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Simple Etiquette

First of all, let me apologize for not posting in a while. Rexwas almost right. Nobody’s found out that I write this blog, but that’s only because I’ve been very, very careful of late.

One of our set PAs fell sick, and I had to fill in for him. (The other office PA had no set experience whatsoever.) The ADs liked me so much, they made me stick around for a few weeks.

Cursed by my own competence, I guess.

Anyway, I finally managed to convince them to let me back into the office, despite my wife’s objections. (She says I have more fun on set, and I’m more pleasant after a day of filming than a day in the office.)

So, I’m back, more or less.

While on set, I noticed a simple rule of etiquette that I’d forgotten about– Whoever’s carrying the biggest thing goes first.

If you see an electric hauling a light, or an AC carrying a camera, step out of the way, or hold the door for them.

And this is irrespective of rank. If you happen to be lugging around a stack of scripts, they’ll do the same for you. Even producers and directors will be polite enough to clear the way for grips moving some dolly track.

Of course, as you might assume, many actors don’t think this applies to them. Once again, the experienced and successful actors are an exception. They will probably wait at the bottom of the stairs if you’re carrying something heavy. The ingenues and guest stars probably will not.

We were shooting at a park the other day, and I helped the craft services guy move his stuff from one end of the location to the other. I lumbered along, carrying this huge crate piled high with chips and power bars and stuff. I could barely see over the top to notice an actress coming the other way.

She gave me a smile and said, “Hang on, one second.” For a moment, I actually thought she was going to help take some of the weight off my hands.

Then, while I stood their awkwardly holding this giant crate, she reached in, rooted around, and pulled out one granola bar.

“Thanks!” And she ran off.

God, I hate actresses.

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7 Responses

  1. This is one of those topics that frustrate me to no end. I hate when people stand in doorways that are vital through ways and have conversations. I always make a cognitive decision to have conversations out of people’s way.

    Carrying track/camera through people sucks. It sucks even more when it’s 3am, freezing, in the middle of the Napa woods, and 40 of the 80 people standing in your path don’t speak english.

    Knowing where to stand/talk/work is a sign of experience. Grips talk on the truck, or behind the camera. AC’s talk next to the camera, or not at all.

  2. Tom Cruise once ran ahead of me to open a door so I could get some plywood through it. About 17 years ago but I still haven’t forgotten that one 20 second act of kindness (and I’ve worked with him since and had a chance to mention it to him).

  3. You probably don’t need to worry about any of your bosses finding this blog. Why would any of those higher-ups google “Production Assistant”?

  4. That’s a classic story, and a perfect example of the golden bubble within which so many pretty young actresses live. For the pretty young actress, this is actually her world, and the rest of us — crew, production, civilians — just happen to live in it. Pretty young actresses are a lot like pro athletes: all the way up the line from grade school through college, most were the best looking, most fawned-over girls in their age group. Guys fell to their knees worshiping the beauty of these Exceptional Creatures, doors were opened that remained closed for less attractive females, and allowances made for self-serving narcissistic behavior. In general, the road of life is one smooth and endless string of smiling faces for the pretty young actress.

    Older female actresses — or those who weren’t quite so stunningly pretty, but instead rose through the thespian ranks on their talent, ambition, and drive — tend to be a lot more humane towards the rest of us on set. Growing up outside that golden bubble grounds a person in the same reality the rest of us experience every day.

    But when the pretty young actress finally feels the tug of age on her face and body, the free ride is suddenly over. The one thing that made her special — her stunning looks and sparkling smile — begins to slip away a little bit each day. Plastic surgery can minimize the damage up to a point, but gravity always wins in the end, and when the pretty young actress is no longer pretty or young, what’s left?

    Nothing. So what the hell, let that sweet young thing (in all her self-absorbed oblivion) have that granola bar. The time will come when nobody will give her a second glance, but instead, the eyes of the crowd will be fixed on yet another pretty young actress.

    It all evens out in the end.

    Welcome back…

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