Some of the best ideas start as jokes. On a film set, there’s plenty of jokes. With Assassinaut, most of those jokes come from key grip “Magic” Mike, so we like to toss some ridicule back at him from time-to-time – thus his nickname.
Last week, I watched him climb up on a combo stand and shouted, “Magic Mike working the pole!”
I turned to Kuni Ohi, our director of photography (DP), and muttered, “How funny would it be to slip him a $1 tip like the real Magic Mike?”
We continued the conversation on our way home from set when I reiterated, “It’d be great if every time he did one of his tricks [as in some cool grip rig] that we slipped him a $1 bill.”
That conversation resulted in the idea of play money named Kuni Bucks and using it essentially as rewards for people who help out the camera department. Set a courtesy flag for us in the hot sun? Have a Kuni Buck! Nail a dolly move on your marks? Have a Kuni Buck! Make some hilarious comment to lighten our mood? Have a Kuni Buck!
We also decided that, to give Kuni Bucks actual value and make people want them after the initial wave of “neat!” passes, there had to be a prize. It has yet to be revealed, but it’s going to be a good one. Let’s just say the Kuni Bucks are indeed redeemable for something of worth.
“If you make the Kuni Bucks, I’ll buy the prize,” Kuni said to me.
We had mentioned Kuni Bucks to the crew for the past few days, but nobody thought we’d actually make them. Whenever we brought it up, it was imagined as a virtual currency – but we had other plans.
Back home during our weekend off, I opened Photoshop, tweaked a fake money template, bought colored paper, and transformed my office into a Kuni Bucks mint. I had great fun putting on little details such as my signature as “Secretary of the Camera” and Kuni’s as “President of the Camera.” The bills list that Kuni Bucks are legal tender for “all debts and Kunigrams” – a play on Kuni’s obsession with Instagram. And the picture! I laughed hard putting it on the face of the bill.
I waited until I saw Kuni on Sunday for our drive back and showed him. He loved it.
Rules of the Kuni Bucks
1. Kuni and I control the treasury. Each day we have 10 Kuni Bucks each to give out.
2. Kuni Bucks can be received for anything. There is no rule. If we enjoy it or appreciate it, we may pay up. In general, however, we reward Kuni bucks for acts that go beyond the usual call of duty.
3. You have to save your Kuni Bucks to be eligible for the prize at the end of the rainbow and the prize goes to whoever earns the most Kuni Bucks by the end of the shoot.
K.B.R.E.A.M. (Kuni Bucks Rule Everything Around Me)
So far, they’ve been a hit. I’ve seen several people put them in their wallet, stashing them away alongside their Washingtons and Jacksons for that elusive mystery prize. We’ve used them to say “thanks” or “awesome” to people for things big and small:
- our gaffer played the fiddle at lunch today and I threw a Kuni Buck in his instrument case as if he were a street musician
- giving the camera department rides to and from set
- helping to schlep our gear
- a particularly funny comment or joke
- hard work from art to tease sand or soil and make it look untouched
- an extra serving of food during lunch from catering
- and much more…
Literally anything can be done to earn a Kuni Buck which makes it both easy and hard to earn them since there’s no definition of how you get one. At this point, “Magic” Mike is tracking in the lead (which seems appropriate since he was the genesis of the idea), but our 1st AD, the gaffer, and a few other crew aren’t too far behind.
My 2nd AC has received several from me for things like reminding us to shoot color charts, carrying gear long distances, and generally having a good attitude and hustling.
Today was our payday and while everyone received an envelope with a check inside (or a direct deposit), several people double dipped on their cash in the form of Kuni Bucks.
(It’s always good to have financial liquidity.)
Which one is more valuable? Well, I can only say that one Kuni Buck is equal to .0001 Zimbabwe Dollars, so it really depends how hard you work or how funny you are – right, “Magic” Mike?
Day 11 Wrap Out
To give you an idea of the kind of terrain we’ve been shooting in, I took this video:
• We finally moved to using a dumb slate instead of the glitchy, broken smart slate. While it will make the post-process slightly slower, unreadable timecode means you have to use the clap anyway and it’s making us go faster on set not having to fix it before every take.
• Part of the look of these anamorphic lenses we’re working with are the weird focal plane characteristics. Whenever a character is on the edge of the frame, distance markings are not accurate and I’m having to focus by eye. This is made more difficult by the softness of the lenses and the fact that we have a BPM 1/8 filter in camera at all times, further softening things.
• Did our first in-field OLPF swap today when the sun finally disappeared under the canopy. Though it’s easy to do, I was so nervous about losing the tiny screws that mount the OLPF to the camera body. Luckily that didn’t happen and the DP was thrilled to get the additional light from the swap.
• It was a long trek between our basecamp and the spot in the woods we were shooting today. You don’t realize how heavy an O’Connor 2060 + sticks are until you’re schlepping it a couple tenths of a mile over rocks and roots and moss.