This is an explanation of how those particular monsters happen.
(If I screw anything up, any IATSE folk out there, feel free to correct me)
Surprisingly, a filming schedule really is based around the idea of a theoretical Monday-Friday 40hr workweek.
(That maniacal laughter you're hearing is just industry workers. It'll fade out in a moment.)
The thing is, the schedule revolves around the actors. (Yeah, yeah, I know. Bear with me here.)
Actors are required by union rules to have 12 hours of downtime between shooting days. This is one of those instances where originally crew didn't prioritize their own turnover because the more time the actors got, the more time the crew got. If the actors only had, say, 10 hours of turnover, then most of the crew would get 8 or 9. But since they're required 12, the crew in theory is getting 10 or 11.
That's theory. In practice, getting as much done in a day as possible is the priority. Overtime for everyone there is always cheaper than adding days to the schedule. Here's what it looks like in practice.
An actor starts the workweek at 7AM on Monday. Because 8hr days almost never happen in practice, let's say it winds up being a 14hr day (which is far from unheard of). The actor checks out just before 9PM. Which means their call time for Tuesday is now 9AM.
Tuesday the same thing happens. The actor checks in at 9AM, works until 11PM.
Wednesday, the same thing. Now we're at 11AM-1AM.
Thursday, same thing. Our actor works 1PM to 3AM.
Now by Friday, we've started work at 3PM. Knowing that even if it's only a 12 hour day, that makes wrap time 3AM on Saturday. Drive home, get some sleep, and by the time you wake up it's already Saturday evening.
Welcome to Fraturday.
Oh, and because the schedules are made fresh daily, you don't know for sure that you're going into work at 3PM on Friday until 2 or 3 AM on Friday when the call sheet is emailed to you, while you're still at work from Thursday.
And it starts all over again next week.
That actor's playing the main character in a movie? Then this is a not-unheard of schedule for 3 months or so.
A TV series? Depends on how many episodes in a season. But 14 weeks on, 4 weeks of hiatus, and 10 more weeks on wouldn't be unusual.
But wait, there's more!
This is just the schedule for our hypothetical actor. WITH his obligatory 12hr turnaround every day. And he's still worked 70 hours that week.
The crew was there before he showed up, and they're there after he's gone.
Now, it may not get quite this bad. Not every actor is in every scene, even in a star-centered project as opposed to an ensemble cast. But this kind of scenario easily happens.
And that's not all!
There is a way to get an actor back on the set in less than 12 hours. It's called a forced call. An actor can be brought in on a forced call for the price of their daily rate. Effectively, they're paid an extra working day's wage for showing up early. (And yes, fellow SAG folk, I know I'm simplifying. Deal.) This gets expensive fast, but it's an option. Normally used for things like having a guest only available for a few days and not getting as much done with them on the day before as desired.
A few years ago, KJ Apa (Archie on Riverdale) briefly made the press when he nodded off behind the wheel and crashed his car on the 45-minuite drive from the set to his hotel. Depending on who you ask, he'd worked either a 14 or 16hr day before getting behind that wheel.
Taking everything I've told you just now, look at that again.
The heartthrob star of a CW show.
Number one or two on the call sheet.
Rendered so exhausted by a shooting schedule that he totaled his car.
Now, imagine what a work schedule like that is doing to the battalions of below-the-line workers whose names you will never know.
The ones who are there an hour or two before he ever gets to the set, and are there hours after he leaves.
Every. Single. Working. Day.
That's just one aspect of what IATSE's fighting against.
Take care of yourselves out there.