C47: or how I learned to stop worrying and love the shoot



“Move the moon three feet that-a-way,” the director shouts from an upstairs window. I have no trouble with moving the moon, having days ago discovered that I do a moon better than god.  I mean his moon is always too dim, too far camera left, and partially obscured by cloud or leafless branches that cast undesired shadows. And the man in the moon? A joke. I can put a man, woman, or child, on mine, have them dance a tango and be off-set within union timelines. My concern was the three feet. Isn’t this a metric shoot? I consult my contract. Yep. Metric.

            Of course, being the Key Grip, I don’t have the ear of the director so although he can make demands of me, I can’t answer back. I have to go through the DP. He’s up there in the window. I’m sitting on an apple box holding a fully extended C-stand with a 1K tungsten Fresnel 1/8 diffused 20 lb. pendulum and two ¼ purple gels ten metres in the air against gale force winds.

            I text the DP on my iphone. “D says 3’ cam rt 4 CUslomo. U ok w/ 1m (3.28’)?”

            The window opens and the DP sticks out his head. “What?”

            “Director wants the moon over there.” I point.

            “Ignore him. Key Grip answers to DP. Get your Gaffer to get the dolly and rails, pick up the top hat and see if the wrangler has found the eight-year-old talent yet.”

             A voice calls out from inside. “2nd AD runs the wrangler. #5 is on set but I can’t talk to him without a directive from the 1st AD. Lock it up. Grab the bounce and get your ass inside.”

            “Excuse me?” I holler up the side of the house. “You talking to me? Are you talking to me?”

            “Yes, you. Key Grip. The DP needs you inside with the bounce. Do you understand?”

            “Lighting has no opinion on that,” I answer. I’m going to wait for the DP to tell me himself. Otherwise the fucking moon is going nowhere fast, the Director is going to get his shorts in a knot, the talent’s going to throw a shit fit, my Gaffer’s going to complain to the union, the 1st AD’s going to fire the 2nd AD, my Fresnel’s going to come crashing down in the bushes start a brush fire and burn down the casting director’s landlord’s house, causing the location manager to have a stroke, an unscheduled company move, and the producer to go ape. And besides, crafty looks pretty good from here. I see pizza.

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