Tales From the Bottom of the Film Business

Sunday, February 12, 2006


As Danator mentioned in her comment on the pervious post, when I last wrote I was getting ready to leave on a long trip. Not that I was trying to hide it from anyone, just thinking I would get in one last post before I left. Well, that was just idiocy. Note to those of you who foolishly turn here for advice of any kind: when you're planning on leaving the country for an extended period of time, don't tell yourself you'll actually get anything done beyond the absolute minimum necessary for getting you from here to there, certainly not posting one last snarky missive to a blog that´s read pretty much only by your friends and a handful of other people (I love you, even if you criticize my terminology or are only reading to try to get me to work on your short films, gratis). And your parents. I can´t vouch for anyone else but my they love my blog, despite the foul language, and my mom has even commented - anonymously, so as not to embarass me. It´s kind of sad when there are only three comments on your blog, and one of them's from your mom. And the other two are spam.

So anyway, here´s the last post I was meaning to write, which I had to finish in a pleasant German bar while eating chicken schnitzel (I´m not actually anywhere near Germany, mind you, but those Germans, they set up shop with their schnitzel all over). And if this internet cafe thing doesn´t threaten to bankrupt me, there may be more. Not with the same sporadic infrequency as usual, but just enough to keep you from going elsewhere. Though really, where else would you go for this nonsense?

And thanks again, Danator, for the ¨Speed Motherfuckers¨t-shirt. It´s awesome.

It´s a Gay Cowboy Movie, Get Over It

As I think I´ve mentioned before - or if not, I´ve been meaning to complain about it sooner - I work in a pretty male-dominated environment. There are just very few women on a set compared to the number of men, and they´re generally confined to certain departments, like production (producer, coordinator, PAs), hair, make-up and wardrobe, and set dressing, that aren´t always on set in the down and dirty. Sure, the script supervisor is just about always a woman (it´s a position tailor-made for the detail-oriented enabler in all of us), and you find the occasional girl grip or electric or AC, or even the extremely rare woman DP or director - like if it´s a commercial for tampons of stretch mark cream, what guy wants to do that shit? But quite often, I find myself the only chick in the center of a testosterone fest. I´m so used to it that unless it´s an unusually high level (eg The Sopranos on a Bada Bing day), I don´t even notice any more.

Much. But in the past few weeks before I left, I was on three separate jobs (see, and you thought I was lying about being busy), and on all of them, the Brokeback Mountain jokes were just aflying.

"Easy now, this is not a Brokeback Mountain situation."
"What do you think this is, Brokeback Mountain?"
"Okay, no Brokeback Mountain here, all right?"

I mean, all right already. One of these jobs, I was on for six days. Could these jokes possibly six days´worth of funny? Granted, long hours with the same people breeds "in" jokes like chocolate bunnies in April, and the funny increases the more they are repeated. Theoretically. But was it all that funny to begin with?

Even Barry Markowitz had to make the joke. DP Markowitz is sort of a well-known commodity in the New York film community for having his own peculiar brand of humor/verbal tics. Some of his best known lines, repeated sometimes several times an hour in his trademark Harvey Fierstein/Ethel Merman (for volume) voice:

"Bubbelah, Tatelah, move, you´re in my light!"
¨Don´t cover my name on the slate!"
"Let´s shoot this I´m beggin´ya!"
sometimes followed by,
"I´m Menachem Begin ya!"
"Roll the sound, ´somebody!"

He´s also known for biting his knuckle suggestively at the AD. Suggestive of what, I don´t know, but ADs don´t like it, or being called "Tatelah," or having someone else tell them when to roll the sound. They especially hate that. Still, once you get used to the yelling, all of this gives him his own, unique brand of bizarro charm. And yet, even this king of on-set eccentricities felt the need to deviate from his own bottomless repetoire of shtick, with:

"What is this, a Brokeback Mountain thing?"

After a point, it becomes clear: this is not humor. It´s discomfort. And to hide it and prove you´re one of the guys and not one of them guys, you´ve gotta make the joke. Well, you know what, gentlemen? Men have sex with other men. It happens. They even like it. But just because you brush past another guy´s elbow - which is pretty hard not to do, it´s a film set, it´s a lot of people working together, often in a small space - does not mean you want to have sex with them. And nobody thinks you do. Especially if you´re fat, 50ish and have a heavy Brooklyn accent. Not that some of those guys may not be gay, there´s just no real fear of anyone jumping to that conclusion. (Of course, plenty of young hot guys have been making the joke too. And for the record, Barry Markowitz is not fat. I´m just trying to make a point here, which is:)

Deal with it, for Christ´s sake. Not to blame Ang Lee or anything, it´s a good thing Brokeback got made and has gotten so much attention. Clearly, if this film can cause so much agita even among men in the New York film community, in Satan´s heartland, where they certainly know at least a few gay men who do hair and make-up, the country needs a little waking up. But I just wish guys who work all day with other guys would hurry up and get used to the idea of the actual sex and love part of gayness and not feel like there´s any chance of confusing that with your average male bondage, so I can stop listening to this crap. Perhaps all this will have changed by the time I get back. Or at least Oscar time will be over.