The idea for this post actually came from something that happened this week. We were shooting in a nice neighborhood in the heart of downtown. Our trucks were about a half a block away and I was pushing the Peewee to set. I reached the parking lot of the location and noticed one of our guys talking to a neighbor and apologizing to him for the locations guy. "What's going on?" I asked. "Well," he said," the juicers put all the gas bottles for the balloon (the lighting balloon for a night ex later) in front of his house and he's worried that his kids might knock them over and get hurt. We called the location guy over to deal with it and he says he's busy directing traffic and doesn't have time." I shook my head and trundled on to the staging area. On my way back, I noticed the neighbor still standing in the parking lot. "Did someone help you sir?" I asked. "No," he answered. "We weren't notified of anything and no one has been over to talk to me about this yet." I looked around and saw the Locations Assistant (about twenty-five years old) standing in the road waiting for a car to come by so he could wave it through. I saw the Location Manager on the phone laughing like an idiot about something while this guy fumed. " I also saw a row of about twelve huge gas bottles still lined up like soldiers in front of his house, just waiting to be knocked over like bowling pins by his five-year-old. "I apologize, sir," I said. "We are guests in your neighborhood and someone should be here to deal with this. I'll see if I can find someone to help you." Seeing that the crack locations team was still busy doing nothing, I went to the Second AD and brought it to her attention and she handled it. The guy later came up and thanked the other grip and myself for helping him out.
In our business we are always in someone else's space (unless we're on stage). It's easy to forget that we don't actually "own" the location. We are guests and it's important to act like it. I could easily envision this guy calling his father-in-law, the state senator, and giving him an earful, and then the next day's cover story in the local paper, Film Crews Have No Respect For Our City. It wasn't really my place to deal with this guy. I could have easily shrugged and gone on about my business, but this is my town, and it's my responsibility, as it is everyone's, to make the experience of having a film crew in your neighborhood as painless as possible. The excitement of it lasts a while, but can quickly fade at two in the morning when condors are cranking up and grips and electrics are clanking around with equipment and shouting into radios. I'm as guilty as anyone of being disrespectful from time to time. In the heat of battle things happen, but we have to always remember that we are guests. As dolly grips, this can translate into cleaning your wheels before you go into a location, or even putting on the soft tires to help protect the floors. Put your parts down on a mat and lean dance floor on a wall only after you have protected it with a furni pad. I've actually taken over for dolly grips who were fired for not respecting the location. Yes, it's often a pain in the ass, but go the extra mile and people will notice.
I now step down from my soapbox. The Captain is calling.