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Man Headbutts PA On Set Of Premium Rush


Jan McL
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http://gothamist.com/2010/08/08/man_headbutts_pa_on_set_of_premium.php

From the article:

"One Upper West Side man had the courage to do what every New Yorker  diverted from his or her normal walk home by a film crew has wanted to  do, and headbutted a production assistant working on the Joseph Gordon-Levitt flim Premium Rush (which has already taken its toll on the young actor)."

Lots of discussion over @ Facebook among the PA's I know, as you might imagine.

Spend a lot of time doing PR for locations department (courtesy Comteks & access to monitors), and interfacing with the locals with offers of a sandwich, coffee, or snack. In my heart, I feel it's part of my job, if not my job as sound mixer, then as a human being in the film biz.

It's important to me that locals are not unhappy having us around. Am fastidious about not leaving trash around the cart, whether on stage or location.

How do you deal with the public?

-- Jan

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PAs are not trained properly to deal with the public.  This one likely was forceful, and presented themselves with too much authority, which they don't have.  Usually they just put up a hand, or spin it in the air (rolling) as if the general public even knows what that means.  What they often fail to realize is that we are invading the public's neighborhood, and it's quite an inconvenience.  All we can do is ask someone to not go through.  But if they're going to go, then there's no stopping them.  PAs are not police.

As mixers, we are often on the edge of the set, and therefore deal with the public quite regularly.  I try to treat everyone with the utmost respect, apologizing for inconveniencing their routine.  If they want to walk through, and I'm not in the middle of a critical mix, I'll gently tell them we're in the middle of a take or a rehearsal, and it'll be over in just a minute if they wouldn't mind waiting.  I try to help the younger PAs to learn this more delicate technique.

But some people are just assholes, so all you can do is let them go.  To these people I say, "Do you watch TV or go to the movies?  Well, we have to make them somewhere, and it could be in China instead of here where we create jobs and contribute to the local economy."

There's a great section in Jerry Zeismer's amazing book (a must read for anyone in this business) about dealing the public.

Robert

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PA's can only request, politely, certainly no contact.  This is really tough in an urban setting, esp after everyone is tired.  Some directors (and ADs) have unrealistic expectations about how "locked up" their lockup can be.  A member of the public that is disruptive should be referred to a policeman--ESPECIALLY if they are someone who lives or has a business nearby.  Also, the locations people need to not hide (or leave) while shooting is going on--they are the only ones who have had contact with the locals, and sometimes need to politely remind them of what they agreed to.  One of my favorite peeves is when crew and PAs are asked to come do a shoot in a location with all the gear and people expected of a big production, and then the producer and director get pissy about how much stuff has been brought in.  That may be for show, but it still gravels when it is done in public.  These issues have lead to even well-funded projects trying to "steal" locations, shoot w/ small crew etc..  This works out only if the director and DP understand that they will have to accept compromises if we work that way, and go with what the location presents to them.  I've had a number of these lightweight-style shoots blowup because the director would not compromise, and then the crew is caught in a nasty cross-fire.

phil p

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One Upper West Side man had the courage to do what every New Yorker  diverted from his or her normal walk home by a film crew has wanted to  do

However, Flynn's wife said the PA pushed her husband first, and even if he hadn't Flynn's rage was totally justified.

Holy crap.  Remind me never to work in NYC.  Talk about a hostile environment.  Courage?  Justified?  In what world is it not only okay, but applauded, for a man to break someone's nose because he was asked to wait three minutes before crossing a street?

Yes, it's annoying when things get in the way of your day-to-day routine, but it's no excuse to assault someone.  Just ignore the guy and keep walking.  Christ.

I agree that PAs can be a little power-trippy sometimes and maybe the wife was telling the truth when she said her husband was pushed, in which case the headbutt may well have been justified... but I'm still kind of disgusted at her reaction and that of the author.

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Here's another article about the incident from the NY Daily News:

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/08/08/2010-08-08_filming_for_joseph_gordonlevitt_movie_premium_rush_causes_maximum_disruption_on_.html

It's my understanding that the elderly woman shown was later helped onto the bus by the pictured PA. The photo above makes it look like the PA is telling the woman where to go, but in fact the PA's gesture has nothing to do with the woman.

-- Jan

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Suspect lots of folks will get their bums bitten one way or another in the next months while working in Manhattan. Oh boy.

Word is -- from a person who witnesses the event -- that the guy had parked his car on a set where they were shooting car stunts and was giving the PA a hard time about having to move his car. Things escalated from there.

-- Jan

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What's strange is that if this were construction, or moving of a mobile home, or transportation of a giant tree, etc., people would be annoyed by the inconvenience, but would go on there way with very little fuss.

Why is our work so much more of an invasion.  Is it because we're all a bunch of rich, industry elite assholes?  Frankly, we're all just a bunch of middle class factory workers making a product for people to consume.

Robert

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My favourite pissing-off-the-locals-locations story: My town (Ottawa) has a lot of embassies. Out-of-town production company shooting in downtown neighbourhood. Locations manager asks Malaysian embassy if he can plug in to AC in their parking lot so he can power up heater in parked camera truck. They say no. Later that evening he jumps the fence and plugs in anyway. CUT TO:

next morning. Producer (not amused) gets a visit from The Mounties. Seems it's a federal offence to trespass on Embassy property. Much ass kissing ensues. Hapless underling blamed. International incident avoided.

side note: by sheer coincidence I'm wearing a souvenir-of-Malaysia t-shirt (gift from friend). Locations manager convinced to this day I'm making fun of him. Oh well.

Chris Newton 

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My favourite pissing-off-the-locals-locations story: My town (Ottawa) has a lot of embassies. Out-of-town production company shooting in downtown neighbourhood. Locations manager asks Malaysian embassy if he can plug in to AC in their parking lot so he can power up heater in parked camera truck. They say no. Later that evening he jumps the fence and plugs in anyway. CUT TO:

next morning. Producer (not amused) gets a visit from The Mounties. Seems it's a federal offence to trespass on Embassy property. Much ass kissing ensues. Hapless underling blamed. International incident avoided.

side note: by sheer coincidence I'm wearing a souvenir-of-Malaysia t-shirt (gift from friend). Locations manager convinced to this day I'm making fun of him. Oh well.

Chris Newton

Should have been arrested.  It's stuff like this which makes people hate film companies.  If you ask, and you are told "no" then respect the answer.  Had he not heard of a Honda 2000 generator to power the heater?  Bad planning.

Although not the case with a fenced-in piece of sovereign territory... If expecting the answer "no", do it before asking - sometimes it's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

Robert

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My favourite pissing-off-the-locals-locations story: My town (Ottawa) has a lot of embassies. Out-of-town production company shooting in downtown neighbourhood. Locations manager asks Malaysian embassy if he can plug in to AC in their parking lot so he can power up heater in parked camera truck. They say no. Later that evening he jumps the fence and plugs in anyway. CUT TO:

next morning. Producer (not amused) gets a visit from The Mounties. Seems it's a federal offence to trespass on Embassy property. Much ass kissing ensues. Hapless underling blamed. International incident avoided.

side note: by sheer coincidence I'm wearing a souvenir-of-Malaysia t-shirt (gift from friend). Locations manager convinced to this day I'm making fun of him. Oh well.

Chris Newton

Well, yes it is a Federal offense, because it is an invasion of sovereign territory, as in entering another country illegally.  That embassy is considered a piece of Malaysia.  That location guy was stupid.

phil p

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