‘Tis the season when movie crews clutter the airports.
We’re staying in the U.K., cluttering the highways. My last film ended a month ago, so I’ve been home for awhile. But many of my colleagues have been working on movies that started in the fall and will continue into the new year. They haven’t seen home in months and this is the time they’ve all been looking forward to: Christmas Hiatus.
Hiatus, I believe, comes from the Latin, hibernate-at-krismus.
It’s like a fat Xmas stocking to working crew. Most of us get our one-line schedules at the beginning of a job and sneak a peek at how long a hiatus we’ll have before even checking our wrap date. Not that any movie schedule is reliable - which means it’s impossible to make plane reservations until you’re well into filming and can get a sense of how slow it might be going. Many a December 21 hiatus has been pushed to December 22 – and airlines don’t care that your movie lost a day to bad weather.
It’s custom – if not statutory - to give the crew Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off. It’s customary, however, that crews get a span of days, usually from the first hot toddies on the pre-holiday flight home thru January 1 hangovers on the return. Some friends on the new James Bond film here in London are getting a three-week hiatus. How very Bond.
I was appalled when I heard from a friend who is working on a big-ass movie shooting in Michigan, that they’re not getting any hiatus at all. Michigan! That’s in the middle of… Nowhere! Alright, a lot of the secondary crew are probably local but this is a BIG movie for which they brought in a lot key people from L.A. and N.Y. These are now Christmas orphans, stranded in… Michigan!
Producers, you make movies about Grinches like you! Do you totally miss their simplistic moral? Everybody wants to be with friends and families at Christmas! Think about Tiny Tim, the prop man’s son, waiting by the window for Dad to come home and lift him up so he can put the replica Texaco star on top of the tree. You bunch of corporate Scrooges!!
Then again, with the industry trending towards fewer movies and smaller budgets over the last three years, there are a lot of skilled people out there for whom the hiatus has already been too long. I don’t think the crew on the Michigan movie would trade places. This can be a cruel business – but there are degrees of cruelty: too much work is bad; not enough work is worse.
It’s been another tough year for a lot of people. Their hiatus might’ve started in June or July. Or maybe 2009 or 2010 – as total movie production decreased by one-third. There’s a gallows joke going around that if the current trend continues, studios will run out of movies not to make by 2020.
Another linguist has traced the word hiatus to the Greek God Hitchcockalus, who envisioned a day when movies might be made without actors. It’s not known whether he foresaw the same thing with crews. The word is also similar to the Aramaic expression for temporarily unemployed. There are probably conjugations that suit different circumstances.
Be it etymologically or logistically challenging, long, short or just right, I’d like to wish a Happy Hiatus to you all.
Here’s hoping the last year of the Mayan calendar brings as many jobs and as many days of hiatus as you want.
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Anything and Everything that has Nothing to Do with the Movies
Sometimes, we go to a movie to get away from the world and sometimes we go to see what’s going on in the world. This blog will offer comments on the world, the movies and their occasional overlap.