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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Any scenic carpenters out there? I just started with a guy that does commercials. I have worked with him doing renos in the past so we already have a good history. We spend most of our time in the shop until we are ready to assemble the set on site. It's nice lite work and I will be getting two hours of overtime a day on average. I already have ten years of real building experience so it is kind of fun building sets. Our motto is: it only has to make it to the site and not fall apart during the shoot:jester: Most TV series and feature films here are union but commercials seem to be private.

Last week we did a bar for a whiskey commercial and this week we have started a false gas station. For the gas station it will cost roughly $100,000 in construction costs for 2.5 seconds of film out of a 30 second commercial. The budget for these things is CRAZY.
 

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Talking Head
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That was my first real career in construction. I was a lead carpenter for two different shops in Brooklyn doing theater, film and display work. My body still hates me for it.
 

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Talking Head
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Ben says it's nice lite work.
His may be. From 1999 -2001 I averaged over 3500 hours a year with usually 3-4 weeks laid off. Not all at once, mind you, where I could do something to make money or collect unemployment or take a vacation. It would be a sudden three days here or four days in a row of "no work tomorrow but we should start the day after that". The owner's were good guys too, it was just the nature of the customers that kept everything so high stress.

Don't even get me started about Fashion Week in NYC. I worked a 36 hour shift once with four thirty minute breaks. What can I say, I was young and dumb and made those businesses my life. We built some really cool stuff and then tore it right down and threw it out.:laughing:
 

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Two of my great uncles had a business doing exactly this. After they died the entire shop with all their turn of the century equipment was donated.

They never had employees as my uncles feared it would cause a law suit because their old equipment did not meet modern safety regulations. Their shop looked like Warner's garage.
 

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Boondockian
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I went to college for scenic carpentry and lighting.

His may be. From 1999 -2001 I averaged over 3500 hours a year with usually 3-4 weeks laid off. Not all at once, mind you, where I could do something to make money or collect unemployment or take a vacation. It would be a sudden three days here or four days in a row of "no work tomorrow but we should start the day after that". The owner's were good guys too, it was just the nature of the customers that kept everything so high stress.

Don't even get me started about Fashion Week in NYC. I worked a 36 hour shift once with four thirty minute breaks. What can I say, I was young and dumb and made those businesses my life. We built some really cool stuff and then tore it right down and threw it out.:laughing:
Thats the way it works. But tomorrow you get to build new cool stuff:jester:.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That was my first real career in construction. I was a lead carpenter for two different shops in Brooklyn doing theater, film and display work. My body still hates me for it.
It sounds like maybe working too much might be what did it. I know when I do long days and don't have any weekends all of my repetitive strain injuries act up. My body needs a couple days off to heal. I know it will be stressful sometimes but I am happy for the change.
I have been doing mostly drywall finishing for the last two years and my neck and shoulder are in rough shape from ceiling work.
 

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His may be. From 1999 -2001 I averaged over 3500 hours a year with usually 3-4 weeks laid off. Not all at once, mind you, where I could do something to make money or collect unemployment or take a vacation. It would be a sudden three days here or four days in a row of "no work tomorrow but we should start the day after that". The owner's were good guys too, it was just the nature of the customers that kept everything so high stress.
I can somewhat relate to what you've described, as I previously worked as a sound engineer, and some production work, in some of the major studios in Los Angeles, Nashville, and mostly Memphis (my hometown). There would be projects that come in where the album had already been released but one or two songs needed to be remixed before the distribution date hit. This would give us minimal time to work with, ergo, we would spend multiple days in a row with no sleep to get these projects done on time. Anyway, my point is the entertainment industry has its good points and bad, depending. The time constraints generally placed on those of us actually getting work done can be, at times, pretty unrealistic. Thankfully, my experience with these types of projects were not the norm.
 

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My brother in law and I installed the graphics on the bottom of the pool in Tower Heist. ($100 Bill) The carpenters where doing there thing along with all the other trades. They are concerned with the smallest of details that will never, ever be seen on film. Money is plentiful in the movie industry.
 

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...The carpenters where doing there thing along with all the other trades. They are concerned with the smallest of details that will never, ever be seen on film. Money is plentiful in the movie industry.
Do the trades on a set have any sense of whether a movie or show is going to succeed or be a flop? I've imagined that some movies were so destined to fail that everyone knew it, even the carpenters, and tiptoed around keeping their mouths shut, praying that no one from the studio woke up and pulled the plug.
 

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Do the trades on a set have any sense of whether a movie or show is going to succeed or be a flop? I've imagined that some movies were so destined to fail that everyone knew it, even the carpenters, and tiptoed around keeping their mouths shut, praying that no one from the studio woke up and pulled the plug.
Bob,

The movie was never mentioned except for the title and what the shoot was going to be about. It was more about getting your specific project done and enjoying the fat checks at the end of the week.

They even had artists (wearing those funny french artist beret hats) painting pictures that will be hung on the walls for the shoot. They were copying them from books.

I'm not in that industry but had the opportunity to get involved on a small part of it.
 

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Talking Head
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Do the trades on a set have any sense of whether a movie or show is going to succeed or be a flop? I've imagined that some movies were so destined to fail that everyone knew it, even the carpenters, and tiptoed around keeping their mouths shut, praying that no one from the studio woke up and pulled the plug.
It depends(a lot) on whether you're actually working the set or if you're building off-site and delivering the product. The industry is broken up into two clearly divided groups and the production group hands it off to the in-house group. Some of my friends work on-site and are involved in the day to day operation of the project and are very involved in the process and will frequently work with the same production crew on several projects over a period of years. Working in the shop, even as a lead, I frequently had no idea what the hell I was building for. I started building theater sets at 12 for my high school and that's why I went into it. In school, and small theaters, you will work on one show for months. In the shop, I worked on 30 projects in my first year.
 

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ahhh the memories this thread has brought back

had an easy open door shoo in to join the union when I was 21, I turned it down and moved to colorado two weeks later, friends were pissed and couldn't believe I'd turn down an opportunity that people are always desperate to find

so instead I spent the next 10 plus years screwing off, skiing and riding a bike everyday, hoping to go pro, without a care in the world, work was just back round noise to pay the rent when I actually had too everything else was a hook up or a handout

I always wonder what if..................... but I have no regrets
 

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so....

after u guys build these "sets"... then u tear them down ..what do ya do with all the "used stuff"...toss it?? or pull nails and restack ? :blink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
everything is either screwed or stapled. i am having a hard time with that. i love nails. i hate dragging an impact around and getting up on a ladder to take off a brace installed with screws. it is quite different than what i am used to. as far as re-using materials we re-use everything we can but we still trash an unfortunate amount of material.
 

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Finishing Carpenter
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Ten long years of my life working for IATSE locally. some good times, mostly stress of waiting for a call from dispatch, back when seniority was still legal in the union.

So many shows! outer limits (remember harry three-names?) dozens an dozens of b--direct to video shows, (at a wage discount) x-men, stargate (everyone hated that shop/crew)

In the end the teamsters screwed it all up - fighting over doughnuts we think. Anyway the provincial arbitrator brought down a binding ruling that call out seniority was now dead, construction co-ordinators could call anyone they wish in any order.

It became chaos, safety rules? HAH! we don't need no stinkin rules!

Anyway if you keep out of the politics, it's good money. The last of the mouth breathing flat builders! LOL some interesting builds, but mostly "pre-production" folks just build it then get laid off.

Be careful, there's lots of dangerous fumes from the hot-wire Styrofoam, and MDF dust etc. Folks in the industry have a higher than average illness rate due to their exposure to things like that.

I liked the big shows, it was a guaranteed six months work. Mission to mars was probably my favourite, beside "the core" good lead folks, safe shop etc. Riddick was a lot of fun, but it got boring making the same part 3 weeks steady.

It was the small shows where things get ugly, the budgets are tiny and so is the mind set.

Probably the worst one I was on was up on Seymour Mountain in the ski parking lot in January. We had to build a fake motel. Man that was tough! they wouldn't even provide us with coffee. "the last stop motel"

It's amazing how many dirty little warehouses around Vancouver get turned into a "sound stage" . Davinci's inquest was done in a ratty little warehouse, just off of Boundary road on the Burnaby side. It went for years! on a series, once a set is standing it's used for pretty much the life of the show, so not a lot of work for "non-core" crew.

Good luck, and my only advise is make sure to take care of your personal life - there's more than one marriage ended due to the excessive hours of that job. speaking from experience here!

Mosty I miss the $1,200 after taxes every Thursday afternoon.

I don't miss waiting by the phone to get a call to work, (pre-cell days)and can I pay my bills this month?

Self employed now, same thing LOL cept no union BS to deal with.
 

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Finishing Carpenter
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after u guys build these "sets"... then u tear them down ..what do ya do with all the "used stuff"...toss it?? or pull nails and restack ? :blink:
It's mushed flat and tossed. There's a cost to storing used sets, and you can't store them outside here in BC. They fall apart in the rain.
 

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Check out the movie Mrs. Soffel, my uncle built some of the sets, the prison bars were all built out of wood.
 
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