** This is a re-post from last year..(including the first three comments) I plan to post this every year to remember Brent**
I was recently given a link to Haskell Wexler's site on Who Needs Sleep.
And I remembered...
Several years ago I was very fortunate to work a movie with Brent Hershman. Brent was an incredibly funny and very nice camera assistant. I was a bit green at the time, but Brent really made me feel at home on the set. The kind of person a "newbie" never forgets. A few short years after that job, Brent was working on another feature. After a 19-hour day of filming, Brent jumped in his car and headed home. He had promised his daughter he would be there the next day. Tragically, he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a telephone pole. It’s still surreal to think about such a senseless loss.
After Brent’s death there was a movement in the film community for “Brent’s Rule” where production would have a limit on how many hours they could work a crew. Sadly that movement has been slow going.
We often pull long days working in film. Pretty typical of the job actually, and everyone accepts it as part working in the film industry. But at what cost? Does it really save the production money paying overtime and exhausting the crew instead of filming at that location for another day? Some production bean counter will have to explain that to me. And then factor in the cost of losing someone like Brent. How much is a life worth?
There is hope... during my last movie, we had already done 16 hours in a smoky bar. The next scene scheduled for our day was an exterior of an actor leaving the bar. This would have required a company move outside, time to film it, and then time to wrap, clearly putting us well over the 20-hour mark. The gaffer on that job asked me if I felt we needed to get that exterior shot. I indicated to him that those additional shots could easily be covered with a 2nd unit on another day. So, when the A.D. asked gaffer and key grip if the union would be OK to continue the shoot day, the gaffer said NO, the crew was done. So we wrapped and went home. I was happy that the gaffer stood his ground and put his crew first... and most importantly production listened to him.
There are also several famous directors and producers that run such an efficient schedule they rarely put in long days. (I have yet to work with those guys...but knowing they are out there is a good thing!)
So, to those of you reading this, do me a favor. Whether you work in the film industry or not, remember if you are leaving a job exhausted…grab a caffeinated beverage, run cool air in the car, roll the window down and blast the radio.
Better yet, book a hotel.
Doctors say losing sleep can have the same effect on response time and driving skills as someone driving under the influence of alcohol. Take precautions. I want you to be around to comment on my next post!
"The Longest Day" an article about Brent in Time Magazine
Video from Haskell Wexler Who Needs Sleep: