I was sitting in my office last week, and my beloved officemate Bill says over the divider, “I’m reading here about Lauren Graham working 15 hour days. She’s an actress on the show Gilmore Girls. Wow, she must really love her work.” These kinds of comments make me explode with information like Linda Blair in the Exorcist with the pea soup. Poor Bill.
I said that the article doesn’t mention the crew often has to get there around three hours before her to set up, and stay three hours later to finish. That with those kind of hours, everyone I interviewed for my dissertation on entertainment labor, everyone knew someone who had died as a result of those working conditions. Especially dangerous are film shoots involving any large machinery and fire. Because the industry makes a large proportion of its product to targets males 18-35 (because they have the most discretionary income), an enormous proportion of films involve car chases and explosions. That the OSHA statistics don’t reflect the real danger because they average in with the people who work 18 hour days, the folks who work in an office and whose most tragic injury is breaking a nail. That if the statistics were drawn from the people who actually worked on set, they’d paint a different picture. That the historic problem of the IATSE, since the 1890s, of being in bed with the producers, still exists, to the point where a local president recently had to move his family out of state and had to leave the industry because he was blacklisted for speaking up about these conditions. That even after conclusive research that working the long days is not as productive as working a normal workday, the madness is they still do it.
Bill, bless his soul, said, “Wow. I didn’t know that.”
Hence this whole rash of posts about current working conditions. Thank Bill.