Buggy-Humper; Bricks; C4

Grant Barrett gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG
Thu Apr 11 05:26:21 UTC 2002

I had a great, long conversation with a member of the Local 1 a few days
ago. For more than 20 years he's been working on sets, lighting and
carpentry for theatres, rock concerts, movies and television all over the
country. A few of the words he used jumped out at me for their novelty.

A "buggy-humper," he said, is just about as low on the totem-pole you can
go. These are the people who push around anything with wheels on it all day,
like gang boxes.

Pounds of pig iron are known as "bricks," which is logical, I guess, except
they're not always rectangular. He illustrated the importance of
understanding that they are also not house-building bricks with a story.
Seems they were working on a movie in Florida. Now, our narrator and his
crew all come from New York and had been brought in because there was no
local talent. They had, however, taken on some locals to that they might be
trained and so be available the next time such a shoot might happen.  On
this particular day they needed a lot of weight for a stunt. So our narrator
tells one of the local boys that he needs "50,000 bricks." What he meant was
50,000 pounds of pig iron, which were all on the set. What he got the next
day was a flat-bed semi trailer with 50,000 brick-red bricks on it. [In
re-reading this, I realize I did not get a secure clarification from him
that in his parlance brick=pound. I'll leave the story as I believe he meant
it, in hopes that someone else can refute it or confirm it. I'll ask him
about it the next time I see him.]

Another story he told: The colored transparent pieces of film that cover
lighting cans are called "gels." This is commonly known. What is less
commonly known is that to distinguish all the gradations of color they are
coded with a letter and number combination (at least, our narrator's kit was
so coded; I don't know if there's an industry standard coding). Again with
the misunderstanding: He asked a local helper to get him "C4" and the guy
came back five hours later and said, "The boys down at the Army-Navy store
said they ain't got none and I couldnta had it if they did." Anyone who's
watched action films knows that C4 is also a type of plastic explosive...

Our narrator resolved all such future problems by making it plain that if
you had to go off set to get it and it took more than a half hour to find,
then there was probably a misunderstanding.


Grant Barrett
gbarrett at worldnewyork.org

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