They Call It Per Diem, I Call It Free Money…

Happy Tuesday everyone! I apologize for not posting on Friday AND today’s late post as well. As I mentioned last Tue I’m on vacation and although I enjoy writing these post every Tue and Fri I realized something on this trip. I noticed that I need to take a break from this as well if not I truly never disconnect from the business. Which we all know is the only true way to enjoy Vacay. Vacation time is supposed to be that time where one tries to escape all the stuff we normally do. I was actually planning to write this up last night and then I thought I’d rather wait to write it on my flight back to L.A. Yes my friends, as I type right now I’m sitting on an airplane flying through the sky. I know my reasoning may seem a bit foolish but I’ve never written anything on a plane and I took this as an opportunity to do just that. Hell this is only the 4th time I even fly with a laptop. I didn’t have one for a very long time. That’s why I’m actually able to do all the shit I’ve recently delved into like blogging, podcasting, photo editing, web design…I’m making up for lost time ok? HA!  Alright, let’s get into this shall we?

I thought since I was flying today that I’d talk about one of my favorite parts about  out-of-town shows. A traveling gig is another term we use for these type of jobs. Real quick notes and info for those of you not in the business. I’m sure most of you have seen a Behind the Scenes (BTS) before and seen movies and tv show filming in distant locations. This requires flying out entire crews and equipment from one city to another. If you thought that everything was filmed in Sunny Hollywood California you were terribly mistaken. I mean films (movies) in general don’t even really get made in Los Angeles anymore like they use to. The business out here is now mostly TV shows. Alongside the millions of commercials  and music videos that get filmed. Films, Movies though have become very scarce as the years carry on. Many people attribute the loss of them to the constant tax breaks and incentives that other cities are offering production companies. These giant multimillion dollar companies don’t necessarily need to save money but unfortunately it seems that being cheap is a pretty common human trait and sadly the ones with the most money usually tend to be the cheapest. However this is not about production companies being cheap it’s about travel gigs and now that I’ve explained what they are lets talk a little more in-depth about the experience of traveling with 100 strangers to film a show or movie.

I wish I could sit here at tell you that I’ve been on hundreds of travel jobs but honestly I only did a few when I first moved out here and haven’t been on one since. Unfortunately this business is a lot about what circles of people you work with and besides this company that I lost contact with I don’t have any circles I’m currently a  part of that travels all the time. I’m not saying this is the only way to work on a traveling show but usually the crew people who work on travel gigs bounce around in that traveling world all the time. I actually have a  few really good friends right now that  constantly  go out-of-town on shows. I guess I COULD try to get in those circles but I’m also not the young man I use to be and sadly my animals (pets) are getting older so I can’t really leave them for weeks on end. But getting back to it, the first travel gig I did was a movie that was going to film in several places along the west coast. It was called “The Go-Getter” and it was about a kid looking for his brother. They flew us to Oregon and then the plan was to drive back to Los Angeles and stop at several places along the way to film. Eugene Oregon, Reno Nevada, Lone Pine California, Manzanar California, Los Angeles California and Ensenada Mexico were all on the agenda over this month and a half trip. I had only been in the business a couple of months when I was brought on this and to say I was excited would be an understatement. My roommate and best friend that moved out here to Los Angeles with me was also on the crew so that too added to  the over all awesome experience. Both of us had grown up together, gone to film school together and now here we were on a traveling gig together. While we were in school we never thought this day would come but here we were.

Now since this was my first road show I knew very little about how this would go. I knew that they paid our airfare and hotel stay but I was very surprised to learn of something called Per Diem on this trip. I had heard the term before….alright I’ll be honest the first movie that popped in my head when I heard the term “Per Diem” was “Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter Is Dead”. I’ve said it many times in my life that most the stuff I know and have learned has been from television. That’s why I have never  considered it a dummy box as some refer to it. I believe it’s all about what you watch on there that determines its name. If one spends their time watching nonsense like reality tv or something that has little to no value in terms of learning anything new then yes, to that one person it might just be a dummy box. In the movie “Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter is Dead” Christina Applegate (YOU ROCK!) gets a new job and her boss tells her all about the office Per Diem. Her boss explains to her that it’s basically money that they can use to pay for  anything they may need in the office. The money can be used to pay for business meetings lunches, office supplies, office employee lunches and other office needs of that sort. She tells her that she just has to make sure to keep a recite so they can account for all the money at the end of the month. SO when I heard the producer say that we all should come by their room to pick up our Per Diem I was a bit confused but I thought maybe they were giving us money to borrow in case they sent us on a run. As I got handed my envelope I asked about it and whether we needed to keep recites. The producer told me I only had to keep them if I wanted them for my own records and that this was actually just Free Money. I shortly was clued into the fact that when a show takes a crew to a distant location they give each crew member money to spend on food during their days off. Which most the time is the weekend but could really be any day. I forget how much exactly we got per day but I want to say it was something like $40-$50. How fucking sweet is that? I wish every day that I was off I was handed $40 to “eat”. I’m sure some of that money went to food but the rest went to myself. I also learned that the amount of Per Diem is determined by the position that one has. The heads of the departments all got $100 a day in Per Diem. This is a bit strange because I’m not quite sure why the people making more money are given even more free money but hey, fucking hollywood right? The Rich get Richer and we just keep hoping and begging for more. It’s a fucked up world we live in.

I’m not sure how traveling shows work nowadays. I don’t know if they’ve become cheaper throughout the years but I have heard from some people who most companies now just hire locals or ask you to work as a local so they don’t need to pay for room and board. I had one show offer me a gig in Miami because they knew I was from there. However I passed on it because the idea of living with my folks again while we filmed was just too overwhelming. I could’ve probably found a friend or someone else to stay with but that has always just sounded to inconvenient to me. I’m not a fan of staying at people’s places for long periods of time. If it’s a night or 2 that’s cool but I could never do like a month at one of my friends places. I think I would go mad.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out another post here at We’re Not Rolling. I won’t be going on another vacation for a while so the posts should be back to normal starting this week along with all the social media attached to this website and myself. Have an excellent week at work and make sure to stop by Monday for an all NEW episode of The Toke Talking Podcast.


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