Thursday, July 14, 2016

How Producers Keep Actors Warm

First there the starwaggon - if for no other reason than to protect camera and lighting equipment.

Where there is lighting, there is a generator, and generators are always warm  : )    Where there is a catering truck, there is a circle of warmth.

under costume:

Actor's sweaters are need not be any more functional than a "ski sweater" worn on the lodge's sun balcony.

Over Costume:

The sweaters that the actors wear may or may not be important to the actor's warmth!

Durability: With a couple of exceptions, all movie shoot schedules have been shorter than the typical 3 year cruize of  of a whaling vessel - and actors do not have to reef sails, which tends to wear a seaman's sweater. I find that falls and slides on ice and rock when skiing and climbing tend to be good tests of durability.  On set, most falls/slides are done by stunt men, thereby saving the star's costume/ sweater.

I do not see knitting for actors as setting a high bar for sweater's functionality, warmth, or durability.  A better test is to pass them out to farm workers pruning apple trees in the winter.  Real knowledge comes from actually wearing your objects as you perform jobs like pruning apple trees in a storm.  Or wearing one of your sweaters as your upper body garment when sailing in a cold gale.  If everyone wearing Patagonia sailing gear is looking cold, with blue lips, and fumbling from hypothermia, when you are happy and warm, then it is likely a good sweater.  Another good test of a sweater is a long night of steel head fishing on the Columbia, when it is cold enough that the lines freeze instantly in the reels.  Again, if everyone else is pinched with cold and you are still warm, happy, and relaxed, (without a base layer) then it is a good sweater.

The truth is that today, folks do not need really warm sweaters. People are never more than a few miles from a vehicle with a heater.  Warmth from Patagonia ( or similar ) clothing is much cheaper.  


A Fisherman Lies said...

For the love of all things holy, stop your senseless blathering about farmers pruning trees in storms. I come from a long line of farmers who grew orchard fruit in areas with considerably worse weather than anywhere in California short of the mountains. Smart farmers don't prune trees during winter storms, because doing so would be stupid and dangerous (not to mention bad for the tree in temperatures that you see in winter storms in places with cold winters, not that you'd know the first thing about that).

Look at the bright side; if you stop making ill-informed comments about trees, that's one less thing for you to be completely wrong about.

Ruth B said...

An all-too-predictable non sequitur from you - 21st Century actors versus 19th Century sailors - but a non-sequitur all the same. Why not compare horses to spacecraft or a cop writing a ticket to Shakespeare writing a sonnet? Ridiculous.

purplespirit1 said...

I love that you now seem to be an expert of what it's like to work on a production set, especially one that's filming in cold weather. Your ideas seem logical in theory only, but not practicality.

Work on a set as I do, and put your knitwear to the test as I do, and then decide whether what you've posted in this post is as accurate as you think it may be. (I'm willing to bet my next paycheck that you'd find yourself quite wrong on many points.)

Aaron said...

When my parents moved into the house in the Endless Mountains (North Central, Penn.), I helped my mother put in 40 apple (full sized) rootstocks. Then she went around New England collecting scions from old orchards and grafting them onto the rootstock. At one point she was picking 300 different kinds of apples every year. Pruning that elaborately grafted orchard was an interesting job. One had to get up and prune every branch with hand shears.

As she got frailer, I did the pruning every year. Once, it was in a week of freezing rain, snow, and real wind. All the power lines for miles around went down. Even the powerline restoration teams stood down during the worst days of freezing rain.

I pruned the orchard that week, in the storm. I had good Patagonia gear in my bag, but the best outfit for working high in the trees was my hand knit MacAusland heavy 3-ply sweater worn against the skin for good ventilation.

(It needed to be done, and I had a non-refundable ticket home. Pruning in freezing rain is good training for ice climbing. And, if it is raining, it is not cold enough for the pruning to hurt the trees.) Most fruit growers are not in training for ice climbing.)

Note that Gladys Thompson talks about different sweater patterns for sailors, farmers, and other trades that had to endure weather/storms.

Then, my mother looked at the prunings, and wanted them all burned. It was a big pile - I got out the tractor and moved them to the potato patch, and rigged an incinerator. With the wind, the fire got out of hand, and I got trapped in the flames. I lost my week's growth of beard, the hair at the nape of my neck, and all the pills on the sweater burned off leaving it smelling singed, but looking pristine. If I had been wearing the synthetic Patagonia gear, I would have been toast.

People died in that storm - trapped in their homes or stranded vehicles. So my sweater kept me warm out in open, while people in their houses froze.

Dad and I were in some of the very early Warren Miller movies - Even in those days, producers provided warming stations for even elite skiers that were expert in winter survival.

Design your objects to meet the expected conditions. A gale at sea presents different challenges than a blizzard in the mountains. Even crewing a life boat required a different sweater design than being a top man on a square rigger going around the Horn- even though both had to endure storms at sea. My designs for skiing are different from my designs for sailing. Different knitting patterns and different yarns.

Now, I have worn my knitwear snow camping - miles from any power lines, engines (cars), or tents. It was a day or two's walk out. It was too cold to expect batteries to work, so no cell phones or flashlights. We were above the tree line, so no campfire backup. We had an MSR stove and 4 pints of fuel to boil water. We carried candles lanterns for light at night. If we got into trouble, our only option was self rescue.

Are your movie sets really a day or two's hike from vehicles and power? Do you trust your knitwear enough to plan on wearing it in places where the warmest place you would see in the next 5 days/nights is a snow cave? (A good snow cave is warmer than a tent.)

I learned from wearing my knitwear in storms and in snow caves. What I knit today, is warmer, lighter, and more compact. I will wear it under all conditions, and what I knit in future, I expect to be even warmer, even lighter, and even more compact.

I certainly have not yet explored the full potential of wool.

purplespirit1 said...

There's no doubt that your sweaters have kept you warm in whatever conditions you've worn them in. There's no debate about that. The issue is your knitwear in your conditions vs my knitwear in my conditions. You can't say that your knitwear would work in my conditions unless you can prove they can by testing them. Anything short of that is hokum.

I have worked on movie sets that are a day or two from power, yes. And not just a day or two from power in medium weather conditions, but in conditions where the temperature are near-zero or colder for both night and day conditions.

You're right that equipment that's on a movie set generate heat, and there are trailers to shelter people from the elements in between takes, but as I've previously posted in reply to another of your posts - when we're working 14+ hour days filming scenes where the temperatures are at freezing or colder, where the trailers aren't nearly as insulated as a home would be, the cast would often need to wear layers even inside the trailers surrounded by heat-generating film equipment. Actors who are filming a scene can't be padded with so many layers if the scene requires them to portray warmer conditions, so the few layers that they have on need to be as warm as possible, and my knitwear has proven to be warm enough, despite my lack of a sheath or without having knit sweaters on 2mm needles.

In summation - I have knit items for these conditions in a manner that you deem as "pretty", and yet these garments work.

But... like you've said before, what works for me is what works for me, and what works for you is what works for you. Don't begin to tell me that my way is wrong when I've got 2 decades of proving what I do is what's right, and it's good enough for much colder weather than what you've exposed your knitwear to, I'm sure. (At least based on what you've so far posted on your blog.)

I still (honestly) am willing to offer you the opportunity to test your uber-warm knitting to the conditions I put my own work through, if you're willing to do so - that is, if you want truly to do it. Just let me know when you're ready.