Friday, April 22, 2011

Burnout

  Happy Easter! I hope those of you getting a day off enjoy it. I am taking Monday off also due to the fact that I can't bear the thought of going back after only three days off. I have reached the point of burnout. Five months of day in and out tv scheduling have taken their toll and I find myself caring less and less every day about the work or who does it. To help demonstrate how I reached this point, the following is a simple breakdown of a typical week on my show:

Monday- 7 AM call. Arrive at stage and the riggers have graciously unloaded the truck and moved it to the stage. They didn't have a chance to get to the dance floor cart, though. I can't remember where we used it last (We have a stage package that floats around to the six stages we occupy, and a truck package, a huge custom made beast that stays loaded on the truck for locations). Ok, we finished on stage one last week, all the way across the lot. The B camera Dolly Grip and I trudge across the lot and wheel it back to stage three. Get marks, Set up. A standard twelve hour day on stage follows.

Tuesday- More of the same except we moved all our stuff at wrap so it's already waiting for us on stage two, where we're working. We have a middle of the day move scheduled to stage four for three scenes. We make it at 3:00. After a 14 hour day, we wrap. Riggers will move us tomorrow morning.

Wednesday- Today is a double-up day. We have two full units shooting. My B-camera Dolly Grip will take A- camera on the other unit. Due to a call sheet mixup, my dollies and equipment have been moved to the wrong stage. The double-up unit dollies are outside the truck because the riggers didn't have time to get to them. I show up at the wrong stage, 20 minutes late due to the call sheet mixup (which happens on every double up day. The problem is, that I go to whatever unit my camera operator is on. He goes to whatever unit number one on the call sheet is on, unless there's Steadicam on the other unit. It gets a little silly and. sometimes whoever does the call sheet can't quite figure it out. Hilarity ensues). I spend a good twenty minutes figuring out where I'm going, and where my stuff is. I locate my fill-in B camera Dolly Grip who was also on the wrong call sheet. We push our stuff across the lot to the right stage. Get marks, set up, Shoot. After a 13 hour day, wrap. Tomorrow is a split, so we have a 2PM call and a long turnaround. I try to stay up as long as I can so that I'm not up at 8AM and asleep at midnight the next night.

Thursday- Shooting at a large ranch out towards Malibu where we have most of our standing exterior sets built. Arrive at 1:30PM, grab a burrito and load a stakebed. We are actually shooting in a cemetary we have built about 1/4 of a mile back in the woods. We'll need luma beams. Load, move, get marks, lay track, shoot. Cut, check gate, move on, tear down, get marks, lay track, etc etc ad infinitum. Move to ext. house. Load stakebed, move , get marks, lay track blah blah blah. After a 14 hour day we wrap. Tomorrow is a straight night. We have a 5PM call even though it doesn't get dark until almost 7.

Friday- We have a Moviebird tonight. Unload stakebed, find crane tech and say hi. Move equipment to forest clearing. Get marks, place crane, do shot. Move crane. Get marks blah blah ad nauseum. Crane is done. We now move to exterior house. This house is on a hill and trucks park at the bottom of it. We push dollies up hill and ramp up stairs onto porch. Watch rehearsal, get marks. This will take a floor. Lay floor, do shot etc. Turn around. Re- lay floor, do shot etc. We finish on an interior of the house. This particular house has about a four inch dropoff from one side of the living room to the other. We're going to need bucks. The Key Grip sends a couple of guys to the truck for some aluminum bucks. Meanwhile, I watch rehearsal, get marks, bring in dance floor and bucks. Lay floor, rehearse, shoot, tighter, check gate. Turnaround and re-lay floor on other side. Marks, shoot, tear down. We need an insert of a cellphone. B Camera is wrapped. Go get camera riser, do insert. Wrap to stakebed and then to 48 footer. The sky is turning blue so at least we won't wrap in the dark. It's 7AM when I get in my car. We have a 6AM call on Monday and we'll start over again with a new director and a fresh DP and AD crew.

 You can see my point.  I have unfortunately reached the point where I have a hard time showing interest and I'm starting to let little things go. I don't like working that way. So, four days off instead of three isn't really a cure, but it may bring me back around enough to carry me another couple of months. I hope the rest of you doing television have a chance for a little breather as well.
 Stay safe, D

**For those of you wanting more, Michael over at Blood, Sweat, and Tedium has a nice addendum to this post. Check it out.**

Mon, April 25-BTW, I just called the Best Boy and told him I would like to take tomorrow off as well. He said, "Awesome."

10 comments:

Michael Taylor said...

Oh man, that's one brutal schedule. It's dangerous, too -- reaching the point where you let the little things go means you've entered a vulnerable period at work, and on the road before and after. You're smart to take some time off now -- I just wish you could have a week or two away from the grind to really rest up.

Hang tough, buddy. This too shall pass...

Emilio Mejia said...

So, do they switch out AD crews but not the rest of the crew? That sucks that you have to work so much without much rest. Hope you come out okay on the other side.

Also, I was able to follow along pretty well on the whole post except for a few things. What are stakebeds? What are bucks?

D said...

Thanks Michael
Emilio- Stakebeds are simply trucks with a 12' flatbed. The bed is enclosed with "stakes" or panels about 3' high by 4' long that are removable. We load a package on a stakebed when the 48' truck can't get close enough.
"Bucks" are aluminum frames that act as a sub structure under the plywood dance floor when you have to build a floor on uneven ground. They bolt together quickly and allow you to build a floor for exteriors etc.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Ridiculous schedule. Bad producers.

D said...

Emilio- I forgot to make clear. We shoot 12 day episodes. The ad's and dp's rotate every episode so they come in fresh and we just come in.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see a production manager cost out a 4 day week.
A 5 month series would turn into just over a 6 month run.
I am about to embark on a series for thr next 5 months and i am dreading it.
Rigging is starting to look really good.
only 5 days till fraturday!

Anonymous said...

your show sounds very familiar. if it's the one i'm thinking of, it's sad to see they haven't changed a thing. it wasn't uncommon to work a 15hr day on monday, pretty much burning out the crew well before friday rolled around. most weeks ended at 7am sat. that 14hr deal is a crew killer. hang in there...or not.

Azurgrip said...

http://digitalcontentproducer.com/mil/features/video_eight_hours_hollywood/index.html

Azurgrip said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Azurgrip said...

I don't feel bad now at all about my last posting on the website. I too am feeling run down on my show.

As the days go longer and longer, I find myself singing out loud myself The Foo Fighter's "My Hero", but where the original lyric are "There goes my hero, watch him as he goes..." or something to that effect, I substitute in: "There goes my weekend, watch it as it goes...". The 1st AD loves it...