Thursday, November 13, 2008

What day, what hour, what state?

We are getting to a point where we really have lost track of what day it is. Since our day off doesn't fall on any particular day, certainly not the weekend, it is no help, chronologically speaking. Time, the actual hour, is also getting a bit tricky. Bouncing back and forth through time zones does that. And states? All I know is that I'm experiencing an east coast autumn this year. Twice. Much of the areas we are traveling look similar to where I grew up in Pennsylvania, though the moment the locals speak, it is obviously the deep south. Today was a dreary gray, rainy day. The temperature is mild for the moment, though I fear the inevitable plunge of the mercury for which I am not fully prepared. I'm hoping that I'll be back to sunny Los Angeles before that happens in earnest.

I am enjoying the hotel we are currently in. Little things like complimentary breakfast, a microwave in the room and decent internet make all the difference in the world. We were dreading the next location; a place that was quite unlikely to have these amenities (not to mention fitness rooms, a bar, LAUNDRY!, etc.) Once we discovered that the commute wasn't much different, we petitioned to stay in this hotel. Petition granted, we are happy that our current beds and bathrooms will remain the same. In a couple days we will be heading to the new location, Salley, South Carolina; a town with a population of 412. Our crew will actually, temporarily, increase the population of that town by 2% as well as completely screw up their ethnic demographic. Even the people who live here (here being Lexington, South Carolina) have, for the most part, never heard of this tiny burg.

Should be interesting. There, we will be shooting part of the "Chitlin Strut", the event for which this town is known.

Getting here from Austin, Texas was one of those trips one hopes never to repeat. At the airports we have a combined 36 cases of equipment and personal luggage. Most of these are massive cases that store lights, cameras and grip equipment. At the Continental gate, one of the first camera guys checking in was told that his personal check-in bag was too heavy. He was then given the bleak information that the weight limit was 75 pounds, well below the 95 pounds that other airlines had placed. We all turned to look grimly at the mountain of equipment cases looming behind us. This was very bad news.

The arguing of a harried producer with the airline resulted in nothing. This was not a problem that money could solve. It was either ship them by ground, or by Fedex or lower the weight somehow.

With about ten cases well over the limit and with a shoot the very next morning, we had no choice but to open up the cases and move things around as best as possible – shifting things from one case to another in order to get some of the 95 pound cases to weigh 75 pounds. It is certainly not a good way to move expensive equipment and with cases of open camera gear; tripods, large lights, cables, etc. spread out on the airport floor as we moved things around, it was not a great way to start the morning of travel. We hoped it was a final kick in the teeth from Texas, rather than portents of South Carolina. We did finally succeed in getting things on board and happily flew out of Austin. Hopping on another flight in Houston, we watched from the windows of quite a smaller plane as the baggage handlers below the wings argued with each other about the mountain of equipment that was supposed to go into the belly of the plane. The shaking of heads, staring at our cases, more shaking of heads, and furrowed brows shifted to the sounds of much thumping and banging as they loaded our stuff aboard. After about thirty minutes, this was interrupted by an announcement from the captain that 'some' people wouldn't be getting their baggage on this flight as ten 'random' bags were going to be removed due to weight issues. Our intrepid producer stomped down the aisle of the plane to the front, where the powers-that-be were getting off the intercom, and explained with frustration that if all our equipment didn't arrive with us, thousands of dollars worth of production were at stake.

I heard that it was a rough and bumpy takeoff, with more than one crew member cursing under their breath as they stared out the windows. I heard that it seemed to take a long time to get up to speed for take off. I don't know. I was asleep as something about being on a plane puts me to sleep as well as a tranquilizer dart. I did awake briefly for a jag of turbulence that really made one aware of just how fast we were flying. Arriving at a tiny airport, we finally, after much checking and cross checking saw that we were only missing a couple lights and a monitor. We got lucky and the show went on without hitch.

Meanwhile, some innocents aboard that plane didn't get their luggage because of us and our obnoxiously large cargo. We, the crew, apologize. Blame Continental. They should have known better from the start.

Now, it is eleven thirty (or is it eight thirty?). Tomorrow is another day. What day? Uh, I don't know.

I do know that I'm tired and the bed is calling.

Good night.

1 comment:

  1. I call these incidents the 'spice of life'. It's what makes life exciting. If it weren't for these bumps in the road, life would be so boring. Enjoy the fall and the small towns!