A CABLE STORY
THE $700 BRAD
Many years ago I, was DP on an early cable program called “Idea Notebook” It was a home improvement show and our talent was a young lady who turned out to be a very capable host. The engineer was Tom Schoenwandt, the gaffer was Bill Barrett and the utility guy was Ed Maher. The Director was a very intense first timer.
The Producer rented a house on Long Island for a week and on the last day, in the last hour, our talent was building a small wooden box. Since the Director wanted this scene all in one take, Bill had everything she needed carefully laid out. Wood, saw, hammer and nine brads, the tiniest of nails, all lined up.
It was hot and humid with a thunderstorm moving in. The house was a spider web of cables and I was getting more nervous by the minute. Each clap of thunder jolted the lightning phobia, I had, dating back to my Tornado Intercept days out West. We were shooting with a three tube Ikegami camera, connected to a small remote truck parked in front of the house and engineer Tom was having his problems with power surges and a touchy tape machine. Our Director was making her own adjustments and kept bumping into Tom as they both ran back and forth between the truck and the house. We begged them to use the headsets to issue orders but they liked to gallop instead.
Between the approaching storm and the techs & tweaks, we were up against a hard out time and the homeowners were tapping their feet like Fred Astair. This would be the last take and it had to be right from stem to stern. For the last time, Barrett laid out Wood, Saw, Hammer and those Nine Brads in perfect order… But we we’re missing Brad #9. Over the loop you can hear Barrett, “Hold on a moment, were missing some nails…there’s another box in the truck” “No more delay” intones the Director “Roll Tape, Count Her Down…” So off we went into the take. Bill is Whisper Screaming into the headset “Somebody get me those Brads…”
The scene is going surprisingly well but with a side wink of her eye, we can see that our brave host knows that she is in trouble as we approach the final nail. The crew is praying that somebody will get us the brads in time but then the talent straightens up and announces “I am out of brads … I can’t finish this scene…”
Lightning strikes nearby, the power goes out and the homeowners want us gone.
We did not get the shot and the Producer had to negotiate a pricy return on Monday to finish up. After the dust settles, Bill Barrett does the math.
Box of 35 One Inch Brass Brads in early 80 Dollars = 50 Cents
50 Cents Divided by 35 Brads = .014 Cents Per Brad
Pro Rated Cost of Brad #9 Includes:
Re Rental of House, Talent, Crew & Equipment Cost For a Total of ……….. $700
Now… One could quibble over Bill Barrett’s final figure but the point is made…
And the moral is… “Slow is Fast”