One of the many , many things I do to earn an honest crust , is to work as a "Unit Nurse" on various film sets.Basically, any film production company, whether they are shooting a feature film or a TV episode or even a commercial has to have first aid coverage-and most companies use Registered Nurses to provide that cover.
Its 'nice work'.Most of the crew are self employed or contracted-in...as such,everybody is polite and helpful and friendly...otherwise they're not asked back.
And it pays very well.Indeed , currently in the UK it costs about £1 million to shoot 1 hour of a TV drama.
Until you get on set...where there were never less than about 40 people on set at any time including the 'creative' people;the 'talent' and of course the working stiffs.
The Producer is like the Emperor of the production and everybody fawns all over him;the Director is like a King and a lot of people fawn over him;and the poor old 1st Assistant Director is the Prime Minister who actually has to get everything done...and whom nobody cares about...except his people!
Even the camera has a team of 5 people to work it!
And lets not forget the food...breakfast would not have shamed any good 5-star hotel...I personally has muesli and yogurt;scrambled eggs,sausage,bacon,tomato and toast;some danish pastry;coffee with skimmed milk and juice.
For lunch I had a pork chop with 3 vegetables;4 salads;and there was a choice of 5 breads;4 different biscuits and 5 cheeses;and 2 hot desserts-I had the rhubarb and raspberry crumble...with custard and cream...well,you would,wouldn't you?
And all day there were endless rounds and tea and coffee;biscuits;sandwiches;pork pies;cream scones and the ubiquitous bottles of fancy water.
As the Unit Nurse , you pretty much have carte blanche on the set because you have to know the physical layout to forestall any potential risks or to plan a response in the event of an emergency.You also typically have a walkie-talkie so that everyone can contact you-which means in turn that you know what is happening all the time;and when you're 'on location',-like I was last week-,working between 6 different sites for the same shoot,then you're allowed to take your car , with your first aid equipment to the site...and sit in it...until needed...which is very nice because everyone else has to walk or share a mini-bus...and of course,effectively my car is my office...so its warm and dry and well stocked with all the little things that make life palatable...like chocolate...and books...and chocolate...
THE VIEW FROM MY SEAT,WALKIE TALKIE ON THE DASHBOARD WHILST THE CREW SPREAD PLAYPEN SAND ON THE BEACH
I mention books because despite what you might think,its very boring.Very boring.
To give you an idea...in a 10 hour working day,they shot 6 different scenes...that basically an hour to set the scene up;15 minutes to shoot perhaps 2-3 minutes of film and then 15 minutes to strike the set,pack up and move to the next location.
The scene that were shot included some footprints in the sand...and a boy and his father standing still on the beach whilst the boy held his fathers fingers.
So whilst the set was being prepared,I would sit in my car reading...thinking...sleeping...and then I would go and stand on set when the camera was rolling.
SETTING UP A SCENE
I read an interview with Clint Eastwood recently in 'Sight+Sound' in which he describes basically setting up the scene,letting the action happen,and generally only doing 1 take...he feels it's more real ...
So there I was on Friday with the Art Director brushing playpen sand onto the regular beach sand...and with the Director doing endless retakes of 2 sets of footprints...
Now...I don't have an Oscar...but honestly...10 retakes of a footprint?
Still...all I had to do was hand out 2 paracetamol and check someones' toe...they cut their nail too deeply.
I love the movies!
Lordy lordy...but that lunch was nice!