A lot of time on set is spent sitting around, waiting for other people to do their jobs. You gotta wait for the actors to block the scene, then wait for grips and electrics to light it, then camera has to set focus marks, then hair, make-up, and costume have to fix up the actors, because they’ve been sitting under the hot lights too long, and then you actually roll. And roll. And roll.
You gotta find a way to fill all the time.
Some common ways are football pools, or the dollar raffle (write your name on a dollar, and whoever’s bill gets drawn wins the pot). But there are some esoteric games unique to each department.
The grips have the C-stand game. What you do is, you crane the stick up as high as it can go. Then, you loosen the knuckle, letting it fall, and tighten it just before hits the base (or your hand). The closest to the base without hitting it wins.
Camera assistants play with the time code, or footage, meter. See, at the beginning of a tape, you’re supposed to roll 30 seconds of bars and tone. (In film, you roll 5 or 10 feet of a color chart.) Once again, whoever can get the closest without going over wins. This is much easier in film than in video, as you might imagine.
In the office, we have a game involving paper. When we get revisions, we calculate how much paper we’ll need (say, 23 green pages X 75 copies = 1725 sheets). Then, we try to pull out exactly that much paper (three reams, plus approximately a half). The goal is to come out with as little colored paper in the tray as you can.
As I was writing these, I came to realize how lame most of these games sound.
But there is one game that sounds totally awesome– gay chicken. A long time ago, I saw a production designer and DP play this game the time. It basically involves two guys taking turns touching each other. You start someplace innocuous, like the shoulder or arm, then work your way closer and closer to the other dude’s junk, until someone drops out.
I’m still not clear who’s the winner in that game…