Union guys have a reputation for being lazy and surly. Having worked on a few union jobs, I can tell you that’s anything but the truth. These guys and gals work hard. Lay out a quarter mile of 4/0 feeder cable and see what I mean. They’re also really nice. At least most of them. The only mean union guy I ever met was a Teamster who tried to be dick to me but was really, really bad at it. I just laughed.
Our DP was a real New York “art” type. A great guy, a great DP, but he wasn't super decisive, would often change his mind about camera or light placement, meaning the lighting guys would have to move stuff. They didn’t like that. It’s their job, but they didn’t like it. So the gaffer, this crusty old douche, was being super cranky about everything.
One thing he was particularly pissed about was the morning break. As in there was no morning break. This is standard in the non-union world, and honestly, the union guys in New York don’t even take a morning break. But this guy insisted they get a fifteen minute break three hours into the shoot. Not only that, but production was obligated by the union rules (which they were supposedly working under) to provide shelter, a table and chairs so they could take their break sitting on their fat asses. If these demands weren’t met, then no crew the rest of the week.
So production caved. Since we’d have to take our break in a grocery store parking lot, they went out and bought a pop-up tent, a folding tables and a bunch of folding chairs, all more crap we had to cram into our already stuffed to the gills fleet of minivans. But as demanded, three hours into the shoot, the pop-up was deployed, the folding table unfolded with a spread of coffee, bagels and fruit laid out, and chairs around.
In terms of truck politics, the Teamster is the guy who drives the truck, supervises the load and unload, and then kind of hangs around trying to be useful. Or sleeps in the cab. Our teamster on this job was super useful.
The Genny Op is in charge of operating the generator (duh) and also is supposed to know where everything on the truck is. You want to know where the 1K nook lights are? Ask the Genny Op.
Our Genny Op is a guy named Tommy. Good guy. But at one point of the day he kind of disappears. We suddenly need to wire up a bunch of practical lights, which means we need to find male Edison plugs. You know, the same kind of plug you have on the end of your toaster cord. (Though you people in England are on 220v instead of 110v so the plugs are very different. Though they serve the same purpose.) Anyway, we need plugs and can’t find them. Tommy is the guy who knows, but we can’t find Tommy.
We keep searching, in crates, boxes, bags, and in this giant tool chest. This is a massive, rolling unit five feet wide lined with large shelves. We’ve been thorough it once but didn't find what we’re looking for.
“Tommy, Tommy, come in Tommy.”
We keep searching. We’ve been searching for maybe 10 minutes and have gone back to that big tool chest for another look when we call Tommy again.
“Tommy, Tommy, come in, Tommy. We can’t find the male Edisons. Can you…”
Suddenly, from right above us we hear: “What!?!” We look up and Tommy is there, directly above that big tool chest we’re searching. He turned one of the high shelves into a bunk and has been sleeping up there the entire time we’ve been searching. Literally less that 18 inches away from us while we’ve been calling for him on the walkie talkie.
“Ah, we’re looking for the male Edison plugs,” someone says.
“Oh, yeah, I left those in the jockey box. Right next to the Refractil.” He then rolls over and goes back go sleep.
But, hey, the plugs are right where he said they’d be.