1. Everyone lives in West London. Like.. I mean really, last time I filmed in East London (which is where I live), I never EVER heard so much kvetching in my whole life about the long commute. I smiled smugly to myself and thought "this is what my commute has looked like every day for the rest of the shoot, suckers" and then I went home and had 8 hours sleep and ate my dinner at 7:30pm like a respectable and vaguely-normal human being.
2. We are hungry, not just often, but every minute of every day. At any given moment there are ALWAYS snacks lurking around on set, which given the frequency and volume that we are fed by production, makes it really odd that we still always descend on any rustling bag or surplus box of 'prop' jaffa cakes, like vultures that haven't seen carrion since Lady Gaga went out to promote her new album in those shorts.
3. We are all in it together. The hours and the commute working on a film or television show set are long. Incredibly long. One thing that I have found especially inspiring, is that irrespective of the length of our days, everyone is there; ploughing on through the day together. There is sometimes a particular moment post-afternoon break, where we can occasionally slip into what I have heard referred to by Grips as "KBS"*, but there usually isn't a man woman or child that leaves set earlier than anyone else. It's what gets me though the day every day.
4. When one of us get's sick, we all get sick. It's such a hideous phenomenon that it even has its own name "Crew Flu". We don't only get simple sick either, we have a cycle of it that lasts for 5 weeks on end and encompasses every virulent, pustulant, snivelling variation of whatever sickness that we are ailed with at that moment. It reminds me of those parties that you used to get taken to when you were little so that all the kids in the local nursery could get afflicted with Chicken Pox, lest we die of Shingles as adults.
5. The Grips have the chat. If you ever want to know the 'unofficial' or politically incorrect or HR terror-inducing name for something on set, ask a Grip. 'Chutney', 'Spanish', 'KBS' and 'Crew Flu' (see above), all fall into this category, but you'll have to wait for a later post to read what they actually mean.
6. The sound crew properly recycle batteries. Which is great. They use a lot of batteries for their kit you see, so if I have some random batteries laying around at home and I can't get to a Sainsbury's or Waitrose to put them in the special box and recycle them properly, then I bring them to work and give them to the sound crew; and rest safe in the knowledge that they're being responsibly wasted and not just dropped into landfill and poisoning some poor unsuspecting fish someplace.
7. Nobody minds if you sneeze during the middle of a take. I mean don't get me wrong; it can be distracting, especially if it's a really important, much-planned sequence or something that's taken a lot of prep, but sneezing is a natural occurrence and cannot just be conjured up maliciously. And if it is a scene that's going to be one take, it's likely to be a stunt of some description and no-one will hear your sternutation over the sound of 25lbs of nitro going up under a Ferrari whilst Jason Statham's body double flies through the windshield at 70 mph. Don't worry.
8. We don't throw anyone under the bus. You can add to that also, that trainees are allowed to fail. In fact they are almost expected to, because at 'qualified' levels people are expected to be as such. That being said, if people make mistakes; so be it, we don't screw them over. We are serious. We are there to do a job and everyone wants to get it done. If someone makes a mistake, erases a memory card, does manage to break a piece of kit or a truck gets stolen for example, no-one is going to blame anyone for long because that's defeatist and boring. Film crews are solutions people. It's what they do all day long and they're good at it. You want 2 feet of water to look like an olympic pool? No problem. We fix and conjure all day long, and we DON'T like to have to repeat stuff too many times, so we crack on with the patch and move on with the shoot.
9. We love a prank, and we are easy to prank. This doesn't have to involve whoopee cushions or exploding ink pens, indeed - nor should it. As long as you don't REALLY mess with someone's stuff, they will find your prank funny. Eventually. Like the time I said that I had misheard my 1st AC's request for tea with milk as "soya milk", he's a tea freak; his face was comedy gold. "Did the 16mm lens get delivered?", "Sorry I thought you wanted me to order a 16mm Macro lens". To a grip that's just spent half an hour rigging 12 metres of track through the mud, in the rain "Hey <Bob> , I just tripped over your track and I think it moved, sorry dude". You catch my drift... A stoic face and an iron-strong stomach are often all that's necessary for the best pranks on set.
10. We are legion, for we are many. We refer to ourselves as 'we' and 'us', like some bizarre biblical daemon with an appetite for too much tea and getting things done. We work as a collective and eat as a collective, we toil and play, and loose sleep all as one. The content of the shows that we produce lives and dies by this notion. How hard we work and the fact that, for the duration of our shoots we consider ourselves a team, a "Crew," is the thread that stitches together what you see on your screens.