December 26, 2022
A lighting console programmer describes starting his career on the set of Snoop Dogg’s “Hood of Horror” and moving on to work for Marvel and DC. He discusses the pressure to succeed in the film industry as a person of color who is on the spectrum. He also reveals to Geth how some lighting designers add Easter eggs into their films via lighting “morse code” including a scene in “Black Panther.”
351 — Snoop Dogg Stole My Xbox (Live from Asheville)
Chris [00:00:07] Hello, Asheville, North Carolina. It’s Beautiful/ Anonymous. One hour. One phone call. No names. No holds barred. Hey, everybody. Chris Gethard here. Welcome to another episode of Beautiful/ Anonymous. So psyched to talk to you. Thanks to everybody who’s been listening to the show. We’ve been on a hot streak lately, and I feel like the world is starting to notice this quiet but mighty community that surrounds this show. We’re all starting to feel it right? Putting out some episodes that are bangers and it’s it’s it’s nice that I can feel a little momentum in that. I’ve got standup shows coming up in January. ChrisGeth.com for tickets to those stand up shows and I’m going to keep my plugs quick because you may remember a few episodes back. It was one of our live shows from Edinburgh, Scotland. We talked to a caller who was obsessed with zombies and knew a ton about zombie films and television and literature and graphic novels and everything and had aspirations to make his own zombie films and had tried before and specifically wanted to make a queer zombie anthology story. Told him if he got the Kickstarter up and running that I’d go ahead and I’d plug it on the show. That day is here. The caller has revealed his identity, and you can go to Kickstarter.com/projects/afterusseries. That’s the name of the series After Us. You’ll find it. The filmmaker is from Salt Lake City, Utah, looking to raise 15 grand. We’ve got about 100,000 people that listen to every episode of this show. So if just a fraction of those people throw in a dollar or two each, we might be able to come together as a community and produce a queer zombie anthology story. How cool would that be? So I promised the caller I’d plug it. I have done so. Now I hope that this community rallies around it and then someday we’re all at the premiere together and hopefully someday it wins a million Emmys and gets our former caller all sorts of momentum into making cool queer zombie stories. Okay, this next call that you’re about to hear, it’s a very interesting one. This is one of those ones that I love. There’s a certain archetype in the show where it’s like, it seems kind of boring up top and the more we double down on it the better it gets. And you can feel the live crowd. turn in this one and I bet you’re all going to get on board as well. This caller works in film, specifically with lighting, and we talk a lot about lighting. Doesn’t sound like the most titillating topic up top, but you’re going to hear, we just get in there, we get going. We hear funny stories about the caller’s past gigs. We hear about this thing that I think no one knows about, where apparently there’s lighting designers leaving messages in some very popular movies in Morse code. There’s a lot of interesting stuff. And then the caller also talks about being a person of color in film, being someone who’s neurodivergent working in film. And it’s- the call has got so many layers to it. And it was so fun to be on stage in Asheville with that supportive crowd getting more and more on board. And I have a feeling a lot of you nerds out there are going to get more and more on board as this one goes on as well. Enjoy the call.
Voicemail Robot [00:03:35] Thank you for calling Beautiful/ Anonymous. A beeping noise will indicate when you are on the show with the host.
Chris [00:03:42] Hey, caller. How are you?
Caller [00:03:44] I’m good. How are you doing today?
Chris [00:03:46] I’m doing good. You can hear, I’m losing my voice a little bit, but, um, luckily for me, there’s a room full of people here in Asheville, North Carolina, and they’re very nice, and I think they’re excited to talk to you.
Caller [00:03:57] Cool. I’m excited to talk to everybody. First of all, I want to say thank you to you for this podcast and everything. This was- honestly listening to this podcast- I started back in 2017, I think, and before listening to this podcast and you and talking about mental health, the only real experience I had had was when my parents went through a divorce and I had to go see a family therapist to decide custody rights.
Chris [00:04:26] Ooh jeez.
Caller [00:04:27] And so I always had like a negative connotation to it. And after about a couple of years of like listening and just talking about helping normalize it, I finally kind of the last few years, I started digging in and going to therapy myself, and it’s helped me a lot. So I just kind of always wanted to thank you for that.
Chris [00:04:46] Hey, happy to help. Happy to help. Yeah, I’m psyched that- it’s funny, I was saying a bunch of stuff back in like 2014, 15, 16 that felt very edgy at the time. And now people are like, Yeah, go to therapy. Like, if you go back and listen to it today, people are like, Why did we think this was shocking? And that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing.
Caller [00:05:06] Yeah, I always I always say that like it I feel like growing up when I was a kid, if you heard about therapy, it was like, Oh, that’s strange. And now it’s like, if I hang out and meet a new person and they don’t go to therapy, I’m like, Ooh, are you okay?
Chris [00:05:18] Yeah.
Caller [00:05:18] It’s a little weird.
Caller [00:05:19] Yeah. Like, if you’re about to date someone and they’re like, I’m not into therapists, I’m sure you’re like, Check, please. Like, check, please. That means I’m going to have to sort all your bullshit out. No, thanks. But I know what you mean.
Caller [00:05:31] I’ve got enough on my plate.
Chris [00:05:32] When we were kids, if you found out there was a kid in therapy that was like a weapon used against them in the schoolyard. It was fucked up. It’s fucked up.
Caller [00:05:39] Yeah. And like, Yeah, especially having that childhood thing of like the only therapist I saw was like when I found out it was like, figure out custody rights. I was like, I don’t know if I like therapy. That’s a lot.
Chris [00:05:49] That’s like, yeah, that’s that that’ll leave some scars, I imagine.
Caller [00:05:55] Well, the first thing I did want to ask you was if you’ve been catching up on wrestling lately and if you’re still watching it, or have you watched any of the big events lately?
Chris [00:06:05] I’ll tell you what. So I have a three year old child. And I’m guessing you don’t have kids. Is that fair?
Caller [00:06:12] No. Yes, I do not.
Chris [00:06:13] And here’s how I know is because- I think the other parents here are already starting to giggle- is when you’re raising a toddler, the idea that you have time for anything in your life that is like fun and ancillary, it just goes away. And I love wrestling. Since I was a five year old kid, I’ve loved wrestling. But the idea that I have 6 to 9 hours a week to dedicate to wrestling program is like the most ludicrous fantasy of how my life used to be before I had a child. So I don’t watch regularly. But what I do is I catch up and I watch a lot of clips via, you know, Reddit and whatnot, R slash squared circle. And I watch AEW on Wednesdays when I can, oftentimes while doing dishes. But that’s not consistent. But I’ll tell you what I’m really loving is a guy who I’ve become friends with in life by the name of Sami Zayn, who I think right now he’s involved in this story with the USOs and the bloodline where I’m like, this is going to go down as like an all time classic thing in wrestling.
Caller [00:07:12] Oh, I that’s part of why I was like, that is right now the greatest storyline in my opinion going on in wrestling. It’s like six months. They just had elimination chamber where Sami was accepted into the bloodline and it was just like emotional and so great. It’s like definitely making me feel like a kid loving wrestling again.
Chris [00:07:30] I’m going to tell you right now, these people have paid money for this show, and I’m going to say, but I’m going to say this: it’s your hour to do what you want with. And if you just want to force people to pay money to watch me and you talk about wrestling for an hour, I can’t stop you. It’s yours. It’s yours. But I will say this. We’re in North Carolina, so you better talk about the nature boy at some point, because this is better for-.
Caller [00:07:56] That is very true.
Chris [00:07:57] Yeah. Yeah.
Caller [00:07:58] Well, there’s a couple of things we can talk about. I don’t know if I had anything in particular. I mean, I’ve tried calling multiple times, and the second I saw this number, I just, without even thinking, just dialed as quick as I could and somehow got through. But the other thing is, I work in the film industry, and I know you’re really big in comics, and I’ve worked on a handful over the last couple of years of big Marvel TV shows, movies and DC stuff. And we can talk about.
Chris [00:08:27] DC stuff I don’t care about. The DC stuff… I I’m glad you’re working and I’m glad that you’re finding a foothold in the industry, but the last thing I want to talk about ever, DC Comics. No, thanks. The Marvel stuff I’m intrigued by.
Caller [00:08:39] Yeah, so we could totally talk about any of the projects that have come out. I’ve worked on stuff between Black Panther and a lot of the Marvel streaming, like Loki and She-Hulk and Hawkeye and Ms. Marvel.
Chris [00:08:56] That’s cool.
Caller [00:08:57] Also could talk about being, I mean, I’m I’m in a small niche part of the film industry where I’m like a lighting console programmer. So I work on like controlling and programing and making effects and doing all that with the lighting. And I’ve had like an experience over the last probably year of my journey of like coming up and starting to get higher and higher in my position. And it’s been a little bit of a struggle over the years being like a person of color in the film industry because especially with like a small niche group, it’s very much a- the nicest way to put it is most of the people that do my job all kind of look the same and look like they all hang out together. So there’s a lot of questioning and weird looks when you don’t look like everyone else.
Chris [00:09:42] Yeah. Sounds like we got a lot to talk about. I mean, first thing I’ll say is, between wrestling and comics, it’s clear that you and I would be fast friends.
Caller [00:09:52] I think so.
Chris [00:09:53] How old are you?
Caller [00:09:54] I’m 34.
Chris [00:09:55] 30 oh so slightly younger than me. So you won’t get my earliest wrestling references, but we probably crossed over in, like if I started dropping stuff about the Million Dollar Man. That’s not stuff that you saw unfold week to week like I did. You probably seen that nostalgia wise, but we probably had some crossover in, like, the Attitude Era. We were probably both watching then.
Caller [00:10:17] Yeah, Attitude Era was when I first got in and watched a little bit. I would stay up late watching it because my mom thought it was way too risky. And this is terrible. Which, let’s be honest, in junior high, I probably shouldn’t have been. And elementary school, but you know, you do it anyway cuz that’s the fun.
Chris [00:10:33] Of course, my father banned wrestling in the house, but he only knew about the existence of the WWF back then. And he knew that that was Saturdays and Sundays at noon. So he banned us from watching it, but he didn’t realize he was just forcing us to watch the NWA on the TBS Superstation at 6:05. He didn’t know about NWA, and if you know your history of wrestling, it was like WWF was a cartoon for kids. It was like, here’s a guy who’s dressed as a garbage man fighting a guy literally dressed as a clown. Like, that’s much more- and the NWA was like, Oh, here’s Toley Blanchard making a- poking out one of Dusty Rhodes’ eyes live on TV. It’s so much darker and more fucked up. And my father drove us right to it. And God bless him because it was better wrestling. But I was like seven years old while watching the Road Warriors just like demolish dudes. It was the best.
Caller [00:11:24] Yeah. I remember I got- my mom did not like wrestling, especially when I was in junior high. Just to put it in context, I grew up in like all honors programs, so I was not some big, tough person fighting. It was me and my friends were all like the honors kids, kind of nerdy. So we would act like we were wrestling at lunch and like, mainly just doing promos. We weren’t actually throwing each other around, but like, acting like it. And we all got in trouble and all of our parents got called because the counselors said that we were doing gang warfare. And we were just a ton of these like honors kids just acting like we were wrestlers, not doing anything, climbing bleachers and jumping off. And we were like sixth and seventh grade. And they tried.
Chris [00:12:09] Gang warfare. Let’s pause right there. Oh, the school system. They suspend people for acting like wrestlers and saying it’s gang warfare. This is- anyway, I need to take a breath as I think about this because it makes me so upset. Anyway, listen to our ads. We’ll be right back. Thank you to all the advertisers who helped this show exist. Now, let’s get back to the phone call.
Caller [00:12:41] A ton of these, like, honors kids just acting like we were wrestlers, not doing anything, climbing bleachers and jumping off. And we were like sixth and seventh grade. And they tried.
Chris [00:12:50] Gang warfare.
Caller [00:12:51] Yeah, they tried expelling us. And all of the parents just laughed because they were like, Do you know the kids you’re talking about? I think you have the wrong ones because none of our kids-.
Chris [00:13:01] Not even detention or suspensions. They were like, We have to expel these gang members.
Caller [00:13:05] Yeah, it was very extreme. So they ended up just giving us all like a week of detention together.
Chris [00:13:11] Did you just wrestle the whole week?
Caller [00:13:13] Yeah, well, the best was even like the teacher in detention was very confused at why all of the honors kids were in detention one week together. Because we all sat quietly doing our homework and it was just very like, okay, I guess we’re doing our homework here.
Chris [00:13:27] So the easiest week of that detention teacher’s life.
Caller [00:13:31] Oh, definitely. And after that was very much of like, you’re never watching wrestling. This causes evil things to happen. And.
Chris [00:13:37] Yeah. Because lord knows, pop culture consumption, that’s what causes kids to go awry. For sure.
Caller [00:13:45] Yeah. As we’re all pulling straight A’s in junior high school.
Chris [00:13:50] So did you grow up a fan of comic books?
Caller [00:13:53] Yes. I mean, part growing up into the honors kids, I was a very nerdy, skinny, scrawny kid. Loved Spider-Man because it felt the most relatable to me.
Chris [00:14:02] Mm hmm. Mm hmm.
Caller [00:14:04] And, like, I tried getting into, like, others. Like, a big, impactful one for me this last year was actually getting to see Shang-Chi come out because I’m Asian-American. And I remember just, like, not really having that same representation in comic books because even like I remember reading Shang-Chi back when I was younger, and it just felt so like racial and stereotypical, especially coming from like his father being Fu Manchu and being like the exact racist yellow enemy like character personified.
Chris [00:14:38] Yes, that movie was really incredible. First of all, it’s just a good movie, good, fun movie. Second of all, meant a lot to people. You could even see that from my perspective outside. But I do believe his full name in the comics originally was The Master of Kung Fu, which is not ideal by modern standards, right?
Caller [00:14:57] Yeah, not at all. And yeah, it was very much like his father was supposed to be a villain named Fu Manchu with crazy, tall, long beard and mustache that he moved around and it was just every stereotypical Asian depiction that was in the media at the time.
Chris [00:15:16] Yeah. And also was like a very sea level character. Probably the most notable Asian character in Marvel I can think of growing up was the Iron Man bad guy known as the Mandarin who, you know, you think back to it and you go, What were the defining characteristic? Like you go, What were the defining characteristics of Dr. Octopus? And you go, Oh, well, he was a scientist, and then he had his arms get fuzed to him and he went mad. And you go, Yeah, got it. What’s the characteristics of Magneto? Well, he was a Holocaust survivor and then later discovered his mutant abilities, and he didn’t want the mutants to suffer the same fate that the Jewish people suffered in the Holocaust, so he’s trying to get there first and he’s bent on world domination. You go, great. You go with the defining characteristics of the Mandarin? Literally Chinese guy who has a bunch of rings. Like that’s that’s the amount of effort they put into that character. And it’s pretty fucked up thinking back on it.
Caller [00:16:09] Yeah. So, yeah, I grew up loving been Spider-Man probably because I was just the nerdy kid and it seemed he seemed the most relatable growing up.
Chris [00:16:15] Yeah. Yeah. So when you- here’s the big question right out of the gate. When you grow up being a nerd, like in wrestling, like in comic books, like in Spiderman, now you’re here and you’re working in the industry, you work in the specialized form of lighting. That’s exciting. You’re here, but you’re doing stuff on Hawkeye and She-Hulk and all these characters you grew up reading. Do you- does it take some of the love out of it? When you when you pull back the curtain and you see what’s behind it, are you- does it take some of the joy out of it?
Caller [00:16:45] In some ways, yes. There’s been a lot of ups and downs. I think the first year in the industry was so cool and so exciting for me because I was like checking off all the boxes that like my little nerdy self would want. Like I worked on like Fast Eight and the first Black Panther and a Godzilla movie. So I’m like all of this like super big blockbusters and like comic books. And being able to work on Black Panther was a just the first one was just such a treat and like an impactful part of myself and helping tell a story that wasn’t being told anywhere. And then I got I think I got into a rut after that. I got into some DC TV for a while and was working on just pumped out CW DC shows.
Chris [00:17:27] What a surprise. When you get switched to the DC properties, all of a sudden you feel like you’re in a rut. I’ll bite my tongue on that one. You’ve said everything that needs to be said.
Caller [00:17:35] And yeah, and I think kind of was getting annoyed and just doing it and getting kind of annoyed with it and took a break from superhero and got a chance to work with one of the most like brilliant filmmakers, Barry Jenkins, who did Moonlight and won an Academy Award for that and If Beale Street Talks. I got to work with him on Underground Railroad and that kind of helped me fall back in love with what I was doing and seeing the art of it. And sometimes like after a six month Marvel show, like I started just getting annoyed. And then sometimes, like, it will come out and I get to see, like the interaction, seeing the faces and the people who are like, loving it. And it definitely helps. A lot of the stuff I’ve worked on I got to enjoy, I think because when it comes to like Marvel and superhero stuff, I can kind of turn my brain off and just enjoy it. And that helps me not like nit pick and like notice things. But yes, sometimes in some projects I’ve worked on I can’t watch because if it’s like too serious or too much, I’m just like noticing little lighting mistakes that I made or little things like that, that no one else is ever going to notice.
Chris [00:18:46] That’s a funny thing about work, because you said you work in a very specialized type of movie lighting, and that stuff’s all very advanced. And I have to imagine, like sometimes you’ll watch a sci fi movie or a superhero movie and the credits there will literally be 600 names that scroll by, and you’re one of those 600 names in one of those specialized little blocks then, huh?
Caller [00:19:05] Yeah, so my whole job is I sit behind a lighting console and I’m in charge of maintaining, managing and creating the data network that connects every light on set. And then I control their intensity, their color, turn them on, off, make all the practical effects. So whenever there’s, like, a fire explosion that’s going to be added in with CG, I have to create the light that this- isn’t CG, but on the characters and on the background, so the CG looks more realistic.
Chris [00:19:32] That’s the most specific job I’ve ever heard. So it’s to try to add practical lighting to make CGI seem more identifiable to the human experience basically?
Caller [00:19:44] That’s part of it. I mean, and part of it is just controlling the lights digitally. You need a console to program them, but sometimes, like that’s the big effects I do. On another show I did that was like a period piece, I did a lot of like light switch cues. So when they flipped the light switch, I turned the lights on or turned them off.
Chris [00:20:00] Right. Because those aren’t real- right, because that- I’ve been on film sets like there’s not they’re not using like if you’re renting some old house in a period film, you’re not relying on that house’s electrical grid to plug in all your crazy film equipment. If you’re renting some house that’s been standing since the 1800s, you bring generators and you do that and all anyone who turns on the light, that’s a fake. That’s you. That’s you turning all those lights on.
Caller [00:20:23] Yeah.
Chris [00:20:23] So I also feel like that type of job, and I’ve met people not who do what you do specifically, but I’ve been on film sets where people have these very specific jobs, and this must mean there’s shit you see when you go and watch a movie that no one else on earth sees or cares about, and it must drive you nuts, huh?
Caller [00:20:41] Oh, a ton.
Chris [00:20:44] What’s it, like we can go- all of us here in the room in Asheville, we can go see a movie and be like, That movie was so fun. And you can watch it and be like, There’s no fucking car headlights that have that LED intensity. That was bullshit. Like you really will think stuff like that, right?
Caller [00:20:58] Yeah. Or I’ll be like, Oh my gosh, like, why is that fire effect a light just blinking on and off? They should add more pixels and add more effects so it looks more real. Or that’s too much light. That small fire would never give off that much of an effect. And I analyze like, Oh, he programed that way too big or he programmed that effect too small. It should have been bigger and different.
Chris [00:21:16] And that will take you right out of a film. In the same way that for most of us it needs to be like clunky dialogue that takes us out, for you you’re like, The intensity of that fire was more reflective of a small gas fire than a than an electrical fire. This is bullshit. I can’t focus anymore.
Caller [00:21:32] Oh totally. Or I’m like, why aren’t those colors matching? Like, why are those two- they made those LEDs different. They should all be the same color or something like that. Or like, Oh, why is he being lit there? The source wouldn’t be there. The source would be above him not to the left. That’s just terrible lighting choices.
Chris [00:21:45] And also, there can’t be too many people doing what you do in the industry, right?
Caller [00:21:52] No, I mean, not really. Starting before, there wasn’t a lot. Like when I first started, only like the really big movies and big complicated shows or futuristic shows had a lighting programmer. But with the advancements of like LED lights, where we’re not using big tungsten lights and it’s all LED, like the LED lights have profiles and you need to control them. So now there’s programmers on just about every show. There’s someone to some level of what I do. They may do like a very toned down version of it or have a small console and not have as much to control or do as much. But now, but still yes, maybe on set there’s one guy. And maybe because I have an assistant who’s like a data tech that will work with me. And then maybe I have 2 to 4 people on my like rigging side per show, versus like the electric department who would have like… 6 to 12 people on set and like 20 to 80 people rigging. So in comparison to how big the film industry is, no, it’s a very small department.
Chris [00:22:58] So does that mean there’s times where you’ll go see a movie you didn’t work on and there will be some lighting that’s either, in your opinion, lackluster or where you’re like, Ooh, that was a cool choice. And you’re sitting there in your head and either for better or for worse, you’re like, I bet that’s fucking Dave. And then it’s some guy you know named Dave.
Caller [00:23:17] Yeah.
Chris [00:23:18] Really?
Caller [00:23:18] I will look up like when I’m doing that, I’ll stop and be like, who did this? And I’ll be like, Oh, great, It’s so good to see so-and-so. Or, man, you did a great job with that.
Chris [00:23:25] So you can watch a film, you can watch a film and and, and at times accurately guess who was in control of their LED data consoles while watching the film based on the shit they’re doing that again, no offense to you, 99% of humans don’t even understand any of this is happening?
Caller [00:23:44] Yeah, especially because like the upper echelon of the top people in the industry working on like the Marvel projects and stuff like that are- there’s a handful of them, like a lot of them travel. And with the base of operation, most films, like most Marvel films are either shot here in a or here one place and maybe two other places, and they’re starting to maybe set up a fourth location. But like there are only three big places that most of the Marvel stuff has been shot.
Chris [00:24:15] Right.
Caller [00:24:17] So it’s like once those markets are there, and especially if it’s the specific console I do. But like I have like a programmer who I know or one of the things that I know he’s doing a show, I try to find his little Easter eggs he hides. Like he likes to add Morse code in random blinking stuff.
Chris [00:24:34] No, this can’t be true. I love this! I love this! You’re telling us there’s a lighting designer who spells out what? Letters or words in Morse code?
Caller [00:24:43] On the first Black Panther, there’s a security thing that they walk through, and the light that’s blinking on top is blinking Stan Lee’s birthday in Morse code.
Chris [00:24:52] Is this something that’s known publicly before now?
Caller [00:24:57] Umm.
Chris [00:24:58] We got that exclusive, baby! We got that exclusive, Beautiful/ Anonymous.
Caller [00:25:01] I think he said one or two people have figured it out over the years or it’s spread through the grapevine. But he it’s very, very niche. And he adds, like, random- that’s his little signature things for other programmers and other and very few people that he adds a morse code date of like Guardians of the Galaxy, he’ll add like the first issue of a certain character showing up and different things like that.
Chris [00:25:24] So like the first time Star-Lord is shown, it’ll blink like 171 because he showed up in issue 171 of blah blah blah back in the day.
Caller [00:25:32] Yeah. Or it’s like specific of like he adds one or so in the movies of like a reference he loves, like when we did Godzilla, I think one of the one of the actors that played Godzilla in the suit had passed away. So on one of the random server racks there was like in Morse code RIP and his name. He like spelled it out.
Chris [00:25:53] You have to understand that like there’s a certain type of movie nerd that’s going to hear this and you’re starting like, you’re starting like a scavenger hunt that’s going to live online forever after this with people trying to figure out who this is and all the messages that lighting designers are placing into movies in Morse code. Is there ever, like, is this the type of thing where you might add some- if there’s some really cool lighting effect and, you know, like, my peers are going to be impressed by this, would you ever be tempted to just like, flex in Morse code afterward? Like I in my mind you have somebody else and you and that other person are the top two people in your in your specific world and he or she, you’re always watching each other’s stuff. And like you pull off some stuff where Godzilla comes out of the water and the water cascades down and the shadows bounce off the water in this way you arrange, and then like on the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, you just put out a morse code like, That’s what’s up, Cecilia.
Caller [00:26:48] Yeah, I honestly, that’s always kind of been a goal, and I think that would be fun. I don’t. I haven’t worked on anything I where I’ve been able to do that or like a big enough project, but I’m getting close to that point I feel like in my career, and that’s definitely something I’ve thought about hiding and doing myself, like finding another- I like I don’t want to steal his thing, but finding a way to hide my own lighting in different little pieces has always been like something I’d like trying to figure out and do. And I think it’d be fun.
Chris [00:27:15] That’s not just fun. That’s nuts. You’re basically telling the world right now that there’s hidden codes hidden in Marvel movies and people fucking flip out for shit like that. And I’m loving it. I got to get- let’s get some reaction from the crowd here in Asheville. I also feel like, you’re talking about how there are, you know, there’s more and more people doing what you do, but that a lot of the people know each other. I have to imagine that any of them finding this are laughing because a lot of them probably know exactly who you are, right?
Caller [00:27:43] Yes, the film world is definitely small, so if certain film people hear this they’ll probably know exactly who I am.
Chris [00:27:49] The Ice Age Is Here is on Twitter is on Asheville, giving you a challenge to put the word butts in Morse code in a movie. People like the S Green appreciate the industry secrets. Oh, S Green also- oh, Max, Max wants you to know that She-Hulk was pretty good. I liked it a lot. I actually thought it was really great. I thought it was cool and a nice twist and incorporated a lot of what was great about the She-Hulk Comics for me. S Green brings up another question. When you’re in real life, like they specifically ask, like, Do you ever want to upgrade the lights when you’re in therapy? Like when you- I think that’s a good question. Like when you go to like a CVS and they have those old fluorescent light bulbs and then one of them’s out, does that just make you go completely OCD or are you able to separate that from your professional life?
Caller [00:28:38] So not the light bulbs out, when people use different color temperature light bulbs in like a single room, that gives me like anxiety. Like when you walk in a room and there’s like three warm ones and four cool ones and you’re like, Why are you doing this?
Chris [00:28:53] I would never notice that ever. I don’t totally know what that means, but if you’re at a party and there’s a mixture of warm and cool lights, are you like grabbing the person you came with like, I’m sorry, we’ve got to get the fuck out of here.
Caller [00:29:05] I mean, yes, part of the part of, I will say in the last year or so, I like with therapy and stuff started learning and realizing like I’ve always known I had ADHD, and figuring out that I’m kind of like neurodivergent and it’s a bigger, bigger thing and like ADHD, you can still be on the spectrum since the spectrum is very much like a color circle, like with different areas being higher and lower. Um, and it like a lot of things like that make a lot of sense because I’m so trained at work. If that were to happen, I would get yelled at for not catching that we have different color lightbulbs in when I’m like prepping a show. Or another big trend right now is people to put like raw LED strips around their room and you can see the diodes, and that gives me anxiety just seeing it in someone’s room or seeing a video of it. Because in film, if you ever see a diode, like, that’s bad and we have to fix it. Because everything is put gels or something else in front of it. You never see an LED diode. You never want to see that. So, like, I know it’s a trend.
Chris [00:30:08] So a college kid’s bedroom is your nightmare.
Caller [00:30:10] Oh, totally, 100%.
Chris [00:30:12] Just someone who has like a string of Christmas lights hanging down in their doorway and then a lava lamp and some exposed diodes, that makes you want to run through the wall like the fucking Kool-Aid man.
Caller [00:30:22] 100%. I’m like, I’m out. Deuce.
Chris [00:30:25] I’m going to tell you something. I’m going to tell you something about my house that I bought in Jersey. And I’m actually going to start telling you the first half and I’m going to say there’s a thing about my house that I have a feeling would drive you insane. And I’m going to see if you can fill in the blank of what I’m about to tell you. Now we’re going to really throw down. I’m going to start revealing aspects of my own lighting scheme at home. This is the type of behind the scenes info that Beautiful/ Anonymous fans really crave. Not really, but there’s other interesting stuff in the call. We’ll be right back. Thanks again to our advertisers. Now we’re going to finish off this phone call. I’m going to tell you something about my house that I bought in Jersey, and I’m actually going to start telling you the first half, and I’m going to say there’s a thing about my house that I have a feeling would drive you insane. And I’m going to see if you can fill in the blank of what I’m about to tell you. So the- we bought our house and it’s a nice house. Lovely. Feel lucky to be there. Blessed to have it. The previous owner was obsessed with the fact that every light switch is on a dimmer. Do you know where I’m going with this?
Caller [00:31:40] Is it that, like they don’t all dim the same because they buy different dimmers?
Chris [00:31:45] The bulbs, like certain bulbs, they just waver. They waver. And then you have to play with the dimmer and put the dimmer lower. If you put it on full intensity, they just like flicker a little bit and it makes me feel like I’m in a mental hospital. And it honestly makes it reminds me of like a hospital hallway with the slightly flickering light. And it’s every room in my house. And then I have to put every light at two thirds intensity. And that drives me to the actual brink of madness at times.
Caller [00:32:13] Oh yeah, because a lot of people will install dimmers but don’t understand you need to make sure that the bulb, especially nowadays where they’re trying to do- like when we used to use all tungsten bulbs.
Chris [00:32:22] Yeah.
Caller [00:32:22] Anything could be on a dimmer. But with the new, like energy efficient.
Chris [00:32:25] Exactly what it is!
Caller [00:32:26] Whether it’s a fluorescent- Yep. And so you have to- just because in the theory of how each bulb works very vastly different. And dimmers are designed to lower your the power that goes to it. So a tungsten bulb has the filament that when electricity runs through it, it glows. So it’s totally fine.
Chris [00:32:43] Thank you. Thank you for saying this. Thank you for saying that.
Caller [00:32:47] Well, it’s. Yeah, because it’s a fluorescent, like the spirally fluorescent ones, those have gas inside of them. So you send electricity through it and the gas reacts.
Chris [00:32:54] You’re preaching to the choir.
Caller [00:32:57] It’s insane. And a lot of people don’t understand that. I’m like, No, you can’t put- or when we go shoot on location in a house, sometimes we’ll try to rewire their dimmers and add a dimmer in so we can lower the bulbs. And then we find out they have either an LED bulb that freaks out or a fluorescent bulb. And we’re like, We can’t do this.
Chris [00:33:15] Monsters. Monsters. I’m just so tired of my kitchen and my bathroom feeling like I’m waiting in the lobby to get on the fucking Tower of Terror down at Disney World. Every light’s flickering all the time. I gotta say.
Caller [00:33:25] And the age of the bulb will change how quickly or how often they flicker. And sometimes it will- it’ll be very subtle and rarely flicker. And then when they get lower to life, they’ll flicker all the time.
Chris [00:33:33] I have needed this conversation. I’ve needed someone with authority to tell me I’m not insane for thinking this is bullshit. Can I say, before we were laughing like, ha ha ha, these people paid money. We can’t ask them to listen to us talk about wrestling, but instead let’s just get fucking deep on light bulbs. Let’s get into the difference between tungsten, LED, exposed diodes. We’ll get into some lighting talk, baby. And that is what these people paid the big bucks for tonight.
Caller [00:34:04] But at least now they’ve got a fun scavenger hunt that they may not have had before.
Chris [00:34:07] I love it. I’m going to tell my friends on the Blank Check podcast about this. And then all the movie nerds are going to flip out, look for the Morse code. And then someday.
Caller [00:34:16] My old boss is going to hit me up and be like, Did you tell people about this? And I’m just gonne be like, I don’t like, I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Chris [00:34:20] Revealing a magician’s secrets. It’s like a magician showing how the tricks are done.
Caller [00:34:27] Oh, yeah.
Chris [00:34:28] Here’s a question is- and this I think goes for a lot of the specialized jobs in the film industry is… Did you aim for lighting in particular? Is the aim are you like aiming to someday crossover into directing? Where where how does one wind up in this very specific role in the film industry?
Caller [00:34:50] Um it kind of sort of happened. It was a- so my first job I ever had when I was 16 was in the film industry. I was a P.A. on a very, very low budget- I mean it wasn’t, it was like a $3 million movie called Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror, and it was Tales of the Crypt but with-
Chris [00:35:13] I justneed you to say that one more time.
Caller [00:35:16] Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror. And it was they like Tales of the Crypt, three short stories, and Snoop Dogg was the Crypt Keeper.
Chris [00:35:26] That was your first ever job?
Caller [00:35:29] Yeah. I don’t know how. Looking back, I’m not entirely sure how they allowed me to work like 60 hours a week at 16. I signed some paper.
Chris [00:35:35] You were 16 years old and working 60 hours a week on a Snoop Dogg horror anthology?
Caller [00:35:41] Yeah. Between my junior and senior year of high school over the summer. And that was like my one job and I worked through it. And then I didn’t have to work my senior year of high school because I had saved all the money.
Chris [00:35:51] I have to tell you, you have a very amazing ability to say something in a totally straightforward way. And then as the facts of what you’re saying register, I go, Wait, this is the most insanely specific thing I’ve ever heard. You’ve done it like four times now.
Caller [00:36:06] I’m what can I say? I’m a very random person. My life, my life is definitely a strange hodgepodge of random, chaotic events that I guess to me just seem normal. But I have heard that from people before.
Chris [00:36:21] I got to let you know, here’s some some people are responding on Twitter. Michael’s telling me, just change your switches, Chris. I’ll electrocute myself and die, Michael. Chris is saying, From wrestling to light bulb mechanics, where am I? Fair question. Oh, Max want- Max wants your thoughts on the fluorescent lights that turn purple. People are clapping in anticipation of your answer. This is insane.
Caller [00:36:46] That is a that is a whole thing. So whenever we go to a location where there’s tubes, because depending on the gas that’s used inside of there, they could be slightly purple and green, we have to go and undo all the tubes and put our own movie tubes in that match. So I’ve been on places where I have to go into location and I’ve spent two days unscrewing 100 fluorescent tubes and putting our own tubes into it. So we can shoot for a day and then put it back.
Chris [00:37:09] So the short answer for Max is that you fucking hate those tubes.
Caller [00:37:11] Oh, I hate them. So I just hate fluorescent in general. They’re a nightmare. Fluorescent tubes always.
Chris [00:37:16] Grace Under Pressure says, This is one of the most important, weirdly specific conversations I’ve ever listened to about something I know nothing about. And I’m on the edge of my seat. Tim Roberts is saying, I question everything now. Thanks, Light Guy. S Green is saying, This is the education we didn’t know we needed. And Chris Fortna asking a question, I’m very- oh also for anybody on the hashtag, Asa just found the poster for Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror and it’s everything you want it to be. But Chris Fortna asked the question that I think we all are going to wait on bated breath with. So I’m just going to ask everybody to just like take a deep breath and brace yourself for this. Cuz I don’t even know if we can handle this shit. Chris asks caller, How insane are your Christmas lights?
Caller [00:38:05] Sadly, the answer is going to be a letdown. They just don’t happen at all.
Chris [00:38:10] Yeah.
Caller [00:38:10] It’s the same thing with all the cable management in my house because half of my job is to neatly run cable 90 degrees and hide it. The cable management and like special event lighting at my house is like doesn’t exist because I know myself and my like neurodivergent hyperfocus, that if I start doing it, it’s going to become like I’ve put 80 hours into an insane lighting thing and I dropped $20,000 because I would be like, Well, if I could do this, I could go get someone at work to buy high grade LED, and I can and I would turn it all in and pull a console out and just program everything like crazy. And I deal with working 60 to 80 hours a week already in lighting, and I try not to bring too much of that home.
Chris [00:38:54] I have to imagine, and I’m saying this half facetiously, half seriously, is Christmas time a tough time of year for you?
Caller [00:39:02] It can be a little. I’ve done I’ve had fun at work once. We had someone on our crew was colorblind, so the crew pitched in and bought him glasses so he could see color. So I grabbed Christmas lights and decorated one of our sets and programed a light effect to All I Want for Christmas that, like, blinked and changed and movers moved around and made like snowflakes and stars and did a whole ordeal and spent like a full ten hour day programing that and setting it up precisely the music. But that was at work and I was getting paid.
Chris [00:39:36] All so someone could see colors and sound blend together with your expertise?
Caller [00:39:39] Exactly. And I mean it’s Mariah Carey, All I Want for Christmas. So I mean, who isn’t going to be excited to make a lighting show for that?
Chris [00:39:46] That’s beautiful. That’s awesome. It does make it revealing, though. Like if you were going to set up a Christmas light, you couldn’t just like, like me, I go in my front yard, there’s a tree, I wrap the tree, and then the limbs, some limbs I can’t reach. I go, I guess that limb won’t get any lights. You couldn’t do that. You cannot do that.
Caller [00:40:04] No, I mean, and that’s the problem, too. I have the connections where I could probably call somebody up and get like, Do we have a scissor lift you could drop off or like a 80 foot condor that I could borrow really quick and go light and do all this stuff and go a little- like, I don’t own a home, which is thankful. But when I do own a home, there, there is a solid chance that that might happen. And I’d like install a console and run multiple universes of data everywhere and go insane.
Chris [00:40:29] And then your neighbors are like, This guy we never see because he works 80 hours a week at work all of a sudden has put on a Christmas display that rivals anything you would pay money to go drive through in your car this Christmas season. What the fuck is going on?
Caller [00:40:45] Oh, totally. Like, I mean, I’d probably, like, be able to get some pixel panels so I could have like pixel pads in the windows and have, like full video media running through it.
Chris [00:40:54] There is someone who’s getting off so hard on this conversation that he, from the back of the room just went, Yes! He just exploded at the mention of pixel packs. Are you a lighting designer, sir?
Audience member [00:41:06] No, but I enjoy it.
Chris [00:41:07] Just enjoy it. Just a fan. Just a fan. Caller, who knew? Did you ever imagine that you’d talk about your oddly specific job to the point where people are flipping out at the mention of pixel packs?
Caller [00:41:19] Honestly, no. I mean, I’ve always been like, Oh, if I ever get on the show, what would I talk about? And I always think and I go down and then I- my ADHD brain goes off into random tangents, and 3 hours later I go, What was I thinking about again? So I’ve never been able to lock down what I would talk about, but I did not think it’d be this specific into lighting and people would enjoy it as much. So.
Chris [00:41:40] Yeah. Lil Uzi Bird wants to know, What’s your rates? I got an indie feature I’m trying to get off the ground.
Caller [00:41:45] I mean, my current my last rate was 48 an hour.
Chris [00:41:49] $48 an hour?
Caller [00:41:51] Yeah. Plus gear rental, which comes in around like 2 to 3000 a week.
Chris [00:41:57] I have to say, based on what you’ve described your capabilities as, I would say, shockingly affordable. Right? Is anybody else like $48 an hour for what you just described? And you can pull that shit off to Mariah Carey? So I don’t know, Lil Uzi Bird, you might actually- I feel like you were making a joke, but now there’s a part of me going, Lil Uzi Bird might be like, I might need to hire this person for my indie feature. Hal wants to know, Are you talking to your therapist about all this?
Caller [00:42:25] About what? Just waiting and work?
Chris [00:42:28] Yeah.
Caller [00:42:28] I mean, in some extents, yes, because that is a very large part of stress and anxiety for myself and like talking about it, that’s kind of what helped me like get into figuring out that I was like, Neurodivergent. And my part of working is what, like broke up my last relationship. So there definitely has been a decent amount of talk of work and lighting, and then me going off into tangents about how annoying certain things are.
Chris [00:42:51] You mentioned it broke up a relationship. Believe just texted- just tweeted rather, Does the caller talk about this on dates?
Caller [00:42:58] Um yeah. I mean, I talk about it a little bit. I try… I don’t know. I try not to because I don’t think it’s as interesting as I guess other people do. Because I know myself and I get really, as well you’ve seen, super into explaining how a tungsten light bulb works and different things like that. And I feel like a lot of people get glassy eyed when I’m talking about it. So I try to steer away from getting too much into work. But I do talk about it a little bit.
Chris [00:43:27] I’m going to say something truly strange, probably inappropriate. If it makes you uncomfortable, I do apologize. That’s both you and everyone in the room here in Asheville. But I wonder if this crowd agrees with me on some level. Certainly I could run- see you running the risk of being on a first date where if you start going too hard on the specifics, maybe somebody might go, What am I getting into? There’s a part of me that goes, the level of detail oriented quality that you’re talking about with this, that story about someone colorblind getting glasses and then you program that, there’s a part of me that feels like hearing about what you pull off with lights and the level of detail oriented attention in your work, that you are probably an incredible lover. Am I wrong? Am I wrong? Is there anyone else who is like, this guy doesn’t- this guy doesn’t go halfway? You don’t strike me as someone who just gets off yourself and then rolls over and goes to sleep. You seem like someone who makes sure the job is done, start to finish. You set up systems. The systems run from point A not to point B, to point Z. You replace every diode. You don’t- any diodes go uncovered. You make sure all the gels are in place and every chord is at a right angle. I have a feeling there are few complaints about your performance in bed.
Caller [00:44:53] Honestly, it might be the exact opposite, but that’s a whole nother story we can get into in deep diving, because of growing up in church and religion with purity culture. And I’m decompressing and working on a therapist through a lot of that stuff too.
Chris [00:45:07] The mention of church got a huge groan in Asheville. I will tell you that.
Caller [00:45:09] Oh, I know.
Chris [00:45:10] Just learned a lot about Asheville. I just learned a lot about Asheville. You said, I grew up in church and two thirds of the people in this room just went, Ughhh.
Caller [00:45:22] We can get back to lighting. I totally understand. It’s not it’s not a fun topic. I mean, I mean, I think a lot of us understand that, especially with everything going on politically now. And I try to steer as far away from people I knew back then, but I do definitely try to be very meticulous in it and very much get into patterns and OCD.
Chris [00:45:41] If we could get you to break away from the shame of growing up, you know, with any, any, any stigmas that religion attacks- attached to sexuality growing up, I’m sure- you mentioned that you’re a child of divorce, I’m sure that that might lead to some relationship questioning at times or things to sort out along the way. If we can get you as focused in bed as you are when it’s time to program a data rig lighting board combo, you will become the Earth’s supreme lover. I promise you that.
Caller [00:46:19] Well, I guess. I mean, I’m working on my origin story of all that right now. Bringing it back to superheroes.
Chris [00:46:24] There you go. There you go.
Caller [00:46:25] I talk to my therapist and may be talking to a sex therapist, like getting it all and diving in. Breaking it down from its start to rebuild it up stronger. And maybe this is my whole, like, sexual superhero origin story. We’ll never know. Let’s see what the future holds.
Chris [00:46:39] Look at that. Lil Uzi Bird says, No joke. My indie feature is about growing up in the church. I relate to this too hard. Kiki says, Chris, you just answered my question. We’re all slowly falling in love with the caller. Lil Uzi Bird reiterates, Holy shit. My indie movie is about growing up in the church. Affable asks, Is Chris flirting with this caller? Mischief Moth says, He flips every switch. S Green says, Brings new meaning to mood lighting. Max says, Some girls are going to try to get you to run their Only Fans. And then Hal says something that I think is very important to underline, because you brought it up, saying, Hell yeah, owning your neurodivergence. And I want to just say that that’s awesome, too.
Caller [00:47:30] Yeah, I mean, I, I think coming through it and figuring more out about it has helped me a lot because part of it I’ve seen as like aspects of it have been hard and learning about it thanks to I want to say a lot of social media and Tik Tok and seeing that I’m not alone. Like a lot of these aspects that I saw about myself, I always thought were like weird and strange and I’m the only one doing it. And understanding more about it has helped. And also like looking at the positives. Because like a hard thing for me has always been- and I’ve never understood why, like eye contact just feels so awkward and strange and I have a hard time doing- having eye contact with someone during conversations. So I’ll like look at the spot between their eyes or I look away. And now that I kind of own it and talk about it in the beginning, it helps. But like, you know, a lot of the film set stuff, conversations don’t happen in person. They’re all like over a walkie talkie. And so, like, it’s actually been a benefit that 90%, 95% of my interactions on the set are all over a walkie and I can just hone in and listen and multitask and do something else while I’m talking. And like, I think part of why I’ve become successful and my stress and anxiety about every little thing going wrong makes me double check and put in like a thousand safety things just in case something goes wrong that most people don’t think about. But luckily I’ve been on a set where something’s gone wrong, and one of my old techs that used to work for me was like, I’d always question (BLEEP) why you make us do all these small steps that don’t seem like they matter. But every time something goes wrong, you like pause, count on your fingers, and within 15 seconds have an exact idea or an approximate idea what’s going wrong and a quick way of solving it.
Chris [00:49:07] I’m just gonna flag for our editors that you set your name there and we’re going to bleep it. But that’s okay.
Caller [00:49:11] Oh my gosh.
Chris [00:49:12] We won’t. It’s okay. I’m not going to hang up on you now. Imagine if I hung up on him and then all the lights in the building turn off. And I’m like, Oh, shit. Oh, shit. And then they start blinking in Morse code, like, Chris, I know where you live, Chris. It’s like, Oh, I got to ask actually, that scene, that, that shit in Stranger Things where they start communicating between the worlds via the light bulb, you must have been like, this is they, they’ve tied in the creative with what I do structurally.
Caller [00:49:41] Yeah.
Chris [00:49:41] That must have been rad for you, huh?
Caller [00:49:43] Yeah. It was like, really cool and interesting to see. And I was like, part of me was wondering like, Oh, that’s a very- and a lot of it is when I watch those, I think to myself, what would you do in that situation? Because I’d be like, Oh, I wonder how they did that. Or I’ll try to analyze a breakdown of how they do effects and how they built them, and then I’ll be like, I wonder if they did it on my console. And if I find out who it is, we have like discord groups for like the console I work on. So like, I’ve talked to other people, and we have a discord group for like all the programmers in the city I work and live in and we like talk and discuss things and we have like a tech support and help each other out. So definitely seeing stuff like that is always really cool where you’re like, ooh, I wonder what that is.
Chris [00:50:22] I want to say too, on the subject, you were saying like embracing being neurodivergent and then realizing on a set it’s actually, with what you do, that there are some aspects of it that help you with the job. I kind of think there’s something fascinating and it’s probably cheesy to say, but there is, I think, a little bit of a movement in recent years where you see- I know, for example, in New Jersey where I live, there’s a bookstore in Maplewood, New Jersey, called Words, where the couple that owns it, I might be getting some of the details wrong, but if I remember right, and I’ve met them, they had an autistic child. And part of the reason why they bought this bookstore was to employ autistic people. And I thought that was really beautiful. And you hear examples of things like this. And you sit here and you go, there’s also, you know, like you mentioned, this is a huge spectrum. And, you know, the concept of a color wheel is one that you brought up that I’ve also heard before. And there’s people who deal with things that, you know, you might not know that someone is talking with a therapist or a doctor about how to handle stuff. And there’s other people where it presents itself where, you know, you can probably tell with the naked eye that someone is somewhere on that spectrum. And I’m trying to be sensitive in how I’m speaking about it. But one thing that I think is really cool is that especially when it comes to things like employment and finding finding ways, I feel like there’s a little bit of movement for finding ways for people to go, okay, there are a lot of people in this world who- it sounds cheesy because you work on superhero films, but it does feel like, Oh, well, this could actually be a superpower if we just point it in the right direction instead of slamming the door in someone’s face as a rule and treating all of this stuff as like a broad umbrella scarlet letter, actually, maybe we can find things where this can be an asset and a strength. And I think that’s a really beautiful thing.
Caller [00:52:19] Yeah, I mean, I, I feel that way. And part of why, now that I discovered and like we’re digging into it, I tried to bring it up in as many conversations to talk and help normalize it because I don’t know who’s in the room. And if someone else is dealing with that and scared, maybe me talking openly about it will give them courage to like, not feel alone. And it can be definitely a hard thing, like talking to a therapists and doing research, being a person of color, like… It’s very it’s becoming more and more that, like, people of color are being diagnosed with being on the spectrum and neurodivergent way later in life. Just like there’s a little bit of research, and more of it’s coming out, that like women are diagnosed later because most of the tests are all centered around white boys. And like, this is what they do. And societally, women and people of color have to mask because we aren’t fitting in and them doing the exact same thing is seen as wrong. So they’re taught from a young age to mask. So a lot of like women aren’t diagnosed till they’re older and people of color until later in life or never diagnosed because for them it can be life and death to not mask. Something that’s acceptable as an outburst for a child that’s white can mean that a child of color is shot and killed. And and it’s it’s a scary thing. And it’s it’s a reason that we we see it as this part of why it’s not talked about. And I mean, it’s a blessing, I think, of social media that like people are open and talking about it and sharing it. And helping to try to diagnose cause it is very hard to diagnose and it is very hard to like get that and not feel alone in it because so much masking we go on, so much code switching is done that we have to do at work and at places and around people, and even within our own communities in some sense. And it can it can be a scary thing. So like talking about it has helped me and seeing other people talk about it. So I try to talk about it as much as I can because I don’t know who’s around me and who’s going to hear it and who’s going to say, Hey, I’m not alone in this.
Chris [00:54:22] I think that’s incredible. And to be at a place too where probably a generation ago and even even well within our lifetime, that might be something that someone might not want to say on a film set because they might go, well someone might get uncomfortable, question my ability to do the job. I could lose a job. And instead now you’re going, no, I’m going to own it loud and proud, because not only is it accepted, people can see that there’s aspects of this that are an asset that are helping me kill it. And maybe there’s some other people here who feel like they can let their guard down if I let my guard down. That’s like a real representation of progress, certainly from when you and I were kids. And I’m psyched to hear that you’re out there and and being vocal about it, because that is the number one way to help the next person.
Caller [00:55:04] It’s it’s like talking about identifying. It’s not like it’s never been around. I mean, I saw a funny post like, What do you mean people weren’t talking about like, weren’t neurodivergent back in the day? You mean our 87 year old neighbor Johnny, who had a half a million dollars worth of trains and would write 25 page letters to the City Hall every week? You think he was totally normal and totally fine? It’s just that we never talked about it. So until we start talking about it and normalizing it, people aren’t going to come forward and have help and we aren’t going to diagnose it and help it. And I think luckily for myself, I’ve dealt with being a person of color because it’s nice they can put in a lot of people to do my job. And if they hear it, I’m sorry for all you hearing it if you don’t get it that, but are mostly like slightly overweight white males with giant beards that all look like they hang out together. So like, I stand out as a sore thumb and I get questions. I got questioned a lot in my career growing up. I have someone that I worked with six years ago that the first time I was behind the console, because I got thrown into it doing a splitter unit and I never- I didn’t do that good, and to this day he still thinks I’m a terrible programmer and would never hire me and kind of looks down on me. And that can stick with you. When people that are white get tossed time and time again and have the white confidence walking in because they’ll get written off. But when someone looks slightly different and something messes up, it’s usually the eyes are pointed at them and they are given a chance because it can be hard and it can be different. And I mean, having that and pushing through that has helped me a lot. I think once I got like realized I was neurodivergent, talking, cuz I’m like, I’ve already made it past this. If I can make it past this, I’m not going to be scared of something else holding me back because my work ethic is going to be what gets me there. I’m getting closer to having a seat at the table and I told myself a year, year and a half ago that, like I’m either going to change the table I’m sitting at or I’m going to get kicked out and I’ll find a new job. Because I don’t want to just be silent and quiet and let the status quo keep happening. And that’s been a hard thing.
Chris [00:57:12] That’s cool. That’s a well-deserved round of applause. And even as you say, you know, you’re saying before that so many film sets are predominantly white, which I can vouch for and I’ve seen. And hearing even the even hearing like if everybody looks a certain way, you can imagine there’s conversations where if something gets messed up and it’s one of these other guys and some supervisor goes, Well, who messed it up? And you go, Oh, well, it was Tom. Oh, is Tom the guy who drives the Subaru? Oh, no, no, no. He’s actually that guy. He drives the motorcycle and suddenly, oh, that guy. I like that guy. I’ll go talk to him. And then when you’re the only person who looks like you on a set, it’s just way too easy for, who messed it up? The Asian guy. And that becomes the shorthand. But then that gets tied in it. That’s a very troublesome difference right there, where you go, Oh, you’ve now… You’ve now… You’re classifying people through a shorthand to make the conversation quicker, but you can immediately see how one type of conversation treats somebody with more compassion and humanity than the other one does. And it may not always be intentional, but it is always fucked up.
Caller [00:58:21] Yeah, I mean, part of why I left, I told you, I started working in the film industry when I was 16 and I left the film industry when I was 19. And didn’t come back to it until… Six years ago? So 2016, I got back into it. So I took a very long break from the film industry and part of it was that I was seen as different.
Chris [00:58:40] I’m praying Snoop Dogg did something personally. I’m praying that you’re going, I was on a set where Snoop…
Caller [00:58:45] There was a story where he stole my Xbox. (CROWD ERUPTS)
Chris [00:59:02] Tell me more.
Caller [00:59:04] So I was 16 at the time, and Snoop Dogg had requested that he had an Xbox in his trailer. And they were trying to rent one. And at the time Xbox had just come out. This was 2005 I want to say. So I was like, Well, I could bring mine in and rent it to production. Like, I’ll get a little bit. I’m not playing it. So I brought my Xbox in. They put like labels on it, property of so and so on all the controllers. And I was getting like a little bit of money and they, I signed something. And at the end of the show they wrapped and when they went into the trailer, the Xbox and everything was taken. Like his- Snoop Dogg and his crew took my Xbox and with it. So production ended up buying me a new one eventually. But yes, to this day I still say that Snoop Dogg stole my Xbox.
Chris [00:59:57] So it is possible right now in Snoop Dogg’s mansion somewhere your Xbox is sitting on a shelf?
Caller [01:00:04] Yeah, with all my saved files and everything on it. Unless he deleted them. But yes, there’s a solid chance.
Chris [01:00:08] Are there any games you were close to beating that you remember that are sitting there on that Xbox?
Caller [01:00:14] Halo 2 for sure. Halo 2 I think on the hard difficulty.
Chris [01:00:19] And this is why you’ve had a lifelong vendetta against Snoop Dogg?
Caller [01:00:22] Yeah, exactly. I mean, if we ever see each other, we’ll have to have a very discerning conversation. Or maybe we won’t. And maybe we’ll just smoke some weed and I’ll forget about it. One of the two, I’m not entirely sure.
Chris [01:00:34] We have about three and a half minutes left. I have to say. Oh, the crowd just went nooo. From light bulbs to dealing with Neurodivergency on set to dealing with with racism on set to wandering the world, being who you are, you’ve opened up so much and I don’t think you saw any of it coming. I know I didn’t.
Caller [01:00:58] Yeah. I mean, it, it it’s great. And I hope that, like, this podcast kind of does what I always have always hoped to do with my life is that just like I leave whatever I find slightly better than I found it. And that’s just always been my goal. In like my industry, it’s been hard for me to get to where I am. And my hope has always been to make it easier for like women and people of color to get a chance because they normally don’t. And I don’t care whether I accomplish a lot of things, I just kind of want to make it so that the next person behind me doesn’t have to go through what I do. And I love sharing stories and telling that for that. So I hope that someone hears this and gets a little spark of hope for themselves one day.
Chris [01:01:36] I love it. I hope there’s some kid out there who’s like, I’m going to stop apologizing for being obsessed with lighting. I’m going to get to work.
Caller [01:01:45] Yeah, that would be dope. I mean, that’s that’s the hope for it. I mean, I think all of us deep down on some level hope that that like especially, I think, going through therapy and realizing the hard things I had and the pieces I went through, it’s just like, okay, I mean, we can’t change our past. We can’t change what happened. We can’t change that we are dealing with the traumas that we have, but we can hope that at least the traumas will help somebody else out. So they weren’t for nothing. And I think that’s something that always keeps me going.
Chris [01:02:13] What an amazing sentiment. Caller, I have to say too, I don’t work in acting all that much, but I get my health insurance through it and I work a few acting jobs a year. There’s a chance that someday I am on a set and I look over and you just quietly nod at me and I’m like, Holy shit, I am going to be particularly well lit on this project.
Caller [01:02:32] Oh, I will. I will definitely have some kind of nod to you. I’ve literally been like, Man, I hope one day I can work with him just so I can please tell him that I love the podcast and it’s gotten me through so many different things.
Chris [01:02:44] Will you try to subtly send Morse code by bouncing light off my gigantic forehead.
Caller [01:02:49] Yeah, I’ll have whatever light your key light is, I’ll just randomly start blinking Morse code in it. If you see a light in front of you just randomly blinking Morse code one day, you’ll know.
Chris [01:02:58] I’m going to have to learn Morse code just in case this ever happens. And you said your name once so you can now spell your first name out and I’ll be like, it’s- and get ready to beep this- it’s (BLEEP). I’ll know. I’ll know.
Caller [01:03:14] Exactly.
Chris [01:03:18] Caller, thank you so much. Thank you for telling us about who you are, about your travels through film, about the uphill climbs you face that you want to help other people combat, and for talking a lot about lighting. Thank you again to the Gray Eagle in Asheville. Thank you to Andrea Quinn for coming on the road with me. Thank you to Anita Flores for producing the show, and Jared O’Connell for your engineering. Thank you to ShellShag for the theme song. Go to ChrisGeth.com if you want to know more about me. And wherever you’re listening, hit subscribe. favorite, follow if there’s a button like that. And when you hit that button, it helps us so much. Please do it. Find our latest merch at podswag.com. Shirts, posters and stuff. Plus, if you want your episodes ad free, think about getting Stitcher Premium. Use the promo code “stories” for a one month free trial at Stitcher.com/Premium.