thought I would. Long story short, after years of day playing, I finally felt like I had found my people. I had found a home. I belonged.

Not only that, but when the days were busy, I got to bring on people I knew to come and day play with us. Bringing some of my old contacts onto my new job for a day here and there was a great way to keep my friends working and see the occasional familiar face, which brought me comfort. It was kind of like when you move off to college and a friend from back home comes to visit. You're in a new place with new people, so it's super good and revitalizing to see an old friend from your past who knows you so well. But at the same time, you don't want them hanging around too long because you know you really need (and want) to explore this new life on your own. It was a pretty sweet situation I had going on.

So imagine my surprise when my very good friend that I had previously brought in to day play told me that he was offered a full time spot on my Gaffer's next show and he's going to take it.

Wait. Hold on. I need a minute here.

After day playing for five days on the last show, he got offered a full time spot while I had to wait FIVE YEARS for mine.

And not only that, but while my friend and I obviously know some of the same crews, this one was mine. It may sound weird and petty, but this was one crew I had worked for where he didn't know everyone. The stories that happened here were mine and didn't involve him. Sure, this may make us sound like an old married couple, and he's the friend I swap set stories with on a semi-weekly basis, but I liked the fact that despite me often venting to him, he didn't know everyone and everything that was going on. This little piece of Hollywood was mine.

His presence also puts my rank into question. Despite me taking half a decade to earn my spot, once I was in, I quickly excelled, earning myself the position of Gaffer's right hand man (so to speak). And as such, I was gaining some footing in the ladder of moving up in this business. I was now privy to decisions and conversations I otherwise wouldn't be allowed to listen to, and covering for the Best Boy, and even sometimes the Gaffer, in their absence. With my friend there, I could very easily be knocked off my pedestal. He's very good at his job and is often offered better positions before me. Who will my bosses now turn to for things when he's around?

And to top it all off, despite me considering him to be a good friend, I do need some time away from him. He's a great guy, but there are some things about him that make me roll my eyes or exhale in frustration. Our work past together mostly involves one of us either day playing and/or the other being in a Best Boy position, leaving a nice buffer between us for breathing room. We didn't see each other five days a week, or if we did, we weren't in the same room for over 12 hours a day. Being around each other for 60+ hours a week on set might put a strain on our friendship... and my sanity.

Do I realize how petty this all sounds? Yes.

Do I know whether or not he's on my new show isn't my decision to make? Yes.

Am I happy to have such a good friend with me everyday?

No.

I am the kind of girl who likes to keep work and my personal life separate. I'd prefer it if I could embark on this new show, and wherever it would take me, on my own. But like a friend from back home, know that the support is there if I need it. Key word being "there" and not "here." He's a friend I share almost everything with, but I like to keep some things for myself. Something that's "mine" and not "ours".

And while some may see this as a plus, having such a good friend be a possible ally on a new show, I don't want an ally. I worked hard to get in with this crew. On my own. And I want to see how much further I can take it in this business, and with them, on my own. At the end of the day, and at the end of my career, I want to be able to stand there and be proud of how far I made it, on my own, and not have to think, "but thank goodness he was there to help me every step of the way."

But me not liking the fact that he'll be on my show is my own hang up. Not his. He really is good at his job and deserves every offer he gets. He doesn't need my permission to join a crew. I may not like it, but it's just something I'll have to figure out how to deal with when the time comes.


A "day player" is someone who isn't there every day but brought on as needed, whether it be because they need extra people that day, someone got sick, etc.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

I Need A Personal Cup Holder.


I might have to resort to getting one of these.


I have a legitimate question for everyone:

Let's say it's been a hectic day on set so far and you're really thirsty. You walk over to the coolers and grab that nice, icy soda you've been craving for the last half hour. You crack it open with a satisfying "pfssst" of the tab and take a refreshing swig.... And that's as far as you get before all hell breaks loose on the radio again and the Gaffer's calling out orders like a stoned frat boy at a drive thru.

What the fuck do you do with the opened can of soda?*

You don't want to chug it.
You can't put it on top of your set cart because you have OCD colleagues who'll toss it out.
You can't put it on a shelf of a lamp cart because that's where you pull lights from and spilling is a high possibility.
In fact, putting it on any cart is generally a bad idea.
Putting it on set furniture (tables, cabinets, etc) or any type of set dressing for that matter is a no-no.
So is putting it on the back of set walls.
As well as setting it on, or next to, a distro box.
Anywhere else (truck, gold room, etc) is too far away.

Where can you safely set down an open beverage on set? The same question goes for when you just got a plate of food/snack from crafty.




* Dolly grips, I don't want to hear you bragging about your own personal cup holders on the dolly.  :)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Lunch Times.




When the company breaks us for a one hour lunch...
"Ugh. Why is it one hour? I want to get out of here faster! Just give us a half hour lunch so we can wrap a half hour earlier and I can get home that much sooner."

But when the company breaks us for a half hour lunch...
"Ugh. Thirty minutes? I've been running around all morning! A half hour isn't long enough to for us to get our food and run an errand and/or take a real break."

Sigh...

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I'm A Bossy Ass Bitch.




"Hey, I'm going to set up my station here. Is this a good spot for you to run me a lunch box for power?"

I didn't think much of the wardrobe girl's request, actually appreciating the thoughtful nature of her question. After all, how many times have we cursed other departments for setting up exactly where we don't have easy access to a distro box?

My colleagues, however, had other opinions.

"Sure, we'll run you something right now," replied Juicer 1. Then to us, he says, "Why doesn't she just say she needs a lunch box there? Why did she ask us if it's okay? If she wants one there, she should just tell us."

"Yeah. It's like that article I showed you the other day," Juicer 2 chimes in. "About how women don't ask for what they want?" He then turns to me. "We read this article the other day about how this one company paid their male employees more than their females. When confronted about it, the guy said that after all his years running the company, not one woman ever came in to his office and asked for a raise. But the men would, and that's why they'd get paid more. Women have a tendency to not ask for what they want in the work place. I think they need to be more assertive. Don't you agree, A.J.?"

I stood there for a moment, grateful for colleagues who read articles on inequalities in the workplace and trying to create a dialogue about it instead of hiding under a rock, and at the same time, shocked at how naive and over simplified their solution was.

"Yes, I think overall, there is an issue with women not asking for what they want at work," I started, "but I think if Ms. Wardrobe had just said, 'I need a lunch box here,' you would've probably thought she was a bitch."

Juicer 1 slowly nodded his head in contemplative thought. "Yeah. That's a good point. I hate to admit it, but I that's probably what I'd do." Juicer 2 didn't say anything.




Moments like that echo in my head a lot these days. Over the past several months, I've had a few opportunities to step up in my department. In other words, I've been given the chance to lead instead of follow. And let me tell you, it's been fun. I love being able to run things my way and I absolutely enjoy the perks of being the boss, even if it's only for a short while.

However, as those opportunities arise, I've noticed more and more that critics of my work tend to fall in to two camps: those that think I'm a great leader, and those who think I'm bossy.

Let me preface this by saying that my superiors (and often their bosses as well) think I do a fabulous job. Everyone I've stepped up for wouldn't hesitate to hire me again. I'm proud of the work I do and the results I get, and in the end, that's all that should really matter and fuck the rest, right?*

So why does this bother me so much?

Because there shouldn't be such a distinction between the two ways I'm described. I approach every job the same way and treat my crews the same. So realistically, I should be considered either bossy or a good leader. And yes, while one could argue that the two terms aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, in this case they are since "bossy" is always used in a negative way while "good leader" is always meant as a compliment.

This leads me to wonder if I'm seen as bossy because I'm actually bossy (in every negative sense of the word) or if I'm "bossy" because that's how they describe assertive women? If it's the former, how did I go from being bossy to a good leader (and vise-versa) when I'm doing the same thing on every job and if it's the latter, well shit, where do I go from here?






I've run into issues like this before and when brought up, most men see it as making it a feminist issue when it isn't one and "sometimes a bossy bitch is just a bossy bitch." So how do we address a problem when those who perpetuate it don't realize they're perpetuating it?

Am I a bitch? Am I a good leader? Am I bossy? Or am I just an assertive woman?

Do the latter two mean the same thing?




*In theory. I'm not even going to get in to the fact how rumors circulating around about me being a bossy bitch will affect my future job prospects.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Shhhhh...!




At some point last year, the unthinkable happened and I landed on a job full time, putting my perpetual day-player status on hold for several months. As such, my usual 3-4 day work weeks turned into full time 65+ hour work weeks with little time to spare that wasn't spent inside the walls of a sound stage.

With virtually no free time left, I fell behind on a lot of things, like housekeeping (not that I was ever caught up to begin with), keeping in tough with friends, and blog reading, just to name a few. Now with my show ended and the tsunami of pilots that came with it slowing down to a trickle, I can finally attempt to catch up with my neglected reading, and I spent the day gorging on the past several months of Michael Taylor's blog (hey, some of you binge on Game of Thrones; I binge on Blood Sweat and Tedium).

His recent(ish) sharing of a reader's tale of how he was shushed over ice on set reminded me of the most ridiculous shushing moment I've witnessed so far. We were shooting downtown in a new hipster loft (aka: new studio apartments made from converted warehouse space) so the square room and cinder block walls made any sound echo and magnify. Which no one really minded or paid much attention to until we were between set ups.

Now, being a film crew in a small space meant you were going to have some noise, but we were doing our best to keep it down to a minimum out of respect for the neighbors. That, however, didn't keep the AD from yelling at us to be quiet and constantly shushing us.

Funny thing is, the noise didn't stop despite him almost hyperventilating from all the shushing.

At this point, I should mention that while we did our best to use our "inside voices," there was also a large piece of crumpled up blackwrap laying on the concrete floor. Add that to about two dozen people coming and going, accidentally kicking it around in a small room that is built like an echo chamber, and the rustling from an unassuming piece of blackwrap is going to sound loud.

So yes, the AD was getting quite pissed off at us for not keeping it down when he really should have been yelling at a piece of foil.

After a few minutes, I tried to explain to him that his frustration should be aimed at an inanimate object, but he just glared at me and kept "shhh-ing" so I went about my own business. I thought about ending the ridiculousness by simply picking the damn thing up, but with so many people scattering about, I'd be like Simba in a stampede.

Eventually, I think the AD finally understood why his pleads for working quietly seemed to be ignored, and by that point, everyone had more or less settled down. That's when he walked over to the offending piece of blackwrap, picked it up off the floor, glared at me and said, "Now, was that so hard?"

ADs. You gotta love 'em.




Saturday, April 9, 2016

I Get Annoyed When...

...someone comes up to me and says, "Hey, do you know a girl named Sophia? 'Cuz she's a girl and she does electric work too."

It's kind of like asking, "Oh! You're from (enter big city name here)? My ex-roommate from college lived there. Do you know Mike?" Contrary to popular belief, us female griplectrics don't have a secret club where we meet once a week to eat junk food and braid each others hair. Just 'cuz she's a girl doesn't mean I know her.

Monday, March 21, 2016

There Is A Difference.


I'm fortunate enough to be working in this industry in a time where the boys club of grip and electrics is more welcoming of having females in their mix. While there are definitely times when I know I'm not even considered for a job because of my gender, there are some people out there who don't even think twice about it (or they do and hire me anyway) and have no issues welcoming me into their crew. As difficult as things are for a woman trying to make it in this department now, I can't even imagine how much harder it must have been for those who came before me.

However, despite some people who are willing to hire us, we still have a loooooong way to go before we're seen as actual equals. I know many of you guys out there will say you see no difference between a male colleague and a female one and "everyone's treated the same" on your crew, but I'm here to tell you, that while I know you mean well, you need to open your fucking eyes. 

Because no matter how good your intentions are, and whether you realize it or not, there is a difference between how we're treated. No matter whose set we're on.

Have you ever not been hired because of your gender?
Or not hired because of what you're wearing?
Do they ever discuss what you're wearing at all?
I've been asked countless times if I ever wear heels or dresses, always saying they'd pay me to wear those things to work. Like I'm not even a person, but just someone here for their entertainment. As if asking me to dress like a "real woman" just to satisfy their curiosity of what I'd look like as a feminine version of myself isn't insulting. Yet at the same time, I've been not hired back before because somehow my t-shirt and jeans were deemed "inappropriate and too revealing."
Do they talk about your sexuality? Do they assume you're gay, just because of the job title you hold? Or assume you're a lesbian because you shoot down all the co-workers who ask you out? Because, you know, you're a single woman and therefore the only reason you'd turn down a date is because you play for the other team.
Do they talk about your personal life on set, unprompted?
Ask you why you're single or when the last time you had a boyfriend was and how long the relationship lasted? As if your worth was determined by how much you were wanted by a man. Like you were defined by whether or not you're in a relationship. Or maybe even called asexual because of your singledom. As if any of this is any of their business or plays a part in the job I do.
I've been told I'm a distraction to the crew despite behaving like any other co-worker. Apparently, I'm considered to be a distraction no matter what I do. I'm constantly watched and criticized when those around me often fuck up unnoticed.
Someone is always watching me. Watching me sit at staging. Watching me move a light. Watching me at crafty. Multiple times, I've caught men staring at me as I lift a piece of cable or set a light, saying they're "just watching me work." I often have to be sure my back's turned to a wall before I bend over to tie up a stinger or to plug something in.
I've been assigned to "light duty" jobs because I look like I can't handle the "real work" and then chastised for not being able to do the "real work" I was never given a chance to do. Does anyone ever assume you can't lift something most of your other colleagues can? Is "oh, you're stronger than I thought you were" something you hear often?
If I smile and laugh at the Driver's jokes, they consider me a flirt. If I don't I'm considered to be cold hearted, or a bitch, and our truck ends up parked a quarter mile from set.
If I'm seen at Crafty too much, I'm told I "sure do eat a lot." If I'm not seen at Crafty enough, I must be a "typical girl", watching my weight when I'm anything but "typical".
They send me in to talk to the expendables guy to see if they can get a discount or their order put though faster because I'm a "pretty girl" that can be whored out. And then they get a smug look on their faces when I get the job done, as if they finally found a use for me. Sometimes, it's the sole reason why they keep me around. (Ps. The expendable guy you keep sending me in to "work my womanly charms on"? He's GAY. I get the shit done because take the time to learn their names and I ask nicely.)
I can't stretch my stiff muscles during a long day without feeling self conscious and worried about people staring. If I stretch my arms, will they stare at my breasts? If I bend over to stretch my legs, will they see that as an invitation to stare at my ass? It's normal to see the other guys stretching in the middle of staging. If I do it, I get catcalled.

Unfortunately, there is a difference between me and the other boys on set.

Whether you notice it or not, there is a difference.

And that is why we still have a long ways to go.







*This is the only video of the clip I could find that I could embed. To see a higher quality version, go here. In fact, you should probably take a minute and read the article.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Princess.


What I want to do anytime anyone calls me "Princess" on set:


Don't Call Me Princess from Cartoon Network PR on Vimeo.


*Bonus points for Buttercup being "man enough" and "throwing like a girl."


Friday, February 26, 2016

Waiting.


I spend a lot of time waiting.
Waiting for callsheets.
Waiting for pass vans.
Waiting for stake beds.
Waiting for my breakfast order.
Waiting for rehearsal to be done.
Waiting for the cameras to be set up.
Waiting for first team to be ready.
Waiting for them to get the take and move on.
Waiting for them to cut.
Waiting for them to turn around.
Waiting for the next scene to start.
Waiting for the first snack to arrive.
Waiting for lunch.
Waiting for second meal.
Waiting for the truck to arrive after a company move.
Waiting for the service elevators on location.
Waiting for them to call wrap.
Waiting for a call to come in.
Waiting for the call to come in.
I spend a lot of time waiting for the right opportunity to come around.
I wait in the sidelines while others take their turn.
I wait for the time when I'll be taken seriously.
I wait for when I won't be considered "new" or a rookie anymore.
I patiently wait for the time when my opinion will be valued.
I wait to be considered an equal, and eventually a leader.
I wait for the right people to notice the potential in me.
I wait for all of these things.
Some arrive faster than others.
But I am here.
Waiting.
For as long as it takes for the opportunity to arrive.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

It's Curtains For Me!




Part of my nightly routine, right before I crawl under the covers, is to open up the curtains in my bedroom. I love how the morning sun filters through my window, the light often helping me slowly wake before my alarm officially jars me from my sleep.

And when I get home at night, I close them back up, because you know, pervs and I don't need to be giving my neighbors a peepshow as I change into my PJs.

Unfortunately, in typical me fashion, it took about a week of me doing this curtain open/shutting routine before I realized that since I took a rigging call for the next couple weeks, I actually wake up before the sun comes up, and due to L.A. traffic, I don't make it home until long after it's down.

Sigh...

Now my curtains just stay shut.




Sunday, January 17, 2016

Untitled.

She got the best grades in school.
Which got her into the best college.
Which got her a job in her field of study right after graduation.
Which she stayed at for the better part of a decade.
After which, she decided she had enough of.
She packed what she could and sold the rest.
And bought a one-way ticket to the other side of the world.
She spent the rest of her youth never really finding a home,
but she had everything she needed.
She traveled around the globe, going from one country to another,
one culture to another,
eating and drinking the local food,
visiting old ruins and modern marvels;
making new friends and losing track of the old ones.
Her life was now constantly filled with new sights, experiences, and adventures.
She's admired and envied by everyone,
including strangers who hear her tale,
for being so ballsy and daring and seeing the world.

I am not her.

I got good grades in school.
Which got me into a good college.
Which did basically nothing to get me a job in my field of study after graduation.
But I packed what I could anyway and sold the rest.
Not to travel the world.
But to pursue a dream.
I moved to a city I didn't know.
On a path I didn't know.
Actually, fuck the path.
I had to forge my own.
I didn't drift from one place to another.
I didn't stop to see the sights.
Instead, I signed a lease and never left.
I didn't live out of a backpack.
But an apartment in the Valley.
I turned strangers into friends and colleagues.
And questionable, unpaid jobs into paid ones.
And turned those jobs into a career.
I came to a city of millions as an unknown and found a place for myself.
I sought out an industry notorious for being unable to break into.
And I found myself a way in.
I saw an industry of men who can be unrelenting in keeping it a boys club.
And I fought my way in.

But I will never be admired like she is.
No one will ever ask about my tales of a road less traveled.
I won't be called brave for leaving everything behind like she did.
No one will ask to hear my stories.
Because most people don't know this business like we do.
And don't know the things we give up, leave behind, or the struggles we face.
To the outside, we have a job, just like them.
We have an unrelatable job that seems relatable while she lives out a relatable fantasy.
She left everything to pursue a passion and a dream.
So did I.
But her stories will be heard.
While I sit on the sidelines.
No one will know how similar our lives are.
None of them will care about my tale.
But I do.
And that will have to be enough.

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