Sunday, December 07, 2008

Great Post and My Week of Rigging

Go on over to Blood, Sweat, and Tedium ( and read Michael's great post on his first dolly job (which reminds me a lot of my first dolly job). It will bring a smile to your face and you may laugh out loud. The guy makes me want to be a better writer.
Much like Michael's fish out of water tale of dollies, I spent the week (and will spend the next two) rigging the stage for the series I start in January. This type of thing happens from time to time. The Key Grip, who knows damn well I'm not a rigger, will call me up and offer a couple of weeks of prep work if I have nothing else going on. As we are in the middle of the pre-holiday slow down, I gladly take it, knowing that, for me, rigging means I'll be bolting truss together, looking through crates of ageing steel hardware looking for some species of clamp I haven't seen, much less had occasion to use in over 15 years, and standing on the ground looking up, mouth agape and waiting to tie something on a rope so they can pull it up. Most set grips will tell you that riggers are a different breed. They're mostly tattooed, smoking, and listeners of bands with names like Rancid or Lucifer. When you watch these guys scramble around on the perms, 50 feet over a concrete floor, you gain a lot of respect for them. They are meticulous in their craft. "No, the shackle goes that way." "No, run the span set around that way." "No, the bolt goes down." These are the phrases that are directed at me most days. They are zeroed in on the most minute details of the placement of every piece of rigging they install. They have to be. It only takes one mistake to send thousands of pounds crashing down on someone's head. I always feel kind of awkward around them. Especially when I'm up in the catwalk having instructions barked at me, knowing the 20- something juicers nearby are thinking, "Oh look they're breaking in another rookie."
All of this is magnified by the fact that I hate prep. I also hate wrap. It just seems endless and mind numbing. I'm grateful for the work, but I don't have to like it. The never ending search for a drill bit, or a 9/16ths driver, or waiting for the shipment of foam core to come in so you can finish whatever project you started yesterday and should have finished by now just wears me down. Knowing that sometime this week I will be involved in the skinning of 60 4x4 empty frames doesn't inspire me much. But I am learning a lot of things I had forgotten about the basics of grip stage rigging. I hadn't hung a chain motor in years, so it's good to get requainted with the proper way to do it from someone who knows their stuff. So riggers, I salute you and I can't wait until you show up as a dayplayer.


  1. Anonymous8:58 AM

    D, this is like table top for me. The longest day (or so it seemed) I ever did was shooting butter for a commercial here. Little tiny dolly moves with a butter knife attached to the rods, and right at the start a very long discussion about which shade of yellow the butter ought to be. It wound up being a 20-hour day, and caused me to appreciate what a good home ec does (if only we'D had one!). Truthfully 8 hours of table top seems like 20 most days. Give me rigging over that any day.

  2. I can't beat that, Wick.

  3. Anonymous12:28 AM

    This was a commercial that seemed fated to wind up that way. The exteriors were cows in a pasture in northern Germany (Ostfriesland - think North Dakota flat) at sunrise. We shot around June 21st, and were supposed to shoot a little crane jib up with a cow in frame and the sun on the horizon, looking one way at sunrise (about 5:00) and the other way at sunset (about 22:00 - remember this was around the longest day of the year, and we were way up north). The locations were 1 1/2 hours apart, which still makes no sense to me. Sunrise and sunset were foggy or cloudey all three days that we tried to get them. It was all pretty easy, just grinding hours and a lot of running around for no real good reason. THEN came the product shots.

  4. Anonymous11:42 PM

    Thanks for all of your time & work. eid ul fitr chand mubarak

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