A Week Alone in Mexico: What to Expect and What it Costs
Feb14

A Week Alone in Mexico: What to Expect and What it Costs

I’ve traveled alone to some far-flung places, but for whatever reason, Mexico freaked me out. I wasn’t even going to the border, I was going to the Yucatan Peninsula – the tourism hub! Maybe it’s because years ago, my parents requested  that I never travel to Mexico? (Seriously. Fortunately, I think they forgot.) In hindsight, it was ridiculous to have any fear. I blame the overly cautious and  paranoid American news media. So, what is it like traveling alone in Mexico for one week? First of all, here’s a goofy video to illustrate.   I was never actually alone. That’s usually the case when you travel by yourself! I met great people because I was alone. I’m especially grateful I joined my hostel buddies for a tour of Chichen Itza. I was very underwhelmed by the whole thing (if you’ve been anywhere with ancient ruins, they’re probably better. Tulum’s ruins are more easily accessible and just as interesting, in my opinion). Our camaraderie and propensity to goof off made it memorable. I would’ve been miserable alone — even our tour guide was so bored, he yawned the entire time! People travel Mexico alone… a lot! Mexico isn’t any different from the rest of the world. People travel Mexico alone ALL THE TIME, and from all over: Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Netherlands were just a handful of countries represented at the places I stayed. The majority were solo travelers, too. My trip was far shorter than most due to work obligations. Most solo travelers spend two weeks to several months in Mexico, and cover a lot more ground. I’d love to return and spend more time explore more of the Yucatan– such as Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres. And then there’s Mexico City, the ruins of Teotihuacan, Puerto Escondido, Guanajuato, Sayulita… I’ll be making return trips for years to come. Where I Stayed Playa del Carmen I had an interesting time in PDC: Despite being a popular tourist spot, Playa del Carmen was without running water for two of the three nights I was there. If you were on the main street of the city that caters to tourists, you weren’t affected, but I stayed in a hostel on the edge of the local neighborhood, and it WAS a problem. We couldn’t take showers. The staff managed to fill the toilet with rain water so that we (all six of us in the dorm) could flush twice per day. I’ve peed in some dodgy places — a hole in the ground in Vietnam that I had to pay to use — but this was disgusting. And the humidity and lack of ventilation in the bathroom didn’t help. Yuck. ...

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What’s Going On Around Here in 2017
Jan31

What’s Going On Around Here in 2017

I must apologize for the extremely sporadic posting schedule around here. You may have noticed if I’m busy with work, I won’t post for… months. Not a great way to maintain a following, but it speaks to the demands of a job in the entertainment industry! Let’s do a hard reset. Here’s what’s up. Work 2016 was a solidly good year for work — it was the most diverse and fruitful year I’ve had. I worked in a variety of capacities: field producer, segment producer, script supervisor, truck reels producer, and even camera op! This year’s off to a sluggish start, but that isn’t unusual for the dead of winter. So far, I’ve worked on one small project from home that had a lot of prep but only two shoot days. It’s been a welcome break from 2016, which was a bit chaotic for several reasons. Coming up: There’s a few potential projects flying around. I loved the diversification of last year and would love to work on several short-term projects for multiple companies again. I’d also like to figure out more ways to diversify myself — the entertainment landscape is changing, and I’d like to earn a living that isn’t solely dependent on the survival of cable networks. Travel 2016 was the first year I made it out of the country twice in the same calendar year! I finally took a last-minute trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, something I’ve been meaning to do for years. I had zero expectations, but guys, Mexico is AMAZING. There’s so much to explore around the Yucatan — I hit up Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Chichen Itza, and Akumal — but I can’t WAIT to get back there, specifically to visit Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres. And then, in August, I got sent back to the exact same spot in Mexico for work. It was extremely convenient that I’d inadvertently pre-scouted for the shoot eight months earlier. (I would write that first trip off as a “scouting trip”, but when you only spend $200 in airfare, $15/night in hostels, and eat 5 cent tacos– all for “work”– the IRS looks at you funny.) So, of course, the first time I traveled overseas twice in the same year was to the same place, but I did knock out a huge bucket list item: Travel abroad for work. I’d love to combine both these loves (and skill sets!) more frequently… are you listening, future employers? I’ve traveled independently to fifteen countries, and I have six years of producing experience! Coming up very, very soon: CUBA! With no acceptance of American credit/debit cards, limited Wifi, and no cell phone data, it is going to...

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Guide to Production Assistant Responsibilities and Duties
Jan25

Guide to Production Assistant Responsibilities and Duties

Production assistants are the life blood of production. But what do they supposed to do all day, exactly? Are they really fetching coffee? Yes, sometimes, but there’s so much more! Production assistant responsibilities can change whether you’re working on a union or non-union set. In addition to those duties, set PAs are also assigned certain roles. I’ll dive into ALL of that. Production Assistant Responsibilities on Union Sets For union shows, the “set production assistant” falls under the department of Assistant Directors. Your main task is to assist your bosses, and yes, that is the assistant directors (there are office production assistants as well– that’s a separate post). Some PAs will be assigned different roles, which I’ll cover in a bit. There are some general duties that all PAs are responsible for. Lockups This is the main duty of all production assistants. It may be the most boring task, but it is also one of the most important. Imagine you’re watching one of the dozen reboots of Spiderman or King Kong and some lady pushing a stroller in the background stops. She stares at the lens in confusion, pulls out her iPhone, and takes a picture. It completely takes you out of the movie, right? A “lockup” keeps those curious people from wandering into the shot. If you have a camera and you’re shooting anywhere not on a sound stage, the public will want to know what’s going on. (True story: Someone asked me the name of the movie we were filming. I told him. He replied, “Oh, I haven’t seen that one yet.”) Production assistants will be posted up outside of frame, or just outside the studio door, to prevent anyone not in the scene from walking into the shot. This includes random looky-loos or even members of the crew. Lunch Duty: Fire Watch  On union shoots it’s often the production assistant’s responsibility to make sure all of the crew has departed set to head to lunch — whether via transpo van or on foot. One production assistant, usually a locations production assistant (but sometimes a regular set PA), will hang back on set to “fire watch” — make sure the gear doesn’t walk away or catch fire. Lunch Duty: Counting the Line Another production assistant will leapfrog to the catering tent for the purpose of “counting the line”, which means that PA is responsible for two tasks: 1) Counting the number of people that go through the catering line, and (2) set the parameters for the official half-hour. Counting the line ensures production has been budgeting for the right number of people per day, and also to check the caterer’s count.  The...

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Scam Alert: Work From Home Production Runner
Jan18

Scam Alert: Work From Home Production Runner

Sad to report there is ANOTHER scam going around, this time advertising a position described as a “work from home production runner” for a “short movie producer, director” who is “married with 3 kids”. Here’s the email:   Production Runners are the foot soldiers of a film or television production team, performing small but important tasks in the office, around the set and on location. Their duties may involve anything from office administration to crowd control, and from public relations to cleaning up locations. Production Runners are usually employed on a freelance basis, are not very well paid, and their hours are long and irregular. However, the work is usually extremely varied and provides a good entry level role into the film industry. I will like to thank you for your interest in the job offer.After reviewing your email, I am glad to inform you that I am impressed. As my assistant, your activities amongst other things will include: Creation and distribution of reports and schedules Booking travel arrangements for shoots Making copies of scripts and distributing them Getting approval for the utilization of any clip or music that may be copyrighted Check Processing Buying equipment that would be needed for production. good organizational skills Serious sense of humor required and mandatory to work with me Ability to handle highly sensitive and confidential information Perform duties with accuracy, quality, and integrity You can only apply for this position if you own a personal computer. Basic wage is $550 a weekly. About me: I am married and have 3 kids. I have been short movie producer, director in many places in Europe and I want to shoot a short documentary, so right now getting the actors ready and the manager as well. .I travel a lot,hence the reason why i need an assistant to handle affairs for me on the home front when i am away on business which is usually quite often. This position is home-based and flexible you can be in any location,working with me is basically about instructions and following them, because working from home now, you take care of things that need being taken care of till the venue is decided and the actors assembled and production starts.This is only an introductory e-mail, as time goes on we should be able to arrange a proper meeting to get things started officially. I do have a number of things you could help me with this week if you will be available for me. This can act as a stable foundation to our working relationship. Note:This position is home base office work you can be in any location...

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10 Safety Tips for Backpacking Southeast Asia
Jan17

10 Safety Tips for Backpacking Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is worth the hype. It’s one of the most spectacular, bizarre, and beautiful places I’ve ever been. As comfortable as this laid back atmosphere is, lax laws means fewer safety standards than here in the Western world. Traveling to Southeast Asia will be one of the highlights of your life — it just requires a bit of heightened personal responsibility. This is the land where they’ll sell you cheap beer for hours on end and think nothing of sending you into a kayak in deep, murky waters at nightfall without a life preserver. No one means to cause you any harm– safety just isn’t high on the list of priorities. Not all will tell you there are mosquitos carrying malaria or dengue in a particular area– they’ll just laugh and say “there are no mosquitos.” It’s a cultural thing to have a bright outlook on everything rather than take precautions. If you or someone you love is about to jettison off to this corner of the world, particularly if it’s their first overseas adventure, here are some backpacking safety tips for Southeast Asia. Watch out for scams. This is true of every major city everywhere in the world. 99.1% of the people in Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, are fantastic people and will drop everything to help you. But there are still the occasional scams on unwitting tourists — particularly in the tourist areas of cities. Different regions will have different scams, so read up before you arrive. A few of the common ones in Bangkok: Taxi drivers not turning on the meter; telling you an attraction like the Grand Temple is “closed” and taking you somewhere else for a “private tour” with their friend where you’ll have to spend an exorbitant amount. Hanoi has its own set of scams, including one where “shoe cleaners” will throw gum on your shoe and try to clean it off for you in exchange for a fee. (Just keep going.) Bonus Tip: In Bangkok, take the MRT from the airport (BKK) instead of a taxi — the rush hour gridlock is fierce. Ask: Where is the Closest Decent Hospital? It is 2017, but that doesn’t mean a world-class hospital exists in every heavily tourist locale. Thailand has some of the best health care in southeast Asia, whereas hospitals in Laos and Vietnam are dicey. Within Thailand, Koh Tao is one of the hottest destinations for backpackers, but there isn’t a full-fledged hospital there. There are clinics, yes; but for anything serious, you’ll need to be transported to Koh Samui, which is an 1.5 hour journey by ferry. I always take a kit with over the counter medicine with me to save myself the hassle of finding it abroad....

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