Taking Care of You: Take Your Vitamins

Just went to the doctor.  I was pretty sure something major was wrong.  And I was right.

I am severely anemic.

Let me lay this out for you.  I eat whole foods and drink a green smoothie every day and I’m not a vegetarian.  And I’m severely anemic.  Welcome to our industry where you must treat your body like you are running an ultra marathon.

You want to live to be forty in the arts?  Do it right.  Start now.  This is what you need to do daily and don’t break it for more than two days.  With the usual “blah blah blah don’t take my word for it because I’m not a doctor.”  ASK your doctor about this.  My fucking deductible just tripled paying for everyone’s health insurance so I’m going to be mightily pissed if you don’t use it.  The way I see, I pay for it, you gotta use it so I’m telling you, USE YOUR NEW HEALTH INSURANCE and get your ass to the doctor for a well check up.


I take calcium, a prenatal multivitamin (I think they are better), and when I start to feel run down, iron and zinc.  Daily.


Drink eight glasses a day.  If you can’t do this on set, set your alarm two hours before you need to get up and drink two huge glasses.  Go back to sleep.  Your bladder will ensure you make your calltime.


No you are not meant to be vegetarian.  Just look at your teeth.  Those aren’t plant eater teeth.  But do what you want, just be smart about it.  The truth is that meat wasn’t a huge part of our diet but it is an important part.  Don’t just go vegan and expect your brain function not to drop if you don’t educate yourself and maintain that diet intelligently.  It’s totally possible but you have to keep track of it and be smart about it.

If you do eat meat, try to eat the BEST meat you can afford. 

There is protein in greens, nuts and other plant sources.  Work with it to see what your body absorbs.

Craving sugar means you need more protein, FYI.

Allergies/Food Sensitivities

We are working our bodies beyond the expected duration.  That means you can pretty much EXPECT to develop food sensitivities because it’s like anyone who pushes their body that hard.  The body gets picky.  If you are on a long shoot, scale back on dairy, onions, wheat, salt, fat and sugar.  Eat lean proteins, veggies, fruit and drink a lot of water.  Your stomach will thank you.  That, my friends, is really why we don’t like pizza as a second meal. It hurts our stomachs.   Just keep an eye on what hurts your belly and avoid it.  That’s all.  Add it back gently when you are on a normal schedule.

Do Not Eat Non Foods

What is a non food?  Here’s my test.  Pretend Laura Ingalls Wilder is sitting beside you.  You show her what you are eating.  Can you explain it in a way she will understand?  No?  Then it’s not a food.  Don’t eat it.  Not on set anyway.   

Eat Every Six Hours

Yes, almost impossible to stick to but you know what?  You aren’t performing surgery and no one is dying on the table.  It took me a long time to realize that my health didn’t come after the producer’s stupidity.  Eat.  Even if you have to hide and pretend you are working.  Eat.  Smoothies are great for non-breakfasters who don’t want to eat at 3AM.  Make it and take it.  I do a lot of green smoothies (hit up Uncle Google for these if you don’t know what they are) but some people like protein shakes.  Whatever it is, do it.

Hard Boiled Eggs at Crafty

I’m not sure you should eat these ever.  Really not sure.  Just putting that out there.

Energy Drinks and Your Heart

Don’t screw around with these.  Honestly.  They lead to a big up and a big crash.  At least coffee is an ancient beverage.  In lieu of that, try tea.  But honestly I’d say eschew caffeine altogether if you can.  Better to drink water and feel your tired and save that cup of coffee for hour eleven.  Caffeine leaches calcium out of your body.  Not good, not good, especially for the ladies.


Lots of salt and lots of chemicals.  Again, not going to do you any favours on year ten in production.  And that health insurance you have probably still doesn’t cover dental so watch your teeth.

Brush Your Teeth

Bring your toothbrush and brush during one break on set.  No one is supposed to go fourteen hours without cleaning their teeth.  Get all that stress and the taste of adrenalin out of your  mouth.  Wash your hands and face while you are at it.

Sounds so basic and weird, right?  But trust me.  I’m glad I have done what I’ve done at this age because I can still run laps and lift 50lbs and I have my knees and teeth. 



What I say at wrap every time.

(Source: tthunderthief)

Groupon invites you to pay to be a movie extra

Scam. Scam scam scam. If you have to ask, I will tell you this is a scam. Do not pay to be an extra. Do not pass go.

‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers Surrender To Georgia Police: The Mugshots

So they have turned themselves in. 

Generally I don’t read the comments sections on these things anymore.  Not constructive.  But here a few things come up.

1.  She participated of her own free will and walked on the tracks.

2.   It was the producers at fault.

Yes.  Both. 

Would she have been fired for saying no?  Very likely. I have been replaced by producers because I took a stand on safety.  As an AD I will never force nor coerce nor turn someone in to production for refusing to do something based on safety.  Not to say I haven’t put people in dangerous situations.  I am sure I have.  I have (as I’ve said) a different physical stamina and endurance and so I’m not always adept at assessing other people’s exhaustion correctly.  And often they don’t communicate their discomfort.  They need to and that’s important.  And what’s more, don’t just talk to the AD.  Put it in an email and CC yourself on it.

I am never going to release you from your responsibility to NOT do something that you KNOW Is dangerous.  And to document it.

But I also know misinformation is powerful.  So are leaders.  I honestly think I get a lot of AD work because I appear confident and to know what I am doing.  So if I lead you on to the tracks, you would probably follow me.

Here is what I want and I’m going to keep saying it.

I want filmmakers and organizations that support indie film to start asking the hard questions.  Was everyone paid?  Did this film, that we love, provide safe turn arounds?  Was the creation of the product we consume ethical and safe?  And it was not… SHOULD WE SUPPORT IT?

It’s not just crew and actors that need to change this.  Though we have a lot of power.  It’s an overall discussion that needs to keep getting blown open because honestly, until we start seeing some real owning up, I am not buying it.  And I’m not going to stand on sets and tell cast and crew that they are safe anymore.  I am going to say, “I am taking this risk and I’m not sure it’s a good idea.  You have to decide for yourself.”

I’m not your Judas Goat.

These are just the ones who got unlucky.  And I think all of us who work in film know that. 


I did cry after reading [that] article about me in Politico. I don’t regret admitting I did. The reason I wanted to do this interview is that I think it is important to try to speak very candidly to young women. The most important advice I would still give — and it may seem crazy because I did lose this job I really loved — you have to be an authentic person. I did cry. That is my authentic first reaction. I don’t regret sharing that.
Taking Care of You: Pay Your Bills

So this is important. 

Always pay your bills or if you can’t, know what you owe.  I’m dying to give a seminar on home finances for the savvy person in the arts.  I can’t even begin to tell you how important it is to start this process regardless of your age or what you owe. Knowledge is power.

Sort your bills, open them, throw away the trash.  Note what you owe on one sheet and the days it is due.  If you pay online, do it only twice a month.  Yes.  That’s right.  Pay all the bills on the 1st of the month that are due between the 1st and 20th. 

On the 15th pay all the bills that are due between the 18th and the 5th.

Because of what we do and because record keeping is important, I make companies I don’t trust (cell phone companies, cable companies, credit card companies) send me paper copies of the bills though I pay online.  I go over these and check them and the error margin I find ranges between $10-$60.  Same with the grocery receipt.  I always checked my receipt as a PA and often I’d find the store failed to credit some of the in store sales.  I’d say I easily save $60-$100 a month by reading my receipts and bills.  And when you have a day rate that is $120 as a PA, that can really amount to something. 

I save records from these companies for a year and I chart how many errors I find and at year’s end I discuss it with them.

You should never be so busy that you do not take care of yourself, your home, or your finances.

The real key to survival and doing what you love in the arts is respect for yourself.  Respect your body, keep it healthy and in shape.  Respect your heart and soul, don’t get in relationships or keep up relationships with people who damage you.  And respect your resources.  You work hard, so curate them.  Remember we are at most two to three generations from the people who came over to the United States.  If it helps, think of your ancestor who always knew how much he or she had in the root cellar.  Be that person.  Count your potatoes, know what you have to eat and what to seed to grow.  Because like them, your survival hinges on how well you take care of yourself and the things you own first.

And if you are face to face with your expenses, you are less likely to take that crap paying job for people who don’t deserve your time and talent.  Your cell phone company doesn’t give you anything “for art” and Comcast doesn’t care either.  By treating yourself as a business you will remind yourself that you are business.  When you step out, or want to do your own thing, or take a break or even just produce your own thing, you will have hand your hand on your money. 

Keeping a hand on your money keeps a hand on your time.

It’s not magic.  But after a bit it will start to feel like it.

- Val

Anonymous said: How do I make the leap from Key PA to 2nd 2nd or 3rd? I've Keyed on three indie features and fifteen medium budget commercials since January alone, plus I have three years of PA experience on shows of all sizes ($25,000 to $40m). I'm in a smaller market, should I move down the road to Hollywood South? Does one just send out their resume or ask Directors or sacrifice goats to make the jump?

Never worked on a short film? Student film? Never started looking around for low budget 1sts to learn from? Do you even have an AD resume started? If you’ve Key’d on 3 features, were you better than the 3rd? Have you told anyone who likes you what your career path is?

The key to getting out of a rut is to just walk away from it. If you keep being the best Key PA for every show, you will be known as the best Key PA. So that means finding the shows and the places and the 1st ADs who are willing to take on someone new and train them. No coordinator is going to make their Key PA into a 2nd AD. They like their Key PA. They hire the Key PA. They don’t need you to be a 2nd AD. They don’t need you to have aspirations. If there’s a vacancy awesome, but you need to go make the job you want. And sometimes it means stepping down in pay, sometimes it means stepping out of market. Val went through 3 markets before she started taking over 1sting and 2nding. It’s because once you set yourself in a role, you can get pigeonholed, just like actors. So make your own path, learn what the role entails while you’re PAing for people who’ve been doing it longer, and if you see the chance to help with paperwork, get out times for the 2nd 2nd, be last man. Do the things the ADs do and you’ll be seen as someone who can do the job.


The Balance Sheet

Every job should have a balance sheet and you should make it before D1 and update it often.

Do it in Excel.  That’s how ADs do it. Look. I know it’s super elementary and you’d think, “Oh I know all that.”  But the truth is, putting it in writing forces acknowledgement.  See how I have one block greyed out?  That’s because it was something that started as a positive and went away.  So that is one reason why I joined the project, but discovered upon working (in theory) that supporting a female director doesn’t always support the equality I seek in the workplace.  It’s important to grey out those benefits as they diminish so that you can note, halfway through the project, how many of the initial draws to the project were taken away by circumstances or false pretense.  This will help you in future evaluations of working with that team of producers and directors.

Some things you can’t fully qualify… how much of a tax deduction?  Etc.  But putting it down means that you must note that you don’t know for certain.

The only real reason in my opinion to put up with a subpar productionsis if the script is the most amazing work you’ve ever read, the director is amazing and the actors are executing.  In addition to that, the producers need to be people who can navigate the world enough to push the project out there.  That’s rare.   If it’s a student film or something not up to your standards, really think about putting your name on it. 

Here’s why:

- Bad producers and bad budgeting often results in injury that you are liable for.

- Bad working conditions can lead the less informed members of the crew to place the blame incorrectly on the AD Dept because they are chummy with the director/producer.

- You can get stuck on that level for a long time.

- You get too good or too known for fixing things that comes out of your own flesh.

- You are enabling or being part of business practices that are not something that should succeed or continue in our business.

Just a few things to think about.

- Val

Anonymous said: I'm a relatively green AD working on a mockumentary pilot where the director/producer (also acting in project) won't delegate. He doesn't seem to even want an AD. The DP calls roll and basically directs as well. The thing is as far as quality goes it's pretty low. No slating, production design, grips or gaffers. I'm not even getting paid. I've worked on student films more professional. Should I care or just let it go and muddle through the 4 day shoot?

You’re not even getting paid? Bro… time to head out. Director/ Producer/ Actors are the worst scenarios. Just get out alive. Better to be a PA in Heaven than an upaid AD in Hell.





Reblogging not just because special effects are cool but because body doubles, stunt doubles, acting doubles, talent doubles — all the people whose faces we’re not supposed to see but whose bodies make movies and tv shows possible — these people need and deserve more recognition. We see their bodies onscreen, delight in the shape and motion of those bodies, but even as we pick apart everything else that goes on both on and behind the screen, I just don’t see the people who are those bodies getting the love and recognition they deserve.

We’re coming to love and recognize actors who work in full-body makeup/costumes, such as Andy Serkis, or actors whose entire performances, or large chunks thereof, are motion captured or digitized (lately sometimes also Andy Serkis!). But people like Leander Deeny play an enormous part in making characters such as Steve Rogers come to life, too. Body language is a huge part of a performance and of characterization. For characters/series with a lot of action, a stunt person can have a huge influence on how we read and interpret a character, such as the influence Heidi Moneymaker has had on the style and choreography of Black Widow’s signature fighting style. Talent doubles breathe believability and discipline-specific nuance into demanding storylines.

Actors are creative people themselves, and incredibly important in building the characters we see onscreen. But if we agree that they’re more than dancing monkeys who just do whatever the directors/writers say, then we have to agree that doubles are more than that, too. Doubles make creative decisions too, and often form strong, mutually supportive relationship with actors.

image image

Image 1: “I would like to thank Kathryn Alexandre, the most generous actor I’ve ever worked opposite.”

Image 2: “Kathryn who’s playing my double who’s incredible.”

[ Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany on her acting double, Kathryn Alexandre, two images from a set on themarysue, via lifeofkj ]

image image

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I’ve got a relationship that goes back many, many years with Dave. And I would hate for people to just see that image of me and Dave and go, “oh, there’s Dan Radcliffe with a person in a wheelchair.” Because I would never even for a moment want them to assume that Dave was anything except for an incredibly important person in my life.

[ Daniel Radcliffe talking about David Holmes, his stunt double for 2001-2009, who was paralysed while working on the Harry Potter films. David Holmes relates his story here. Gifset via smeagoled ]

With modern tv- and film-making techniques, many characters are composite creations. The characters we see onscreen or onstage have always been team efforts, with writers, directors, makeup artists, costume designers, special effects artists, production designers, and many other people all contributing to how a character is ultimately realized in front of us. Many different techniques go into something like the creation of Skinny Steve — he’s no more all Leander Deeny than he is all Chris Evans.

But as fandom dissects the anatomy of scenes in ever-increasing detail to get at microexpressions and the minutiae of body language, let’s recognize the anatomy in the scenes, too. I don’t mean to take away from the work Chris Evans or any other actors do (he is an amazing Steve Rogers and I love him tons), but fandom needs to do better in recognizing the bodies, the other people, who make up the characters we love and some of our very favourite shots of them. Chris Evans has an amazing body, but so does Leander Deeny — that body is beautiful; that body mimicked Chris Evans’s motions with amazing, skilled precision; that body moved Steve Rogers with emotion and grace and character.

Fandom should do better than productions and creators who fail to be transparent about the doubles in their productions. On the screen, suspension of disbelief is key and the goal is to make all the effort that went into the production vanish and leave only the product itself behind. But when the film is over and the episode ends, let’s remember everyone who helped make that happen.


[ Sam Hargrave (stunt double for Chris Evans) and James Young (stunt double for Sebastian Stan, and fight choreographer), seen from behind, exchange a fistbump while in costume on the set of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Image via lifeofkj ]

I applaud these guys as much as the suit actors in my japanese tokusatsu shows. They do just as much work. 

Hat’s off to them, and my thanks for all they do.

Well said.

(Source: stark-industries-rnd)