"Are you gonna be okay?" the B operator asks me.
It's three am and I'm laying backwards on a poolside deck chair, feet elevated and head hanging off the side where one's feet should properly go. I'm grinning from ear to ear and can't go a full minute without chuckling. I imagine my words are slurring a bit. How could they not be? I'm a bit tipsy, it's true, but I'm not nearly the drunkest one here, not by an order of magnitude.
"I'm fine. I'm just fine," I say.
He shrugs and wanders back towards the bar and the DJ, leaving me to wonder how I'm going to get up, should it become necessary.
I love these moments, rare as they are.
We're halfway through the season and the camera and art departments, with some help from the executive producer, have thrown the cast and crew one hell of a party. We're all having a great time, carousing, toasting, bullshitting, terrifying the hotel staff and living it up on sponsor-provided beer.
For as much as I complain about working on low budget projects, about the long hours, the crappy accommodations, the mediocre pay and the lack of prestige, these shows do have a precious and transcendent upside. Tonight I talked skydiving and album art with the creator/star of the show. I shared home brewed mead with the executive producer. Told dirty jokes with a first team actor and lost a game of beer pong to the gaffer. I've partied, without a trace of self-consciousness, with just about everyone involved in the show.
This doesn't happen on the big shows. On multi-million dollar projects everyone is more guarded. Above the line stays aloof and I.A. people keep largely to their own departments. Parties and other events are more a medium for producers to impress friends and investors than an avenue for camaraderie and release. Everyone is very politic and stays high on their toes lest they say or do something that will be looked upon unfavorably.
In low budget world though, we all know we've got the same shit gig so no one's that worried about impressing anyone else. There's an intimacy, a dedication to craft and a shared love of the work that's unique to works of this scope.
It won't be like this next season. When the show blows up, and it will; it's that kind of funny, the actors will all become famous and acquire assistants with assistants, the crew will double in size and each technician will keep to their family of similarly experienced individuals. The jokes will get cleaner, the tones of speech more serious, the stakes higher.
Sure, we'll all get paid a lot more but we won't have these moments, these times when we can all smile and marvel at how lucky we are. It's a trade off that we all know we'll have to make and complaining about it does about as much good as cursing the weather.
For the moment though, I'm fine; I'm just fine.