Archive for crew

Screen Angle

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2012 by javedbabar

“Keep moving please!” said the traffic cop. “No stopping here. There’s no entry.”

Sami was annoyed. He thought that by coming on a bicycle he would get a break, but the cops were treating car drivers, motorbikers, cyclists, skateboarders and pedestrians the same. He wondered how wheelchair users would fare.

“But I am part of the production crew. I am the local project manager for the screening.”

This had no effect. The cop waved him on and said, “Well you should know better then. Nobody is allowed through this way except VIPs. Do you have VIP credentials?”

“No, I don’t.”

“Well, go around the back like everybody else. Once you pass through security, you’re in.”

It was strange to see the heart of Lucerne cordoned off. It was an important event, he knew, and they had to take precautions, but it didn’t seem right somehow.

The global launch of the film HUMANITY could have taken place in London, Tokyo, Mumbai, Paris or New York, but the director had had his vision for the film while climbing mountains here. The white bulk of Mt Alba at one end of the valley, and dark bulk of Mt Negra at the other, had caused him to “transcend the monochromicity of the world, while retaining its bipolar archetypes.”

What this meant, nobody really knew, but he was a world famous auteur at the peak of his creative powers, so it didn’t matter. He declared this film the “cumulative cultural container” of his lifetime’s work, and said that it must be revealed to the world in the place where the world had revealed it to him.

The producer had wanted to show the film on the railway tracks to signify “humanity at the crossroads,” and his people had conducted negotiations with the provincial government, village council, railways department, health and safety boards, and emergency services, but had been unable to convince them to allow this. So instead they had settled for The Place, the communal square in the centre of the village.

It took an hour to get through security. By the time Sami was on location, the scaffold and screen were set up. He knew that the screen was twenty by forty feet, but in situ it looked much bigger. The film would look awesome on that.

He scoped the area, paced it out, and ran through things in his head. VIPs were here near the trees, premium diners there near the fountain, ordinary ticket holders on the terrace, and press near the bar.

Hang on! The VIPs would get the same view as everybody else. That wasn’t right. He had been told that VIPs must get the best view. He would have to move the screen, maybe angle it a little towards them. He called over a technician.

The technician said, “Look pal, it’s all set up. It will be tricky to move it. Why don’t we just leave it there?”

Sami felt he had no option. “I’m afraid we have to move it.”

“But isn’t this film called HUMANITY? Why don’t we give everyone an equal view?”

Cinema is a cultural artefact. By exploiting the universal power of visual communication, it is used for entertainment, education and indoctrination. Individual images are shown rapidly, creating the illusion of motion. One cannot see their flickering due to an effect called persistence of vision, wherein the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after its source has been removed. Thus, things persist, whether we like it or not. One such thing is social privilege.

Sami said, “We need to move the screen for the VIPs. Can you please call the rest of the crew.”

Happy Hours

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2012 by javedbabar

Mr Kazantzakis, the Lifetime General Manager of the Lucerne Valley Hotel, called TJ into his office. He said, “I have noticed that the bar takings are down again this month. This is the third month in a row. Do you know why?”

TJ was confused. He was only the night-receptionist, so why was Mr Kazantzakis asking him? And then he thought, does he think I am stealing money? An irregular wave of worry crossed his face, and a sheen of sweat appeared upon his forehead and temples.

Mr Kazantzakis must have seen this, and said, “I have asked the barman already. He is good at mixing drinks, but not so good at mixing thoughts. He has no idea why people are buying fewer drinks. They are some of our highest margin items, and that’s why I called you in. I want your input. Have you noticed anything different recently?”

TJ focussed his thoughts, which caused another wave to cross his face, but this time a steadier one with less splashback. “We have had more men than women coming in, so fewer cocktails sold. But the men have been ordering micro-brews, so we’re increasing sales value.” The wave slowed and disintegrated. “Ah! Some guests have asked if we have a Happy Hour. When I’ve said no, they have gone elsewhere for their evening’s drinking. Come to think of it, there have been quite a few…”

“So you think that holding a Happy Hour would help?”

“Business increased by fifty percent when we tried it before.”

Mr Kazantzakis winced. Yes, it had been a successful promotion, but The Authority had instructed him to end such activities “promoting immoderate consumption” of alcoholic drinks. He had been told to keep prices above the set minimums. No half-price drinks were allowed. Rather than quibble, Mr Kazantzakis had ended the promotion. A man must choose his battles wisely. There must be ways around the ban though.

The LGM liked empowering people. He understood the benefits of creating high-performance, leaderless teams, as long as they did what he wanted, of course. He said, “Okay TJ, please develop a theme and launch a Happy Hour next week.” He saw sweat build upon TJ’s temples. “I am sure you will do a great job.”

TJ didn’t know where to start. He hadn’t been involved in the previous promotion, and it hadn’t continued for long. Half-priced drinks, double-sized drinks, and free food were all banned. What was left?

Happy Hour. Where had the term come from? he wondered. He plugged into the e-library and found it was originally a nautical expression indicating scheduled entertainment. Long periods spent at sea created stress and boredom, which affected sailors’ mental health, and petty frustrations led to fights. To combat these dangers captains arranged weekly bouts of boxing and wrestling, accompanied by drinking and singing. At dusk on Friday nights many ships would be rocking, regardless of sea conditions.

TJ printed posters saying “Avast Ye Landlubbers! Fight, Sing & Drink All Night at HMS Lucy, the Captain’s Hotel”. He wasn’t sure if Mr Kazantzakis would approve of this theme. Maybe it wasn’t an image he wished to promote.

Things went well on the first Friday night. The bar was rowdy, featuring many forms of debauchery, and its captain of chaos seemed to be the LGM. He was stripped to the waist, downing tankards, kissing girls, singing shanties, and trading punches with all comers. When he saw TJ, he began shouting, “You’re fired! You’re fired!”

Was he really saying that TJ was fired?

No he wasn’t.

“You’re tired! You’re tired!” His words were slurred but enthusiastic. “Good job TJ! Take the night off!”

Hundred Million Dollar House

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2012 by javedbabar

“Do you want mahogany window frames?”

“Shall I varnish this door with pearlescent coating?”

“Do you prefer a seamed metal roof for the garage, or diamond pattern?”

“Which colour siding looks best, dark blue or brown? The brown is eco-paint, which is twice the price.”

“Shall we install a 50 kilowatt diesel generator?”

“Do you want fibre-optic cable?”

“How about a vertical closed loop geothermal field?”

The other workers ribbed David continuously. They kept asking him for decisions concerning the hundred million dollar house. The plans for the house were drawn, stamped and approved already, but it was a game they enjoyed playing.

Sometimes they went too far and David became moody, but it was his own fault really. He had started the joke that he was the owner of the house, and had joined the crew to ensure they did a good job. They had no idea who the owner was, as he was obscured by lawyers and managers, so they happily played along.

They never did what David said though. In fact they often did the opposite, for which he said he would fire them later. This made them laugh.

As the house neared completion, sign-off was needed for various components. The lawyers said that the owner was unavailable, and the builders should just proceed as contractually agreed.

“God damn those lawyers!” said the foreman. “They tell us to carry on as if its child’s play. Sure we know what we’re doing, I am a third generation builder, but we need to confirm they are happy with the work so far. It will be mighty expensive making changes later.”

“Well, why don’t you ask me? I am here,” said David.

“Quit fooling around now. I’m not in the mood. There’s millions of dollars at stake. It’s not a game.”

“Okay,” said David, walking away. “I was just trying to help.”

“Well then shut your mouth and stick your help up your ass!” The foreman was annoyed, but then forgot about it.

Some days later he thought, what if David really is the owner? That would explain a few things. We give him the crappiest jobs: mudding and taping, sweeping and washing, rubbish and recycling, but he’s always smiling. He’s never had a day off and never gets annoyed. He knows a lot about construction, more than any casual laborer should. What if he really is the boss?

The foreman called him over. “Tell me honestly, son, are you the owner of this house?”

A smile crossed David’s lips, but also a look of horror. “No, I am not.”

The foreman could tell when someone was lying. He knew that David was lying.

After that, they did whatever David said. They installed marble steps and copper railings. They lengthened the swimming pool. They built a root cellar. They added gables.

When the house was finished, they met the owner, Daniel, an older man from the city. He shouted at them, saying, “Why the hell did you make all those changes? They were not on the plan!”

Daniel was pleased with the job his nephew David had done. He’d got them to make many expensive changes that he wasn’t going to pay for. He’d also demand a discount on the house, maybe ten percent. David’s commission would come out of that. It would help him finish acting school.