Adventures of a Career Changer – The World of Film Location Work

Dear Blogosphere…it has been 20 days since my last confession err post. I hope someone missed me! Truth be told, I have written and scrapped a few posts, so if you haven’t missed me then please be grateful for that.

Happy to say that my silence has been for positive reasons as I have been meeting new people and trying more new things. Most of these didn’t entail making any money, and more often than not they involve spending it.
When you leave your job like I did, you start to try and think of ways to pay the bills, if only so you can sleep at night. During my usual trawl of the internet looking for ideas I hit upon renting my house out for film location work. Last week I had my first booking.

black and white clapboard

The internet version of things makes it sound very easy — like free money if you will. The reality is slightly more painful, but still not a bad few days income.

When the agency first approach you the spec is for ‘one bedroom and bathroom’ — perfect, not too much disruption. Two ‘recces’ later and we have established that the crew will also film two tiny little scenes in the kitchen and lounge. Still no biggie. Oh and can they leave equipment overnight? Oh and can they bring a dog? The cats ears twitched, but I said yes.

Then two days of haggling over the price and we are all booked. So far, so good.

The house is theirs from 8am until 8pm and sure enough at 8am the doorbell goes for the first time and I open the door to a scrumptious young lady who wants to know where the make up room is (don’t ask me), 30 seconds later a lady with a clothes rail over her shoulder asking for the wardrobe room (err pass). We walk around the house to choose a suitable room and she swings the rail about like a scene from a bad comedy until I suggest she puts it down while we look, thereby saving myself three wall lights.

In the end I stop answering the door as it is now wedged open and a small army of people arrive. I have no idea how many people are now in my house — or in fact if they are film crew or just savvy burglars who wander the streets looking for fools who are using their homes as film locations.

The last person to arrive is the Production Manager. Sounds great, but she spends an hour unloading her car which is stacked high with breakfast, lunch and tea for 20 people for two days. My kitchen becomes hers.
Production Manager appears to be a rather grand title for Mum as everyone turns to her for advice, food, cups of tea and bars of comfort chocolate. She worked hard for whole two days, not only keeping the crew sweet, but also cleaning my kitchen and making sure that I was sweet too.
Over the two days of filming emotions run high. Fascinating to see team politics in operation in a group of creative types when I am so used to the politics of Investment Banking.

Firstly there was the parking issue. Nine cars in total that need to be moved, or have their parking paid regularly throughout the day. I quickly worked out that being the person in charge of parking is considered to be a ‘runners’ job and as no-one was a ‘runner’ they all refused to take care of it. The result? They all got parking tickets and then shouted at each other for 20 minutes about whose fault it was. Oh yes, that’s makes sense.

One young guy who sat in my kitchen all day on a laptop was enraged to be asked to make a cup of tea by another crew member. He made it, all the while muttering under his breath and then turned to me and said ‘He thinks I’m a runner you know and I am not…I am an assistant researcher!’. It was really hard to offer him sympathy, after all it was just a cup of tea…

There were a few other spats which kept me amused, and I met some very nice new people in my very own kitchen. One of the crew was a 50 year old Career Changer like me. He had given up his film career 10 years before and trained as a massage therapist and psychotherapist in the intervening years. He had been persuaded to come out of retirement for this job. He is a set designer and even I could see he was phenomenal at his job. In a few hours he converted my bathroom and bedroom into Brittany Murphy’s. Built fake windows, hid the toilet and stacked the place out with bottles. It is hard to believe that someone could do that job so brilliantly and still want to do something else. I have no idea if his return to filming was a glitch or permanent, I don’t think he did, but he is living proof that just because you are good at something it doesn’t mean it makes you happy.

I am grateful to this film crew for helping me through my first location work, although they had their own spats they were totally charming to me. Next time I am going to try and earn some extra money by offering to be their runner for the price of a few parking tickets!

Oh and in case you are wondering…they really do say ‘It’s a wrap’ when they finish!

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