Sunday, July 10, 2005

On the Set

Today, they were shooting a commercial at the Subway restaurant right next to Laser Blazer. I can't see why they'd choose that particular Subway, personally. It's kind of small, and it's located on a rather unglamorous corner of Pico Blvd. in Rancho Park. It's hardly the sort of ideal, suburban Subway you'd imagine them choosing to highlight in a national TV spot.

But there the trucks were, early this morning. I've been to a few movie and TV sets, and I'm always surprised at the sheer number of people required to obtain relatively simple footage of things like, say, the exterior of a Subway restaurant. There were at least 75 people milling about the Subway this morning in front of our store, and only 5 or 6 seemed involved in some specific task. The rest were hanging out in some sort of daze, listening languidly to their walkie-talkies on the off-chance someone important actually needed them to provide a service, such as adjusting a reflective screen to concentrate more sunlight, or going down to Starbucks for more macchiatos.

The other thing you notice about LA whenever anything is being shot on the streets...As soon as a citizen of this city comes within 100 yards of filmmaking equipment, he starts thinking he's David O. Selznick.

"What are they shooting over here?," they're prone to ask. "They getting good coverage on the back of that Subway? I think I saw a crane back there...what kind of rigging are they using? With it be 35 mm film or a more standard 16? What about the aperture? That is a word, right? Aperture?"

It's retarded. I must have said the phrase "they're just filming a Subway commercial next door" 100 times today. And the phrase "No, I haven't seen Jared" immediately after 75 of those times.

I was thankful the film crew was around, though, about halfway through the day. My car wouldn't start, you see. It was making this pathetic noise when I turned the key in the ignition, like a car that wanted to start but just couldn't muster the strength. If it had been a cartoon car, it would have looked like Benny the Cab immediately after he's been Dipped at the end of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Anyway, some helpful, friendly crew member, who just happened to be passing by the pathetic spectacle of a small, non-mechanically-inclined Jew hopelessly turning the ignition of a Dipped car, managed to give me a jump start. But only after noticing that my battery was secreting some kind of goo-like substance that, from what I understand, immediately took off chasing Steve McQueen down Pico Blvd., headed for parts unknown.

Seriously, though, crud was coming out of the battery. I went to touch it, and then realized that I'm an idiot, and you shouldn't ever touch anything that has just leaked out of a dead car battery. I ended up touching it anyway. Then the helpful crew guy got me a rag, and told me not to wipe it on my pants.

So everything worked out. I still need a new car battery, and my mother called to warn me that my car could now die on me at any time so I really ought to start worrying intensely about it. I'll have to go get a new car battery tomorrow morning before work. (Oh boy! A costly early-morning errand!)

But at least I wasn't stranded in the parking lot behind Laser Blazer, along with the creepy shirtless guy who lives in his van back there. I wish I were making that up, but I'm not. There is a creepy shirtless guy who lives in a red van in the parking lot behind Laser Blazer. Sometimes he barbecues hamburgers back there, next to his van, and I contemplate why a shirtless guy living in a van gets to eat better than I do. Then, I go and start my shift.

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