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A voice for the techies

Beneath the din of star talk, a caustic blogger speaks up for the town's well-shod crews.

December 04, 2005|Mary McNamara | Times Staff Writer

But when she's working downtown, she puts a pair of surgical gloves on first. Downtown shoots also usually mean a lot of "L & D " -- lost and damaged -- especially when it comes to electrical cable. Some of the cable is full of copper, "so if we don't have an armed guard on it, it gets stolen," she says. And homeless people often relieve themselves on the cable that runs down alleys or through warehouses.

"Then we just cut the connectors off, return those to the rental house and leave the cable," she say. "The rental house understands. Believe me. No one wants to deal with that."

But the hardest thing about the techie life is the hours. This is true for most people who work in the entertainment industry, but for the crew, who are first in and last out on any set, it is especially difficult. Archer's most recent romance, which she chronicled on her blog, was with an actor, and it ended because the two were never available at the same time.

"That's typical," she says. "I have a hard enough time keeping friends who don't do this work. They don't understand that I don't know where I'll be working on Friday or how long the shoot will go, so, no, I can't tell you for sure I will meet you at some bar by 10, and I may not be able to answer my phone because I have shut it off because we are rolling."

In the end, working on a crew has to be more than a job. For people like Archer, it's a way of life, a community, almost a counterculture, peopled by grips and gaffers and best boys, by folks who may work their entire lives in Hollywood without ever getting a mention in the trades or seeing their names more than a few times in the end credits.

"We all share an inability to go to an office every day," she says with a laugh. "We're modern-day carnies -- 40 years ago, we would have run away to join the circus."

Contact Mary McNamara at calendar

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