Why I Want to be on a Film Set When the World Ends
Recently I’ve found myself working on several crime-drama feature length movies, and after being on set for 12 plus hours for the last three weeks, my mind has occasionally wandered. One recurring thought to help keep the tatters of my sanity from blowing away in a light breeze has been how I’m glad that I find myself on a movie set, if only to hedge my chances of survival in case of some cataclysmic event, like the Apocalypse or a zombie outbreak. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me that being on a film set is where I want to find myself when the world falls into chaos. I say film set specifically because of the current trend of more and more movies being shot digitally, straight to a hard drive rather than onto film stock. This saddens me, but I won’t get into my personal beef with digital cameras such as the RED right now. The bottom line for the cut-off-from-the-world-scenario is that film cameras can still function as a viewfinder without power, where as digital cameras are about as useful as a boat anchor without some electricity coursing through them. Luckily on the show I was working on, we also had a handheld mount that would fit the lenses, also with the benefit of not having to be powered. The downside of this is you can’t mount it onto a set of sticks or a dolly, but rather have to hold it. Not the best set up for long-term reconnaissance.
Seeing as how survival is the name of the game, whatever crappy action flick suddenly seems to have little to no relation to the reality around you. Thus shooting a movie ceases to be your chief concern. But with a little ingenuity and guts, the mid-range budget action movie set becomes the perfect starting point to become a survival camp that will be one of the few that remains intact until the credits start to roll. Let’s look at the key points that make a film set a jumping off point to adapt to a brave new world.
5 – Transportation & Base Camp
While dealing with Teamsters might be somewhat of a hassle, they’ll be one of the biggest assets, especially with your back against the wall. They’ll bitch and piss and moan and generally bring da ruckus, but they’ll also get the job done. Not only does a film set have the capabilities of setting up long term camps, it also is designed to be mobile. The entire operation can be moved to a new location over the course of a single day. This way, in case some scouting group for another clan of survivors stumbles upon your camp, the entire thing can be gone when the raiding party shows up.
4 – The Cameras
As mentioned before, the cameras themselves become an asset to the safety of the crew. Once a base camp is set up, the cameras can be set up to offer surveillance and an early warning system for potential marauders or roaming zombies. The sound crew also offers some help in this, if they have wireless mics with a decent range they can place them in parts of the perimeter where visual surveillance is hard or impossible to maintain. Of course, this will only be useful as long the the electricity and batter supply last.
3 – Grip and Electric Equipment
This need for electricity brings us to the resources found in the G & E departments. Electric offers a variety of generators, ranging from large enough to support base camp to small and portable enough to support a small roving task force. The issue here is the the gasoline. Hopefully transpo will have a decent amount set aside in a fill-up vehicle, at least enough to last a couple months if used sparingly. And also enough to provide mobile vehicles for raiding parties of gas stations and abandoned tankers. The lights that the Electrics have also can be used to disorient and distract opponents, giving a much needed advantage when the survivalist groups have their inevitable confrontations.
The grip equipment provides a majority of the arsenal for the crew, with C-stands and Gobo arms making pretty formidable melee weapons. Appleboxes can be used to provide fortification of strongholds, and duvetyne can offer night camouflage, allowing for sneak attacks and counter-assaults to get the jump on potential rivals.
2 – Costumes and Props
This is where the movie being of the action variety comes in handy. There will be a wide variety of SWAT team and gangsta thug outfits and accessories. Even if they aren’t quite up to snuf quality wise, your opponents have to get close enough to realize they aren’t the real thing. It worked in the documentary Airheads with fake Uzis; this is just upping the ante to fake riot gear as well. Plus I’m sure any armorer worth his salt has at least a limited cache of live rounds for some of his weapons. I mean honestly, he makes his living by driving around in a van full of weapons that he knows everything about, my guess is he’s got a little HST in him and relaxes by squeezing off a couple of rounds out in the desert.
1 – The People
The armorer is just one of the kooky people you find on an action film set. Everyone’s job is basically to problem solve with a limited budget and stellar results are what are expected. Anything less than that is pretty much worthless. The wild spirit and ingenuity of a film crew, not to mention their camaraderie and support of one another, puts them at the top of the list of people who will not only survive but also thrive on the chaos of a zombie outbreak.