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My Worst Shoot So Far...


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I am just venting, I know some of your grizzled veterans have been through much worse.

 

So, this weekend I was asked, as a favor, to do two 6-hour days shooting a short film with child actors.

We are now into 2 10+ hour days, at night, outside, in Ohio in the October cold.

Set is a corn field far from any buildings or lights.

They brought in a generator to run the lights - the loudest generator I have ever heard.

All dialog recorded so far sounds like actors are in front of a gas powered lawn mower. And the MKH 416 did some amazing phasing as the generator came in and out of axis.

The camera crew was unfamiliar with their gear and took 4 hours to get set up.

The Arri lights kept blowing fuses and all the lights went down.

There were no work lights in the staging area - had to do all rigging and setup with a flashlight.

(By day two, I got them to setup an HMI for the crew)

The director was surprised when I didn't want to continue once it started raining.

And don't get me started about the inordinate amount of time doing setup and blocking between shots. I have never worked this slowly in my life.

It was so cold I had to keep wiping down my gear as rivers of condensation formed.

The AC, Gaffer and I spent a lot of time huddled in a van to get warm.

The child actors were troopers through all this. My hats off to them.

<rant off>

Share your horror stories to make me feel better!

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That's where you cut your losses and just walk off the job.  Why endanger your safety, sanity, gear etc. for incompetent folks that clearly don't care about you.  That union camera crew that walked off that dangerous, long hour, incompetent shoot in New Mexico were smart because look what happened just several hours later.  Any one of those folks that walked could have been in the line of fire had they stayed.

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On 10/24/2021 at 7:10 PM, codyman said:

That's where you cut your losses and just walk off the job.  Why endanger your safety, sanity, gear etc. for incompetent folks that clearly don't care about you.  That union camera crew that walked off that dangerous, long hour, incompetent shoot in New Mexico were smart because look what happened just several hours later.  Any one of those folks that walked could have been in the line of fire had they stayed.

Sorry for off-topic question, but what did happen? All I know is camera operator was killed by Alec Baldwin, sadly.

Does it have to do with the strike?

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2 hours ago, Spin360 said:

Sorry for off-topic question, but what did happen? All I know is camera operator was killed by Alec Baldwin, sadly.

Does it have to do with the strike?

There are a lot of news articles so you can easily find this information.

 

It had nothing to do with the strike, it was a low budget film who hired very inexperienced crew in very important positions. Crew was using prop guns for target shooting between setups, live ammunition was on set, a prop gun was given to an actor without any safety checks and called a "Cold Gun", unfortunately it still contained real ammunition. We know the rest.

Union camera members walked off the set that morning due to safety (and pay) concerns.

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No, it had nothing to do with union or non-union, but it did have to do with being a non-professional project.  Obviously.  And no offense to those professionals that might have been working on the picture.  I have found myself, as an experienced professional, on those sorts of jobs.

 

But being there always reaffirmed why (most) union jobs are an overall better experience.  There are rules that need to be followed.  Some one(s) from the crew is always paying attention that those rules are followed, and will make a (tiny, small, big, huge) stink if they are not.

 

From what I have read, it seems that Mr. Baldwin was the biggest slice of the budget pie.  And that's okay.  Non-union, low budget movies will get made.  It is how cast and crew that want to become professional learn their craft.  But if conditions are so bad that the few pros on the job walk off, that would be a good sign that things are not going well.  It might be a sign that, if a crew member chooses to stay, they might want to keep a weather eye out for dangerous conditions.

 

I am so sorry another movie-maker was killed due to the unprofessional choices of another crew member.  But what really makes me mad is that someone without the proper resources tried to make a movie on the backs (and lives and deaths) of the crew.

 

I hope the punishment is swift and career-killing.  These people and others like them should never be allowed another opportunity to make money at the expense of the crew.  They suck!

 

D.

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To the OP:  once again, no good deed goes unpunished.  Many of us have found that when you work for little or nothing the people you are working for end up not valuing your time very much.  Many newbie shoots devolve into a sort of inefficient party atmosphere, or like yours, get bogged down in a host of issues the filmmakers didn't know even existed.  You can teach them (if they will be taught) but not at the expense of your health, gear and extra time.  There are some jobs that are not worth doing, is the truth.

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On 10/24/2021 at 9:00 AM, Michael Render said:

So, this weekend I was asked, as a favor...

 

The road to hell(ish shoots) is paved with good intentions. 

 

Someone wise once told me that the worst gigs are the ones where the client is spending their own money. (As opposed to their company's, their funders/investors, etc). OK, that's not universally true, but it's served me well.

 

Hope your next shoot is cake...

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Uggh. You try to be a trooper and at some point, you have to say to yourself, 'what am I doing here'?

 

I try to evaluate who's running the show and if this is going to be a disaster or a worthy project. On one passion project the producer and I talked for 45 minutes. During that time, all he did was talk about himself and how great he was. He actually said he was the greatest producer in the world. He never once asked me anything about me or my experience. Nothing. Run Forrest. Run.

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20 minutes ago, Paul F said:

On one passion project the producer and I talked for 45 minutes. During that time, all he did was talk about himself and how great he was. He actually said he was the greatest producer in the world. He never once asked me anything about me or my experience. Nothing. Run Forrest. Run.

Ah yes, abovethelineidus.  Symptoms may include Instagram posts of a timecode slate and/or director's chair with an ambiguous wall of text trying to make the production seem bigger than it really is despite the "come having had breakfast" on the call sheet and the subway sandwich for lunch for the crew.

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