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Set Thiefs / Crew Negligence / Production Accountability

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#1 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 12:28 PM

After reading an old 2004 posting by Dave Chameides about stolen gear and Production challenging him as to whether he had the gear on set etc., I'd like to find out to what extent other ops are going to to protect themselves from thieves and snakey Production companies.

Ironically, I started on a new HBO / CineMax series this week and while I was out shooting B unit Monday some IDIOT (but I'm not bitter) left my sled and vest case out in the pouring rain, unguarded next to the camera truck. That's how I found it when we came back, thankfully it was in hard / sealed cases. I was pissed! It was originally inside the location we were shooting and the A unit 1st AC was going to "take care of it" while we were out. Later that night the 5 ton props truck was stolen ten feet away from that same spot (yes, the whole truck). Needless to say my gear comes home with me on this gig.

I have my own equipment insurance and always require Production to provide a Certificate of Insurance but from Dave's posting and replies it sounds like some of you are going so far as to lock your cases at lunch etc.?

What are YOU doing to protect your gear and business? All tips, questions, comments, suggestions and war stories are welcome.

Thanks in advance!
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#2 Erwin Landau

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 05:42 PM

I wouldn't call myself paranoid (maybe I am), but...

All my cases are lockable. Firstly for the reason that the drawers are a little on the sliddy side and will pull out if a corner is taken to harsh, But at the same time I can walk away during lunch or if we shoot close to uncontrolled crowds, but then there is always a PA that can have an eye on it. And after they got me a cert and know how much the replacement cost are... there is always a Firewatch.

I'm always making sure that "Walk Away Items" (small items as well as electronics, i-pods, Cellphones, PDA's, digital cameras, etc.) are secure and locked away. If you don't need it leave it in the car (Mine got burglarized, under the watchful eyes of 11 Deputy Sheriffs) or on the Truck (I can't count all the stories of stuff just walking off the truck) so leave it at home... thats another story.

Unfortunately most of the theft on set is committed by your "colleges" then strangers wandering onto set, which is almost impossible unless you act like and know how to appear as if you belong on a set. (I think the most famous/infamous incident involving a Camera Truck would be on "Beverly Hills Cop 2" shooting in Downtown LA, Eddie had 15 Bodyguards and security at all times watching him and while everybody was guarding him the Camera Truck was cleaned out, the whole camera package walked away from set nobody had seen anything.)

I always build my sled myself and put away all items like cases, back ups unused items myself and leave the least amount of stuff "lying" around. If you don't need it don't let it bounce around. I'm keeping my working shelf clean exempt for active items everything else goes into the drawer. I give my Assistants access to all my stuff and don't give'em to many rules "Everything is for you to use, as long at the end of the day all items are back where they started" (I can tell with one gland if all cut outs are filled or not). Most of my AC's do proved them self getting all my equipment, that I brought to make there lives easier, exactly in the same order in which they found it.

I want a certificate of insurance and I usually get one. But you still have to look out for your equipment yourself. There is no excuse at the end of the day to not quickly go through your stuff and make sure everything is back in the cases, especially on day playing.

I'm very often getting phone calls from other ops that go like "Can I borrow that item from you today, I'm sure I had one on the last show I did, but it looks like my Assistant misplaced it... it didn't make it back... this item was send back to the rental house... Someone took it...". By then it's to late to claim anything with production... it comes out of your pocket.

It's so hard to get anything replaced these days on set, so be smart and prevent. If no certificate is issued my operating gets more cautious and (I was stunned when I got a call from HARPO, yes Oprah's Production Company, and they said I had to provide my own Insurance), I will say no quicker... running, no... in the woods, no... beach, no... gunfire, no...

Ooops... rambling alert, Sorry.

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