Saturday, August 13, 2005

MTV Day 2: Getting a Job, Losing a Job and Partying With the Crew

This part of my ongoing articles on working with an MTV crew. Part 1 can be read here.

Day 2 began much, much too early. I had crashed at my buddy Eric's house and awoke to the sound of my cell phone ringing very loudly. I looked down, saw a number I didn't recognize and went back to sleep. The same number called back again 15 minutes later, this time I picked up, with the hope that I could convince whoever it was not to call again.

I picked up and heard Ryan Miller on the other end. Immediately he asked me, "How would you like to do some production work?" Hell yes I would. I scrambled up and immediately began yelling at passed out friends to get moving.

The location was Washington High School, which looks absolutely NOTHING like Brophy. And when I say absolutely nothing I mean it's like comparing Rosanne Arnold to Heidi Klum. Brophy is an aesthetically pleasing mission style stucco campus filled with beautiful archways, scenic landscaping and huge buildings. Washington High School is a very urban looking, with lots of bricks, poles and dark hallways.

Once I arrived in the parking lot, Keith greeted me with a smile- "There's Craig. About fuckin time, now get out of here we have a job for you." I wave at Biz, who is shooting an actress pretending to be Brophy's Security Chief, Ms. K. This actress is about 70, dressed in a quasi-police uniform and looks nothing like Ms. K. Ms. K is around 45 or so, used to be a cop and could easily kick half the school's ass. She is not going to like her replacement.

I talk to Ryan who says my first job is to go to Circuit City and pick up some headphones for Keith. Back to the car.

I get the headphones (all the while, myself Eric and Nick yell as we walk through the store, "Out of the way MTV coming through. Out of the way.") and head back. The crew had moved to a new locale and was shooting a hallway scene involving a bunch of students reacting to the prank. One particularly lame shot involved a number of students saying, "They jacked the Dean's nuts."
Ugh. And you guessed it- all of this never happened. Most students were in class when the prank went down.

I had spent some time with Biz and Keith setting up all the lighting for these shots and the ones that followed. You'll never guess when you see it on TV, but we had two huge lighting rigs providing key light (i.e. front light), and back light on all the actors.

We continued in the hallway and shot both a teacher and the Dean coming down the hallway. The teacher stopped to converse with a few extras (ironically not real Brophy students, who we had a number of on-location that day) and then walked past camera. The next set up was the Dean walking past a bunch of Brophy guys (Eric, Mike, Brian) who, see if you can spot this when it airs, are chugging a bottle of Clorox. The Dean then walked down the hallway, ran into a student who was hurrying to class, and told a bunch of kids to tuck in their shirts.

All in all the Dean wasn't a bad actor, but he was about 20 years older than Gmelich and didn't really capture what Gmelich was all about. Gmelich could look at you in such a way that you immediately began looking around until you discovered what it was he was upset about. He also had an extremely dry sense of humor that wasn't touched on at all. But in a 15 minute segment what can you do?

While we are on the subject of actors and extras a few things to note- actors as a general rule are assholes. The people behind the camera are much more down to earth and fun to be around. Actors are delusional. They live in a bubble where they are the most important people on earth and to suggest otherwise is akin to treason. Luckily, on this shoot the adult actors were professionals. The extras on the other hand were oddballs.

However, there is no one, and I mean no one I have worked with who compares with the extra originally known as Lance, later labelled by the crew as "Freakboy."

Freakboy had shoulder length blonde hair, a constant scowl and said nothing to anyone. The consensus was he was on a lot of drugs (later confirmed in part by me) or hadn't slept in days (also confirmed later by me). When he did speak it was always some stupid ass question like "When's lunch?" or "When's the next closeup?" He also bitched and moaned a lot, which was annoying because everyone was working their ass off in 110 degree heat while the extras sat in air conditioned rooms for most of the day. I personally wanted to shove my foot up his ass, because I hadn't had time to change from the night before and walked around in long jeans all day. More on Freakboy later.

The day moved along, we had Domino's for lunch. Keith's quote on that: "Ah, so Domino's is shitty no matter where you go in America." My response: "Well at least you won't be surprised."

After lunch we shot more walkway scenes. I wasn't around for some of it because I was striking (taking down) lighting rigs. I also helped out the Production Coordinator Joelle with some mundane tasks I won't bore you with.

The day wrapped with me giving extras instructions as to when to walk through yet another hallway scene. MTV is honest to God going to have at least 30 minutes of walking scenes to choose from for this show.

At the end of the day Joelle asked me to come into the makeshift crew area. I apparently had some paperwork to fill out. I was officially an employee of MTV. She asked me if I was okay with the daily rate. I had no idea what she was talking about, because I was under the impression I was doing this work for free (this is somewhat standard in Hollywood, you do a lot of Production Assistant work for free in order to move up in the chain of command). So when she said, "We're paying you 150 for today is that alright?" I said "Good lord." She thought I wanted more money.

That night the crew wanted to go out, so Nick Lish had planned a little shindig at his house. The little shindig grew into a huge freaking party by 10 o'clock. The crew got there around 10:30. I left the party with Keith and Biz to take them to the local liquor store. When we got back the party had gotten broke up by Tempe cops because some idiot was out front making noise. We all felt pretty bad we couldn't have shown the guys a better time that night. However, they told me they hit the Tempe bar area, which is always fun.

I also had found out that I was getting fired in a sense that night because Joelle's production assistant who hadn't shown up that day was apparently showing up the next. But the crew liked me and wanted me to come back the next day. Which ended up being good for both me and the guys, because the PA was useless.

So I did head back to Washington High the next day and almost ended up in a fist fight with an extra.

But that's for next time.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

All those fucking extras, I honest to God wanted to kill them all. I love your blog. I'm only kidding, I hate it and I love you. SMOOCHES! - chavez

1:35 AM  

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