Feb 18, 2009

Can I Get An Oil Change With My Sandwich

I didn't write a blog post last week because I knew I would be working with one of my favorite idiot screaming directors. No not Mr. Evil. Just a director that falls into the screamer category and who's generally harmless. I figured I'd come home with several blog posts from the job....

Day 1 Interior shot lots of extras, confusion, tension, trying to get the first shot of the day in the can. Just as we're getting ready to roll a newbie producer runs up to the monitor and points out several spots on the screen. "Look at that!, What is that?" Now, being the old scripty that I am, I know that the spots she's referring to are on the ground glass (of the camera) but it's not my place to correct her. I just looked to the director as did she. I had my pen in hand ready to chronicle his first rant. He paused for a long time (possibly doing his anger management 10-count), then respectfully said. "It's just on the ground glass nothing to worry about." Crap!!!! And this un-blogworthy behavior continued for the rest of the job. He was polite, funny and at one point during down time he even asked me how things were going. We enjoyed a nice conversation (the nerve). There may have been some accidental bonding. Dang.

But fear not gentle reader, I can always find something about which I can rant. For example, our eating location. For those civilians out there, many film jobs are shot on location, and thus we break for lunch at said location. During my tour of duty I have dined in more garages than I care to admit. I have had lunch in a strip club, a bar, an animal shelter, a homeless shelter, a vacated senior home, and a former hospital...but none faded my appetite more than this location did.

Lunch was being made and served in a small-engine workshop. If it wasn't unappetizing enough knowing that the meal was to be served in this petroleum and carcinogen-laden hole, but it also was being cooked there. I watched the craft service girl/catering cook clear her work station of old greasy carburetors and fan belts before setting down the cook stove. Attempting to give common sense a nudge I meekly asked, "Isn't the oil smell bothering you?" She fanned the air towards her face and took a deep sniff, "Oh, I love this place, the smell, the parts, this is awesome!" For you maybe. My eyes began to burn from the wood stove/benzine smell and I wandered outside shaking my head, not only to clear away the haze that was forming around my peripheral vision, but also pondering why in the world someone would think this was an OK place to have lunch. One of the grips saw me and asked what was wrong. I declared my reluctance to eat in Gasoline Alley and he said, "Yeah, they probably could have found a better place." Then he shrugged and said, "Oh, well."

As lunch neared the camera assistant commented on his disgust of the dining locale as well, and I smiled at him. I had found a brother in arms. We decided to forgo the Wing Nut Primavera instead opting for six bags of chips and a couple of snack bars. We enjoyed our "lunch" sitting on the tailgate of the truck, not sure if our choice was healthier, but we both felt safer having inhaled less benzine than the rest of the crew.

Care to share your most interesting lunch location?


Jeremiah Daws said...

Great post. When I directed my first (and so far only) indie feature a couple of years back, we ate lunch outside our location. We were filming the big climax of the movie. The location was an out of use chicken house. The smell, the bugs, the whole experience was GROSS. I felt bad asking the crew to even go in there. The 1st AC was puking his guts out between takes because of the smell. Sadly, since it was indie, it hasn't made any money... yet. So the cast and crew endured all of that for little or no pay. God bless 'em.

Nathan said...


I can't tell you the foulest place I've had to eat catered lunch because then you'd know I was the jerk who arranged it. I will say that I once had a SAG rep come up to me and complain about the holding area. (It really wasn't bad, just sort of bare bones.) I looked at her and said, "I've held extras in much shittier places than this!"

And Jeremiah,

I have to look and see if I ever blogged about shooting in an active live poultry store. If I didn't, I will, but...Arghhhhhh. (Hey, I didn't write the script, I just found the sluglines.)

editorJH said...

Hello! I've been checking out your blog for the past few weeks or so to help me prepare for my first time as a script sup. Thanx for the great insight!

The project I'm working on is a graduate thesis film and we started shooting yesterday in an old slaughterhouse. Our lunchroom/costume department/grip and gaffer storage area/etc. is a rather dark creepy, dirty cement-walled room. Eating there is not a problem, but it is a very unique location.

Evie925 said...

How about bad timing? The crew was enjoying lunch in the shade of pop-ups when the dump company showed up to pump the 'dirty water' from the trailers. With the trailers parked about 10 feet away from lunch tables and the heat of the day...needless to say the stench was unbearable. We all sat there in disbelief then one by one threw out our barely-touched lunches.

Brennan said...

On a student film for a friend, we were shooting at an abandoned armory in New Jersey. It had the feel of a huge gymnasium. It had no active power, no running water, huge holes in the floor and the roof, and was infested with pigeons. Every inch of the floor was caked in so much pigeon poop that an extremely loud crunch accompanied each step. Spending the day there was positively disgusting and even worse was eating a meal in there! I believe that a small bottle of hand sanitizer was provided but that it ran out before the whole crew could use any. Gross.

Scripty said...

Thanks for the location stories gang!

And Nathan, I forget that yes, you would be the jerk who arranged it! LOL!

That said, I have experienced wonderful lunch locations too. The kind that make the crew look out of place. One that comes to mind had white table cloths and wait staff. I found it funny to look at a sweaty crew sit down with fine dining! And I could make a joke about certain departments not knowing the order in which to use the utensils....but I wont.

Aparna said...

I think my worst has to be a running lunch at a dry dock a couple of years ago. Quite apart from the overwhelming stench of rotting fish/ seafood, the floor of the dry dock was squirming with maggots. We were working continuous days, so we had to have running lunches. Put me off boats for life. *yech*

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