AUTHOR SUBJECT: A good read about Hollywood in Vanity Fair..
Sv Bell | Black Flag Pictures
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Posted: 1/30/2017 1:27:09 PM
Why Hollywood As We Know It Is Already Over.

Making films in Hollywood is a biug business. Lots of operators, technicians, crew workers... It all comes at a cost. And it's nearly impossible to cut jobs. It's hard to tell Spielberg that now on, he'll do his own camerawork...

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Posted: 1/31/2017 11:30:10 AM
Thank you for posting this.  Glad to know it's not just me. 

Though it's not really the only focus here, that raindrop inefficiency thing also got to me. 

A colleage who knew a colleague who worked on a big shot television serial shoot, arranged for me to be a supervising visitor or something of the like on the set for ten days, knowing I also do motion picture stuff.  Told me I can ask anybody anything about anything I wanted to know.  Told all crew I'm the producer's right hand.  Scared the crap out of them, thinking I can recommend who can be fired.  Not sure if the joke was on them or me. 

Anyway, it didn't take long before their ways of doing things was driving me crazy! 

For brevity I'll recall only one "raindrop" moment: 

Simple scene.  First one actor, then another enters and they talk.  2 and a half pages.

If I was in charge and at my own studio, this would take 8 minutes to shoot.  Maybe 12 if the lights and sound had to be set up. 

But now here's how it's done on a "professional" setup with about 45 people:

There's a laptop in the scene. 

During setup of next shot, continuity person stops everything because from the new angle, the laptop screen appears dark (it's one of those that you can only see brightly from the front), and in the previous shot it was bright and on.

I'm like "so?  Such screens appear dark from the side.  Ignore it.  It's realistic"  They're like no, it won't look right to have it on in one angle and off in another.  

So, I say just turn the laptop slightly then to the camera.  

They're like no, would cause continuity problem. 

I'm like fine, try turning up the brightness. 

They're like no, not anybody can touch it in case it breaks and for insurance thingies and whatwhat.  Only the prop guy and set dresser can touch it.  

So it takes another 10 or 20 minutes to find these characters who were smoking somewhere outside. 

So now we get these characters and the prop guy doesn't know.  He just has these things, he never uses it. 

So now we must get the tech guy. 

So, everybody waits for another 20 minutes to get a hold of some kind of computer expert. 

So now the expert isn't available, but he'll come when he's available. 

So then they find another expert who plays around with the settings.  Still doesn't look the same as the previous shot.  With the brightness up, it looks washed out. 

So now they decide to move the camera slightly instead, so the screen's back shows to the camera at an angle instead of the front. 

But now they can't do the shot, because the actors who have been ready to go an hour ago, have by now sweated all their makeup off. 

So now the makeup chicks must redo their make-up. 

Now with makeup ready, one of the actors must go get dressed again because apparently he's only manly on camera.  Between setups, he puts on and relaxes in a women's skirt.  For "comfort".  Takes him a while to go back into the man zone.  

So now it's 23:30 at night and the owner of the billionaire house they're shooting in, comes bursting in in the middle of a shot, "WHAT THE F*** ARE YOU PEOPLE DOING HERE???  I HAVE TO BE UP AT 6AM!!!!!"

Turns out the agreement with him was that his house is available for shooting until 10pm.  But with all the inefficiency, the shoot is running FAR, FAR late and the shooting schedule doesn't allow for continuing work on this scene tomorrow.  

So now the owner is screaming at whomever he can, demanding they pack up this "sh*t" and leave!  But everybody's like hey I'm just a grip/gaffer/boom swinger/makeup chick/whatever, go talk to so and so.  

So now it takes another 40 minutes for the people in charge to come to some sort of arrangement (and payment I assume) with the owner, to be able to continue shooting overtime while keeping the owner happy.  
So it's more waiting for the rest of us until the thing continues.   

So now they've been working on this simple little drama program from 6am until 00:30, and probably didn't actually shoot more than 30 minutes of footage. 

Bottom line is after 6 days I said thanks for the cool opportunity and got into my car and left. 

I just literally felt like I can do 10 pages of that same simple drama script in 3 hours at my own studio.  Not work 18 hours a day during which about 90 minutes might be work and the rest is waiting around for all the different "departments" to get set up and test and smoke and eat and drink and wait for everybody else.  

The term "hurry up and wait" truly is true on these motion picture sets, and I can't stand it.  The inefficient use of time and labor truly got on my last nerve.  I really felt that with better organization, people could come in when needed and be used for an hour or three and then be sent home.  More cost effective and better use of labor and lives. 

But maybe it's just me.  And the person who wrote this article you mentioned above. 

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