Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This Is What It's Come To......

What do a day and a music video have in common? Nothing unless a day is actually 25 hours long. That's right. I just worked a 25 hour day. On a music video. I don't even know where they show these things anymore. Music videos, long the punchline to any of several jokes concerning low rates and long hours, are now a valid employment option in today's uncertain Hollywood production climate. I actually had a valid excuse for doing it. The Key is a great guy and a great commercial Key Grip and is one of those rare people whom (who? whom? I don't know I've been up for 28 hours) I can always call when things are getting tight financially, and he will always have a job for me. It may not be a five-day commercial (although he's come through on quite a few of those too), but it will involve a valid, legal means of earning money. He got me through the writer's strike relatively unscathed. As a result, I don't mind coming out on the occasional crappy job to try and stay on his good side, and let him know that I'm in for the good as well as the occasionally horrible. I'll be honest here, I don't really need the money right now. Fill-in work has kept me pretty busy, taking over for the Dolly Grips I know who want to take days off and need someone they can trust to cover them. And I'm starting a feature in September. This one was a little different, though. Guys who usually do big features and would not normally take a music video were on this one. At about 2/3 their normal rate. And it was a Union job. Yes, you read that right. It went on for 25 hours, was Union, and the rates were not just a "little low," they were insulting. These guys needed the work. Production, of course, had no idea of the caliber of Grips they had, nor any idea of how much time and money they saved them over the course of this grueling slog. These guys worked just as hard on this piece of crap as they would have on the 100 million dollar features they often do. In fact, these producers (who, I'm sure if you asked them, would tell you that they identify themselves as "Liberal" and "for the rights of everyone to earn a fair wage") basically stuck it in and broke it off. Yes, I know, don't take the job if you don't like the terms, but 25 hours? This is what it's come to. Thanks, Governor Swarzeneggar, and thank you California Assembly for your aggressive moves to protect the industry for which this state is known throughout.... oh that's right, you didn't. One image comes to mind: A Jackass....playing a Fiddle....while Rome burns.

6 comments:

jazzence said...

Oooh that's rough. 25 hours. For a music video?! Shit. How many setups and locations? Either way it is a testament to your strong work ethic and professionalism -- too bad they pay you in peanuts.

Michael Taylor said...

Ouch. I've been there and done that, but it was a long time ago and an experience I'm not at all eager to repeat.

Look at it this way: you just paid your Karmic Industry Dues for the next year or two. We all have to make the occasional trip back to the Dark Side from whence we came to reboot our perspective. Glad you made it through unscathed, and with another excellent horror story to tell the grip crew on the next feature.

Danny Stephens said...

what was for 3rd meal????

BillLargin said...

I always knew you were the smart one...
What an great gift for words.

The Grip Works said...

Wow D !!
My sympathies. A 25 hour day doesn't feel so bad when you've spent the last 10 hours in triple time. But at 2/3rds your rate ? That really hurts.
The sad part is those producers will never know the quality of the crew they happened to get because times are hard.
Still, I feel very proud to see a crack Grip crew working on a shit job with the same profesionalism and dignity that the abusive producers just don't deserve. Sometimes its worth it, because the Key Grip really knows who's there when the chips are down, and it feels good to know that your boys will be there when you need them, not just when they need you.
To quote that terrible cliche - that which does not kill you ...

To all my grip brethren in America ... I have a very strong feeling that the situation you guys are going through is temporary. Stay strong. These things go through cycles.

- Sanjay Sami
www.thegripworks.com

GHB said...

those hours should flat out be illegal. it's unsafe in so many ways. but we've all done it and we will all probably do it again.

was it at least a good song?