A Lot of Questions

The following is an email that I sent out to the list back in mid-March, just now making it onto the website.

“Do you miss it?”
I keep hearing that question echo through my mind.

“Are you coming back?”
We all know that very few get away clean.

*Do* I miss it? More than you know.
The water-slicked streets, the low background rumble of city traffic, the electric jolt of adrenaline knowing that your next decision could affect billions of people around the world.

Am I coming back? Eventually. Somehow. I have to.

My utility belt taunts me.
Bristling with black ballistic nylon catches, double-over/under safety snaps, kevlar loops, equipment harnesses and custom molded holsters – three years into retirement it’s still more advanced than anything on the street today; beyond state of the art and yet it hangs on the wall like an antique.

Don’t think that it doesn’t hate me for leaving everything behind.
For growing comfortable in my retirement and……

“Hey, DUMBASS, I just asked you a question. Do you miss working on movies?”

Where am I?
Oh yeah, on set.
Using the sad excuse of selling my Film-GA license plates just to catch a passing buzz from the filmmaking happening all around me.

“Uh, yeah, sorry… I guess I miss it a little bit. But you know my, um, my new job is really dependable.”
The words “dependable”? and “passionate”? are on opposite ends of the dictionary for a reason.

I’m leaning against a cart, out of the way of the working crew, just watching the million little things that most people will never know happen during the infinity that looms just before the cameras roll. I see the entire tableau….

  • Every department tweaking their stuff for as long as they possibly can… making adjustments even as the cameras roll.
  • A seasoned grip wrestling a flag from the hands of a flailing greenhorn, setting it expertly in seconds and walking away.
  • The stills photographer chatting up the sexiest extra. He can do her headshots for her. Something about tasteful nudes. Cards are exchanged. He’s creepy, she’s determined.
  • The Director and his Cinematographer are locked in a silent struggle for the title of alpha-filmmaker. North Face versus Mountain Hard Wear.
  • There’s the sound mixer, accidentally overhearing the most intimate secrets of the leading man because Mr. Tom McShorty-short-short is still wearing his wireless microphone while talking on his cellphone to his spiritual advisor at the church of sciento-tific-ness. Sounds like he might need a complimentary stress test after that couch dance.
  • There’s the wannabe starlet making it a point that you see that she’s not wearing a bra. Wait, make that two points.
  • A knot of hair and makeup girls are huddled head-to-head behind video village, planning their next drunk.
  • A propguy dashes past, bending a piece of wire into the shape of an unscripted prop that the Director just dreamed up two minutes ago. Why are these propguys always so twitchy?
  • A Teamster drifts through the background, trying to gauge how long it will be before the Martini. The trucks move tonight.
  • The producer looks at his watch and pointedly catches the UPM’s eye: is this costing me? The UPM catches the 1st AD’s eye: you have to shoot NOW or you’re on my list. The 1st AD’s adam’s apple bobs in a nervous gulp just before he starts barking random orders at random crew members to hurry up because WE NEED TO ROLL NOW. Spankings always rolls downhill.
  • The indifferent look of the old-timers as they patently ignore the 1st AD and continue to finish prepping the shot.
  • The harried jabbering of ridiculously underpaid production assistants as they begin crossing out tomorrow’s call time on the call sheets and scribbling in the new call time with red Sharpies. Only 200 call sheets left to do. Oh yeah, and don’t let anybody through that lock-up Skippy.
  • The sudden hush that falls over a crew as the cameras roll and sound hits mark.
  • The Director’s explosive call of “ACTION!!”.
  • The actors tentatively rolling into their lines, trying their marks on for size at full speed and intensity for the first time on-film.
  • The squoooshy farting sound of pneumatic tires rolling down an unpowdered dolly track.
  • The dolly grip’s exaggerated cringe of embarrassment for the noise.
  • The inevitable smirk on the camera department’s faces as the boom operator rolls his eyes in disgust.
  • The resultant stifled hysterical laughter of a punch drunk crew who’ve been shooting nights all a week.

They’re only going to roll on this 22 times before pushing in for singles.
Would you want to miss any of this?

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