April 3, 2008

Back in the Blue Lion and Reporting for Duty, sir!

I'm back y'all. I'm back y'all. I'm backer than back 'cuz I'm back y'all! Sorry for the interruption in Princess service. The last 2 weeks have been a doozy. Just as I was mustering up the strength to report on the rest of SXSW and plan a trip to WMC and South Beach, I was laid low. I got a crazy production gig on a movie or really the trailer of a movie. I was what we in the biz call a UPM or Unit Production Manager, and I had 4 business days to put together a crew of essentially 50 people. This is how it works. A production company from say LA or NY decides they are going to shoot a feature in anytown, USA. They then have to find someone local to put the shoot together. That person is me, but I am more like Ms. Wolf. I am the cleaner. "So you say we have a headless body, a blood-spattered cadillac, and 2 knuckleheads with brains all over them. I'm 30 minutes away; I'll see you in 15." Yes. Your Princess is a specialist in shit sandwiches. This one was no different. Let me outline for you the degree of difficulty I faced on this particular shoot. I got the call end of business day on Good Friday. Sweet. A holiday weekend? Awesome, no one is going to call me back 'til Monday. You need 50 crew and equipment and film and catering? Plus, there already are 3 features and MTV in town shooting. And why is that? Because the writer's strike just ended, and we have a month until the SAG strike, so EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE is busting ass to get as much production done in the shortest window possible. This, of course, means that we are all fighting over the same crews and equipment. Everyone is already booked. Everyone is already working. All the equipment is pretty much rented out. Now you have 4 business days until the shoot. Make the magic happen. And by god, I fucking did.

I spent the next 4 days in a full court press with my production coordinator (@tigerlilybelle you RAWK), and we called every single asshole in town. Seriously. Every single one. I thought my phone was going to meltdown or spontaneously combust. I had to recharge it a minimum of 3 times a day. It was insanity. I ended up bringing people in from the 3 other surrounding towns and getting people to drive down for the shoot. Oh yeah, the shoot was all at night and all exteriors. Who doesn't jump at the chance to pull an all-nighter in the wet and cold, and then turn around and drive home afterwards? SWEET! We didn't even have enough headsets for the whole crew because we had the last 20 headsets in TOWN. There were no more to be had anywhere. Then, because that was not hard enough for me, I go and convince them to add a real live stunt. Now we have stunt people and EMTs and more equipment. You never cheap out your stunts. You want a big hook moment in your trailer to grab the audience and bring them to see the movie, so your stunt better look good. NO faking it with a piece of pipe and some tight shots of the actress' face. Boo Hiss. That way leads to madness and bullshit and is a waste of cash. If you're gonna spend the money anyway...do it right.

Adding the stunt added a +10 modifier of difficulty to my job though. Because now there are EMTs to bring in and stunt people and a stunt coordinator and more equipment such as stunt pads and harnesses and rigging. I do not think I can adequately impress upon you, the gentle readers, how fizzucking hard this shit is under a normal circumstance, but to do all this in 4 business days (the shoot was on Friday and I had Monday-Thursday to figure it all out) with everyone already booked out is well-nigh impossible. But, I am a Princess and a professional and so is everyone I choose to work with. We made that shit happen. I was still staffing the day OF the shoot. Yes, the day of. You read that correctly. Not only, did we get an awesome and super professional crew with tons of experience; we got all the equipment and filmstock and cranes and lights and hoopla, and we got everyone fed yummy organic food. Good food is the secret to any kind of set. You need good food for the crew, or they will mutiny. People will put up with an asshole DP (Director of Photography) or a rainstorm or freezing temperatures if they have good food. Oh and, all DPs are assholes. ALL. It is the nature of the job.

I worked a 25 hour day the day of the shoot. Me. Up for 25 hours working without the benefit of any kind of helpful drugs. Then I went into a mini-coma, and the second I recovered I had to do my returns and paperwork and shoot accounting which I sent off yesterday, and then I went out and got shitfaced drunk. So, that's where I was. I had nary a stray moment or brain cell to devote to the blog or anything else for that matter like washing my hair. From now on, I am going to have a bunch of posts pre-written just in case this kind of thing happens again, and it will. I am still on my learning curve with the bloggy blog blogthing. Bear with me. Have patience. I will never abandon you completely. I will never quit you entirely. If the blog ever (hah) starts generating cash, then I can loll about without pants and spend all my time stringing words together to titillate and amuse you. Until then though, Mommy has a mortgage payment and Voltron is costly to maintain. All the maintenance and spare parts and the fluids and spark plugs and such cost real Planet Arus dollars. Until then, I must jump on board when the works comes knocking on my door. Between my sheer exhaustion and this hangover, I have about 5 working brain cells left. I'm gonna go lay down now and dream of a world without pants.

Princess Out.

ps. Did I mention this movie is about Willie Nelson? Oh yeah, the red-headed stranger was on set until 3:15am.


Debbie said...

lets here it for the peaches, princess. we rock it, then we rock out. yee haw!

Lance Hunter said...

I was tremendously impressed with all ya'll pulled off, and yea the food was delicious.

Robin said...

And I found it without the link working :)

Oh, and congrats... I now have Willie envy.....