Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Double Dipping!

Early in my career, I got a phone call late on a Thursday night. There was a company coming to NY the following Monday and they needed a bunch of iconic establishing shots of NYC. The game plan was that I'd meet them at their hotel before sunrise and we'd hop in a van with 4 crew members, me and a camera and tripod. They'd say, "We need a shot down 42nd street with the sun rising in the background. Take us to a good spot to get that shot." So, the next day, I pulled an extremely vague permit (which was still possible to get in the early 90's). On Monday, I met them...we got maybe 7 or 8 shots they wanted...and at 11:00 a.m. they said, "We're done".

On the way back to drop them back at their hotel, my beeper went off twice in rapid succession. Returning the calls in the order they'd paged me, I was asked if I was available to scout immediately for a commercial the company was bidding. I said, "Why sure, I'm in Mid-town; I've got my camera and nothing but time." So, gainfully employed for the second time in one day, I returned the second call, fully expecting to have to tell someone that I wasn't available. The second person who had called was a little breathless when she got on the phone and wouldn't let me get a word in edgewise. She told me they had a rush job; they were bidding a commercial and needed possible locations by the end of the day. She went on to describe the exact same location and product as the folks I'd just spoken to.

"Hmm! They're both bidding the same commercial", thought I. Only one of them will be awarded the job...and whoever that is will only need one location. Furthermore, knowing Directors like I do, the chances that two directors would like the same location were pretty tiny. So, I proceeded to scout 3 or 4 possible locations. I went to the lab and had two sets of prints made for each location and I dropped them off to each company with an invoice for each company.

Three jobs in one day. Needless to say, I was pleased with myself.

Cut to June 11, 2008. I've mentioned that I'm working on a show for one of the Cable networks that has NYC Detectives telling stories about interesting cases they've worked on. I'm finding the locations to shoot re-enactments of the crimes. At first, I was just hired to work a couple of weeks and find some of the major locations they needed. Every time we were approaching the end of the time they said they'd need me, they extended my employment. Ultimately, they said they'd like me to stay on and manage the locations throughout their shooting schedule...until mid-August. "Excellent", I said, but just so you know, I have a prior commitment for a British movie that's shooting for one day in NY. "Fine", they said. "That won't be a problem."

So, here I am on two companies' payroll in one day. Needless to say, once again, I'm pleased with myself. I'm sitting parked beside the road looking across the Grand Central Parkway at Laguardia Airport waiting for them to arrive and meet up with us to do a variety of driving shots. The specifics of what they want are...vague. Once again, I've filed the most vague permit I could get away with and I've arranged for a cop to meet us with a cruiser to lead us around and otherwise help us get whatever shots these folks come up with once they're on the ground. Since we're going to spend most of the day running around in cars, I'll ride in the cop car and make phone calls for the other job I'm on. I won't feel the least bit guilty because I actually will get stuff done for each company and they each know I'm working for both of them.

Update posted at the end of the day: The day went great...very easy stuff and the cop we got was one of the good ones who actually sees it as his job to help us get our job done. (Have I mentioned that in NY, production companies aren't charged for police assistance and there's a unit of 25-30 cops who do nothing but work on movie sets?) At any rate, I sat in the front seat of the police car, blathered on the walkie talkie every once in a while, told said cop where we wanted to go next, emailed followup permits to the Film Office (it's magic, I tell you, magic!), and babbled a few times to the Producer on the other job.

I was home by 4:02 p.m. I am twice paid and utterly pleased with myself. I know. It's disgusting.

P.S. Eric did a post today about a nifty new feature for your sidebar on Blogger that not only links your bloggy friends, it also names and dates their most recent post. I am so replacing my blogroll with that. I think I'll have one for blogs I look at often and leave the plain old normal linky one for places I like...but less often. I know this is a thing that Blogger has produced for all of us, but I feel a little guilty...almost like I'm stealing Eric's idea. (Not guilty enough to not use it though.) Look for shiny new feature later tonight. Hot Damn!


Random Michelle K said...


I wouldn't mind an additional paycheck.

If only it didn't have to come with additional work.

(I actually can't complain. I've turned down web design jobs before that I could have done at work.)

Anonymous said...

I have no problem occasionally writing a fiction snippet at work if it's slow - but I probably wouldn't take paid work.

Double dipping would be good though. :)