Thursday, May 28, 2020

Next Q and A: John Mang and Mitch Dubin







Last week's session with Sanjay and Bob Yeoman went so well we decided to try it again! Next week's meeting will feature veteran camera operator Mitch Dubin, SOC and Dolly Grip John Mang,
Response was so huge last week we had some issues with capacity. Those have been rectified.

Join us June 3rd at 1pm.

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0ldeuhrz8uHdxQZIYSiLEydP1f4kisfYq-

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Interview with Sanjay Sami and Bob Yeoman, ASC

  These are two of the guys responsible for the distinctive look of Wes Anderson's films. We're taking a week off from The Squares due to some scheduling difficulties but will be back with these guys on May 27th. Plan to join us!

Q and A with Sanjay and Bob Yeoman registration


Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Dollywood Squares

  Yesterday's interview of the great George Santo Pietro (Ray Donovan, The Mandalorian) went very well and we all learned a lot from George and had a great time. Stand by for the next one which should be next Wednesday! Registration info will be forthcoming. Everyone is welcome whether you're a young dolly grip, film student, or just an interested observer!

D

Friday, May 08, 2020

Dolly Grip Zoom Q and A #2







To register, click the link:
Dolly Grip Q and A #2


We had a great time at the last one. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Round Table Success!

We work in a thankless business as it is, so I want to thank Sean Devine, Darryl Humber and special guest Jeff ‘Moose’ Howery for a great afternoon chat! Glad to see that us knuckle draggers were able to put down our afternoon (or evening in Sanjay’s case) cocktails and join in the roundtable. We hit 75 people from all over the world - which is an amazing feat - making our world even smaller. I look forward to seeing you all at the next one.

I would ask that you keep an eye out for the next announcements, ponder today’s meet, reflect on some questions and share the info!


Photos by Mark Manchester (all action shots - these guys are too fast!)

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Zoom Interview With Moose Howery

  Tomorrow, Sean Devine and myself will be conducting a Zoom interview with 2020 SOC Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Dolly Grip Moose Howery. Everyone is welcome. We set it up for the young up and comers but there seems to be a lot of interest from some camera operators, and some heavy hitting dolly grips, ACs, and even first AD's.  We will discuss Moose's extensive credit list featuring Contact. Please join us and have a question ready.

What: Zoom meeting featuring Moose Howery
When: May 6, 2020. 12:00 PM Pacific, 3:00 PM Eastern
How: Register in advance at Dolly Grip Q&A

Hope to see you there!

Monday, April 20, 2020

Interview With Sanjay Sami

 My friend Sanjay Sami has become one of the best known, and most respected Key/ Dolly Grips in the business. Based out of India, he works everywhere and for everybody. He's also a Steadicam operator which kind of makes him a tour -de-force of camera movement. His credits include Eat, Pray, Love, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Grand Budapest Hotel.  He's a regular Key Grip/ Dolly Grip/ Steadicam operator for Wes Anderson.  Let's see what he has to say for himself:





What's your favorite little trick that you use to save time or make a shot easier?
Here are a few -
I have a clamp on extension on the boom controller that allows me to keep both hands on the steering handles and still operate the boom. I find this very useful for dance floor shots. I had built it about 18 years ago when I had injured my wrist and couldn’t effectively one hand the dolly. It worked for me so I have kept it as a tool I sometimes use on dance floor. A side effect of that is that you get more resolution on the boom knob - more travel for valve opening. This can be a problem if you have very fast moves because by default this makes your moves more subtle.
Another tool I find very useful is to use cord for levelling very long runs of track. I find that if I stretch a section of thin (1.5mm) vectran using a ratchet strap from the start to the finish of a very long run of track, it saves me a HUGE amount of time when compared to eyeballing it. When I eyeball lengths in excess of 200 ft it starts getting confusing about what I am actually looking at and I sometimes take longer than I should. With the cord, it becomes very obvious where the high points are, so you level the high side to the cord and then do a side to side.
Another thing Ive found is that, apart from the aesthetics of how it looks,I don’t sweat it if a long track looks wavy. I ride the track and see how it feels. If it feels good, I'm fine with it. 
Another little thing I do (I’m sure many people do) is I sometimes use my shin to start and stop a small move.
I also sometimes use bungee to help me start or stop a very fast move.

How did you get your start in the business?
I stumbled into the business by accident. I was working offshore (oil rigs) and I had some time on my hands for technical reasons. I was asked if I wanted to work temporarily on set, and here I am 28 years later.

Who were some of your mentors?
Early on I worked with John Flemming - An English Key Grip / Dolly Grip and he had a great influence on me. Later I worked with a few Key Grips who I hugely respected and learnt from. Herb Ault is definitely one of them. 

You are probably bet known for your work with Wes Anderson. How did that come about?
I was recommended to Wes Anderson when he was planning to shoot The Darjeeling Limited in India. It was an immensely challenging shoot. We had all the usual challenges that come with a Wes film as well as the challenge of shooting a large part of the movie on a real moving train. I think he must have liked my work.

You push dolly as well as operate Steadicam for Wes. How did this happen?
I think Steadicam and dolly are very similar. They are both difficult to do well, but if you are a good Dolly Grip, I think the understanding of the spatial relationship between  camera, actor and frame comes intuitively.
 But like any craft, you have to dedicate yourself to getting good at it.
Wes likes the fact that he has one point of contact for camera movement. He knows that I already get his sensibility and what he wants to achieve, so it makes that part of his job easier.

Wes Anderson's movies have a very specific style of camera movement. What are some of the details of
this style? How do you achieve them?
Symmetry is a very important part of his aesthetic, so laying out and planning the shots is crucial. When you have a track that pushes in, its very important that you have no 'drift' from the start of the move to the end. 
The camera is often locked off for shots that involve big moves. Magazine clamps - the works. Like a car rig. This is partially because Wes needs very hard stops and starts, and with a 1000 foot mag (remember those) its a vibration nightmare ! He doesn't like shots to be feathered to a stop, and when you have to bring a Hybrid with an Arricam ST with a 1000ft mag on it to a hard stop, it is challenging.
Wes doesn’t like the camera to pan or tilt unless there’s absolutely no option. The only panning we generally do is swish pans, which is almost like a camera reset. This approach makes life as a Dolly Grip very complicated. All moves and are done by booming the camera and tracking / rolling it. Some of them are obvious, big, extravagant dolly shots, but even on seemingly static shots where the camera pans from one character to the other we could be rolling the dolly over and booming down in order to get the character coming into frame with the mandated symmetry required. Theres a lot more choreography involved than is apparent. 
He also likes to do scenes that play out as one, this involves many complicated setups where walls, furniture and set pieces need to be tracked as well. We also sometimes have to switch track to change direction because the shot can’t be done dance floor.

Although everything is shot-specific, what's your favorite tool to move a camera?
Without a doubt the Hybrid 3 camera dolly. Its like an extension of my body. Followed by the PeeWee 3+
I think having both of them is perfect on a movie.

Besides the Wes Anderson films, what are some of your other favorite collaborations?
I loved working with Peter Weir & Russel Boyd. Two geniuses who work with so much respect to their fellow crew members. I like working with nice people - Robert Yeoman, Bruno Delbonnel, Darius Khondji, Steven Knight, Rodrigo Prieto,  just off the top of my head. 
As I get older, I realise that I value a pleasant and respectful environment on set more than anything else. 
Life’s too short