If a film or television production ever invades your neighborhood you’ll see an entire city appear and disappear in the matter of hours. This is possible with the unheralded heroes of film production:
The international brotherhood of teamsters was founded in 1903. The first mass produced automobile was introduced in 1908 so they got a head start on the business of transportation. They were the custodians of goods, services and horses. The Hollywood Teamsters have a unique challenge when addressing the needs of production. This department must somehow transport the entire circus to location before the shooting company arrives, maintain it in silence while the production is recording sound and move it to the next location after working a 13 – 16 hour day.
The typical base camp (our mobile circus) will contain:
Base Camp Generator Tractor
Honey Wagon: small dressing/changing rooms and a mobile lavatory.
Prop Trailer: carries the prop department mobile office and every prop that is called for in the script (and other magic tricks that the director is going to ask for but hasn’t realized that he or she needs it until :45 before we roll or two seconds after we slate).
Special Effects Trailer: A mobile fabrication shop and greasy and exploding things, the special effects men. (Could have used a semicolon I suppose)
Actor Trailers: On a typical single camera episodic for doubles and two lager “Winnebagos” for the number one and two main actors.
Hair and Makeup trailer
Craft service truck: the mobile kitchen snack/ caffeine depot that fuels the crew
The Catering Truck: The Kitchen and Crew that serves breakfast and lunch to the whiny crew.
The double trailers and offices are pulled to location stake bed trucks that the drivers also make supply runs and help move what needs to be moved before, during and after the shooting day.
The Camera Truck is usually parked close to location to allow for faster mag changes, camera maintenance and to quiet the crybaby Director ofPhotography.
If the company wrapped the night before at 8:00 PM and the call the next morning is 7:00 AM do the math and eliminate any paradox applying Einsteins theory of relativity and explain how this happens. I’m waiting…
In addition to base camp there are typically four 15 passenger vans* to transport the crew to and from parking to location, do small runs and pickups for the various departments and hold the actors out of the cold or heat between shots when the trailers or too far from the company.
*The van drivers are also certified psychotherapists and know who hates who and who has a crush on whom. They may not speak much but they hear everything.
The challenges of the Teamsters never really end so I give them a break for being a bit cranky.
There are also “off production” drivers and vehicles to help prep the sets and locations before the shooting company arrives and clean up the mess after we’ve moved on to the next invasion.
The Transportation Coodinator: The coach. Sets the game plan for how the circus will land, disperse and return.
The Transportation Captain: Quarterback. Executes the game plan and tells the play to all the players (drivers)
The Picture Car Coodinator: Finds, rents and arranges for delivery to set of the vehicles required per the script. Fire Engines, police cruisers, ambulances, sports cars, jalopies and all manner of motorized vehicles have to get to the set and operate properly.
There’s an army of drivers to pilot each vehicle and most of them have some knowledge of how to maintain and patch up the vehicles that take a beating with all the wear and tear.
Before a company arrives a Teasmter (location manager) has scouted and prepared the residents/occupants of the coming invasion. We try our best to be considerate and curteous as we are guests. When a shoot invades a business or residential area we light up the place with excitement, buzz and energy. After its all over we have disappeared with no trace and we can thank the teamsters.
(I hope I don’t have to write this on top of a doughnut box to get a review)
Speaking of doughnuts David Marder, a seasoned teamster that I know through Casual Sex* wrote a wonderful book entitled : “It takes more than a doughnut to make a movie”. https://ittakesmorethanadonut.wordpress.com
*Casual Sex? Feature film: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094846/.
Next: The Lighting Department: Grip and Electricians
Bruce Bellamy IATSE Local 44. firstname.lastname@example.org (323) 382-5412.
Best or ninth best on-set dresser depending upon how much coffee I’ve had and who else is available.
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Through errant operation of the WordPress app I lost the first draft of this post. If you spot any incongruences, repetitive statements, redundancies or run on sentences that say the same thing over and over again, please leave a note or comment for me down there so I can correct it. Okay?