Just Joking

When you’re carrying something big and heavy around a corner or down some stairs, it’s usually good form to call out a warning, like “Points!”, to make sure you don’t smack someone in the face. It doesn’t really matter if it’s pointy or not; it’s just what you say.

Sometimes people try to come up with some more clever, though. I knew this one grip who would shout, “Free dental work!” when carrying track around.

It was funny the first time I heard him say it. It was even mildly amusing the third or fourth time. At the end of the first week, it was still a charming quirk.

But after three or four weeks of this incessant repetition, I couldn’t take any more. “Dude, seriously, get a new joke.”

“What are you talking about?” he asked. “It’s not a joke.”

I took a moment to consider his objection, and reconfirmed my original claim. “Yes, it is. It’s a facetious statement intended to illicit laughter.”

“No. If someone doesn’t get out of the way, I’ll smash their teeth in with the track.”

“If I punched someone in the face and broke their nose, would you call it rhinoplasty?”

He asked me what rhinoplasty was, and after I explained the big, scary, polysyllabic word (and, subsequently, “polysyllabic” (and “subsequently” (man, some grips are dumb (apologies to Dollygrippery)))), he once again claimed he wasn’t kidding.

It was at this point that I realized he really didn’t understand that it was a joke. Somebody, somewhere made this crack once, he heard it, misunderstood, and decided he liked the idea of rearranging someone’s teeth with a C-stand.

I didn’t talk to him much after that.

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12 Responses

  1. My favorite warning to replace “Points” or “Free dental work” to get folks to move when a grip is carrying a long piece of track is a terse shout of “Free prostate exam”, which gets my attention every time. An earlier common one was “Move or bleed”, but I don’t hear this too often now, maybe after all these years of slasher movies it doesn’t work so well as an audible warning.
    Just another sound mixer’s opinion, double your money back if not satisfied.

  2. Any time I’ve been offered points on a show, it’s a clear indicator that I should just bend over and spread ’em. I usually tell them I’ll be happy to take the points, but I’m only taking the job if we can come to an agreement on the pay and work conditions. I look at the points (if they ever pay off) as gravy that might make the low pay a little more bearable somewhere down the road.

    P.S. I have (gross) points in 3 movies and I’ve never seen a dime from any of them.

    P.P.S. I’m rarely carrying anything particularly heavy or pointy, but my preferred announcements are “Make a hole; Hot soup” or “Move it; Pregnant lady coming through”.

  3. No apologies necessary. There ARE some dumb grips (and some dumb PA’s too). But just think, the PA’s aren’t hanging thousands of pounds of steel over your head. ( :

  4. “Watch your back” is a pretty common one although sometimes people just turn to look and that never ends well.

  5. Thanks for the correction, Rex. Being a way below-the-line Morlock, points — net or gross — remain an entirely abstract concept.

    Down here below decks, points is points — and nobody’s got ’em…

  6. Leftover from my days at the restaurant, I tend to call out “behind you!” or “corner.” I’ll also slip every once in awhile and say “heard” instead of “copy.”

  7. When is a junior agent going to read this blog and realize that this is grist for a sitcom? Or that you could more fully develop the characters on 30 Rock with this blog’s content?!?

  8. I’ve never heard anyone — grip or otherwise — yell “points” to alert potential victims to get out of the way. This seems a bit abstract, actually — if I heard an unseen-but-approaching voice yell “points,” I might wonder if I was being offered a percentage of the production’s net profits.

    “Hot points” is the term I’ve heard most often on set, usually by grips carrying dolly track or tripods — which do have sharp points at the end of each leg — or juicers carrying stands (or lamps on stands) from one place to another on set. “Duck or bleed” is another common warning used to alert innocents of approaching danger.

    “Free dental work” is waaaay too abstract. To be effective, a verbal warning must be clear enough to motivate people to react immediately, not lead them to pause while deciphering the meaning of an otherwise nonsensical phrase. By the time someone new to the set (who doesn’t yet know the rules) figures it out, he/she might actually require an emergency trip to the dentist.

    It sounds like this particular grip is one of those morons who like to give PA’s a hard time — which probably means he was never a PA himself. After you’ve had to bring coffee to the director, pick up cigarette butts once the crew leaves a location, and clean up their garbage as a PA, you take no pleasure in making a PA’s already miserable life any worse.

    As a general rule, whenever grips are on the move, just get out of the way ASAP.

    1. You don’t want a portion of the net (monkey points) you want a portion of the gross! That’s what I’d be hoping was about to be offered to me if I heard “Points” yelled out!

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