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Gregory Irwin

Director, Ron Howard

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I’m working with Ron Howard currently and I must say that he is a refreshing breath of fresh air. He’s polite and prepared. We don’t go a second over 10 hours per day and sometimes we finish 5 pages of scripted dialogue in less time. I’ve worked with many top directors in this business over the years but I’m particularly enjoying this one. 

G

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1 minute ago, Stuart Brereton said:

But what about OT, Greg??!!

Well, I have 40 years in the business and around 80,000 hours behind the camera. I don’t need the OT. I like quality of life with my family much more these days! 

G

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11 hours ago, Gregory Irwin said:

Well, I have 40 years in the business and around 80,000 hours behind the camera. I don’t need the OT. I like quality of life with my family much more these days! 

G

Agree!!! should be the first lesson at every filmschool!!!!

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On 6/20/2019 at 10:27 PM, Gregory Irwin said:

I’m working with Ron Howard currently and I must say that he is a refreshing breath of fresh air.

....So you could say that you're experiencing Happy Days???

Heeeeyyy!

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Big union meeting today - the annual general meeting of the London Production Division of BECTU.

It is busy and everyone is running around on big shows.

Runners' and new entrants' branch breakout session included reports from two youngsters on being asked to drive for three hours on top of a twelve-hour day, repeatedly, and being asked to make two consecutive trans-London pickups from Heathrow after three days in a row involving five hours total sleep. Both reports are horrifically unsafe, involved uninsured driving, and are illegal under both health and safety and employment law.

Conclusions:

- Not everyone is working on big lovely productions with diligent, efficient senior crew

- Even on those big shows, people still sometimes get badly screwed.

P

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That has been the classic tragedy of our industry Phil. Too many hours and not enough sleep time. I’ve lost 2 good friends to falling asleep behind the wheel due to too many hours worked. 

The current trend here in the Hollywood feature film industry is to work 10 hours/day and not break for lunch. Food is constantly available and lunch is also brought to us while we continue to shoot. The producers are contractually obligated to pay each union employee meal penalties for every half hour past the initial 6 hours worked when a meal break is due. We receive the meal penalties every half hour till we wrap. The exchange for quality of life vs. OT is growing more popular here. Having a 8:00am call means we are going home by 6pm. Dinner with the family? Unheard of before! 

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Posted (edited)

In most business with unusually long work days or business hours there are AM and PM shifts.    Makes a lot more sense to do that then run everyone for 16 consecutive hours with probably only 4-5  hours of sleep a night.   Having set techs replaced at the 8 hour point would be a huge relief to everyone.  Crews that work in teams like that could easily offer producers short schedules without compromising health and safety.  No penalties or O.T.  Has that never been explored?   I did see the documentary "Who Needs Sleep?" so I'm aware that many crew would laugh at the idea of giving up O.T. or penalties and sharing a work day or crew position with a fellow worker but are they a minority or majority of the prevailing attitude?  

It's awesome if those longer crazy days are soon over and it's just going to be standard 8-10 hour days.  Just curious if crew shifts were ever considered at any time.

Edited by Michael LaVoie

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22 minutes ago, Michael LaVoie said:

 I did see the documentary "Who Needs Sleep?" so I'm aware that many crew would laugh at the idea of giving up O.T. or penalties and sharing a work day or crew position with a fellow worker but are they a minority or majority of the prevailing attitude?  

 

I've just began watching the film. 20 minutes in so far. Such a fantastic film and so terrible for the guys who died at the wheel. The longest day I have done running was around 22 hours (also did 5 18 hour days back to back). Fortunately I was not working the next day. However production made all crew be on a 13+1 day (UK APA is 10+1 for all crew and 11+1 for runners)... Plus I and the other runners call time was 2 hours before the main unit call. I then had to drop the rushes off and was waiting around outside for someone to come meet me for a long time. It was not even worth the extra £50 they gave me at the time to do that, though I needed to pay bills at the time.

Its terrible the amount of jobs I hear about that offer next to no money in exchange for it 'being a fun project with a fantastic director/dp/actor' or whoever it is.

19 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

 

- Even on those big shows, people still sometimes get badly screwed.

P

Phil is so right. I've worked on big shows/commercials and the crew (also a lot of cast) are forced to squeeze a huge amount of work into a tiny time gap.

What I see in commercials is an idea that is big and involves a lot money and manpower to make happen. Production aren't given enough money. They tell the client they can do it otherwise another producer/production company will. Then crew are asked for deals and worked stupid hours in a location(s) usually far from their homes.

But we were talking about Ron Howard, sorry to go that far off...

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Clint Eastwood is or was great for shorter efficient days. He is a very humble and respectful person as well. He goes to the end of the lunch line and waits with everyone else . His sets are very quiet and low stress. 

 

some reality tv shows, without any unions backing up the crew, will regularly go over 20 hours./day and regularly are hiring new crew due to burn out. 

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On 6/20/2019 at 11:27 PM, Gregory Irwin said:

I’m working with Ron Howard currently and I must say that he is a refreshing breath of fresh air. He’s polite and prepared. We don’t go a second over 10 hours per day and sometimes we finish 5 pages of scripted dialogue in less time. I’ve worked with many top directors in this business over the years but I’m particularly enjoying this one. 

G

Hillbilly Elegy I assume? Digital too? (it being Netflix and Howard not having shot on film in a while).

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7 hours ago, Manu Delpech said:

Hillbilly Elegy I assume? Digital too? (it being Netflix and Howard not having shot on film in a while).

Yes and yes. Sony Venice.

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To get back to what Greg was saying at the top, I wonder if there's any sign of an overall swing toward more sane working hours on US production.

For some time it's been normal in the UK to work a ten hour day and my impression is that is because productions have been extremely reluctant to pay the overtime. The union is currently running a campaign called Eyes Half Shut which seeks to discourage excessive hours, but I think that's mostly an issue on (often American-funded) feature films.

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7 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

How are you finding the Venice sir.. ?  

It’s a good camera as far as it goes. The DP likes the dynamic range, I like the internal NDs and the weight is good. The issue is these cameras are getting so small that the real estate to mount accessories to make it a cinematic camera is limited. The end result is having to add cages and power distribution boxes to accommodate these accessories  that make the camera heavier and bigger than advertised. This by no means limited to the Venice.

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I wanted to expand on the post that mentioned Haskell’s “Who Needs Sleep”. Sadly, towards the end of the documentary, there is a funeral for camera operator, Michael Stone. I was at that funeral and Michael was the second member of my team and a close friend to die due to hours worked. He worked too many hours that night and paid the ultimate price driving home. This issue of excessive work hours is close to my heart. I am very vocal about it at work. I always insist on a courtesy hotel room provided by production for people who are too tired to drive home. 

There was even a time on an out of control (hours-wise) HBO show I did, I informed the First AD that at 14 hours, I was going home. I didn’t care if the camera was rolling - I was getting into my car and leaving. I told him that I wouldn’t be a participant in putting exhausted crew members onto the freeway after a most likely 20 hour day. The result? I wasn’t fired and we wrapped at 14 hours! That trend continued on that show for the remainder of it.

As for rotating crews in order to keep filming, that doesn’t work for several reasons. The most obvious is that the director can’t go on for that long and neither can the actors. As for crew members, certain departments theoretically could rotate out but none of the frontline crew could ever do that. This would include the camera department, the assistant directors, continuity and I’m sure others I’m not mentioning here. 

G

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1 hour ago, Gregory Irwin said:

I always insist on a courtesy hotel room provided by production for people who are too tired to drive home. 

That is the single most difficult thing to ensure, in my experience. Nobody ever wants to do it. It doesn't have to be much; a travelodge, anything, but I have known a production actually do it on precisely one occasion.

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40 minutes ago, Phil Rhodes said:

That is the single most difficult thing to ensure, in my experience. Nobody ever wants to do it. It doesn't have to be much; a travelodge, anything, but I have known a production actually do it on precisely one occasion.

It’s pretty easy over here Phil. Once the word “liability “ is stated, producers are  willing. 

G

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10 hours ago, Gregory Irwin said:

It’s a good camera as far as it goes. The DP likes the dynamic range, I like the internal NDs and the weight is good. The issue is these cameras are getting so small that the real estate to mount accessories to make it a cinematic camera is limited. The end result is having to add cages and power distribution boxes to accommodate these accessories  that make the camera heavier and bigger than advertised. This by no means limited to the Venice.

G

Ok thanks for your response sir..  yeah also the f55 /f5.. owner operators I would say 100% of them , have tricked out their bodies with cheese plates ,top and sides, and changed the handles .. for that reason.. but I guess rental camera bodies are less likely to be totally kitted out with all that stuff off the shelf..

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On 6/25/2019 at 9:09 PM, Robin R Probyn said:

Ok thanks for your response sir..  yeah also the f55 /f5.. owner operators I would say 100% of them , have tricked out their bodies with cheese plates ,top and sides, and changed the handles .. for that reason.. but I guess rental camera bodies are less likely to be totally kitted out with all that stuff off the shelf..

Our rental house is Otto Nemenz and they have tricked out their Venice cameras very well. Another issue I have with the Sony Venice that I didn’t mention earlier is the visual lag time. There is a noticeable delay of about 2 frames in the “normal” mode and worse, about a 3-4 frame delay in the Rialto mode. It affects the operating and focus pulling timing. Annoying!

G

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Not to question those 80,000 hours, but are you completely sure there isn't anything else in the way that would be causing that delay? I would complain about that on an Ursa Mini*, let alone a Venice. Viewfinder lag is something I gripe about a lot, because old analog ENG cameras suffered no more lag than the propogation delay in a few dozen transistors, and that meant they were fast.

*To their credit, Blackmagic vastly improved EVF lag in a recent release of their camera firmware. It's now probably better than a Venice!

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1 hour ago, Phil Rhodes said:

Not to question those 80,000 hours, but are you completely sure there isn't anything else in the way that would be causing that delay? I would complain about that on an Ursa Mini*, let alone a Venice. Viewfinder lag is something I gripe about a lot, because old analog ENG cameras suffered no more lag than the propogation delay in a few dozen transistors, and that meant they were fast.

*To their credit, Blackmagic vastly improved EVF lag in a recent release of their camera firmware. It's now probably better than a Venice!

Sony recognizes the issue but currently doesn’t have a fix for it. It’s not just in the EVF, it’s on all monitors. The delay is only visual not recorded. There’s also a circuit board issue that if you do not have the current upgraded boards that are in short supply but in high demand, the camera can simply die at any moment. It could last an entire schedule without incident or it could go out within the first hour of using. Let’s face it. The Venice is new technology and needs to go through its growing pains to become efficient. Hopefully Sony will figure it out. 

G

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On 6/26/2019 at 12:03 AM, Gregory Irwin said:

It’s pretty easy over here Phil. Once the word “liability “ is stated, producers are  willing. 

G

Unfortunately litigation is less of a participant sport in the UK.

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Posted a question on the Sony forum.. they know of the board issue.. but no one has heard or experienced any lag from the VF or SDI outs ..   

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On 6/28/2019 at 9:37 AM, Robin R Probyn said:

Posted a question on the Sony forum.. they know of the board issue.. but no one has heard or experienced any lag from the VF or SDI outs ..   

I believe you Robin but I don’t believe that Sony is ignorant towards this lag issue. They don’t want this out there to preserve sales. We have 3 Venice cameras and another show that was prepping along side of us has 3 Sony Venice cameras and all six lagged. The chief tech from Otto Nemenz, who is extremely reputable, has been working with Sony to rectify the problem. 

G

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