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Who Needs Sleep - An eye opening documentary.


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#1 Gabe Shedd

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 05:11 PM

Who Needs Sleep?

I can relate to the idea behind this film on so many levels. I can't count the number of times I've been driving home after working 20+ hours and start dozing off at the wheel. In fact, I can recall a specific incident just a couple of weeks ago. We were shooting pickups for this low-budget horror feature I had worked on and wrapped at around 6:30 AM - I had been there since 8:00 AM the previous day... Working straight.

On the way home I dozed off a couple of times and luckily woke up before I slammed in to the back of the truck or car I was traveling towards at 80+ mph while they sat still. The most frightening, though, was when I was in the right hand lane (The last thing I remember was being in the left hand lane) and had to swerve on to the shoulder to avoid taking out a motorcyclist. That gave me a huge shot of adrenalin so I was actually alert for a few more minutes before I started getting drowsy again.

Anyway - I eventually pulled over and slept for twenty minutes or so before making it the rest of the way home. All that so I wouldn't be stuck in traffic for two hours...

Heh.

I'm sure many of you are familiar with this documentary but I felt it deserved a posting.
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#2 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 05:37 PM

Who Needs Sleep?

I can relate to the idea behind this film on so many levels. I can't count the number of times I've been driving home after working 20+ hours and start dozing off at the wheel. In fact, I can recall a specific incident just a couple of weeks ago. We were shooting pickups for this low-budget horror feature I had worked on and wrapped at around 6:30 AM - I had been there since 8:00 AM the previous day... Working straight.

On the way home I dozed off a couple of times and luckily woke up before I slammed in to the back of the truck or car I was traveling towards at 80+ mph while they sat still. The most frightening, though, was when I was in the right hand lane (The last thing I remember was being in the left hand lane) and had to swerve on to the shoulder to avoid taking out a motorcyclist. That gave me a huge shot of adrenalin so I was actually alert for a few more minutes before I started getting drowsy again.

Anyway - I eventually pulled over and slept for twenty minutes or so before making it the rest of the way home. All that so I wouldn't be stuck in traffic for two hours...

Heh.

I'm sure many of you are familiar with this documentary but I felt it deserved a posting.



I have a very strict rule, if I think the traffic ahead may be stopping and starting and I am tired, I will exit the freeway and take a nap. If I find myself closing my eyes for more than a moment, I will get off the freeway. Actually being in a different lane and not knowing how you got there is not fair to the other drivers on the road.

The rule is pretty simple, if you are tired to the point that you can't keep your car in your own lane it's time to pull over and sleep. Although where you pull over can be dangerous as well.
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#3 Arni Heimir

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 05:56 PM

Yeah, but nobody is forcing you to work these long hours?
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 06:11 PM

Yeah, but nobody is forcing you to work these long hours?


"Forcing" is the wrong word, but it would be near impossible for me to walk off a shoot day once it went over 12-hours and have any sort of career after awhile -- no producer would hire me.

So sure, no one is "forcing" me to work in the film industry.

The real problem is that producers would rather pay overtime and work long hours than spend the same amount of money on shorter but more shooting days. Partially because when they submit a budget, overtime is something sort of in another column of potential cost overages, but also because star actors get paid so much that it is cheaper to cram them into fewer shooting days. Plus directors want so much coverage these days that if you gave them a longer schedule, they'd still want to work as many hours as possible to get more shots, more complicated shots, so producers are scared to give them more days up front.
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#5 Arni Heimir

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 06:26 PM

Its a bit of a hobson's choice isn't it?

Working more than 12 hours a day for long periods of time doesn't mean that the movie will be better. Isn't most of the time spent on egos and other forces of nature, like the weather?

I find it extremely hypocritical to hear movie stars (commanding 20 mil a picture) that working more than 12 hours a day is an adverse condition, that no one should be subjected to.

One could ask whether 3-perf shooting or HD would change that?

I apologize for my comment above. Its very insensitive of me "this love it or leave it attitude". Although, "America America" is one of my favorite films. I just find Haskell Wexler to be the film geek's Michael Moore.

I apologize for my comment above. Its very insensitive of me "this love it or leave it attitude". Although, "America America" is one of my favorite films. I just find Haskell Wexler to be the film geek's Michael Moore.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 06:28 PM

I find it extremely hypocritical to hear movie stars (commanding 20 mil a picture) that working more than 12 hours a day is an adverse condition, that no one should be subjected to.


Yes, especially since they spend about 1/3 of their time on set, the rest in their big trailers, and sometimes even go home early or have days off from shooting, unlike the crew. And most of them don't drive themselves to and from the set anyway (maybe they are concerned because their transpo people aren't getting enough sleep...)

But probably Wexler's reasons for interviewing them was more to get the star power that you need to get people to watch a movie, or get it distributed, or sound bites played on TV and radio -- although I'm always annoyed that a celebrity's opinion about anything outside themselves should have more weight because they are famous.

The salary isn't really the issue -- there were good reasons for the passing of the 8-hour-day work laws that still hold true, so why is filmmaking excluded from these sorts of regulations? Or medical interns working in emergency rooms for that matter? I don't want to be treated by a doctor that hasn't slept for two days!
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#7 Stephen Williams

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 02:48 AM

The real problem is that producers would rather pay overtime and work long hours than spend the same amount of money on shorter but more shooting days. Partially because when they submit a budget, overtime is something sort of in another column of potential cost overages, but also because star actors get paid so much that it is cheaper to cram them into fewer shooting days. Plus directors want so much coverage these days that if you gave them a longer schedule, they'd still want to work as many hours as possible to get more shots, more complicated shots, so producers are scared to give them more days up front.


Hi,

Last week I was a guest at a shoot on the Isle of Man. The crew were shooting from 08.00-18.00. Food was available throughout the day but without a lunch break. I was amazed by how focused everybody was. Shoot ended at exactly 18.00! I have never seen anything like it.

Stephen
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#8 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 06:13 AM

The fact is that with overtime costing as it does, not many productions can afford to go much longer than 14 hours. Yes, that's a long day, but I wouldn't call it dangerously so. If people think that 12 hour days is a dangerously long working day, then I'd have to disagree - 12-hours of on- and off- work (like filmmaking is for most crew positions), isn't inhuman or upsetting in any way. That's what every pilot, trucker, cab driver, grocery store employee have to do every day.
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#9 Gabe Shedd

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 02:37 PM

The fact is that with overtime costing as it does, not many productions can afford to go much longer than 14 hours. Yes, that's a long day, but I wouldn't call it dangerously so. If people think that 12 hour days is a dangerously long working day, then I'd have to disagree - 12-hours of on- and off- work (like filmmaking is for most crew positions), isn't inhuman or upsetting in any way. That's what every pilot, trucker, cab driver, grocery store employee have to do every day.


That's if you're working hourly... Think about how many independent shows are non-union and pay a flat rate. You're getting $X / day - They decide how long your day is if you care to maintain your position. I'm not union and yeah, you're right, no one is forcing me to work those long hours. But if I want to remain in good standing with the people I work with and continue getting work that could lead to a union position I have to work a 22 hour day if that's what the show calls for.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 06:06 PM

The fact is that with overtime costing as it does, not many productions can afford to go much longer than 14 hours. Yes, that's a long day, but I wouldn't call it dangerously so. If people think that 12 hour days is a dangerously long working day, then I'd have to disagree - 12-hours of on- and off- work (like filmmaking is for most crew positions), isn't inhuman or upsetting in any way. That's what every pilot, trucker, cab driver, grocery store employee have to do every day.



I don't think Wexler and many others are really objecting to the occasional 14-hour day, and he supports the 12-on/12-off policy, it's when really long days become so routine as to risk the lives of the crew commuting home or working safely on a set.

And it's one thing to work a really long day on a 2-day commerical or music video, quite another to do it day after day, weeks on end, on a long feature or TV series.

No movie is worth someone on the crew dying, especially not due to something that was easily preventable.
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#11 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 04:36 AM

No movie is worth someone on the crew dying, especially not due to something that was easily preventable.

Unfortunately, this is where some producers and crew seem to differ.
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#12 Gabe Shedd

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 01:22 PM

Unfortunately, this is where some producers and crew seem to differ.


Agreed... In fact, I'm pretty sure I just lost a friendship due to an argument about this very thing.

The 'friend' said that crew members just didn't matter and the discussion escalated from there.

I honestly don't understand how the people who make it possible for the film to be made don't get the respect they deserve.
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#13 Rik Andino

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 10:46 PM

I honestly don't understand how the people who make it possible for the film to be made
don't get the respect they deserve.


You think that's bad...
You should talk to the people who make our sneakers. :o
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#14 Tim Tyler

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 08:25 PM

Haskell Wexler's 2006 documentary "Who Needs Sleep" is now on Vimeo.

 

 

http://www.theblacka...s-sleep-wexler/


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#15 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 09:24 PM

As an NYC EMT, we are not permitted to work more than 16 consecutive hours.  That being said, I remember once after I had worked a double, I was driving home and dozed off for a matter of seconds.  I was on local streets, but I got a little too close to an island and blew out a tire.  Ever since then, if I feel exhausted after even one shift, I take a nap at my station before I get behind the wheel.

 

While we understand & accept that there are a number of calculated risks in the nature of our job, it's also not worth getting hurt over while on our way to or from it. 

 

And neither is any other job.


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#16 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 10:06 PM

Union seems a bit useless, considering what they charge.

 

P


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#17 Axel Morin

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 04:48 AM

Hello everyone!

 

Happy New year!

 

 

 

While we understand & accept that there are a number of calculated risks in the nature of our job, it's also not worth getting hurt over while on our way to or from it. 

 

And neither is any other job.

 I'm couldn't agree with you more but you know sometimes when you are exhausted, you do bad moves and you might get hurt.

 

I remember one time: We were assembling a Musical Show and we have only One hours of sleep between two shift! At some point we mesure the height of the light bridge and the guy told me to pull the tape measure, to drop the loop hanging in light bridge. Of course I pull but I forget to remove my self from below and of course I took the plastic loop on the head and it cut my forehead right open! I was bleeding and everything, it even knock me out for a second (It fall from10 meters).

 

But I couldn't tell a thing because I was so tired I forgot my helmet...... I had a headache during two days after that...... And I promise myself never work again without at least three-four hours of sleep! drive time not included.

 

But the funny thing is when you said that to producer (at least some of them I met) he said you're not a very cooperating person.

 

As you can see it's not only about getting hurt while driving to or from the job! It's also not getting hurt in the job!


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#18 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 12:42 PM

I was one of the 1st ACs on a movie called "Pleasantville". We lost one our own, Brent Hershman, after working a 19 hour day. He fell asleep behind the wheel of his car and died. It affected all of us. As a result, our cinematographer and gaffer drafted a legislation and submitted it to our union titled "Brent's Rule". It called for a limit of working no more than a 14 hour day. It went nowhere. It actually got defeated by our very own members who opted for overtime over their safety and well being of their families.

Years later, veteran camera operator, Michael Stone suffered the same fate after working all night. He was my mentor and I considered him family. I'll never forget hugging him goodnight at crew parking only to learn what happened to him a few hours later. I'll never get over his loss. In fact, his funeral is featured towards the end of Haskell's "Who Needs Sleep".

Then it happened to me. I was working on a Disney feature film in the South Island of New Zealand. We were in a very remote location where many of us self drove long distances to and from where we were lodging. In my case, I was commuting about 100 kilometers (60 miles) after working long hours in grueling circumstances. I never realized that I was falling asleep.

I want to repeat this part: I never realized that I was that tired and was falling asleep while driving. Not until I wrecked and totaled the car. I was lucky enough to walk away from the crash. But I can honestly tell all of you that it scared the living sh.. out of me! I never want to experience that again. Long hours are not worth one's life.

Unfortunately, it still is a part of our industry. I will never stop being a proponent to limiting the length of the work day. If it's illegal to drive while intoxicated it should be illegal to drive extremely fatigued. There is no difference. Impaired judgement is the same. I call on each and every one of you to join me in this effort. Thank you for reading this.

My best to ALL of you,

Greg
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#19 Chris Millar

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 06:30 PM

About once a year 100+ hrs a week can happen but on those instances I am accommodated close to the work, it was the time I had done 16hrs x 3 but with a 45min drive at either end that got me ...

 

It is NOT a pleasant experience waking up seeing a tree coming towards you at 60Kmph let alone hitting it. I managed to save it myself and had only 300m more to drive to get home so slapped myself every 10m and crawled into the driveway. I was surprised at how angry I got at the situation reckon if I had another day booked I wouldn't have been good company.

 

I agree with Greg, it'll hit you sooner than you realise - just try to remember what you were thinking about when you fell asleep last night - quite hard.


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#20 Maxim Ford

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 09:55 AM

Some of the best films ever made were made working 8 hours a day. It is a crazy system where we work either all the hours made or sit at home unemployed.

 

The other problem that needs to be addressed is the way productions are moved to other countries to cut costs. 

 

In the UK we have no proper film industry, we are cheap labour for the US. Gravity is the latest "British" film.

 

Film workers need to organise and organise internationally to save cinema and as a profession worth working in


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