Monday, August 25, 2008

War Stories.

On a Tech Scout, you spend a lot of time on the bus going from one location to another. Some of that time is spent talking about the place you just looked at, but more of it is spent getting acquainted or re-acquainted with other folks who are on the job.

We tend to tell stories about stuff that's happened on previous jobs...War Stories!

Here's one I heard today, and one from me about a job I did years ago.

The new one:

Our Director just finished a movie in South Carolina. On the first day of the job, one of the grips showed up in a shiny new car. During breakfast, before the actual crew call, a bunch of folks were admiring the new car. One wanted to know what kind of mileage it got. He answered that he had only picked it up the day before and had only put about 60 miles on it. He promised to let them know once he'd driven it more.

(I have to interrupt the story a minute to give you some background. Once the trucks park during the day, they can't just run off to the gas station to top off the tanks, so we have a fuel truck that fills all of the trucks and generators that need it. This also saves tons of overtime on the drivers because they don't have to stop on the way back to where the trucks live overnight.)

Anyway, one of the crew made a deal with the Teamster Captain. Every day, the fuel truck would put a couple of gallons into this grip's new car. Not enough to fill it, but enough that the level never fell by much.

Around the fifth week of shooting the original guy went back to the grip and said, "So now that you've had it for a while, how's the mileage on the new car?' The grip gushed that he was still on his first tank of gas. It was still over 1/2 full and he'd driven over 1500 miles.

They never let him run out of gas for the rest of the show. We're all curious to find out what his reaction was to how much gas he started using as soon as the job was over.

My Story:

Coincidentally, on a job in South Carolina. I've mentioned before that when we're out of NYC, I end up hiring a lot of off-duty police details. Sometimes it's for working on the shooting set; sometimes it's for overnight security. At any rate, I can become fairly popular with a local police department.

On that job, most of the locations were outside of the city itself, so I was dealing mostly with County Police. Most of our locations were 60 miles or so in every direction from the hotel where we were actually living. Needless to say, some of us tried to cut a few minutes off of the drive.

Shortly into this job, the Producer hands me 11 speeding tickets and asks me to see if I can't get them fixed. I called my contact and told him all about it and he said to drop them by his office and he'd see what he can do. Now, apparently, in the jurisdiction, there are a couple of ways a ticket might be forgiven, but in all cases, it requires the officer who wrote the ticket to go along as well.

So I get a call from my contact a few days later. He says, he can get rid of ten of the tickets, but his boss says it's on the condition that the Producer get a driver and not be seen behind the wheel of a car in this county for the duration of the show. "Done," I say, "What's the problem with the 11th one?"

"Is it possible your Producer called one of my officers a cocksucker?", he asks.

"I'm surprised he didn't call all of them cocksuckers! We'll pay that one."

Those are my two stories from today.



Jim Wright said...

Ha! Tell us more, tell us more, Nathan.

New car story:

Once I was deployed on a training run with a heavy special operations unit in northern Maine (very similar to Serbian winter forest territory, if you get my drift here). The unit was a mobile operations detachment, consisting of about fifteen very large tractor trailer rigs. While the trailers looked like ordinary semi trailer (they weren't), the tractors were large, powerful, massive six wheel drive military monsters. They weren't fast, but they could plow through hood deep mud and snow without effort. The system we were deploying was a classified prototype, a very, very expensive one - and as such we had a group of Senate Armed Services Committee JAFO's show up from D.C. to observe (JAFO? Just Another Fucking Observer. Yes, we had that printed on their hardhats, no they never asked what it meant).

They showed up in something black and sleek and expensive as all hell - a Lexus I think, but I won't swear to it - and they parked it directly behind the row of tractors. In the clear zone (the safety buffer in the blind spot behind the tractors). The deployment site was a noisy and chaotic place as we assembled what would eventually be a system that covered over fifty acres. I was running one end of the operation, deploying a large antenna subsystem, when we had a major hydraulic failure in one of the subassemblies. I sent one of the crew to get a tractor, so we could jumper off it's hydraulic PTO and move the faulty piece of equipment.

I heard a strange noise. A loud strange noise, like a tractor engine roaring under load. Odd. I looked up to see one of the tractors backing over the JAFOmobile. No, really. In fact, when I started screaming into the radio at the driver to STOP! the tractor was sitting directly on top of the car. The crewman didn't notice, the terrain was rough and the tractor was just that massive.

You should have seen the congressional idiots trying to explain the accident to the rental company. Priceless.

Steve Buchheit said...

Ha! When I was in charge of Streets I had the (mis)fortune to hire some people. Part of the standard speech was "People are going to curse you, be mean to you and flip you off. You are the most visible extension of their Village Government. Be nice and wave back with all five fingers."

Jim, yeah, "Um, it got rolled over by this thing we can't tell you about because it wasn't there and neither were we."