Saturday, August 11, 2018

Attitude

  In over ten years that I've been doing this website, I've touched on just about every technical aspect of the craft that applies. I've discussed track laying, dance floor, louma beams, Fisher vs Chapman, Technocranes, camera ops, compound moves, stand-ups, sit-downs, load outs, load ins, safety, handheld, steadicam, timing, wheels, flags, stands, and just about any facet of dolly gripping, and gripping in general that someone in my position may run up against. But it occurs to me that the one thing I may not have covered is attitude. How do you come across to your camera operator and DP? How do the other members of the crew view you?
   Years ago I worked with a DP who was a real.......hard guy to like. I've discussed this before in previous posts, but this DP was just mean. He talked to me like I had never been talked to by a camera man. The guy was a dick, but.... he taught me something. I remember when things got tense for other departments (not mine because he was usually yelling at me) he would say, "Icy calm." And that stuck with me. I still have the occasional nightmare about the guy and, to my shame, got drunk at a major industry event and went looking for him years ago (thank God he wasn't there) but I learned something from him. Icy calm. That's what a dolly grip should project. No drama. Nothing to get excited about. Just icy calm. To this day, when I'm confronted with an impossible shot, one that makes the sweat break out on the forehead of a normal man, I get a little nervous and then I think, "Icy calm." People look for competence. They expect and admire it. They gravitate towards it. Stay calm. Icy calm. As my Dad used to say, "Act like you've been there before."
   And then smile and nod as the camera operator takes all the credit. Congratulations, cog. You've done your job.

Time to mix another one,
 D

Saturday, August 04, 2018

This and That

  Hey all. It's been a while since I've posted.  I've had a rollercoaster of a year and I'm here to catch up on a couple of things. First, what have I been doing.? Well,, I'm going to name drop a little because it's just easier. In the time that I've been radio silent I've done some "B" camera work Venom, Ant Man and The Wasp and some "A" camera work, Blockers, Instant Family. Then a little bit more "A" camera work: Wonder Woman 1984. And frankly, I'm tired. So, I'm going to talk about my daughter.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW382o8V0cg
That's her. Yeah, she's awesome. She's truly the coolest girl I know. She has sang in Vienna and Italy and  though she doesn't believe it, I am very proud of her,

Anyway, to get back to the  task at hand...

   I had a whole dance floor post in mind but then realized that  I have probably covered it already in the last ten years. Listen to some opera. It will calm your soul. Moving  cameras is an art. Learn it, I'll be back but when I'm not as tired. Or drunk. ...Drank. ...Drunken..... Yes.

Peace.
D















Saturday, May 26, 2018

Solid Grip Systems at Cinegear

Ok, Here is what it is. I am an internet moron so I can't seem to download the correct files to the page. My old friend Onno is aware of this and forgives me (I'm sure).  Onno at Solid Grip Systems is as solid a guy as you would ever want to meet. He and his shop design and build beautiful equipment. I have a Twindolly that he sent me for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that literally saved the shot in a couple of cases, He will be at Cinegear in Los Angeles this year with a whole new bunch of stuff that he has designed. Please go by and see him. You won't be sorry. He is a working dolly grip who knows what it takes to get the job done and goes out and makes it. He'll be at the New York Street booth #86.  Go by and see him and all the cool stuff he's come up with. And tell him D sent you.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Open House Tomorrow!



Git On Down There!







Saturday, April 07, 2018

The Lull

  Ok, here it is. I'm going to veer away from Dolly Gripping in specific here for a minute and talk about the craft of gripping in general. This is not something I would normally do on social media but it's my page so screw it. The town I work in is a little slow right now. It happens every year and not just here. Even Los Angeles is generally slow from roughly Thanksgiving until February. Fine. My town was extremely busy last year. I mean EXTREMELY busy. We had at least three Marvel shows including one which shot for 14 months. That's besides all the other series and pilots and movies. As a result a lot of people were brought in to the business to take up the slack. Everyone worked at a frenetic pace. As for myself, I haven't had a day off that I didn't take voluntarily in almost two years. Then the lull hit, which everyone who has been in the business for more than five years saw coming.  Most of the veterans were prepared and most of us kept working or went on vacation. The youngest among us, though, who were basically begged to work for their sandbag carrying skills, suddenly found themselves out of work for many months. I now see a lot of them making some pretty daring posts on social media about how they aren't being hired right now when for a year all they did was work.  All I can say is, "Dude, you were lucky." You were lucky to come of age when the only skill that was required of you was a strong back and an ability to show up on time. And now that it has slowed to a more normal pace, experience trumps youth. Gripping is a craft. Being a good set grip is a severely underappreciated and underestimated skill. I hate to break it to you like this but this amount of work is the norm.You want to get the call? Be better than the guy (or girl) they're calling now. You have to build a reputation. You have to expand your skill set. Just being available and having a tool belt isn't actually all that's required of this career. If someone led you to believe this then you were sold a bill of goods and should ask for your money back.  This job requires more than showing up and sitting at the carts, scrolling through your phone until the Key calls for a C-Stand. You have to know rigging. You have to know lighting. You have to know safety. You have to be able to anticipate. You have to be able to hear your Key Grip's name being called from another room while engaged in a conversation and immediately respond. You should be able to interpret much of what your DP wants by how he's waving his hands.  Can you set a flag and run it up 20 feet on a stand and wing it in and nail it? No? Then you aren't qualified. Do you know what hardware to bring to set for a car mount without having to be given a list? No? Then you aren't qualified. Do you know the difference between a day or night bounce? No? Then you aren't qualified.  What's the first thing you establish when building a car mount? Don't know? Then you aren't qualified. Can you lay track? (a set grip should know how to lay track) No? Then you aren't qualified. Can you tie off a 12x12 without being told every move to make? No? Then you aren't qualified. It takes years. YEARS to learn how to do this job well. It's being part artist and part engineer and if you want it bad enough you learn as much as you can about it and brush the pretenders aside and take your place on a crew. You will be often unappreciated, often underpaid for what you do, and often treated like a monkey with tools. But eventually, if you stay with it and learn your craft, you will start to ascend in the ranks. Your experience and skill will pay off. But you don't get to claim that after a year of work. You wait your turn like the rest of us did and elbow your way forward after learning the intricacies of the C-Stand and the differences between diffusions. What does the term "Fill the frame" mean? Look it up. What becomes the source after you set the diffusion in front of a lamp? Ask someone. I'm sorry you're not working after putting in a hard first year of nonstop work. Welcome to the movie business. Learn your craft. Being available isn't the only job requirement this year.

Rant over,
D

Friday, March 23, 2018

JL Fisher Open House 2018









  It's that time of year again.  This is a great event year in and out. Unfortunately I won't be able to make it this year as I'm working on the other coast, but if you are able, go. You won't regret it.





Friday, March 09, 2018

Operator Hires

   Here's a tricky subject. Key Grips traditionally bring their own Dolly Grips. It makes sense since Dolly Grips are actually members of the Grip Department. Over the last few years however, I've noticed an uptick in the number of calls I get from camera operators checking availability. I haven't spoken to any of my colleagues about this but I would imagine they've noticed the same thing. Years ago, this never happened. In the last year alone though, I've done "B" camera on a show with my regular Key Grip because the operator brought his own guy from LA, and I've lost a show that the operator campaigned hard for me to get, but the Key Grip insisted on bringing his own guy. I should say at this point that I have no resentment whatsoever in either of these instances. I've been in both positions before. Although I would have liked to have done both of the jobs as "A" camera, in each case I understand why I ended up where I was and respect both decisions. The point I'm getting at is that in each case the camera operator had a Dolly Grip in mind and contacted him for the job. I think a couple of things are in play here: The huge demand for content has resulted in more production probably than at any time in history, leading to a shortage of Dolly Grips who are qualified to do the job; and more young Key Grips who don't understand the position and hire Dolly Grips who can't put the camera where the operator needs it. I hear over and over again nightmare stories from camera operators about their previous Dolly Grips. Guys who can't do compound moves. Guys who can't do dance floor moves. I heard a couple years ago about a Dolly Grip, "A" camera on a fairly large feature, who couldn't put the low-mode on. It was inevitable that operators would take matters into their own hands and build up a list of Dolly Grips that they know will get the job done and not make them look bad. I think this is a good thing. It goes a long way toward establishing us in producers' and directors' minds as not just an afterthought but as one third of the shot. Which we are.

Time to mix another one.

D
#onethirdoftheshot