(ON CAMERA DOUBLE DIP
FOR TWO DIFFERENT SHOWS
AT THE EXACT SAME TIME)
The DOUBLE DIP is simply getting paid two paycheques on the same day. So that on the following Thursday at 4 pm, payday, you will get 2 envelopes instead of one. Or, one big fat one.
The Stunt Elders have passed on stories of our Stunt Forefathers working Episodic TV all day, then flirting off to a Feature Film where they sleep all night. They show up back at work the next day totally refreshed to do it all again.
You do this for an extended period of time and you pay cash for a new house like a drug dealer.
Stunt Performers love the DOUBLE DIP!
Producers HATE the Double Dip! They hate when anyone makes more money than them.
Stunt Coordinators HATE the Double Dip! Unless they are doing it themselves.
If a Coordinator tries to book you and you ask, “You shooting nights?”, they won’t hire you because they know you’re already working in the day and you’re hoping they’re shooting nights.
The Coordinator knows you’re trying to DOUBLE DIP.
The chances of you being late or having to bail on the second show are great.
The first show could go late. Then they just tent it in and light it like it’s still Day. They can shoot for hours that way.
The second show could want you early. They could also just tent it in and light it like it’s Night.
They could flip flop scenes. There’s construction, rush hour, and people turning left.
If you are late or have to bail and the Coordinator knows it’s because of a DOUBLE DIP, you are SO TOTALLY FIRED!
Not only that, the Coordinator will tell all the other Coordinator’s and you will,
NEVER WORK IN THIS TOWN AGAIN!
So then why do folks risk their careers for the DOUBLE DIP?
BECAUSE OF THE MONEY SILLY!!
Also it’s the nature of the game. Just like farmers, we have to make hay when the sun shines.
We kill ourselves working 20 hour days for a few weeks or months but then we go on Hiatus. The real world has a different word for Hiatus.
The quality of life during our Hiatus is determined by the number of DOUBLE DIPS you pull off while you’re haying.
You want to avoid that real life scene from Terms of Endearment when Debra Winger is at the supermarket putting stuff back because, “She doesn’t have any money!”
We can be either cashing in RRSPS to buy dog food for ourselves to eat or to pay the minimum payments on our taxes we owe.
Or we could be running Diamond Head and drinking Long Board Lagers at Dukes in Waikiki wearing a white linen shirt to show off our tan.
So if a Coordinator checks your availability, you better say you’re available.
YOU HAVE TO DOUBLE DIP!
Some people don’t have the stomach for it.
To others it’s like crack. They can’t help themselves.
There are essentially 3 different types of DOUBLE DIPS.
1- DOUBLE DIP on the same show at the same time. If a Stunt Coordinator doubles the lead on the show and/or dials him or herself in for an ND day, he/she gets paid as the Stunt Coordinator + the performer on that day. Minimum risk.
( Just be careful you don’t do it too often. Producers HATE paying the DOUBLE DIP even to their own mother. It’s like the scorpion and the frog. It’s just their nature.)
2- DOUBLE DIP on two different shows at two different times. If a Stunt Coordinator hires you to work on one show, during the DAY, and another hires you to work on another show, at NIGHT. Risky.
3-DOUBLE DIP on two different shows at the same time. That is, you need to be, ON CAMERA, ON TWO DIFFERENT SHOWS, IN TWO DIFFERENT PLACES AT THE EXACT SAME TIME!
Now unless you’re Hayley Mills from the Parent Trap (Sorry for the dated reference. Lindsay Lohan.) and you have an identical but not evil twin to cover for you, you are so TOTALLY SCREWED!
If you are Coordinating one or both, you could get someone to cover for you if things go sideways.
But if you have to be,
ON TWO DIFFERENT SHOWS,
IN TWO DIFFERENT PLACES ,
AT THE EXACT SAME TIME,
To the best of my knowledge, no ones ever attempted that one. It would be insane to even consider it! No one could be that stupid!
Let me explain.
We were on our summer hiatus from Stargate.
Hiatus as in actual summer holiday. It was great because we had 2 weeks off in the middle of the summer and we had a job to come back to. Just like real people with real jobs.
I wound up getting 3 days on a Feature called PAYCHECK starring Ben Affleck in the second week of our hiatus. Which would pretty much pay for my holiday.
It was cool combining summer family stuff with a couple of days of blowing up stuff on a huge Feature.
But they wanted to know if I was available the following week also.
Something about me-possibly-screwing-up- a-$250,000.00-shot-by-not-being-able-to-get-my-baton-out-of-my-belt-in-time-to-hit-the-Ben Affleck-stunt-double-while-very-expensive-SFX-explosives-were-blowing-up-all-around-us-scene!
But don’t worry about that for the moment. That’s an entirely different story for another day.
Now ordinarily that's what you hope for on a Feature. Get booked for 3 days and actually work 10. And that was sort of in the back of my mind even before the, me-possibly-screwing-up-a-$250,000.00-shot-by-not-being-able-to-get-my-baton-out-of-my-belt-in-time-to-hit-the-Ben Affleck-stunt-double-while-very-expensive-SFX-explosives-were-blowing-up-all-around-us-scene!
But I had to get back to my regular gig as Stunt Coordinator on Stargate. I'd never had to take time off from the show before and didn't want the Producers to be disappointed in me. I didn’t want them to think that I wasn’t totally appreciative of all they had done for me.
That's how people lose their swipe cards and parking spaces and get voted off the island.
Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned after 30 years in the business,...
HELL HAS NO FURY AS A PRODUCER SCORNED!
The good news was I had booked the days during the hiatus and technically had no idea they would spill over into my day job. And because I was a close personal friend and official charter member of Richard Dean Anderson’s COATTAIL club, the Producers had no choice but to reluctantly agree to let me do both.
Because Producer’s HATE THE DOUBLE DIP!
So began my couple of weeks of literally having to be in 2 places at once.
I was the Stunt Coordinator of STARGATE and Stunt Actor Security Guard on PAYCHECK. Luckily they were across the street from each other. STARGATE @ the Bridge Studio and PAYCHECK @ The Vancouver Film Studio.
I would park at the Bridge Studio then run across the very busy Boundary Avenue to the Vancouver Film Studio, punch in the security code and enter by the back gate.
Each day I would start on PAYCHECK. I'd go through the works, hair, makeup and wardrobe.
The HAIR NAZI was angry with my follicles. During the, me-possibly-screwing-up-a-$250,000.00-shot-by-not-being-able-to-get-my-baton-out-of-my-belt-in-time-to-hit-the-Ben Affleck-stunt-double-while-very-expensive-SFX-explosives-were-blowing-up-all-around-us-scene, my hat fell off. And the HAIR NAZI apparently didn’t particularly like what used to be affectionately referred to as my Cow Lick.
So each day I had to report to the Pretty Department where the HAIR NAZI would beat my Cow Lick into submission with each angry stroke of the hair brush! She would roughly brush my hair to the one side of my head and then empty an entire can of arousal hair spray on it!
If she could have stapled my hat to my head she would have!
Then I would ask Dan the 3rd AD from PAYCHECK if they would need me, for like, the next 6 hours. They never did.
So I'd run back across the very busy Boundary Road, where I’d use my swipe card to get back into the Bridge Studios.
There I would perform my duties as Stunt Coordinator on Stargate. Luckily we weren't that busy. I'd go to a couple of meetings and do a couple of Stunt Pad passbys. I’d make sure that everyone saw me and heard me so it would appear as though I still had my nose to the ol’ grindstone. Much like trying to establish an iron clad alibi for premeditated murder.
The good thing about Coordinating on one show was that if things went sideways I could still get someone to cover me on Stargate.
I wasn’t ON CAMERA for both shows...yet.
I'd be careful not to let any of the Producers of STARGATE see me in my PAYCHECK wardrobe. They had signed off on me doing this but they probably forgot the second they did & I didn't want to draw attention to it. I would go to each individual Producer’s office and suck up to them. Basically thanking them for not having voted me off the island a long time ago.
PRODUCERS LOVE IT WHEN YOU THANK THEM FOR ALL THEY’VE DONE FOR YOU.
I’d then change back into my PAYCHECK wardrobe, run across the very busy Boundary Road, punch in the security code and rush back to the PAYCHECK set just in time for,...
Now lunch on any set can be over the top in terms of the amount and quality of food. But on big budget Features it can be just stupid!
Plus I Robot starring Will Smith was shooting @ the next stage over so it almost appeared as though each show was trying to outdo one another.
It was like LUNCH WARS!!
With each Production Manager trying to justify their huge food budgets.
On PAYCHECK we'd have an outdoor BBQ. With burgers, ribs and steaks. And we'd have the fancy coffee truck with smoothies etc on call 24/7!
And that was just CRAFT SERVICE!!
Lunch was like a sumptuous feast! Pasta. Fish. Chicken. More steaks. Three different types of veggie dishes. And many different types of salads. And plenty of decadent desserts.
It was like a scene out of Sofia Coppola’s MARIE ANTOINETTE.
I don’t know how you had any room left in your stomach. But the Teamsters always find room.
On I ROBOT they'd have an outdoor Greek food spread. With tables of chicken and beef souvlaki etc.
Will Smith would be entertaining the troops with a kind of standup routine.
When you walked around the corner of the 2 studios you would be hit with a competing avalanche of sumptuous smells. An embarrassment of riches to overwhelm your senses.
Much like going around the cape of South Africa where the Indian Ocean’s warm Agulhas current collides with the nutrient-rich cold water from the Benguela upwelling of the Atlantic.
I’d stuff my face like I was hibernating for the winter.
Then I'd fill a couple of takeout boxes with food from PAYCHECK AND I ROBOT.
I’d rush across the very busy Boundary Road, use my swipe card to get back into the Bridge Studios, take off my PAYCHECK wardrobe and wait in STARGATE’S lunchline and get another lunch to go.
The beauty of STARGATE lunches was that even though it was an endangered species, RDA always had Sea bass. My absolute all time favourite fish! And because I was an official charter member of the RDA COATTAIL club I was always allowed an ample serving of it.
So I would fill up my boots and stick all 3 lunches from STARGATE, PAYCHECK and I ROBOT in my car to sit roasting in the summer heat for the next few hours.
So after about 12 1/2 hours or so of this I'd be wrapped from PAYCHECK. I'd whip off my wardrobe and makeup. (I'd leave a little mascara for the Teamsters)
The HAIR NAZI’s ass’t would take about a half an hour to shampoo the full can of hair spray out of my hair.
I’d run back across the street to STARGATE.
I'd do a couple more Stunt Pad passbys, hang around the office for awhile making sure everyone saw me and heard me again, pretending to be burning the midnight oil.
I did a bit more sucking up to the Producers. I don’t believe you can do too much.If there’s one thing I’ve learned after 30 years in the business,..
THERE”S NO SUCH THING AS TOO MUCH SUCKING UP.
Then I’d blast home to take my kids to practice with enough food to feed the entire neighbourhood.
I love bringing movie meals home to my family. This saved going to the bank to get money to go to Safeway, to go up and down the aisles to wait in line to pay for the food that then needed to be cooked. Also no dishes! We just had to nuke these gourmet meals and eat.
Win. Win. And win.
I always brought a movie meal to Ken the Homeless Crack Head. A sumptuous meal of sea bass, asparagus and roasted potatoes just to listen to him complain that the fish was too well done because it sat roasting in my car for too long.
You should not over cook sea bass.
This DOUBLE DIP carried on for the next couple of weeks without incident.
THEN THE SHIT HIT THE FAN!
I had a once in a blue moon recurring role on Stargate, as Sgt Siler. He of the Big Wrench. The Producers did me a huge favor throwing me this role cause I couldn't act for shit!
I had checked the DOODS (Shooting Schedule) and I hadn’t been scheduled to be on camera this episode. They must have just added it.
Must have been all that, SUCKING UP.
So now, I was scheduled to work ON CAMERA as SGT.SILER on STARGATE at the Bridge Studio AND.... ON CAMERA as STUNT SECURITY GUARD GUY on PAYCHECK at the Vancouver Film Studios the very next day.
TWO DIFFERENT SHOWS.
BOTH AT THE EXACT SAME TIME.
Now unless I could clone myself or get one of the stunt mooks to undergo extensive cosmetic surgery to look just like me for one day’s work, by tomorrow morning,...
I WAS SO TOTALLY AND ROYALLY SCREWED!
I couldn't bail on the STARGATE Gig. The Producers were kind enough to throw me this recurring bone. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned after 30 years in this game it’s,
NEVER LOOK A PRODUCERS GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH.
Also if they bring in another actor, one who can actually act, it’ll be, Sgt. Siler who?! Or, let’s bring in anyone BUT Sgt. Siler, for however many years the show has left. Which is probably quite a few. Which would certainly impact negatively on my bottom line going forward.
I couldn’t bail on the PAYCHECK Gig because I’ve been milking this thing more than anyone has ever milked a Feature before because of me-possibly-screwing up-a-$250,000.00-shot-by-not-being-able-to -get-my-baton-out-of-my-belt-in-time-to-hit-the-Ben Affleck-stunt-double-while-very-expensive-SFX-explosives-were-blowing-up-all-around-us-scene.
Ben Affleck, who’s won an Academy Award for Screenwriting and who may eventually direct a picture that wins an Academy Award sometime in the future shows up on set everyday.
Why can’t YOU!
Now the good news was that I had been showing up at PAYCHECK for 12 1/2 hours a day for the last 2 weeks and hadn't worked so much as a minute yet. If that trend could continue for just 1 more day then maybe, just maybe,...
I COULD BE NOT SO TOTALLY FIRED.
Also Sgt Siler usually only has one line. So it may work.
The next day I used my swipe card to park in my parking spot at the Bridge Studios.
The ol sphincter was a little tight. But,...
I then ran across the very busy Boundary Road. I punched in the security code at the Vancouver Film Studios and went in the back gate to PAYCHECK.
I put on my PAYCHECK wardrobe and immediately went to the HAIR NAZI.
She seemed to be especially angry at my Cow Lick today. Was that a trickle of blood I felt rolling down the back of my neck?
I then went to Dan the 3rd AD and asked him if he would be needing me at any time in the next, oh I don't know, 12 hours or so. He said I was fine to go just as long as I kept my phone on.
But he had heard a rumour that they might be needing me today.
The ol sphincter just tightened up a little more.
I then ran back across the street and used my swipe card to get into the Bridge Studios.
I immediately changed from my PAYCHECK STUNT SECURITY GUARD wardrobe to my SGT. SILER from STARGATE wardrobe.
I’d like to say at this time that the whole Mrs. Doubtfire thing where a man changes back and forth from a man to a woman in a fat suit. Not realistic.
I went to the Pretty Department to go through the works.
The STARGATE HAIR DUDE was shocked to see my hair! It had been combed to the WRONG side of my head. SGT SILER had been combing his DO to the OPPOSITE side for 5 Season's now. Also there was so much product my hair was like a helmet. A Nazi Helmet.
Also he wondered where my Cow Lick had gone because it was an integral
part of my characters hair.
So he had to wash and dry my hair so he could comb it back to the ORIGINAL side. He also seemed angry with my follicles because he had to meticulously recreate my Cow Lick. He seemed to open up the scabs left by the HAIR NAZI because I was feeling that now familiar warm blood rolling down the back of my neck feeling. He then emptied another arousal can of hair spray on my head so my Cow Lick wouldn’t move.
There has to be an ozone layer bit in there somewhere.
I rushed to PROPS and put on my watch and dog tags etc.
I was now on set, on STARGATE, at the Bridge Studio, on my mark, all gacked up and ready to go.
It was time for the Blocking
If Dan the 3rd AD called me now from PAYCHECK,
I WAS TOTALLY AND ROYALLY,.......
It’s funny how your perception changes when, you’re,..
ON TWO DIFFERENT SHOWS,
AT THE EXACT SAME TIME!!
For example, why do things move so slow on a movie set? It just seems like no one’s doing anything!
It kinda seems like the movie Awakenings with Robert DeNiro. Everyone seems totally frozen in time. With no one even moving. The only difference is if you throw a baseball at a movie guy, his hand wouldn’t suddenly shoot out and catch it indicating some cognizant activity buried somewhere underneath. It would just hit him in the head!
Why does it that take the Actors so long to get to set? Aren’t their huge Winnebago’s with their own showers and satellite dishes just outside the Studio doors?
It took me 2 minutes to sprint from PAYCHECK, across the very busy BOUNDARY ROAD to my phone booth of a changing room with the TV that’s never worked.
Maybe we could lend them Ben Affleck’s golf cart!
And why does it take so long to light the set? It takes a Key light and a Kicker. What’s the big deal?
Don’t we shoot in the exact same room and shoot the exact same Master/Over/Over everyday week in and week out for 22 Episodes?
Why is it such a surprise that we have to put lights up? Why not just leave them in the exact same spot? Will it really make that big of a difference?
And why is that Prop’s watch flying in from the truck?! Doesn’t Props know he’s been wearing the exact same watch for 8 Season’s?!
Do the Grips really have to put on a whole new ceiling piece because we’re seeing off the set, NOW?! Why didn’t someone look through the camera an hour ago when we were lighting!??
And why is camera reloading NOW?! We haven’t even shot anything yet!
And we’re changing the battery NOW!? Why didn’t we change it when we were reloading the camera?!
I hope that was my inner voice.
I kept checking my Props watch wondering why everything was taking so long! I had become a Producer. The thought of which was so repugnant to me that it reminded me of the movie GHOST. Where the huge black man tries to morph inside of Whoopie Goldberg at the seance, but she is so disgusted by it that she forces him out of her. So to speak.
As I was watching everybody I could hear myself breathing.
It was like I was scuba diving in the winter under the ice and I’d forgotten where my exit hole in the ice was. I had to control my breathing, conserve my oxygen,...
But everyone is just talking.! You want to be like Mario Azzapardi who shot the Pilot and scream," Why aren't we shooting!"
We’re finally done lighting.
The actors have finally arrived on set!!
But do they always have to forget their shoes?!! Who dresses them at home? Why do actors always ask if you can see their feet!?? What is it with actors and their feet anyways?!
Construction stands in steel toed boots for 14 hours a day!
Actors have to change their shoes every time we cut!
Does Crafty have to bring the sandwiches in now!? Do we really need another time consuming feeding frenzy, NOW!?
Does the Pretty Department always have to sit in their chairs until they’re called for touches?! Can’t they get off their asses and anticipate?!
Inside my head I was screaming! But on the outside?
I held out my hand and just like Leo DiCaprio in The Departed. It never shakes.
That is until SFX couldn’t figure out how to open a dam door! The scene calls for the door to open when the actors arrive. But they can’t get the dam thing to open! All you need is a piece of mono! And again, why is it on the truck!?
FINALLY we were set to roll.
It was a simple 1 page scene. 3 actors.
We shot the master. All good. The camera didn't break.
No one pulled the fire alarm.
We cover the actors. For every lighting setup they have to leave! They have to go back to their rooms! And then the inevitable 20 minute hike back to set. Why do they have to go back to their rooms every single time? I guess the chairs they have in their rooms are much more comfortable than the ones the props guy has to lug in from the truck every day for them to sit on on set.
So now we're done the master and all of their coverage. Now it's only me. They just have to turn around and shoot me saying my one line!!
Problem is they usually save my coverage till later so they can shoot the actors out! No one gives a shit about a day player. In fact most of the time I want them to hold my coverage so I can get into some sweet OT. But not today!
I listen to the 1st AD and the DP discuss the merits of shooting me out or holding my close up till later.
I TOTALLY HAVE TO GET THE HELL OUTTA THERE!!
Screamed my inner voice. But on the outside,...
They decide to turn around!! They're comin around on me!!
"Sorry Siler. No overtime for you today."
Praise be Allah !!
They start to light me. I stay on my mark.
They ask me if I want to go sit in my very own cast chair. But what's so hard about standing in one spot anyway?
They think I'm a hero for standing in for myself. But,...
I TOTALLY HAVE TO GET THE HELL OUTTA THERE!!
We're lit. They take focus marks. Again and again.
Dunno why, I'm not even moving. I'm just standing on the same mark and saying my line.
They put tape X's on the mat box to signify where the actors are supposed to be.
The actors don't bother to come to set for my coverage.
Now we don't have to wait for them! Also I don't have to worry about them forgetting their lines off camera or overlapping. We're ready to rock!!
SUDDENLY THE FIRE ALARM GOES OFF!
SUDDENLY I FEEL MY PHONE VIBRATE!!
It is strictly forbidden to keep your phone on during the rolls.
Especially if you’re ON CAMERA!!
But when I'm DOUBLE DIPPING the phone stays on!
I not so subtly turn away from camera, to,
TAKE THE CALL,
WHILE ON CAMERA,
IN THE MIDDLE OF MY OWN CLOSEUP,
PROBABLY CALLING TO TELL ME THEY NEED ME ON SET ON PAYCHECK ASAP!!!
I WAS LIKE DEER CAUGHT IN THE HEADLIGHTS!
NOT SO ICY CALM.
I felt my sphincter release! I had been keeping it tight throughout this whole affair. But suddenly I had lost control of it. Luckily, I was too nervous to eat breakfast or craft service or even the heated hot cross buns. So I may have touched a little cloth, but nuthin to brag about.
LUCKILY IT WASN’T DAN THE AD FROM PAYCHECK,...
IT WAS DAN THE STUNT GUY LOOKING FOR WORK!!
I BLEW HIM OFF QUICKER THAN A JEHOVA’S WITNESS!!
I look steely eyed at the taped X's by the mat box.
I say my line,
How could I not? It was JUST one line and I had rehearsed over 1000 times.
I was so outta there!!
But first I had to thank the Producers for throwing me the acting bone, even though I can’t act for shit.
I ambled over to Video Village even though my every instinct was screaming to book it outta there!
I thanked them for throwing me that line, even though it always is just, one line. I did my usual Video Village shtick/rant.
After I changed my wardrobe and my underwear and I was totally outta sight,..
It was Forest Forest Gump breaking free of his metal leg braces!!
It was Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier running from the dogs in The Defiant Ones!! ( How’s that for an old reference?)
It was poor Ben Johnson in Seoul 1988 without the stanozol!!
I booked it back across the street. It was Eddie Murphy from Bowfinger! It was 4 lanes and it was rush hour. I almost got hit!
"I'm walkin here!!"
I made it back to set on PAYCHECK covered in sweat and
NOBODY HAD MOVED!!
The Sound Mixer was still on the exact same crossword. Narcolepsy had set in!
I sighed a huge sigh of relief! I felt a bit of a chill cause I had been covered in sweat and my body was starting to cool but my wardrobe was still drenched.
I was all set to beat the lunch lineup when the HAIR NAZI spotted me. Or rather my hair. She did an angry double take which turned to rage when she saw that my hair was now being parted on the OTHER side! She set her hand mirror down to make sure she wasn’t seeing the opposite mirror image.
She didn't know how it had happened or why, but it had to be dealt with immediately!
Back in the Pretty Department chair the HAIR NAZI angrily attacked my hair! She brushed my hair back to the OTHER side WITHOUT washing the product out of it! It was so painful! If the folks at Guantanamo Bay had the HAIR NAZI, they wouldn’t need water boarding!
And yes the check envelope was one big fat one the following Thursday at 4 pm.
But, never again!
ON TWO DIFFERENT SHOWS
AT THE EXACT SAME TIME
But, I remember one of the Stunt Prophets telling a parable about a Stunt Disciple who once did a,....
(NEXT WEEK: RINGSIDE IN VEGAS. THE HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP OF THE WORLD)