This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Grass Is Greener

I want this blog to continue to be entertaining so I’ll put my best words forward. I’ll share the oddness, the high points, the lows, and the randomness of my life, as it’s been…

There are thousands upon thousands of people in the entertainment business, especially here in Los Angeles. However, looking at “The Big Picture” ( good flick, by the way)… relatively few people in the general population get to experience the reality of this fantasy world, we call entertainment.

My initiation came, quite expectedly, at the very bottom of the food chain: Production assistant, that is. Unlike most jobs on the planet, there is no standard ‘job description’ for a film P.A. There’s both dread (and an pleasure ) in knowing that every day will bring surprises of every sort imagineable.

Within a few days of my generic P.A. title on that first film gig, I moved up to craft service. For those of you wondering, craft service provides the cast and crew with beverages, snacks, gum/mints, chewable vitamin C and the like - in between catered meals. If you read US Weekly or Star or any of those other tabloid entertainment mags ( and who doesn’t?), you’ll know that the craft service table is the area that many celebrities are trying to avoid.

The craft service table really isn’t evil though. Most of the time, there are healthy items – like fresh fruit, veggies, crackers, and protein bars. However, there’s something about long hours and general boredom on the set that often leads to temptation – like caramel brownies, wilted cheesecake leftover from lunch, stale bagels, trail mix oozing with melted M&M's, de-glazed Krispy Crème donuts that have been picked over and crumbled by many a crew member. You’d be surprised what you may find yourself eating, and then you’ll wash it all down with Turkish coffee and your four or fifth Coke of the day. By then, the caffeine barely even kicks in... but the sugar high does wonders...

There’s a certain nostalgia in that first P.A. / Crafty job. Certain memories stand out. The first day of filming, we shot at an old prison, and I sat around in an abandoned prison cell most of the day. It had a cement floor, no real windows, and everything (including the toilet) was bolted to the floor. “Yeah, this is glamour,” I thought at the time. “If only people really knew…” Then, someone would yell on my walkie that there was no bottled water left in the cooler ( a catastrophe, for sure), and I’d go from zero to marathon woman in a mad dash toward my car.

I also remember the dubious task of buying chewing tobacco for a few crew people. As an innocently naïve-looking Nebraska girl, I always felt like an idiot at the quickie mart –

“Yeah, I’d like some more of that Skoal’s. The good stuff, you know, the fine cut stuff.”

The cashier would always look at me suspiciously before handing it over.
“Is this for you?”
“Um…yeah…it’s for me…I really should quit, but…you know, it’s just that—“

I’d catch myself starting to babble and realize that I’d better get back to set. The cashier would always raise his eyebrows and say something like: “Hmm-mmm” before handing over the goods. He knew I was a bad liar.

Then, there were the coffee runs, which I won’t even get into.

The best example of showing how ‘green’ I was to the biz, at first, is perfectly illustrated here. We were shooting at a local park when the director motioned me over.

“Go to the hardware store,” he said, and “match this…”

Then, he handed me a clump of grass. I was confused. Was this a trick? A riddle?
No. Apparently, there was a brown patch of lawn near the camera that looked ugly and they wanted to see if they could spray-paint it green, like nature intended, so it would look like the rest of the grass.



Me standing at the counter… looking like a moron.

With the grass still clumped in my hand, I sought out an employee to help me find an appropriate color. I walked out with two cans of “grass paint”, wondering how this was possibly going to work.

Once I got back to set, they did a test patch. After one spritz, everyone agreed that it looked pretty fake. How could they not have seen this coming? Back at the hardware store, I had some explaining to do. I set the spray paint on the counter and explained flatly, “Uh, the paint didn’t match the grass right. Can I get a refund?”

Unlike the grass at the park, I was most certainly green. However, I became seasoned quickly, and with all the jobs and everything else I’ve done since then, I've become nearly as seasoned as Wolfgang Puck's latest dish, yet I continue to learn more...

1 comment:

  1. Okay, I'm totally cracking up as I envision you telling the hardware store employee that the paint didn't match the grass...only an art director would even try something like that! Love it! :)