2:30am, Thursday Morning
Done day 3. I get home and sleep.
I wake up from the first full sleep in a week, feeling alright. I shower, shave, get a caffeinated drink and relax until I have to leave.
I arrive at base camp ready to work. The night before the 2nd AC was on an organize rampage. End of night, frayed, I wasn’t happy. So next day I just wanted to get to it and get the day done. Fuck everything else. I do some cleaning of the camera truck and other custodial things before having a coffee and catching the 5-minute van right from camp to set.
Work begins. Back inside the $4 million house perched above Hamilton, the so-called “armpit of Ontario”. From the Escarpment, the city looks strangely beautiful, the exhaust towers and steel mills just specks along the shore of the lake. I like Hamilton, as I like Philadelphia. Cities with character and proud citizens, despite the extreme love or hate. With rainbow of tape on my belt and tools in my pouch, the chaos begins.
Lunch. Chicken stuffed with peppers and feta cheese. Damn good. The 1st AC, the 2nd AC and I talk camera talk. What chips are in different cameras and how to calculate distances for actors, objects and the like. The hardcore tech talk that usually passes right over the head of everyone else. For a short lunch, I re-learned all the specs I had forgotten from my sleepy college courses.
1:00am, Friday Morning
An early leave? Sure. The 1st AC was able to get the equipment truck to ferry our shit first before anyone else. We were closing in on the end of inside shooting and about to move outside. I was taking bags and cases to our pushcarts between takes while making sure my main responsibility, the video monitor for the director, was hooked up and running. Lift, place, return, stop, wait, lift, place, hurry, hurry.
“You guys are so fucking slow”, says the 1st AC.
He’s tired, frustrated. We all are. Its below freezing outside and the small amount of wind makes it colder. Been through it before, Canadian-style, but after all the work and rushing, we’re all ready to call it a day and go home. He barks that his main equipment bag is the wrong way. I didn’t put it there, but I turn it around so it opens inward on the pushcart instead of the outward the 2nd had it. Its a heavy motherfucker, full of everything he needs to keep the lenses in pristine status so he can pull the proper focus. The 1st reorganizes the carts faster than I can load them. The 2nd takes pictures of them to remind himself of the proper system. As I lift, I’m pissed. In my state of mind, the 2nd’s lack of experience is showing. I’ve worked TV and film longer than he has, but I have little experience in his job. We work well together, but when he panics or loses steam, I’m straining to keep his mind afloat and do my job. I swear a “fucking motherfucker” as the black bag is finally turned in the proper direction. I sniff back a runny nose and wipe the excess my bare hand.
“What the fuck?” There’s blood on my hand. A lot. Maybe I hit it and its just a little bleeding. I sniff and continue and wipe again a few moments later. More blood, same amount. Every time I feel it come out and I wipe, there’s blood. I use our lens-safe tissue and create a ball, putting it up my nose and removing it. Its soaked through.
“Are you okay?” asks the 2nd AC. I say yeah, my nose is bleeding. Its nothing. In my head, I’m wondering why. I’ve never had a honest to God nosebleed. There’s been sporting hits, a little blood here and there, but never the amount that was spewing from my right nostril. I sniff it back as much as I can, but it won’t stop. The 2nd gives me some napkins. The box truck shows up and I walk over there, a wad of napkin in my nose. I can keep working, I tell myself. The box truck’s driver has walked off. Fuck. I head back to the pushcarts and cough into my fist.
“Fuck,” There’s blood on my hand. No way. Must of come out of my nose. It’s cool, I tell myself. Inside, the sleeping anxiety that’s been dormant for months and months rears. I feel the tingle and the shaking, but my head is straight. Its fine. It was a little bit. Its from my nose, must of got into the sputum when my head shook. Just keep working. The director calls action on a MOS (without sound) shot and I cough again, harder, into a clean white napkin. Its full of blood, diluted by spit. “Fuck,” I say, loud enough the head lighting tech turns to look at me. My body panics. So does the 2nd AC when I tell him I got to go to the hospital. As I’m being walked down the large front yard by a member of the crew, my friend and the head of camera department says, “Jordan, what’s wrong?” I calmly shout back as I get farther away from him, “I’m coughing blood.” Everyone heard that one, including the famous-in-Canada boyfriend of our lead actress, visiting her this fine night. He’ll know me now, I laugh to myself.
Within a few minutes I’m at the corner of the driveway waiting for a van ride to St. James. I have a co-producer standing next to me. A cute, young looking woman whose eyes are wide and voice full of concern. I tell her it could be just blood that’s gone down my throat from sniffing, but you can’t take chances. She agrees, eyes still wide. The 2nd AC gives me my backpack, which has my Health Card in it, the proof that this run to the ER will be covered by Ontario’s “free” healthcare. The van arrives, the people around me look scared. I’m scared too, but I say everything I can to not worry them or myself. Despite all that could be running through our heads, logic says its something simple, something safe. The probability of the worst case is small, yet its all they’re thinking about.
As I get in the van, they hand me forms. There are always forms to be filled out.
To be continued…