day twelve and/or day thirteen
(Snug Harbor, Staten Island)
I was tasked with picking up the new pass van after the one parked overnight in Robin’s neighborhood with the lock that hung like an eyeball from its socket was burglarized, and the printer stolen. It was the first day of autumn and such a beautiful morning that I wished the clerk at Edge Auto Rental a very cheerful “Happy First Day of Autumn!” completely out of character.
The clerk called on walkie for a van and then I said goodbye to him, got inside the van, turned on the radio and put the car in drive. Before I took my foot off the brake the clerk knocked at my window. He requested my license and apologized for forgetting to photocopy it. Not until I opened my wallet did I remember that my license was stolen.
It was my turn to apologize. I explained my unfortunate situation and asked the clerk if my license was already on file, since I’d driven their trucks before, but the clerk said it wasn’t. We stared at each other. Then he said with some reluctance, “It’s Ok. You can go.” I asked him if he was sure it was ok just to be nice. He said, “Yeah, it’s Ok.” I said thank you very much and drove away.
I reached Union Square at daybreak with fifteen minutes to spare. Naturally, the extras arrived before the crew, and piled into Mattley’s van, which arrived before mine.
Cornelia asked me if I wanted a coffee from DD and I said yes please thank you with exuberance to match the sweetness of her offer. She returned with a much bigger iced coffee than I would normally order for myself, which made it extra special. I sucked it down and became very high.
Together, Jenny and I made sure all the extras were in Mattley’s van. Instead of calling out the names from the list Chris emailed me, Jenny individually asked each extra their name. I couldn’t cross their name from my iPhone list as I read them, so by the time we reached the last person in the van we’d forgotten all of their names. Each extra greeted us with a distinct, desperate routine of ebullience, hiding a subconscious dejection. They probably thought Jenny and I had the power to get them gigs. My sadness was revisited when we backtracked through the list to locate the missing extra. This time they pleaded with us to remember them with straining smiles: “No! I’m Edwin! Don’t you remember?”
My joke delivery was given a significant spike thanks to the coffee, since Jenny and Julia and Cornelia laughed for most of our trip, as the crew lay unconscious. I felt like I had done my duty for the day and should be allowed to go home.
I expressed faux enthusiasm for Saturday’s Fence Expo as we pulled into Snug Harbor. As always, the more I faked the enthusiasm the realer it became.
I drank more coffee and ate my daily quota of two succulent breakfast sausages, then walked over to set.
The Lady With The Romance Novel was stationed in the lobby of the music hall. Her job was to oversee our production, and ensure the safety of the side door’s antique wooden frame. She knew the convenient ramp would tempt us to load in through the side door, and warned me against doing it because “productions always scratch it.”
The walkies were plugged into the wall in the foyer, but they were not charging, so I asked The Lady With The Romance Novel for advice and she said there was no power in the outlets in the foyer, and to check downstairs.
(I fell down these same stairs in a shroud of darkness during the first minutes of the location scout while in search of a toilet.)
There was plenty of power in the outlet beneath the sink in the men’s bathroom, which I designated as Camp Walkie, with a mental smirk.
Cecily said she was very sorry to hear I was robbed at gunpoint and she gave me a hug and I felt better.
As I moved tables Jenny laughed at me and said that she laughs whenever she looks at me. (Women feel a latent, yet strong physical connection between laugh and orgasm.)
I was asked for a favor every few minutes. At one point Patrick gave me a task over walkie as Cecily gave me another task in person. I was frozen in place with my finger on the surveillance as they spoke. Conveniently, they stopped talking simultaneously, allowing me to copy them both with a single ‘copy.’ I understood neither Patrick nor Cecily in this overwhelming fifteen-second exchange, and decided to find something to do of my own choosing since they effectively canceled each other out.
Through the grapevine I heard that Tammy’s sound cart needed to move past the elevator or something. I made this my problem and sought a solution to keep myself busy. I found Alex, who directed me towards The Man With The Key To Move The Lift. When I located The Man we sat near the lift and talked and waited for Tammy and he told me his name was Artie and we shook hands. I smiled and he said something about electricity. We soon discovered that Tammy didn’t need to move the lift, or she had already moved it, or something.
I stood in a field next to a windmill looking away from set. I was moved into the road and climbed a tree while the cameras rolled.
I locked up the hallway with Aurora and we both waited for the scene to set. While waiting on standby Leighton began a series of seductive stretches. She reached her arms up the length of the wall and began to stretch her back and ass in my direction, treating the wall like a stripper pole. I paid close attention, surreptitiously stealing glances as I drank my coffee, hardening like igneous rock.
As typical of Cecily I was relocated to the base of some creaky steps, far from set. I stood in front of a door that was warped open, permitting noise to freely travel up the stairs. When harassed about the noise over walkie I used the door as an excuse for my uselessness until Jenny walked over, and using minimal strength, closed the door. She told me to hold it in place because it will swing open and creak loudly, then walked away, leaving me impressed with her ability to problem solve.
A stereotypically voluptuous Italian Staten Island girl in a low cut blue top and black miniskirt needed to walk up the creaky stairs to her art gallery, so I bowed my head and allowed her to pass because I always make an exception for t & a.
I held Lucky at the door while camera rolled, and then he ran past me up the stairs when he heard ‘cut’ on walkie.
Alice saw Lucky run up the stairs to collect the memory cards and asked if she could go up the stairs even though the cameras were technically still rolling. I gave permission knowing the answer should have been ‘standby’, and then I winced so hard I got a headache. When cut was officially yelled Aurora came down and berated me, saying “Why did you let her up?” I shrank into a ball and said ‘I don’t know’, absorbing her justified verbal lashings until she lost interest and went back to work.
I tossed the broken, full length HMU mirror onto a pile of garbage bags.
I emptied coolers and moved fruits to set.
Cecily publicly blamed Eliav for the noisy garbage trucks over walkie. A tight-lipped, infuriated Eliav told Cecily to go to channel two and then unloaded his fury on her. I watched him in the distance as I listened to their conversation on channel two. Cameron listened too. He couldn’t resist.
Michelle couldn’t locate the brick station. Patrick found me on walkie and I told him they were in the men’s bathroom by HMU and he said they were missing. I cursed wildly when I found them missing, and Kama and Cameron stared at me. Kama told me to calm down. Leighton was in the makeup chair, looking at her phone, impervious. I found the walkies plugged into an outlet and not charging in the lobby upstairs, and breathed easily because I am the only opportunist on set.
The Lady described Blake as a suspicious looking person. She wasn’t sure if he was part of the production, but then she let him into the lobby of the Music Hall anyway.
I borrowed Cameron’s phone to listen to High Like a Bitch by Lil’ B.
Patrick approached me about going on a gas run for Warren after Warren approached me and said that he needed me to go on a gas run for him. I convinced Cameron to ditch set and come with me because he wanted cigarettes, but he chose to wait until after lunch. I decided to leave without him because I didn’t want to wait until after lunch.
As I exited Snug Harbor I made a right turn and drove for fifteen minutes along the scenic northern coast of Staten Island, inhaling the fumes of the oil refineries and enjoying the vista of cargo ships. I got gas on my pants and licked a dab of it from my finger at the gas station I bought malt liquor with Peter the first summer I moved to New York, across the street from the park where we watched performance art. On my way back to set I passed the Snug Harbor entrance and found a gas station on the nearest corner, less than a minute away.
I gave Warren the gas containers and then took the last plastic fork and sat down to eat. Before I could voraciously choke down my lunch some extras complained about not having enough forks or napkins. One of them dropped lasagna all over their pants. Another was trying to eat his salad with a spoon. I walked over to the Unit Truck, and awkwardly carried a cumbersome package of our auxiliary forks over to the grateful, dim-witted extras.
I sat amongst Aurora, Julia and Carlos and tried to talk about Breaking Bad with Carlos who was courteously reticent about spoiling it for the other people at our table who didn’t watch the show. When they finished drinking their seltzers they left me, and I sat there finishing my lunch alone when Patrick found me over walkie. He asked me what I was doing and I said I was lunching, and with a stern voice he told me to “put down my fork down, stand up…” He cut himself off and said he was only joking and encouraged me to finish lunching just as my doe eyes were going wide with confusion and fear.
Justin asked me over walkie if he could take the grip and electric boys to his favorite Staten Island deli with my pass van and I said “Sure, that’s fine.” He commandeered my pass van to the chagrin of Cecily and other production people, waiving the catered burrito lunch.
Aurora asked me what time we were back in and I said I didn’t know and she rolled her eyes.
I stood next to the burrito spread and watched Brian trembling with his hair hanging down by his shoulders. He wiped tears from his eyes and breathed slowly and deeply. He looked slightly clammy as he recovered his resolve.
After lunch I helped Felipe and Ashton save the camera cart from tilting off the curb and then pushed it up the ramp and into the door The Lady told us not to use to load in. I told Felipe this, and he shrugged this warning off with his dead eyes and said he didn’t fucking care. He wasn’t afraid of The Lady like I was.
Michelle and Abbe use a tone of voice that always makes me very unsympathetic to their needs.
Chris is spending all of his time doing paperwork in the production office. I miss him whenever I manage to get close to set.
Fabio yelled at me about chairs or crafty or something and I pretended to care so he would leave me alone.
I flirted with cute extras Anastasia and Maria. I told them about my adventures as a background extra on L&O:SVU, and about my infantile filmmaking career. They told me it was boring standing around all day, yet still enjoyed their time on set. This was their first gig as extras since signing up for Central Casting only days earlier. This big break was due to them being sexy girls. I was on the Central Casting catalog for six months before being contacted for a gig, and then I was never contacted again. Julia played brick break on her phone.
Abbe went out and bought some crafty and with pride showed me all of the crafty she bought, believing that it would adequately service the stomachs of the crew for the next two days. She offered me a sugar cookie as means of celebrating the bounty, but I declined on behalf of my waistline and the crew’s collective stomach. I knew that by the following afternoon all that would remain would be a handful of stale goldfish and an industrial pitcher of maple syrup.
I watched the producers talking in a huddle and Frank waving his arms like an angry monkey, motioning the breakfast table, which he mistook for crafty. He yelled at Chris and explained what craft service was supposed to be: “A spread…this is NOT craft services. Syrup is not craft service.” Chris gave me a wry smile and said, “I want to see a container of syrup on this craft service table every day.” (I made this my signature.)
Blake beckoned for me. I dropped my garbage bags, and in an impromptu ceremony was bestowed the sole responsibility of craft services. I reluctantly accepted the title of Crafty PA, and was congratulated on my “promotion” by all in attendance.
As set moved into the auditorium I followed, moving the sad remains of crafty. I sulked on the steps of the auditorium and questioned the existence of God.
Producer Josh pulled me aside and told me that he is going back to LA, and that he “makes lots of these movies” and if I can prove that I can “kill this crafty shit” that will go a “very long way” in getting more jobs. He told me to make it look as nice as possible. Then gave me a pat on the back. He learned my name for that speech, and definitely forgot about his promise.
I looked miserable in the production office and I threw a bag of apples at the extras. Jenny stood in front of me and held out her hand for me to take and I just looked at her like I should be crying. She said it wasn’t a demotion. I whispered in a low voice something neither of us could hear, looked at Producer Josh in the corner, and then walked away.
I stood around and struck up conversation with Lucky about pull-ups.
Abbe told me about the rich man she is sleeping with who took her to Pinkberry on her day off.
I overheard Cecily tell Crystal that chess class was cancelled.
Frank’s card was declined and Julia was stranded with Myrtle at the Starbucks. I requested a Pumpkin Spiced Latte and someone on walkie said “You would get that.”
I tried gossiping with Patrick about Josh’s weirdness and finding Neph and Mattley napping in the pass vans, but he played the role of a dismissive, uninterested leader by walking away.
While locking up the auditorium I stood on my toes, peered through the window at the music hall lobby, and made eye contact with Carlos clutching the boom. He shook his head ‘no.’ Jen came into the auditorium and told me to move because they could see me in the shot, so I reclined in the rigid auditorium seating and yelled rolling! at the high school orchestra practicing a stunning rendition of Canon in D, which I complimented them on.
I jumped off a ledge and someone called me superman.
I spoke with Alice about Petrosian caviar.
I made a sign for crafty urging the crew to list what they wished to snack on.
I missed the Fence Expo, which was a very misleading term for “local artists present their crafts on a chain link fence.”
I talked to Eliav about tents in the back of the Unit Truck.
Patrick props and I were feeling adventurous and stripped ourselves of our walkies and surveillances and walked into the wedding party next door. We stood at the door during the best man’s toast. Patrick walked away, but I located a Martini and chugged it while hiding in an empty, dusty closet. The closet wasn’t renovated with the rest of the building and was very fun to explore, appearing to grow in size the deeper I traversed. I found a window that lead into a construction site, and then walked through a gap in the fence and found my way back to the stoop, buzzed just enough for my smirk.
Frank lost his wallet and offered $100 to whoever found it. I scoured the stage with Josh and his flashlight, determined to win Frank’s admiration and steal Josh’s glory. I found a spiral staircase which lead past the catwalk and into a dimly lit space beneath the roof. I should have brought my camera because ghosts probably live there.
I talked to everyone on the stoop of the music hall at least once. Ryan told me about the time he drunkenly sucker punched someone and then peed himself.
The second meal of pizza and wings and mozzarella sticks and garlic knots and iceberg salad arrived. Even the extras ate. The salad was the last to go. I was hungry but only ate two slices of ‘za because it’s easy to get fat on a film set.
As we packed the trucks it began to downpour. Patrick salvaged the last remaining pizza and I watched it get drenched. He took it anyway. Patrick took most of the crew in the first pass van and I thought I would be lucky enough to drive myself home without any passengers. Ironically, Lucky was still waiting for his footage to dump when the first crew van embarked, and became my only passenger. I enjoyed our travel conversation anyway. Lucky said he was missing a party that a girl he had hooked up with previously was attending, indifferently divulging his plans to masturbate at home and then go to sleep.
After dropping him off I drove in confused circles, trying to locate the west side highway. The rain stopped temporarily as I drove through the disgusting Friday night traffic in the West Village. While I was stopped in traffic a drunken girl opened my van door and climbed inside, thinking I was a cab. I told her get out! and then locked the door, immediately regretting my decision not to haggle a sexual favor for a ride.
It started pouring when I reached my neighborhood. I was fortunate to find a spot one block from my house by 1am, and thanks to Jenny’s leopard print umbrella I was safe from the rain in the sprint to my front door.
I spoke to Heather, the swing with very wide hips in the van on the ride home. She also graduated from Brooklyn College and knew my coworkers Chris and Jonas. Myrtle was driving and I jumped out at 14th street and ran to the subway, abandoning Julia in the van after offering her an invitation to spend the night at my house.
I left my apartment late but luckily hit every green light from 14th street to 50th street as I drove up Fifth Avenue. I circled the block a few times looking for set before settling on a spot that was down the block. Josh waved me in and suggested a closer spot, but I firmly told him that this was a good spot, realizing as I walked to set all of the cones Josh laid out for crew vans that were much closer to set.
The night before I’d hurriedly packed the Unit Truck like an idiot who doesn’t know how to use ratchet straps. A cauldron of porridge that nobody ever ate was splattered across the tables and chairs, which were knocked across cases of expensive camera equipment. I laughed knowing I would be the one responsible for cleaning it up.
Leighton had wet hair and took photos on her phone of a turtle in the holding classroom.
Warren said that the crew only needs bacon and powdered eggs because that was the best stuff. Nobody ever eats the porridge.
I organized seltzer in coolers when Chris told me to “leave that stuff alone for now” because he needed me to find the way into the production office in the YMCA. I lurked outside the back door until someone opened it for me and said: “it will never be unlocked.” I walked until I found Blake and a victim of internship, Cornelia, sitting at a circular table in the common room.
I propped the back door open and moved the heavy production boxes in three trips, which earned me a doughnut because moving heavy stuff is sort of like exercise.
Frank from Canada apologized for screaming at me after his wallet was misplaced last week as I gave him some tiny, children’s chairs to sit in.
Some jelly from my doughnut landed in the bed of the Unit Truck. Brian walked over and asked me what I was doing near the camera equipment and I replied with the innocence of a simpleton “I am just organizing my tables and chairs.” I baited him into discussing yesterday’s lunch. He divulged without embarrassment feeling fine throughout lunch, smoking a cigarette after lunch, then turning his head and “puk[ing] out of nowhere.” Brian said he felt perfectly fine after puking, and said Jimmy puked too.
I felt like I was moving in slow motion because everyone else was running around stressed and disoriented.
Patrick introduced me to Arnoldo as I jumped off a ledge. I screamed at a five-year-old for running along the ledge and told him he could slip and crack his skull open on the sidewalk if he wasn’t careful. His mother said we were shooting at his school. He must climb on this ledge everyday.
The hot background kids arrived and I pretended to be hot shit as I escorted them up the stairs into holding.
I treated Blake like an ATM and pretended to have no interest being near set as I excused myself to go shopping as official crafty PA. I located a TJ’s the night before on Broadway and 72nd, but failed to see it driving up Central Park West because Broadway curves. #duh I found a Fairway driving south on Columbus and spent about ten minutes circling the block searching for a parking space.
A giant red fire truck was parked in front of the Fairway, taking up ten good spaces. For the first time on record I had ill feelings towards firemen. I parked beside a driveway around the corner from Fairway and flashed my hazards like a ticket shield, sprinting inside to see four firemen gleefully groping avocados for freshness, like they were on vacation. Organic string cheese was $21.
My friend Ryan texted me about missing the Art Book Fair at PS1 and I was audibly disappointed.
It sounded of gunfire and screaming over walkie as I got closer to set.
Shopping and travel took exactly one-hour, and I beamed handing Blake a receipt for $99.86. Deadpan, he said to keep the change as my tip.
Warren and Ryan were standing by in the street. I asked to borrow their knives to slice some red bell peppers, but Ryan said people would get sick if I used their dirty work knives. They suggested I use Blake as an ATM and go out to buy a knife.
In the Rite Aid down the street I bought ten gallons of water and two paring knives. Their freezer was one empty bag of ice floating in a pathetic puddle. The curious cashier asked me how I planned to transport so much water. I told her I was going to borrow the cart to transport the water one block to set and the nosy manager vocally disagreed. I offered collateral then realized I had no credit card or ID and after a few minutes of disagreement, the manager exhaled in exhausted disappointment and told me I had fifteen minutes. I sprinted with the cart and then rode it down the sidewalk with the wind in my hair.
Alone, I set up the crafty tent in the hot sun and assembled the spread to an eager audience of hungry crew. I made sure to include a pitcher of syrup on behalf of Chris, and took it a step further by pouring some in a bowl. The crew devoured my spread and asked what the syrup was for. Josh found and opened a new bag of Tortilla chips I stored beneath the table for safekeeping. I took it from him and told him to eat from the bag already open.
I fought to keep my spread neat from the rabid crew. Then I fought to keep the cooler of drinks replenished. $100 would not feed 35 people for one full day; it’s an impossible and absurd prospect, like the drug war. I could refill everything and the crew would just guzzle it down…yet the producers convinced themselves I could make it work. I was fighting a war I could not win.
As I was slicing up red bell peppers underneath the table, Abbe took a photo of my spread with her phone. I heard someone told her “it looked really good.” I don’t know what Abbe actually does on set besides steal thunder.
The YMCA evicted our production office, so they moved to an empty classroom next to HMU and holding, where they should have been from the start.
A cab pulled up to the church on the corner and a crowd gathered around it. The door opened and a girl sat inside and didn’t move. Warren thought she was being lazy and slow, but then her mom pulled a wheelchair from the trunk and helped her into it. Justin asked the gathering Asians “what kind of church is this?”
I did some standing that I didn’t want to forget, so I wrote it down. I had a piece of paper that I wrote some things on, but then I forgot about it when it became too busy. I wrote something about a dog parade.
Warren built and 12×12 light grid that went unused. The wind tipped it over onto some scaffolding during lunch.
I murdered breakfast and took one bite of everything before tossing it to the trash.
Yesterday, during my endowment, Blake promised me there would be “no more lockups.” I am winning the war on crafty, yet I still hear the cries from my comrades in the battlefield over walkie. I turn my head away from the voices, and with a tear in my eye think, I am crafty PA now; they don’t need my help…The front lines were impossible to avoid; I was drafted one minute later.
On all sides pedestrians stopped to stare up Cecily’s pike. (This terminology made me queasy.) I waved passersby and stopped them just outside the shot, but they walked into the shot and stared at Cecily’s pike anyway. It was suggested I stand in the shot to feign a phone call so I could politely alert people to continue moving, not to stop and stare. I felt like I was drowning, there were so many people. It was a beautiful afternoon in Central Park. When nobody responded to tact I became vociferous. I was doing the best I could do, according to Chris. I was almost an extra and Cecily made a joke about SAG over walkie.
Abbe was down there with us and kept yelling at me to do stuff, but I ignored her because she didn’t have a walkie and didn’t know better. (She will be one of those I won’t miss when this is all over.)
I was playing cool, yelling at commoners while feigning a phone call, delighting in this new absurdity and trying so hard to shake my naturally whiny, incomprehensible voice with a warm, firm, sweetness, (and actually doing it!) until Frank decided to do Cecily’s job (again) and screamed at me “Jason, move!” from across the street, waving his arms like the monkey from yesterday.
Jenny said never to buy jugs of water for a film set because nobody will ever pour cups of water for themselves. I poured cups of water to prove her wrong, but only the extras touched it. They were good for something after all.
I felt like a CO and the extras felt like my prisoners the way they flocked towards the water and apples that I dropped into their holding cell before storming out.
I used to joke with Fabio, but now I ignore him; he only reiterates his passé, repetitive requests for chairs and crafty.
At the bottom of the tank in the production office was an upside down, dead crab. Everyone inside was too busy to notice and didn’t seem to care when I did.
I hate coolers and the term ‘bogie.’ I helped move Harris’ sound cart up the steps of the school.
Josh and I were both stationed around the corner of the school. He would pathetically wave his arms like a windmill and then stare at the ground when directing bogies (ewwww) across the street. When we weren’t rolling he practiced his technique, but he wasn’t getting any better because he kept doing the same thing and received the same results. This is the worst part of the job.
Julian’s sister Parker walked past us and I flirted with her and made her laugh and she said she was fourteen. When my technique stuck I ignored her and talked to Josh again.
The extras were either eighth graders or high school freshman, totally unaware of the hierarchy of a film set, and very easy to impress, so I flirted with them. They walked around the corner of the school where Josh and I were stationed, and the hot one asked me for advice on her walk. Just when the shy one was building courage to speak up I was forced to reset them, sending them back to the entrance and interrupting our flowing conversation. They never came back.
Kama or Krystal or Jocelyn gave me a melted York Peppermint Patty when I moved walkies from HMU to production office. I put the whole piece in my mouth and then spit the wrapper out onto the street.
A day player named Neil wore fingerless camo gloves and fire watched for 5 hours. We noticed cables in the branches of a tree by the Unit Truck running to a strange device connected at the trunk. The doorman of the building was suspicious of our curiosity and with a frown told us that the cables were for electrocuting birds to keep them from shitting on vehicles. We made a new friend.
I sat in the talent mini with Cameron and looked for parking. I parallel parked in a tight spot and Kate said “nice moves.”
Cecily was mythically generous and decided to buy everyone on set (besides G & E) Starbucks, and made me responsible for taking the order. Kate didn’t want anything. I needed to keep her hydrated, but that had to wait.
I placed twenty-six drink orders when Cecily’s credit card was declined. The barista had to call Cecily’s bank to get permission to process the transaction and was denied. I found her over walkie and she read me a new credit card number over the phone. The other barista was pissed at me and said the drinks wouldn’t be free. When I returned Cecily showed me her bank account to prove she had money in it. It wasn’t empty; she could definitely afford $100 in Starbucks, but there wasn’t as much as I thought. I felt privileged, yet uncomfortable.
Kama didn’t touch her Starbucks but instead bitched me out about her dept. She had a green tea something and I planned on drinking it if she forgot about it but I forgot to look for it at the end of the night. It looked frothy.
Michelle gave me tasks when I was already busy.
I closed the tent down by myself without waiting for someone to ask me to do it.
I had peanut butter smeared knives in each of my hands while cleaning up crafty at the end of the night. I lunged at Ryan with them and he ran off. I thought about using peanut butter as prop blood.
Zach pulled up to set on his bike at the end of the night.
Ryan saw the hot extras walking off set in uniforms and asked me if they belonged to wardrobe. In a common moment of selfishness I told him “it wasn’t my problem.” He told me that the more time I spend on set the more I will realize that the crew is a team and everything is connected and if it is someone’s problem it is everyone’s problem. He left me to ponder on the stoop. The uniforms did not belong to wardrobe.
Chris imitated my deep, husky “back to two” cadence with his own deep, “back to two” voice. I smiled.
Prop Master Patrick said his friend Kenzo would help out tomorrow.
As usual, our out time was pushed from 7pm to 9pm.
I walked into the darkened production office and Michelle shushed me; the bully scene was shooting in the next room. Crowds of hushed crew and extras were awe-struck, gathered in the dark around video village. I took the elevator to the top floor of the school and blindly navigated through the abyss. It was the first time I had the opportunity to explore all day. I peered down the stairwell and saw the bully scene shooting six levels below. Would spitting be acceptable behavior? A spot on the floor begged me to lie down on it and stare at the ceiling. As I drifted to sleep I heard Cecily’s voice in my head and began dreaming in song.
At wrap Jenny made me move her paperwork bins. With typical tease she asked me if I love my job as I hoisted the two heavy boxes onto my shoulders and walked out of the office. I have crunched the numbers, and my flat rate divided by my hours is less than minimum wage. (*I assume I was tax exempt to prevent me from quitting. I am not sure if other crew is also exempt, but they do receive meal penalties and overtime, which I do not.) This doesn’t factor in externalities like arduous labor and a consistently indecisive and impolite commander…yet I do love this job (CLEARLY) despite it being (on paper) my worst paying job.
I leaped from the ledge of the school and swung on a street sign, arching my back in flight to stick the landing, next to a pint of Whole Milk. Brian called me a spider monkey.
I took a pint of whole milk that was leftover from this morning and Michelle asked me if it was still good. Whenever somebody expresses doubt in my decisions I make sure to show extra resolve in my answers: “Yes, it’s actually tastes better after sitting out all day.” People who ask me if food is still good can go fuck themselves. Unless I see mold colonies IT IS STILL GOOD.
On walkie Chris tells me to ask Brian if Kyle Parsons will be on set as B-Cam 2nd AC tomorrow. Brian doesn’t know Kyle, but has heard of him and asks me, “is he is a good dude?” Kyle is the reason I have this job; he is a very good dude.
Justin wanted to drive himself home, so I sat in the passenger seat. The first part of our trip was silent, until we hit traffic and he asked me what I studied in school. I explained to him what new media used to mean, and he said he dropped out of a communications degree. Justin asked me why I “act stupid as a brick when I’m smart as a book” and advised me against it. He said that I would be blacklisted as someone who can’t be trusted or taken seriously. I pondered his advice and chose not to take it. I am not worse at my job because I like to joke.
The Caterer worked fast to set up breakfast before crew arrived. I helped by opening up boxes of pastries and laying out hot trays of “Fisher Price Omelets.” Kyle smoked a cigarette nearby. I smiled and said ‘Hey Kyle’. Kate stood next to Kyle and smiled. Kyle asked me how I liked the gig and before I answered someone screamed at me to ‘get on walkie’ before I was drafted to the front lines.
A woman covered in cat hair walked past me on the way to set. It was very noticeable against her black shirt. Corrine said we better have a good wrap party.
I escorted Danyel to set and drank some coffee to get high. She asked me how I was doing today. She seemed exhausted. Upon arrival Frank told her he wanted a kickball, not a soccer ball. In distress she hurried away, forced to locate a last minute prop.
Kenzo wore a big scarf. I went to introduce myself but was called back to holding.
I was cramped against the door in the backseat of the fifteen pass as Jenny hurtled Krystal from holding to Cranky’s for some last minute touch ups. When we arrived and Krystal opened the door I tried to hand her the make up kit so she wouldn’t have to reach over me, but with annoyance she said, “Just give me my stuff.” I got out of the van so she could collect her kit on her own terms.
Jenny used my van to transport the production office and admonished me for setting up a crafty tent across the street from the park. She said it should be in the van so it’s easy to transport between locations. She was living in the affluent comforts of a production office in an upscale suite in LIC. How could she possibly know what was best for crafty if she wasn’t at the front lines? I AM CRAFTY.
As a grip intern Steve was entitled to a complimentary breakfast from Cranky’s, courtesy of Jimmy. I took his order through the fence. How can Steve smile when he is not paid for his labor when he clearly possesses the skills? The system is broken.
An old, weathered black woman with a crumpled black hat held a crumpled black purse and ordered the cheapest eggs from the brunch menu. As I stood waiting for the intern’s chorizo whatever I watched her count out five crumpled singles. The French barista offered me a coffee when I placed Steve’s order because I probably looked like a pug. Steve walked in to use the toilet. They were out of chorizo, so he cheerfully settled on a vegetarian something. Should I try to be blissfully happy like Steve? Would that work?
Jimmy’s French wife gave me a piece of French chocolate to go with my coffee because she said that chocolate is delicious when paired with coffee. I smiled and said merci. I cherished her kindness by placing the chocolate’s wrapper in my wallet.
Kenzo was guarding the gate to the park. I introduced myself and walked inside and gave Steve his breakfast thing. I consolidated the mini crafty table inside the park and laughed with Cecily at the sound of the dept. of transport’s squeaky vehicle trying to parallel park.
Patrick urged me to give Patrick Props my surveillance. I kept my earpiece because sharing them is so unsanitary it makes me tremble.
I lost my earpiece while I cleaned up the clementine rinds of a playfully taciturn four-year-old extra sitting at holding in the restaurant. I made some conversation, but I didn’t flirt.
I used my surveillance without an earpiece, which made the voices louder.
Brian once walked off a set because the “director treated [camera] like shit.” He wouldn’t name names because Jimmy and Jen worked with this director many times in the past.
Josh spoke to Alex on my behalf while I stood next to him and I chastised him because I am adamantly unsympathetic towards anyone who speaks on my behalf, and will verbally dismantle them with caustic indifference. Josh apologized later and I accepted.
No lights necessary for the park scene.
As we rolled in the park I gave everyone frank looks, as if to say, “Here we go again” and “Is this guy serious?” Nobody noticed.
While we rolled, Fabio’s friend’s daughter paced in the background as an impromptu extra. She was probably too young to ogle, but I did it anyway. I should learn Portuguese.
We wrapped at the park, loaded the vans and moved set to the restaurant at the pier.
Lucky was reading a script on his laptop and I read it over his shoulder.
Cameron said Lucky’s hair was luxurious.
I ate some rib lunch while I fire watched the G&E truck. I got some rib sauce on my nose and drank some seltzer. I waved to Steve with rib sauce on my nose and he smiled and waved back. Patrick came over and told me about the rib sauce on my nose, which explained everyone’s friendliness.
I skipped over to the fifteen pass vans to unlock them and look for Jimmy’s misplaced North Face vest.
My hoodie was pulled over my face as I texted and crossed the street. The sleeves of my hoodie extended past my hands, and when I gripped them in my fists the right shoulder seam tore. I said fuck. Justin was the first person to remind me it had ripped.
There was a distant beeping in the upscale condo of the production office. I said it was an ambulance. Without looking up from Paperwork Mountain, Jenny said to close the door of the fridge, which stopped the beeping immediately. Her host family was also rich, and their fridge door also beeped when it was not shut all the way.
Fabio wanted coffee for the crew so they wouldn’t stop working. Abbe agreed. I volunteered to make coffee. I hadn’t seen the coffeemaker since last week, when I told Neph to clean it after Jenny told me not to put it away with coffee grinds inside. Someone in the production office said Art Dept had a coffeemaker. I asked a very stressed Danyel, who was confused and unintentionally hostile when I asked her where the coffeemaker went. Angela said the coffeemaker belonged to old prop master Evan, who took it home after he quit. I reported back to Fabio the plight of our coffeemaker and convinced him that purchasing a new coffeemaker would be financially responsible. Blake gave me $60, and I embarked on my mission. I walked to Duane Reade, and then I walked to the organic grocery next door. The clerks at both stores told me to check the other. I walked to the pharmacy where a young woman, annoyingly chipper, with sagging, flat breasts told me that I needed to drive to Greenpoint, or the Target in downtown Brooklyn for a 12 cup coffeemaker. It was rush hour, so I thought “fuck it.” Jenny told me not to worry because we would be forced out of the restaurant in the next two hours.
Lucky read a grim article about the photos of the outside world requested by inmates sentenced to life terms of solitary confinement. He showed me the image of a man whose prison portrait, complete with tattoo teardrop, was placed on the background of a rich, green pasture. He hadn’t seen the outside world in years, and would never see the sun rise or set again. (Company was still in the restaurant two hours later, with no sign of evacuating anytime soon.)
Cameron applied for jobs on his phone during down time. He asked me what a show runner does. The bartender mistook us for producers and offered us cappuccinos. We smirked like schoolgirls as we drank them.
The cappuccino put me in a good mood, so I struck up conversation with the Canadian background extras, who were playing a board game called Forbidden Island. I recommended them a board game called Puerto Rico and they recommended a board game called Pandemic. He was bald and she was much too sexy for him. Not sure if they were married or dating or she was stringing him along, but they had only lived in New York for three days.
Krystal ate from a new sleeve of Mentos.
I watched Leighton yawn at video village when the scene was being set. Leighton yawning is great footage and that’s when we should be rolling.
In the restaurant Frank demanded that video village move closer to the actors. Greg hustled to move it as quickly as possible. Julian couldn’t pronounce “Oneida” the way Frank wanted, so they ran through the scene for an extra hour.
Brian let me touch the focus puller. Kyle said that focus pullers smoke cigarettes to deal with the stress of staring into the eyes of actors all day long. Harris and Brian compared and contrasted the monetary value of their personal gear.
Warren said that he needed batteries, and I ran around looking for AA batteries for his light thing and ended up in the bathroom.
Lucky said his favorite gelato flavor was Tiramisu. He also said he writes poetry sometimes.
Leighton ate some gelato onscreen. I kept my tears and my laughter bottled up. Frank got pissed at Cecily for something petty and humiliated her unnecessarily. I forgot how, but that’s probably bc I blocked it out for her sake.
Arnoldo smoked a cigarette out of boredom.
Aurora laughed at Arnoldo and made him blush with embarrassment. Her virulence gets me wet.
I left Aurora and Arnoldo at the restaurant entrance and walked to the pier to dance. When I returned Aurora said, “What the fuck were you doing!?” I told her I was dancing. She said that “they” were trying to reach me. I was unclear what she was talking about. I think someone wanted me to flag down the ice cream truck for them.
My eyes burned from exhaustion.
Cameron wanted cigarettes. I told him about the Duane Reade around the corner and he thought I was lying. I escorted him to the Duane Reade and successfully restored some of my credibility. He bought cigarettes and a candy and I bought a Halloween themed Cadbury egg with bright green fondant filling. They should consider making dark chocolate Halloween themed Cadbury eggs bc its more delicious and fits the season better.
I stood in place and watched Frank run over a coke can as he pulled away.
Justin wanted to drive himself home again, and also wanted a drink with his G & E boys, so I sat sleepy in Cranky’s and waited for him. Eventually I was offered a beer, which made me slightly drunk. I continued my conversation with Kyle from this morning. Kyle and Ben talked about acceptable budgets and lengths for shorts and features: below $3 million, and above $35 million; below twenty minutes for a short, and over ninety minutes for a feature, respectively. I hate this mentality because it is counterproductive to creativity. There is more to filmmaking than recycling the same ideas for a slice of the Industry pie….
The weathered black woman with the crumpled hat was still at Cranky’s.
I found a ticket on the windshield of my van when Justin was finally ready to leave. I faced the street throughout my conversation with Kyle but never saw a traffic cop pass through. I said ‘fuck’ because I hadn’t received a ticket thus far, and this was a really careless way to do it. Justin said I shouldn’t have parked in an illegal spot. The ticket was for $35.
We saw Krystal walking on the street and yelled at her but she had headphones and didn’t hear us.
In the van on the way home Justin told me that Cecily called me useless. I didn’t disbelieve him, but Justin is not someone I can totally trust.