“Do you have the wig sorted,” I first ask the art director about ten days ago. I know my L actor hasn’t been asked head measurements yet. “It’s not my area, but someone is looking after it,” I’m told. “Great,” I say, and brake gently to let a pedestrian cross the road.
“Just checking the wig is in hand? Without the wig we don’t have a L and that’s going to fall on me,” I say again, five days ago. “Someone’s going to be on hair and make-up, it’s not my area.” “Cool, but someone’s on it?” “Of course someone’s on it.” “Great,” I finish, and the lights change to green.
The day before yesterday I check with costume department instead: “Have you got the wig in time for the fitting?” “Hair and make-up will have the wig.” “Ok, do you know who’s on hair and make-up?” “H will know.” “Oh great – so H has got someone?” “Yeah there’ll be someone.” “Fine then. H said someone was on it a few days ago. I’ll relax,” I say, as I check my mirrors and indicate left.
There are wiggies out there with a box full of wigs. They’ve got everything. They aren’t cheap but they’re incredible. I’ve met them. I’ve kissed one. She was a great kisser. H must have booked one of those wonderful wiggies, I think, knowing my actor still hasn’t been asked for head measurements. H hasn’t seemed concerned every time I’ve checked. It must be in hand. I ease forward gently, aware of the dangerous driver on my right.
Today. 4pm. The shops close in an hour until after the shoot. I’m talking to the Art Director – the one who has told me “someone” is on it for over a week now. This time I’m actually in the office, not on speakerphone. I’m standing in Art Department.
“I’m just sending the call time to the L for tomorrow to get into his wig,” I say. “I’m calling him an hour ahead of the others so we can get him fitted up. Can you give me the email of whoever is on hair and make-up?”
“I don’t know who that is. That’s not my area.”
… that’s weird, I think. Who is your someone if you don’t know their email …
I’m sent to M. M booked me. Must’ve booked the someone.
“Hi, I’m just doing the calls for the show and tell tomorrow and I don’t have an email for hair and makeup for L?” M looks confused. “Ask H?” … “H sent me to you.”
I go back to H. By now I’ve realised that “someone” means “not me” to H but I’m still hoping… hoping. But no.
The word “should” has gotten involved when I wasn’t looking. The most poisonous word in the dictionary.
Delineations in this chaos? Really?
“Not my area.”
Oh actual fuck. We need L tomorrow and we’ve got a bloke with a face. This has been my prime concern for over a week. “Someone”.
A knife of cold runs right through me. Art MUST KNOW that nobody is on this… The amount of times I’ve checked with them. I go to art department again.
“I gave M the numbers of two people I know,” Art shrugs. “They should have phoned and booked one of them.” Another shrug.
“not my area” dances around in my head like the acid sequence in a 70’s TV show spiralling in crazy patterns alongside ticking clocks and eyes held open with toothpicks. tickticktickticknotmyareasomeonesomeonetickticktick
SOMEONE has dug a hole and let someone else walk into it and it feels it’s because of a notion of delineation of labour. If I hadn’t caught it at the last second it would’ve been considerably worse. Just as well there’s a driver that doesn’t draw a line around himself. I wasn’t even supposed to be there for another 4 hours. I just got in early to make sure all the actors had information.
It’s like “someone” would sooner make a point than get the job done smoothly.
“Can you call one of these two people of yours?” I beg H.
“It’s not my job.”
“Well, I’m a fucking driver. Do you think it’s my job? Come on do me a solid and help me out here. We’re all pulling in the same direction aren’t we?” Is that another shrug?
“Ok. I’m on it.”
A friend of H comes in at short notice and wants enough to get an Oculus Rift every day for a just few hours work tomorrow and a slightly longer day Sunday. We’ve got no choice. It’d take me three days to afford an Oculus Rift, dammit. Last minute wigs. That’s where the real money’s at.
This all could’ve been avoided if “someone” had said ten days ago: “I’m drawing a circle around myself and what I’m supposed to be doing and anything outside of that isn’t mine to deal with or care about. Just so you know in case you need to pick up some slack.”
I know now. I’ve aged ten years.
Event shoots like this don’t work like major movie sets. This is a temporary team. The budget isn’t the same. And nobody is psychic. And lots of people are doing things for the first time.
You pull shit like that and it isn’t the big American company that loses, like it is in your imagination, it’s the little event company that’s won the big pitch. The one that’s paying your wage. The one that’s making this work possible for you and your team of friends.
A producer friend of mine catches me in the corridor just after it all explodes. I’m fuming. It’s palpable.
“It’s not your money Al,” he gently reminds me. “Let it go.” But it is my money because I’m so fucking angry I forget to renew my parking and I now I have a parking ticket.
And it’s also my time, because nobody else is going to drive to Slough and back to pick the fucking wig up. Three hours round trip in the worst of London traffic. Give credit where it’s due, the expensive wig guy found the wig in less than half an hour – although I think the company paid monopoly money figures for the rental too. And it was in fucking Slough.
You live and learn. If you’re kind and willing, don’t assume everybody else is.
I don’t feel taken advantage of, by the way. I’m happy to be working hard – and actually if I ask for extra days for my extra work I will get paid extra days without question because they know me and trust me and that trust goes both ways.
I will ask too. They know that. They more or less told me to do it. Because they’re good people who know I won’t take the piss because I know they won’t.
This is why I’m baffled. I hope I’m wrong about it. Maybe it just seems like this whole shitstorm was intended as some passive aggressive object lesson.
Maybe I just prevented a massive drop at the last possible second by sheer chance. But I can’t help think that “someone” might have realised, considering my repeated concerns about it, that noone was actually on the job…