Learning How to Lift

20 05 2005

As a high class member of one of the film unions (Local 700, in my case), I get to send them lotsa money every quarter and learn the secret handshake. I can also, when I do enough union work, have access to one of the greatest health plans that George W. Bush still allows.

The unions also work with the producers to provide required services to their members and so I found myself driving around a 95 degree Glendale today, and pulling up outside a large hanger-like structure where I was going to take my required Safety Class. It seems that every member of every local that works in the film business has to, along with the rest of California companies of a certain size, learn how to work safely.

Now, actually, I think this is a very good thing. Working dangerously is a bad thing — for us and for the people who we work with. So, I think these seminars should be required. I just wonder whether sitting and watching a videotape for 40 minutes is really going to help me.

[It should be noted that we picture editors only had to take the general safety. People who drive scissor lifts or do makeup or painting had to take a lot more. And let’s add that to the list of reasons why picture editing is better than other jobs — along with not having to be on set at 7am or earlier.]

The niftiest thing we learned, aside from the fact that we were getting paid $15/hour to attend the seminar, were a number of still photos of a guy lifting a box. Some of the pictures had big red X’s across them to let us know that this was not the correct way to lift a box. A narrator’s voice intoned the words that the PowerPoint slide (projected from a DVD, by the way) already had told us: “Bend from the waist, keep your back straight.”

Here’s the amazing thing about this. This video/DVD is being shown to every single person who works in the movie business and the best that they could come up with was a series of Power Point slides, some still pictures, and a droning narrator who repeated most of the words that were on the screen!!! You’d think that, whatever it cost them to put that together, they could have given it to any number of starving students or independent filmmakers and come up with something 50 times more interesting and a million times more cinematic.

Oh, the 26 question test at the end was a slam dunk.




One response

30 05 2005
Paul Babin

Being a member of IATSE Local 600, I too was privledged to take an entire day of safety classes last winter. Remember all that lovely rain that visited us? The most invigorating part was learning to operate the scissor lifts and cherry pickers while bolts of lightning struck the landscape around us. The irony was delicious.
My understanding is that the organization that represents the film producers sponsors these safety classes. And guess what, the topic of worker fatigue – you know the kind that sets in after 12 hours on the set and has sent young men to their deaths while driving home at hour 19 – was never mentioned.

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