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Haskell Wexler documentary/long production hours/today on Sundance


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#1 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 12:31 PM

Watching this now and probably would have posted in "On Screen" but it is going to be
reshown at 2:45 EST TODAY on Sundance Channel. Thought more people might
notice this post here.

Hadn't heard of this but quite interesting. Would like to hear what other people think.
Credits on Sundance say that it came out in 2006.
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#2 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 11:35 PM

Watching this now and probably would have posted in "On Screen" but it is going to be
reshown at 2:45 EST TODAY on Sundance Channel. Thought more people might
notice this post here.

Hadn't heard of this but quite interesting. Would like to hear what other people think.
Credits on Sundance say that it came out in 2006.


I saw it and I must say, in does make a point. I had originally scheduled Blood Moon Rising for an 8 hour day for cast to comply with SAG rules so we didn't go into overtime and 12 hour days for crew because I've worked as a grip and after 12 hours, you really become beat and can start making mistakes that could become dangerous. I lengthened the shoot to accommodate a less taxing workload in the pursuit of quality. I was reminded though, that according to SAG rules, time starts when an actor gets into the car to drive to work, then they have to get into costume and makeup, rehearse, get into the role then shoot. THEN of course there is lunch so by the time all is said and done, an 8 hour day is really a 4 or 5 hour day so I was forces to plan for 12 hour days for cast as well.

I DOOO make a conscious commitment to keep days NO later than 14 hours even in an emergency and on average no later than 12 hours. I think if you have a good people, burning them out by over-working them is counterproductive and unfair. I think every actor, producer and director should have to spend some time in the trenches as a grip or PA. It would give them a sense of empathy for the guys doing the real, physical labor and the guys who really make the set run. B)

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 02 November 2009 - 11:37 PM.

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#3 Paul Bruening

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Posted 03 November 2009 - 01:23 AM

I saw it and I must say, in does make a point. I had originally scheduled Blood Moon Rising for an 8 hour day for cast to comply with SAG rules so we didn't go into overtime and 12 hour days for crew because I've worked as a grip and after 12 hours, you really become beat and can start making mistakes that could become dangerous. I lengthened the shoot to accommodate a less taxing workload in the pursuit of quality. I was reminded though, that according to SAG rules, time starts when an actor gets into the car to drive to work, then they have to get into costume and makeup, rehearse, get into the role then shoot. THEN of course there is lunch so by the time all is said and done, an 8 hour day is really a 4 or 5 hour day so I was forces to plan for 12 hour days for cast as well.

I DOOO make a conscious commitment to keep days NO later than 14 hours even in an emergency and on average no later than 12 hours. I think if you have a good people, burning them out by over-working them is counterproductive and unfair. I think every actor, producer and director should have to spend some time in the trenches as a grip or PA. It would give them a sense of empathy for the guys doing the real, physical labor and the guys who really make the set run. B)


There's a magic compromise that any production has to find. A too short of a day keeps people from getting into a daily groove. Too long of days burns them up so quickly that their days become unproductive and plain old wasteful. I, generally like 10 hour days with some going short and a few going long when unavoidable.
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#4 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 05 November 2009 - 02:49 AM

Hi guys. James, had you seen it before or did you catch it Monday?

It was good but I think that it would have been much stronger if there were a clearer outlining of
why producers and others push long hours so strongly. What are the business beliefs, models and philosophies?
How have they evolved to what they are now? The film argues that European, or some European, unions simply
refuse to entertain working longer hours and or on weekends. It would have been illustrative to examine
that system. Do they still produce as much as they want? Is it efficient in the long run to work more days
(do they?) and fewer hours per day?

What is driving the faster pace of productions? Have you seen many HD productions that could afford
to have shot on film but want the faster turnaround? How does that thinking affect production hours
and the lengths of production days?

Society has changed a lot. It must have been great back in the old days to work on the backlot on
a show and be home on time for dinner every night. That's not the case so much anymore in the film world
nor is it in many other workplaces as well.

Paul, I think that the 10 hour day would be especially critical for shows on which people are
exhausted from commuting because they're close enough to go home at night but not far enough
to get a hotel for a month. However, the production is going to likely want at least 12 hour days
and people would probably be happy with that, even more so if the work days are consistently those
lengths but still, driving a hundred something miles each day with those hours for weeks is going to wear
people out.
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#5 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 05 November 2009 - 03:52 AM

This film is a clear example of how crew members and workers in general are plain lazy and demand longer turn-arounds, overtime and such nonsense. And to top it all off, these lazy workers create unions that just make life very complicated for honest-to-god producers and bosses everywhere.

"Safety, you say? Nonsense! Why, you insignificant drone, soon you will be making a living wage! Some folks really have a lot of nerve!"

Who needs sleep? If the workers do, they should have thought about that before taking the job and stayed home to get all the sleep they need.

Edited by Saul Rodgar, 05 November 2009 - 03:57 AM.

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#6 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 05 November 2009 - 05:26 AM

Hi guys. James, had you seen it before or did you catch it Monday?

It was good but I think that it would have been much stronger if there were a clearer outlining of
why producers and others push long hours so strongly. What are the business beliefs, models and philosophies?
How have they evolved to what they are now? The film argues that European, or some European, unions simply
refuse to entertain working longer hours and or on weekends. It would have been illustrative to examine
that system. Do they still produce as much as they want? Is it efficient in the long run to work more days
(do they?) and fewer hours per day?

What is driving the faster pace of productions? Have you seen many HD productions that could afford
to have shot on film but want the faster turnaround? How does that thinking affect production hours
and the lengths of production days?

Society has changed a lot. It must have been great back in the old days to work on the backlot on
a show and be home on time for dinner every night. That's not the case so much anymore in the film world
nor is it in many other workplaces as well.

Paul, I think that the 10 hour day would be especially critical for shows on which people are
exhausted from commuting because they're close enough to go home at night but not far enough
to get a hotel for a month. However, the production is going to likely want at least 12 hour days
and people would probably be happy with that, even more so if the work days are consistently those
lengths but still, driving a hundred something miles each day with those hours for weeks is going to wear
people out.

Naw, it was he first time I saw it, BUT i'm looking forward to seeing it again. I usually watch stuff thin this, 3, 4 times. I learn a lot from film making docs. I really think the underling problem is cooperate greed. Now I WILL qualify that by saying films do cost a lot of money to make as we all know and so everyone is worried about whether or not a film is going to make a profit and keeping costs down help. Another thing is mega-corporations now own all of Hollywood. These corporations expect the film industry, like in every other business in American they own, to make massive profits and really all they care about is profit. They could be selling movies or dishwashers, it really doesn't matter to them. They just want a sure thing, they can buy low and sell high.The problem is there really is no way on earth to know what's going to take off. They can do all the research in the would but the only thing can they really can truly control is costs.

Workers, especially in Hollywood where everyone wants to be in the movie industry, are just gears in the money making machine, one doesn't want work the way you want it to work, ya just toss it away and get another one. there are 50 guys for every job, so much so that people will work for free. Try that at a Circle K. The other problem and the reason there ARE 50 guys for every job is there id so few jobs. YES, every swingin' d**k with a video camera is making the next Blair Witch, but I'm talking union shoots that pay their crews what they're worth. NOW because of this, people need to survive between jobs, so they will work themselves to the point of being dangerously overworked so the CAN get that overtime. They need the money. Union rules also are a little problematic, as I said I originally budgeted BMR for an 8 hour day and later found out it can't be done in 8 hours. Oh, BTW as Billy Joel once said, "The good old days went always good", There was a recent documentary on Val Lewton and the upshot is when he was working for RKO, he worked himself to an early death at the age of 47 and he WAS a producer. Everybody works their ass off in this business. I guess it just goes with the choice of career.
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#7 K Borowski

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Posted 05 November 2009 - 02:09 PM

Novel idea here, but if there were two shifts on a film set (people would set up and tear down at the end of one day and the beginning of another) in addition to the regular crew, this problem would be easily solved.

Of course unions are often, sometimes secretly, against this, because a lot of the guys have come to rely on the overtime hours.

I don't think overtime should be the norm for this industry.


I had a chance to watch this on Sundance, so thanks for the heads-up, Tim. It's good to see that there are crewmembers out there who aren't for 14+ hour days as a fact of life.
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#8 K Borowski

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Posted 05 November 2009 - 02:15 PM

There's a magic compromise that any production has to find.


There is nothing "magic" about a 14, 16, 19 hour day.

12s on a regular basis are taxing. Did you watch the doc?


It doesn't matter what industry you are in: movies, ER doctor, automotive. You can work the greatest, most exciting, fulfilling job, and it will still make you want to die when you get a steady string of +12s.


Sometimes long days are necessary, but not as a rule. They burn you out very quickly.
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Glidecam

Visual Products

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