Days off cherished

By John Manulis: “Believe in Me” producer

Editor’s note: The producers of “Believe in Me,” a film about a 1960s Oklahoma girl’s basketball team’s run at the state title, will write a daily diary in the Clovis News Journal until filming ends in Clovis later this month.

A day off. Wow. After more 18-hour days in a row than I care to count, a chance to only work eight or 10 hours is something to be relished.

Film crews on a “distant location” — generally considered to be any location more than 60 miles from where you live — usually work six days a week because union agreements provide pay for six days with a seventh “idle” day and producers, being producers, want to squeeze every bit of work and value out of the resources they have available.
So, we’re out here “on location,” where an average day looks something like this: Seven or eight hours in a motel room sleeping and bathing, an hour or two traveling to and from the day’s set, 12 to 14 hours of work with 30 minutes for lunch, then back into the motel room, possibly with a stop along the way to grab a bite and a drink, or pickup laundry, or for some real entertainment cruising the aisles at Wal-Mart.

And the cycle begins again.

The heroic transportation crew, who are responsible for getting the entire 40-vehicle circus moved and set up for maximum efficiency before everyone else arrives to work each day, get to see some of the beautiful sunrises that the rest of us may miss, but they pay for that pleasure with their extra-long hours. They also have to drive all those trucks back to their night-time parking spots after the crew has reloaded them and headed home. Add to that a daily schedule of disorientation, which comes from working Tuesday through Sunday and having Monday as a day off.
(This movie has lots of school and basketball scenes, so we needed to schedule ourselves around the availability of schools, gyms and crowds).

It reminds you why musicians on tour often write the name of the city on the bathroom mirror of their hotel room so they can remember where they are in the morning.