This isn't my waist size, or the distance to the craft service table. It's an example of the dimensions of every room in the set I've been working on. Here's another one: 13'. In actuality, when combined with the title of this post, it's the dimension of one of the main rooms in the set I'm working on. 11'9"x13'. It's a dining room set. The double door leading into it? A little over 9'. Hallways? Something like 5'2". It's maddening. Nothing in this set, a whole house interior, is divisible by 2. Why is this a problem? Well, for the dining room, I know at some point there is going to be a shot circling the dining room table. It always happens. This means I have to lay the entire room. This in turn means that I now have to make custom cuts to fill a room that's 11'9"x 13'. It's maddening, needless work. In 100 years of set building, the word hasn't reached the set designers of the world to make sets divisible by two.
This is a common problem. Years ago I was doing a tv series. The doors to the sets were a non-standard size. The dollies didn't fit through them. So every morning or every set change, a wall had to be removed just to get the dollies into the set. When confronted with this dilemma, the set designer's response was that he wasn't going to change the look of his sets just so we could get the dollies into them. This half-wit cost us an hour a day for a couple of inches. I finally had drinks with the draftsman and she laughed and said she would take care of it. Problem solved.
One more story. Years later I was doing a big Tom Cruise movie. The key grip, DP and I went in to look at the sets in preproduction. In the main office set, a room we would be in for weeks, there was a 2" thick rug covering a third of the room with a 1200 lb desk on it. I pointed out to the DP that this might be a problem and he immediately agreed and had the desk moved and the rug taken out. The rug was then painted on the floor. You can't tell the difference! Rugs are the bane of the dolly grip's existence. You may see a piece of them in the master and then never again. They result in extra work for the set dressers or endless building up to match the height for dance floor for me. Every time I walk in a set and see a rug with furniture on it I groan because I know it's likely to never be seen yet cause endless problems. Nobody sees rugs! Stop putting them in sets! Make thresholds easily removable! Now please, don't misunderstand me. I've worked with some of the most talented set designers and art departments in the world. Some truly astounding, jaw dropping sets. But help me help you.
Anyway, that's my rant for this week and a love letter to the set designers and art directors of the world. If you have a gorgeous set but it's impractical to shoot in, you've failed! Rant over