I don’t even know where to start with this production. So many wonderful moments and learning opportunities packed into such a short amount of set time. Happy Ending was a $2 Million Bollywood Feature film and was my introduction into the wonderful city of Los Angeles. The opportunity to 2nd on this two camera shoot was a result of the ever talented DP, Chase Bowman. The shoot was to last 53 days and span from June through August in and around the Los Angeles Area. We worked with two Red Epics and Kowa Anamorphic lenses. I quickly learned the fast paced nature of Bollywood film making and bonded with the six other camera department members. I witnessed the possible beauty of shooting on Kowa Anamorphics but we also saw a whole web of weird quirks with the lenses. During prep we completely remarked the lenses focal distances after seeing discrepancies with focus after properly back focusing. Six days into shooting we switched to Cooke S4is and the crew loved the results. One day of production took place with a condensed camera team in Downtown LA as the sixth street bridge was closed for work with an Ultimate Arm and stunt driving. Working with the Ultimate Arm crew from Skyfall was unreal and seeing first hand how they operate was incredible. Unfortunately, our time on set was cut short.
On the second day of filming it was made apparent that this production was being put under pressure by IATSE. Being new to LA and professional assisting I was unsure what this new spin would bring. Several days later there were numerous talks about strikes and shutdowns. We met with a representative from our Local 600 office and were brought up to speed on the situation. The consensus was that the production could afford to go union and that the fact we hadn’t yet was depriving the crew of making the wages they deserved. On the eighth day of production the show was brought to a halt when Union representatives showed up on set to take a vote from the crew. They explained that the producers were considering flipping the show to union but wanted to continue to shoot for two days while negotiations were made in India. The crew took a vote and determined that they would not continue work until union negotiations were finished. Within 10 minutes we were packing up equipment and preparing gear for return. The show decided that the pressure from the union, mixed with the retaliation from crew and inability to continue shooting was too large a financial upset to continue shooting in LA. It was one of the most challenging weeks of my life to make the decision to blindly stay in LA without work. A week later word got out that the production was putting boots on the ground in Detroit to continue shooting. While I did not follow the shoot, some camera department members were able to continue on. I decided to stick out my time in LA and that decision resulted in a successful and very rewarding summer of work. Some believe that the production would’ve left LA either way and others believe the producers were committed to the city. Either way, Happy Ending was certainly a show that I will never forget and left me with new found meaning of what it is like to work in the Camera Department in Los Angeles.