16 January 2007

Who Needs Sleep?

As I slouch here after a full work day, feeling neither bright-eyed nor bushy-tailed, I'm reminded of the ongoing plight of production crews everywhere, as they fight for a fair schedule.

The average for production is twelve hours. But when are film shoots average? You stay as long as it takes. My longest day was twenty hours. Of course, it was my choice to stay, as I was working for a friend. But what about folks who are just on the job?

Veteran cinematographer Haskell Wexler has directed a documentary about the subject entitled Who Needs Sleep?. From the website:

In 1997, after a 19-hour day on the set, assistant cameraman Brent Hershman fell asleep behind the wheel, crashed his car, and died. Deeply disturbed by Hershman's preventable death, filmmaker and multiple-Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler shows how sleep deprivation and long work hours are a lethal combination.

From the film:
We are the only group of industrial workers, in the world, who are fighting for a fourteen-hour workday.

If you book crews, you need to buy a copy of the DVD and watch it. If you're a crew member, buy one and share it with your superiors. If you're a student or newbie, buy it and learn to protect yourself out there.

After all, it's only a movie.

Link to the website with streaming trailer.

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