Sep 19, 2010

AD For A Day

I have been answering a lot of questions in my posts lately and I'm sure those of you NOT scriptys that read my blog have yawned a bit. So I thought I'd tell you about a recent adventure of mine.

A couple months ago work had slowed down to a crawl! And I HATE not working. I get instantly bored and while I would have all the time in the world to create/build/research/ cure cancer, update my blog... do anything those work every day people would kill for time to do...I just can't seem to get off the couch!

But one day I did manage to get my butt off the couch long enough to wine about my lack of work to a favorite and long time client of mine "I'll do ANYTHING!" I said. So, what's a 16 year veteran scripty qualified to do on set? Not much I think...I'm expecting for him to come back to me and say, wanna do craft service?

He says he'll keep me in mind, then calls me a couple days later and says wanna be my AD?

Um, let's see I'm short (remember 5'4" in my red sneakers) I have a soft voice, I'm not a control freak...and I don't wear Hawaiian shirts. BUT I am desperate so I say Sure!

Scripty's and AD's often work in tandem making sure all shots are covered for the day. So I've got a pretty good idea in my mind what they do. BUT I had just never carried the role myself. My initial and biggest fear was dealing with the grip/electrics. As a scripty my only dealings with them are when they stop by my chair and ask how many shots left, or I have a flirt fest with the dolly grip.

But remember I'm desperate and really not afraid of making a fool of myself, and having been in film for so long, much of is is second nature to me anyway. I figure how bad could I screw up.

Pre-light. Pre-light had always been this mysterious part of any commercial to me as a scripty. I'm never there for pre-light, and I've always wondered what happened on that extra day. I walked onto the set and met the director/my friend/client and he greeted me with a warm hug. Ready? I said yes. As the boys started to load in I found them checking me out, not in a wow's she's hot sort of way, more of a quizzical, um, really is she the AD? Sort of way. The camera assistant is the first to approach me and he says "I'm gonna load all my stuff here can I put my laptop over there?" I said "sure" and my day begin. I just basically did some pre-pro work and watched the grips/electrics rig/light the set. Pretty boring if you ask me.

Day 1 interior stage: I learned a few things that day, I learned why AD's look at their watch every two minutes, I learned that when make-up/hair say 5 minutes it's really 10 (for this particular make-up hair team)I learned that the AD can add stress to the shoot, always having to tell the crew how fast we have to move. (in a nice way of course)and although I got a power thrill wrapping out actors, I felt like a con saying "everyone turn off their cell phones...etc." Haven't we all heard this before!

I "made" my first day! (meaning we got in all the shots in the time allotted) and I got to call "wrap!" Another huge perk of the AD job.

Day 2 Interior Stage: Feeling confident by acing through day 1 I had asked Makeup and hair to get their first actor on set by 8AM and they nodded and said yes no problem.. ....8:15 still not on set, 8:20...arrgh! (I'm now understanding why some AD's are perpetually crabby)... 8:25 Actors butt is on set! Finally we are starting a now over boarded day 25 minutes late, then... the camera falls apart. Some do hicky on the camera is refusing to work sending the AC into near melt down mode. Add a 30 minute delay for that. Then I can't believe the following happens, but we have to fire an actor! The details of the situation are hush hush but suffice to say, the director and I spent at least a half an hour outside discussing how to manage the firing! E gads. To keep us on schedule, that it was, we let the producer and D.P. just keep shooting and we'd check in as we spent around an hour give or take firing said actor. Then our still photographer came in and said to me, "should I be a dick, or do we want to work together nicely" I chose that I'd be a dick about that time!

We rallied at the end and finished our day with an hour overtime, not bad considering all the shit that happened!

Back for more Day 3 Exterior House. My first time directing trucks and production vehicles. As I was arriving at the location My key P.A. called in and said he'd be late. How late I asked "Oh, not more than an hour!" he says. Not more than an hour! I wonder what The Anonymous Production Assistant might say about that! But having our other PA be a no show I was in no position to fire him. This sent us into a small scramble since Art department was relying on the Key PA for set up, and our only other PA that had the decency to show up on time was arms deep in craft service. (yeah, crew coffee plays a higher role than set dressing) We had 5 kids and a dog and a jib!

Day 4 Exterior House: This morning craft service was late, what is with crew not showing up at call!!! Since our client was super picky about having food available first thing... once the crafty girl showed up we descended on her vehicle like a swarm of bees, set up breakfast in no time and as we were just opening the last box of donut holes, the client walked up. Sometimes I'm lucky!

This day was a three company move day. I had budgeted quite some time for the moves but the crew was FAST! We loaded out of the house in 1/2 hour causing myself and the producer to call the next location to tell them we were running ahead of schedule and could we arrive early. I was flying down the freeway following the grip truck talking on my cell (yes Oprah, hands free), I felt like a big wig! It was sort of a fun moment...and better to be ahead of schedule than behind!

Not all went as planned however, and that's just typical production..this day brought with us a sick grip from the heat, and new PA (to replace the no show from day 3) that liked to stand in doorways and chit chat, (P.S. please if you are a new PA NEVER stand in doorways, along thin hallways or in front of the coffee at craft service)

Oh, and if your wondering there was no script supervisor on set.

All in all pretty fun, very stressful and while it was interesting to know all the behind the scenes drama, having a dear friend be my director made it much more enjoyable. But I'd prefer to go back to scripting, haplessly unaware of any production drama, flirting with the grips and paying attention only to what happens ON screen!

No comments: