pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: Dead of night

07 November 2016

Dead of night

Noche de Altares
Santa Ana, California
1 November 2014

This week has been fraught (what week isn't around here?), in part because it's production season and all the college kids are filming their 2nd and 3rd year projects. Since I've gotten a reputation for being production friendly, and I worked in the industry, AND I know the ins and outs of permitting, I get requests for location shoots. While I'd like to say no to all of them, unfortunately, I also get it. These are kids with dreams (and in some cases, real talent), whose budgets are whatever change they find in their pockets. So I mostly say yes.

(Fortunately for me, the biggest shoot got a permit at their first choice location. But then, I got an emergency request for the vacated weekend that I had to deny. I'd just gotten out of the hospital, and I'm not supposed to get stressed! I'll wait while you finish laughing.)


The daughter's production was filming this weekend, and she was also working on two other shoots, which naturally, turned into complete chaos. Because they are all adults now, I try to stay on the sidelines and just watch and roll my eyes a lot while the fail-tasm occurs. And while I say that, even act on it, when the already exhausted crew rolled in Saturday morning, I made sure they had lots of coffee and really good food.

(This is how I get a reputation.)

The production that was shooting Friday night wrapped in the early morning hours of Saturday. I'd made arrangements to pick up the daughter when she finished, because I know my kid and I knew she'd be unsafe at any speed. Like the spouse, she needs her sleep. Unlike me, the Energizer bunny (who, yes, ended up in the ER. As the spouse has reminded me all weekend. Look, I always said that I can sleep when I'm dead. I just didn't plan on acting on that one quite so soon.)


It was quite late when I headed out to the production location, and fortunately, it's a fairly quiet route traffic-wise late at night. Quiet to the point where I need to use high-beams (that's saying something in So Cal) to ensure that I don't run over the occasional errant raccoon, opossum or wandering person. It's also quiet because I pass not one but three cemeteries.

Given the time of year--All Saints, All Souls, Dia de los Muertos--the cemeteries are pretty busy. On any given day, you see picnics and balloons and all sorts of activities that are generally frowned upon, but at the beginning of November, it becomes another thing altogether. And early Saturday morning, in the dead of night, I saw a completely different dimension. There were lights--everywhere. Candles, flashing strings suspended in the air, lanterns. It was eerie and beautiful. Friendly but otherworldly. Touching.


Since I was the only one on the road, I slowed a bit to take in what I was seeing, and gently rounded the corner, taking quick glances through the locked iron gates. I wanted to stop to look, but it was late and the daughter was waiting on me, so I proceeded to the location. We loaded gear into the back of my car--heavy light cases, C-stands, sandbags, cameras--and then I pulled out and we headed toward home.

As we approached the first of the cemeteries, I urged the daughter to take a look. She quieted for a moment, and then said, "It's beautiful."

And it was, one of the strange but lovely perqs of being out in the middle of the night on a quiet road, proceeding into another long day of work and life.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.
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