May 13, 2008

Set Crush

Picture this scenario: you’ve been working a 15-plus hour day, your hair is totally messed up from wearing “cans”, your make-up has been non-existent since lunch, and your eyes are blood-shot from staring at the monitor without blinking…You wouldn’t go out to get the mail looking like this…. but for some reason there’s a grip looking at you like you’re Jessica Alba. Then you look at him, he looks like he’s been working on a ditch digging crew, and has breath that would peel wallpaper. You watch him set up that courtesy flag for you, and you blush. Really, how could a bunch of stinky, sweaty, exhausted people be that attractive to each other? Yet, it happens on every film.

For many years, this bizarre mating ritual eluded me, possibly due to the fact that for all those years I was all about proving myself. I wanted people to know that I knew my job, and I rarely if ever allowed myself any time to talk and joke around with crew. I was completely focused.

Then as my confidence grew, my ability to simultaneously pay attention and goof off got better. Soon I was talking smack with the camera guys, joking around with the grips…and I began to watch how the other women on set behaved…flirtatious, fun. I realized more was happening than what I had seen before…

I began to notice married men cheating on their wives, married women cheating on their husbands, and otherwise normal, sane individuals flirting and acting like they were still in high school.

But the thing I find most amusing about this whole phenomenon is that these set crushes come when we are looking our worst. OK, I can’t generalize the whole crew, sure there are those that still somehow are able to keep themselves together…but for the vast majority of us after a week of 15 hour days…I’m happy to get to set on time and awake for the day. It might look like I got dressed in the dark (and maybe I did), but I made it and I’m ready for work.

Of course me being a smarty pants on set, I figured I’d be the last person on set the crew would find attractive, since the make-up and wardrobe chicks always looked more pulled together…but in the closing time at the bar mode…I too seemed to be “good enough” for a “how you doin?” line. Even with my dressed-in-the-dark look.

Something about being in a dark studio, or on location, pulling long days in the trenches, or surviving an evil director can cause even the most faithful of people to begin to stray…to start down the path…and then find themselves making that decision to turn and run, or take the chance. My advice? Turn and run. If you still like each other after you snap back into the florescent lights of reality six months later…then maybe you should start that relationship. If not you made the right choice.

13 comments:

Devon Ellington said...

I totally agree. If the magic dust remains after the shoot is over, then it's real. Otherwise, it's all part of the illusion you create together.

Remember, we wardrobe chicks have time in the trailer to freshed up between set-ups! We come in looking just as bad as everybody else, but we have the resources to work on it during the day! ;)

Emon said...

"breath that would peel wallpaper" Something so Michel Gondry about that line. :)

Michael Taylor said...

Every shoot creates its own little self-contained world -- a parallel universe free from boring domestic obligations, but laden with all the temptations of the real world. Inside that cozy cocoon, it's easy to forget that the rules still apply, and that actions have consequences.

The "set crush" can be a nice way to connect with someone and ease the grinding tedium of the work we all do. But you have to keep it fun, in context, and very low key. Otherwise it can turn into a minefield, where that one step too far brings disaster.

RJ said...

Working on a film is like being on a ship at sea. Sure you go home, but most of the time you go home and collapse into bed only to wake up far too soon and drag your ass out of bed. You LIVE with those people for months - they are your only world. Forming relationships is inevitable. Heck, I know a lot of guys and girls who drop out of it when they start families for that very reason. It's very hard on the one's who try to stay in and have families, especially if you're on location a lot. I have a lot of friends who have been divorced more than once.

That being said, in my single days - especially as a 2nd AC - I had a lot of fun flirting with script supervisors.

Scripty said...

Devon: I'm jealous of you chicks! I don't have much time between set-ups, nor the resources... Sometimes a nice hair gal will come over and fix my hair mid day...it's much appreciated

Emon: A crew guy said that line on a job recently, I liked it and I used it in the post...made me laugh.

Michael: You are right, keeping the crush low-key is the way to go.

RJ: Ah yes, Script Supervisors and camera boys...Very true! I to have to admit I have had some flirty days with my favorite AC's

RJ said...

I must say, I have some warm and fuzzy memories.

KLiedle said...

I loved this post! It perfectly captured what I've witnessed [and experienced] myself. Well done-- I always enjoy your posts!!!

KL

Scripty said...

KL: Ahhh Thanks! You are too kind!

Anonymous said...

what a wonderful post!!!...exactly what i'm experiencing right now...with a grip. we're trying to get onto another show together so we can work another month side by side (kind of). we are both already in relationships but the chemistry got the best of us. i am ashamed but i don't regret it...thank you for sharing your thoughts on this, i feel a kindred spirit :)

Scripty said...

Anonymous: Thanks for the nice comment. I hope everything works out with you and your cute grip!

Aparna said...

Set friendships/ crushes/ relationships work exactly like those things did in high school. I think I had a major paradigm shift when this was pointed out to me. Then I got all insecure again because I realised that I was reliving my high school role of the smart girl who always has her nose in a book and knows all the answers.

Having said that, I decided when I started working that I'd never date anyone in the film/ TV industry - too much drama, too small an industry and too much trouble for something that more often than not will fizzle out in a couple of months.

Still, set crushes are fun. Just like in high school, it kind of gives you an extra reason to get up and go to work in the morning. And maybe even turn the lights on when you dress.

Scripty said...

Aparna- So true, and as an added bonus, (aside from not dressing in the dark) it makes me sit straighter, I really want to hunch over my book, but if I can feel someones eyes on me, I make sure to sit straight!

Aparna said...

LOL! Yeah, and maybe do the hair twirly thing. :)