I had an Art PA email me the other day, whom I’ve never met, but is a member of my Facebook Art Department group, asking me if I knew of any tutorials or online demonstrations of tying the proper knots when loading trucks as said Art PA seemed to be having a lot of trouble with it. It’s sad to say but this email brought me much warm and tingly happiness.
Why did this persons ever-so-slight despair make me so happy?
In the film industry we are constantly loading cube trucks with ridiculously expensive and fragile things and then unloading them as quickly and efficiently as we can without breaking anything. Everything must be packed and padded well with sound blankets and the like and then tied down good and tight but also have the ability to untie it all at a moments notice.
There are rigging points in any truck and you start with many bowline knots of sash cord all along the rails. During load-in you then tie everything down as required with the truckers hitch knot. Simple as that: Bowline knot, trucker’s hitch knot.
It is amazing how many people screw this up.
I was one of those people.
This is why the Art PA’s email made me all warm and tingly. I found myself getting all nostalgic for a time that most would consider a low point in their burgeoning careers.
On my very first commercial as an Art PA everything went swimmingly. We were on schedule and in fact, it looked like we were going to finish early for the day. Which is why the Set Decorator, let’s call her ‘Brenda’, told me to start loading the first location as they were onto the exterior now. As I am finishing tying down the bulk of these large scale toys, it starts pouring rain out of nowhere.
One of the set dressers comes running towards the truck, “They’ve added new shots, mostly inserts, to wait out the rain. We need the rocking horse, the dollhouse, and the teddy bear ASAP.” I, of course look at her for a minute like an idiot and then slowly and inefficiently try and get to them. She then starts digging through to help me. Then comes ‘Brenda’ soaking wet and with an angry face not even a mother could love. By this time the set dresser had found the items.
‘Brenda’ yells, “What in the bloody hell is taking so long?”, and jumps in.
“She did overhand knots! I can’t get them out!”, the set dresser told her.
She turns her head towards me, “What are you? TWO!”, ‘Brenda’ berates me as they finally unleash the toys together.
I will never forget the venom in her voice as she said this to me. After all, she knew I was green when she hired me and NO I was not fucking two! It’s not exactly like everyone’s running around telling you the importance of tying the perfect knot. And it was a commercial! They probably wouldn’t even use the shots, which they didn’t.
What killed me is after all this, not only did it stop raining, but the set dresser retied it all and didn’t even bother to let me watch and learn how it was done. I was sent off to clean the windows for the next shot all the while holding back tears. I later did cry in the privacy of my own car and vowed the day I would get back at her.
Although I have encountered her since, we do not say hello and I have not worked with her for obvious reasons but I feel no need for vengeance.
On the next shoot I learned those knots and I learned them well (from a grip, no less). Now that it’s come time for someone to ask me for help to tie the perfect knot I did not respond, “What are you? TWO!”. I responded with links.
I hope I’ve helped in some small way because learning the hard way– sucks.
Rose Lagacé | @artdepartmental