One of the worst things you can read in next week’s script is, “EXT. [WHEREVER] – NIGHT.”
Say goodbye to your weekend. Say goodbye to your wife and kids. Say goodbye to good, old fashioned sunlight.
You see, we can fake a lot of things in television, but when you’ve gotta shoot outside, day is day. Oh, sure, we can shoot an actor’s close up against a wall and make night look like day by blasting him with HMIs, but making the daytime look like night? That doesn’t really fly anymore.
So, we shoot outside. At night.
You might be thinking, “Big deal, one night shift. So what?”
You gotta look at the whole week. The AD’s aren’t going to schedule four days of 9:00 AM calls, then make Friday a 6:00 PM call. No, it’ll be more like 9:00 AM Monday, 11:00 AM Tuesday, 1:00 PM Wednesday, 3:00 PM Thursday, and then 6:00 PM Friday. If your husband or wife has a regular job, you’re not going to be seeing them from Tuesday on.
‘Course, if you’re single, you obviously can’t go out Friday night (which we now affectionately call “Fraturday”). Sure, you’ll sleep most of the day Saturday, but don’t go crazy Saturday night– there’s a 6:00 AM call on Monday, and you need to get back on a day schedule.
It’s even worse for the office PA’s. When you’re on set, you’re at least surrounded by people in the same sleep-deprived zombie state as you. In the office, the writers go home around six or seven, the rest of office crew is gone by eight, and you’ve got the next ten to fourteen hours to spend some time with your thoughts (or, in my case, blog). Maybe if you have friends in Australia, they can keep you company via Skype.
On my show, this only happens once every couple of episodes. I don’t know how the folks on 24 do it. They’ve got twelve episodes in a row of nothing but night shoots. I’d go batshit if I was their night shift PA.
On the other hand, it’s been a hit show for eight seasons; I’d love that kind of job security.