Jun 2, 2008

The OT Dance

Call: 7:30A

You know it’s going to be a long shoot day when you show up and the director is changing the storyboard, the agency is re-writing the script, and the client can’t seem to make up their mind on anything. Time to start doing the overtime dance (yes, I actually have one), I dug in and was ready. I quickly cut and pasted out a new storyboard as the AD threw his shot list in the trash. The A.D. and I combined our thoughts and made a new shot list on the fly. I actually kind of like mornings like that. Wakes up your brain quicker than a double espresso shot!

After the A.D. and I scrambled to get us up and running, the pace came to a grinding halt as we began to slog our way through the shot list. The agency would say “Ok, move on,” but the client was unsure and would have to discuss each shot at length. Crew began to walk up to me late in the day with the “are we there yet?” look and I would give them the “second meal for sure” look in return.

At one point a muckety-muck client showed up late having missed the whole morning of filming and declared that everything we had done so far was wrong. This caused an immediate production shut down so we could figure out what her issue was. As it turned out she had been fed some misinformation from the agency and was suffering from premature flip-out. Everything was OK and the Earth started rotating again. What we had already filmed was good. We all breathed a sigh of relief then continued at our snail’s-pace.

Late in the day we had put our actress into a new wardrobe for a party scene. In a panic the client ran up to the director and said “I think we made a poor choice on dresses.” Everyone around camera held their breath. Too late in the evening to shop for new clothes, or change the set colors… The director paused and said, “Well, what do you find wrong about the dress?” The client came back with, “Well it doesn’t pop.” The director paused, adjusted the tap on the monitor, moved the actress closer to camera and the client was pleased.

As is the case from time to time I was right about second meal and beyond. We could have gone straight into the next day but thank God for our actress and the deal she cut with the agency. At 11:30pm we had four shots left to shoot and running at the current client pickiness/agency indecision multiplier it would have taken us at least another hour or more but...

At precisely 11:30 the agency producer came running onto set and started yelling at everyone. “I have to release our actress by midnight!” he yelled at the client. “ You need to pay attention and all I want to hear is yes, yes, yes!” he yelled at the production producer. “If you want to get everything on the storyboard you have to get it in one take I’ve told you a hundred times we need to cut her by midnight!” He yelled at the A.D. “ You don’t understand I have to cut her by midnight you have to cut scenes or shoot fast!” Needless to say, he changed the mood on stage from sloggy tiredness to a tense hurry up or he might explode and take us with him.

Official wrap: 11:59.


devonellington said...

Thank goodness he made them heel! Love that. And love the OT dance!

Michael Taylor said...

I never did the actual OT dance -- my reaction to impending overtime was slumped shoulders and the depressingly grim realization that my fate was in the hands of someone else. Still, a sixteen hour day at commercial rates means one fat paycheck indeed, but that doesn't mean much at the moment you're actually logging all that overtime.

After nearly twenty years doing commercials, I do miss the money of those sweet, rich days -- but I'm really glad I no longer have to put up with the infuriating idiocy of nervous, frightened, indecisve agency drones and their dumb-ass clients.

Now it's the idiocy of "network notes" from nervous, frightened, indecisive network suits desperately trying to cover their collective asses.

Same as it ever was...

Azurgrip said...

as I read this two of my favorite quotes came to mind:

1) "Not my schedule."

2) (as coined by a famous, now retired gaffer)

"Not my money, but it soon will be"