9 hour turn around



Today I was in Actor “X’s” trailer changing his costume for the next scene up on the call sheet and we got into a more intimate conversation than I have had with any actor. It started off with him asking me “what’s wrong with me today? I’m so bloody tired.” I listen to at least 10 people every morning on the crew say how exhausted they are. I bluntly replied, “We’ll, you work in the film industry.” Nuff’ said. Then he joked about how exhausting it was working with a difficult actress. But he was quick to look at me and sympathize that I was her dresser as well and had to deal with her indecisive demands. “Unfortunately she really likes me”, I laughed.

Since I moved to NY one year and four months ago, I’ve been avoiding a full time job. I figured out after the first two years of my film career, that this industry was not for me. I’ve been in it for only (only?) 6 years now but, damn, it’s a youth sucker. I’ve seen people’s faces age 10 years in three. We get up before the sunrises and get home well after it sets. And we do it 5 days a week for as long as the project lives. (Episodic jobs are the worst…unless you’re on a Michael Bay production). At the end of your 15 hour work day of listening to 20 conversations a minute on a surveillance piece in your ear, you get to drag yourself to the train station for an hour long ride (with transfers) home.

You get exactly 9 hours (time depending on your union) “turnaround” time to get your ass back to work and do it all over again, anticipating all the changes that will be made to the schedule you think you are prepared for the next day. This is the first full time job I decided to take since I have been here. I thought a romantic comedy for only 6 weeks of work sounded refreshing after a break up. Again, film biz is so unpredictable.

Actor “X” was telling me how he has constant anxiety leading up to being on camera. And you live this way for your entire career. In constant anxiety. We shared our panic attack stories (I won by the way, describing to him an out-of-body-experience I once had).

I was also, am still, tired today. I actually woke up at 6.28AM with a jolt, for fear that I had over slept for my 8AM call time today. I also had a splitting headache from the 2 glasses of wine I drank after work the night before, which shows you how dehydrated I am. I honestly didn’t have time or money for it either but, its so comforting at the end of a 14 hour day (after day after day).

Going straight to bed sucks too. I refused to do it but, eventually exhaustion get’s the best of you on these jobs and you begin a pattern of waking up between 4.30 to 6.30 AM, dragging your feet while getting ready and then planning exactly what time you need to head out the door so as to be 15 min early (being “on time” in the film biz is considered late). When you get home, you’re lucky if you have energy to take a shower, wash your face, brush your teeth or even take off your clothes. (I’ve managed countless times to do none of those).

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