Crew members, like Bryce Dion of “Cops,” are often abused, injured, or worse (and unable to pay for treatment).
I worked my last reality job a couple years back. Insane hours, so much abuse coming from the office, and a producer died a year later from a heart attack. No show is worth it, and it’s about time these ones unionized.
We all have issues. Depression started being one of mine because of various reasons. But being on the road or away from friends, family or internet and things will start to set in. Especially when fatigue starts to really tear you down. But I’ve compiled a list of things to help:
Skype or Facetime: You’ve got loved ones and luckily we live in an age where communication is even faster, and the internet has ways of hitting all areas. Facetime, skype, and Google hang outs are all perfect ways to keep in contact with friends and loved ones. Elect that friend who’s not on the same job, but knows what you’re going through, and just take an hour to decompress about how your 1st called everyone in an hour early and then had them sit. Or about that extra who just won’t stop believing they’re the star. Just having someone to listen to you helps. Find that person.
Writing or blogging: Keep a blog of your experiences and get it out in writing. The cheap form of therapy.
Find your thing: Everyone has a thing. Everyone on set gets known for a thing. Some people send funny pictures to the crew, some sound men have all the new bands. Hell, even I put QoTD on the callsheet, or funny t-shirt day as dictated by the grips. Find your thing and bond with the team you’re stuck with for the next however many days.
Food: Lunches, dinners, breakfasts. Whatever you do, make time to just sit down with people and talk. Doesn’t have to be talking about work, or what’s up next. Just enjoying food with people is the biggest detox. Just please, make sure to chew your food. I know everyone has work to get back to. It’ll still be there. Enjoy your time. If you live in a hotel, try to gather up friends or crew for relax dinners.
Exercise! Being completely full of starches and junk food saps your energy. Sitting all day or standing in the sun isn’t movement and exercise! If there’s a gym at the hotel, or a cheap place to join, or hell, even a highschool running track. Get out and move!
6. And of course, sleep: Restful, UN-interupted rest. Good luck with that.
"My best day had to be the day after I wrapped Guardians of the Galaxy. I was very homesick and coming home to my wife, and my home, and to my son, who was at the time 13 months old. My wife told me there’s a chance he won’t recognize you—but that’s okay that happens all the time. He doesn’t know, he might be a little shy…"
This. This, this, a thousand times this. I cant wait to see my baby girl. It’s been a very long 5 months.
Film sets are notoriously wasteful places. Big movies can generate 225 tons of scrap metal, nearly 50 tons of construction and set debris, and 72 tons of food waste.
It’s Amazing the amount of waste in films and TV shows. The bottled water alone should be enough to convince you to to carry your own. When I can get away with it, I make letter sized callsheets. Not hard to do and still gets the point across. Also a fan of E -Sides. What do you do to help reduce waste?
One of the finest moments in cinematic history.
That 1st day of being an AD on an indie film set…
Anonymous said: I'm going to be setting BG with an extremely impatient short-tempered 3rd AD in about 3 weeks. It's a party scene with about 160 people. Any insight and advice on workflow and how to set them quickly and efficiently would be super appreciated. :)
HA! For a minute it almost sounded like you were afraid of the 3rd AD. Now if that is the case, for real? They’re the 3rd AD. Tell them to finish their PRs on time and then maybe you’ll listen to them. Except for my 3rd. My 3rd is super scary and will generally tear your arm off only to beat you to death with it. For real, just avoid making her angry.
But you have a 3rd and their job is to place background and your job is set pa? Extras wrangler? Whatever the case may be, you’re stuck with this ill tempered douchebag.
First thing I like to do is check in with the 2nd AD and see how they’re being grouped. All 160 aren’t coming at once, or if they are, and they all place first, well fuck.
First thing, see how many groups have names or are broken down into sections. For example I did a large frat movie with 500 bg, and multiple levels of a party. Some girls were marked “Pretty girls.” Some were “Woo girls.” some were “Beer pong guys.” and that made it easier to break it down of who goes where during what scene. After that, I made a map of where we we’re working, and watch blocking to see where I can place each group. 160 bg is 2 groups of 80, 4 groups of 40, 10 groups of 16, or 16 groups of 10. I bunch them up with an even number (If the scene calls for it.) and grab post it notes, and write A on them. Now that one group of 10 is group A, and I know I have Group A- P that I can place, re-use and run though. The rooms is big enough for 60 people. Awesome. I have 60 people to place, use as crosses or filter through because the scene calls for progression of time, so I can filter through and stagger BG to make things easier on departments. Crowd scenes up last? Excellent. Everyone goes in and listens to the first. Problem solved. The thing about placing BG is, the first time will be terrible. They’ll spike the camera, stumble, start loudly talking, or walk straight at the actor and expect them to move. Tried to gather everyone and give the “Do not look at camera, please go back to one, listen for action and cut, and no talking!” speech so you can head off some things.
I always introduce myself to the director, or make it known I’m the one placing BG, or in constant communication with the 1st AD who’s at monitor. I’ve had directors move people out of the way of the monitor so I can get background set correctly. Always watch the monitor when you can because afterwards, you can run in, fix an action and then go again and see things go off correctly.
If you need to move them in and out because someone’s being impatient, well, take your lumps, because herding people takes time. Everyone knows it. It doesn’t magically happen, and being the asshole yelling for it to happen fast just makes you look like an asshole.
Hope this helps. Val and my 3rd are masters at setting background and maybe they’ll chime in about it as well. Every time I have Val do it, everyone on screen looks like they have a story in their head about what they’re doing. And it looks amazing.
kingserpounce said: I'm a 1st wrapping production on a feature and I'd like to get my 2nd AD a nice thank you gift. Any suggestions?
I got my last 2nd and 2nd 2nd a goldfold. It’s up to you but they are very very lovely. http://goldfold.com/ Expensive. but nice reward for all the hard work. Otherwise a headset, iTunes card with a list of helpful apps if they have an iPhone. Or a free “You Fucked up and I won’t yell at you for it.” card. Because not screaming is a gift that keeps on giving.
Val here. I thought I’d link to a few “Production Tools for the Hardcore Indie Gal” and ask you all to add your own links to it. And since we are not a sponsored blog in any way shape or form (okay Griffin buys me coffee sometimes, that’s about it) you can count I’ve actually used these.
Cellphone & Tablet Covers
I’m Mac/iphone based so we have to have Griffin come in for the PC and other phones. But I can start this. See that lovely pic above? That’s iphone #4 in Val’s life. I like to call that “The production screensaver.” The covers I love are the Lifeproof ones for my cell and the Gumdrop ones for my ipad. I think it’s ideal that the moment you buy a new phone/ipad you put it in a case and never actually touch the exterior. Also, at that point purchase a spare charger and a car charger. No need to fool around with your lifeline. I am personally a fan of the REI 2-in-1 Home and Car Charger because REI generally has a great return policy if something stops working and a lot of chargers seem very touchy with iPhones. I make it a habit to always plug in my phone the moment I’m in the car. That way I never leave the charger at any place.
They really deserve their own post. But I will sing the praises of the Merrel Captiva Launch 2 Waterproof Boot. I have it in black. Again, I like buying my shoes from REI. The points rack up and also, they have a great repair/return policy if you get a faulty item. I suggest dressing in all black on set and these boots are nice as they give some support and protection to your calf. For regular wear shoes I’ve been trying out a wide variety but my overall suggestion is go to a REI or a sports shop and get two pairs of the most comfortable (dark) trainers you can afford. Make one more breathable and one more waterproof. Change them out and air them out every night.
Compression socks. They are vital. We are on our feet too much to not consider these. They will help with circulation and with overall exhaustion. They make a wide variety of them, I’ve not had a single bad pair. You can go super high ens and just get the sleeve that goes over your calf (easier as you can repeat wear) or get the full sock. They are available at sports stores and Amazon and various places.
You are in for trouble if you don’t consider this an important part of caring for your production gear. A little background on Val here, I skated derby and I cloth diapered in 100 degree heat. So I know a lot about shit that smells (literally) and I’m going to let you in some some KEY items to have with your laundry.
Essential oils. Tea tree oil and lavender oil, just a few drops in with a load of laundry will get the funk out of the funkiest. If it’s an older washer, then just wait until the water has filled and tip 2-3 drops into a very full water load. If it’s energy efficient, go ahead and mix the 2-3 drops with a tiny bit of water and pour in before laundry. A quarter cup of vinegar in the water can also help your case. Great to periodically run a load through of hot water with a solution of essential oils too to clean out the washer and wipe down the inside of the dryer from time to time.
The best kind I’ve found is at Trader Joe’s. But I also have an Amazon Prime membership and I take advantage of their free shipping for my production lifestyle (it’s one of my life hacks) and I order it through there The main thing is to realize it’s a concentrate. Don’t use it on your skin. Great for towels too or any household laundry.
BioKleen. This stuff is magic. You can use it on carpets, you can use it on your laundry. Look at their product line. This was my secret weapon in derby and cloth diapering both. Wash your jeans with a bit of this, wipe down the seats of your car during production and wipe out the inside of your backpack with a watered down solution of it. Smell means you have some kind of bacteria or mildew growing. Don’t let it take hold.
This is the only sunblock I can really recommend without any caveats. It’s the Skin Medica Daily Defense and it is expensive. But it is a real sunblock. I’ve never had any issues with it, it doesn’t sting your eyes at all or burn your skin. My dermatologist recommended it and it’s the only kind I’ve used since. For daily skin care, I recommend the Cetaphil products. I use their cleanser and moisturizer (not their sunblock though) and it is really good on irritated skin, great for a the price point and can be used for shaving your legs too. I use their facial wipes for mid-day clean up. I also use a BB cream to back up my sunblock. If I’ve been working some place with a lot of dirt, I may use Pond’s Cold Cream. I have no issue spending money on my skin but it’s kind of amazing to me that the same stuff my grandmother used is my go-to. I have dry, sensitive skin, if that’s a good reference point.
Evening foot care and body soaks: I use Dr. Teal’s, I like lavender or the eucalyptus kinds. Sometimes I just put a tiny bit in the bottom of the shower and it smells very good and is relaxing. It makes a hotel room smell a bit more like home. But it also works very well for sore muscles or end of the day feet. It can feel like I use a lot of tea tree/lavender oil but both have antibiotic properties and are useful for what we do. A little dish of this stuff hidden under your car seat can be okay too, if you like the scent.
The stress of production can give you some very bad breath. My biggest hack is to put a big dollop of toothpaste on my brush and then dip it in a baggie of baking soda. I do this at night, and brush and floss. Sometimes I will dip my toothbrush in a tiny bit of hydrogen peroxide (DO NOT SWALLOW ANY OF THIS, I should mention that) and brush as well. It really cleans out your mouth, keeps your teeth white and gets rid of the stress-taste.
Now… you go. What do you use?