Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ontological Nihilists On Set

Hope all the readers of the AAGH are binging on baked poultry and overly-starchy side dishes today and taking the rest of the week off.

Here in Hollywood land, the industry is basically on hiatus until next Monday, so yesterday afternoon was a busy time for casting directors. In the space of about two hours I was (1): called by my service with details for the regular show next week; (2) then called an hour later and told that day’s shoot was cancelled; then (3) 15 minutes later booked on a feature for the same day; and finally (4) called out of the blue by another casting agency wanting to know whether I owned a dog or not (for the record, I don’t), and whether I was booked for a certain future date.

Consequently, I am enjoying this day of rest in full recovery mode.

But I also need to recover a bit from a thirteen-hour gig on Tuesday on the semi-regular show.

If you’ve ever done background work, you know holding is a bit scary: nervous, twitchy, anxious actors waiting to be called to work at any moment, people dozing away in their Coleman camping chairs (mostly SAG folks who’ve seen it all), or people chatting away and a mile-a-minute pace, who really, really need to switch to decaf.

So, on Tuesday I was stuck listening to a guy going on for over an hour on why his 1970-era car should be used in more auto calls, and how he had calculated estimated payments based on said bookings if he purchased a car from the 1980’s, 1990’s, etc (and this was all the way across the room!).

Just when I thought I was going to get some rest, he then pulled out his outline for a sci-fi script and began to debate – loudly – the finer points of the genre, movie by movie.

That’s when I began to think about looking for a nail gun from the carpenter’s truck.

Luckily, I got called into set, but, as the old adage goes, “Be careful what you wish for.”

The PA set a few of relatively deep in a scene, just on the edge of frame. No hero shot, but then most background work isn’t.

However, just as the cameras and sound were rolling, a loud buzzing sound began to emanate from a woman’s purse on the ground.

It was a damn cell phone going off on vibrate mode!

Since the rest of us knew who the culprit was, we told her to turn off her phone on set. “Oh no, it can’t be mine. No one has my phone number, I don’t give it out.”

Fine. It was a wrong phone number then.

Even after we told her repeatedly to turn it off, she simply refused to it was “her phone” making that buzzing noise coming her purse, on the floor, near her feet.

Thankfully, the gates were good after that take, and sound didn’t make an issue of it.

I can take PA’s screaming at you because they made a mistake (but you get the blame), DGA trainees who set background to make complicated crosses and then cause traffic jams behind some C stand, but this was simply the case of an ontological nihilist: someone who has issues with “reality.”

So, the lesson is, turn off your phone on set!

[By the way, AAGH looks like some type of curse word or anguished cry, but that’s for another post.]

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