Saturday, September 29, 2007

Laying Circle Track

This one scares more people than anything I think. I get more calls asking for advice on this one than any other. The reason is, no matter how perfectly you lay it, it always dips and raises as you go around it. My advice, treat it like you would straight track. Find the highest point and go around till one rail is level, then come up to it. Realize that you will never get it to the point where it stays down and perfectly level (also, there's usually not time) . It's the nature of the beast. If you're on it, you are probably on a fairly wide lens anyway so you have some leeway. Don't overthink it. If you spend all your time trying to get it perfect you will literally never be ready to say "bring me a head." If it moves a little, it's no big deal. It's honestly never been an issue on any job I've done. Some people get a long 2x4 and go across it to level it and this is fine I'm sure. Everyone has their own way of doing it and no one is sure their way is the best. Again, don't over think it. We actually fabricated a 6' diameter circle track for one movie and while tight, it worked like a charm. If you have to, add some sandbags to the inside of the dolly for counterweight.

New Links

Mr Erlichman has made me realize that I'm way behind on adding links to my page by sending me a bunch. These are for various companies in the industry that you may find helpful/ interesting. Someday when I get time, I will make this into an actual website with pictures and everything and then all of us sled dogs can join together in a band of brotherhood and form an association like the SOC, or ASC and have these little initials behind our credits and demand extravagantly high salaries and have banquets. Till then, keep the letters, tips, and encouragement coming. Thanks Dave, good stuff.

Which Wheels?

A lot of times I get asked, as I change out dolly wheels, how I know which wheels to use (for some reason this question particularly fascinates extras). For years, I've always put the pneumatics on at the beginning of a show and left them on for the entire run (on Hybrids and Peewees). They work on track just as well and also are generally preferred for dance floor work. Lately, especially with the advent of medium soft wheels from Chapman, I've begun to rethink my approach. I've noticed that the medium softs seem to work just as well on dance floor and don't have the shimmy that air filled tires sometimes have. Air tires will also shimmy and rock on skateboard wheels sometimes and this makes me nutso. Pneumatics do roll easier over rough terrain, gravel, cables etc. So it's kind of a damned if you do proposition. Also, the Peewee won't steer with the pneumatics on and the outriggers closed up. Generally on a Hustler, you replace all the outside tires with pneumatics and to go on track you put the dolly in crab and turn the wheels 180 degrees to expose the track wheels. This is still probably the best set-up for the Hustler because I don't think the design of the track wheels lends itself to dance floor work very well. Really, it's up to you and what you're happy with. By the way, the "soft compound tires" are a nightmare. If you're in one interior location for the whole show, they are probably fine, but they do get chewed up very easily and aren't suitable for exterior work. A DP once made me use them on a tv movie and I told him I wouldn't have time to change them between every location and they would end up buying them, but we did it anyway and at the end of the job I returned a set of ground up hamburger. Oh well, I'm just a dumb ole Dolly Grip, what do I know?

Wa11y Dolly

Some of you have arrived here by looking on Google for "Wally Dolly." That's a different kind of Wally Dolly than the one I'm talking about. I'll save you some time and tell you now that while this is a site about professional Dolly Gripping, there's nothing about the actual product Wally Dolly on this site.

That's what a cameraman I worked for a few years ago called the dolly when it was on skates. The whole phenomenon of skateboard wheels is kind of strange when you think about it. You take a precision piece of machinery made to roll on track, and put it on another set of wheels to roll on the same track. But they do help. Sometimes a lot. I think it all has to do with the quality of track available nowadays. I may be wrong about this, but it started when DGs wanted to use a Fisher (which uses square track, a really bad idea) on round track. The easiest solution was to put the thing on skateboard wheels, specially modified to fit the track. Then, someone noticed that the more wheels you add, the smoother the ride. Thus, a new industry is born.
Skateboard wheels do traditionally have a flaw, though. They flatten. The longer they sit in one place with the dolly on them, they develop flat spots and you have to roll them out just before shooting. This can be a problem with long takes with dialogue. We've all heard the claims of this company or that saying that they've developed the perfect formula for wheels that don't flatten, yet are soft enough to be effective. Guess what? They flatten. The good folks at Porta-Jib found a way around this. They put wheels of slightly different diameters on their skates and Bam! No flat spots. Last night, I had a Fisher 23 jib sit in my Porta-Glide wheels over lunchtime, something I would never do unless there was no way around it. It was a good 45 minutes for upwards of 2500lbs to be sitting there. I walked in after lunch and went right to work rehearsing and they rolled as smoothly as if I had just put them on. At $1400.00 a set you can't beat them. Visit them and check them out. Look for the Porta-Glide section.

Track Talk

A new buddy of mine, David Erlichman, who's a Dolly Grip in Toronto sent along a quick enthusiastic thumbs up for the new GI track system ( This system uses a pvc cap to cover the rails, ensuring a great ride. I had heard about this system from someone and hadn't thought much about it again until David shot me an email saying how much he liked it. I am anxious to give it a shot if I can get ahold of some in the States. It sounds like a great concept. David's pushing "a" camera on "The Incredible Hulk". Wish him luck.
I am presently using American steel track on the movie I'm doing and it's going fine (although other Dolly Grips give me shit about it). It belongs to my Key Grip and I've been rolling on it a while so it's been well taken care of, but it's gotten to the point where it isn't as good for long lens work (especially without the skates). And of course there is the old problem of people walking on the crossties and bowing them down. Precision track gives a smoother ride overall but it does require inserting more wedges (esp. for longer lenses) because it flexes under the weight of the dolly. I pretty much stick a wedge every couple of feet when I use this stuff and it gives a beautiful ride without the skates if it's been taken care of. I somehow ended up with a batch of (brand new) Matthews steel track a few years ago on a pilot I was doing in North Carolina and I may as well have been riding on a dirt road. Every piece was bowed so that the entire run had to be laid in an arc to smooth the joints. Out goes the level. When I called the rental house to complain, their response was, "but it's brand new, it's never even been used." they then (unbelievably) asked "How heavy is your operator?" at this point I realized that they would be no help at all so I had them come and pick up the entire order and switch it out and the older track they delivered was fine. I haven't used Matthews track since so I don't know if it was just a bad batch or what but I think whoever picked it out, or recieved it at the rental house never checked it, so they just paid for a crappy batch of track. Anyway, I've been waiting for the "next big thing" in dolly track (I know, I need a hobby) and the GI Track sounds like it.
I saw this Star Track that Chapman came out with a few years ago advertised and wanted to check it out, then I never heard anything else about it. Last year when I was loading out of Chapman LA for a show, I saw why. Off to the side in the warehouse, I saw a big dusty pile of it, apparantly having laid there for a few years. I don't know if anyone ever used it or what the story was, but it really must have sucked. Anyway, I'm putting myself to sleep. All of you have a nice day off and we'll give 'em hell on Monday.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Blocking a Scene

I remember when I first started pushing dolly, I was unsure about what exactly to do as a scene was being blocked. So I will take you through a typical scene on, say a tv series. First, usually a private rehearsal. This is when you get coffee, talk about what you did last night, or make sure all your stuff is where it should be. Next, rehearsal for keys. This is when you make your appearance on set. Usually, though not always, the DP will have a finder with the lens of choice and will pick camera positions as the actors run through their dialogue and movements. Follow him around and put a tape mark where he marks a position. While you are doing this, watch the actors and see where they go. Once the rehearsal is complete, you now know what you have to make happen. Are the dolly moves in a straight line? (track, unless actors are walking where it will go, then it's usually dance floor). If it is several moves not in a straight line, then it is dance floor anyway, unless the floor is suitable to move on. Find out what lens is being used. If it's tight (usually over a 50mm), lay something even if the floor seems smooth. Keep in mind when using dance floor that the marks are lens marks and you have to allow for roughly four feet for the dolly (on the left if you're crabbing so the operator can ride). The whole time this is going on your mind is racing, calculating how the dolly will be oriented to make the shot operateable (is that a word?) for the operator. Don't worry about how you will operate the dolly. I pride myself in doing whatever it takes to make a shot work. I've crawled on the ground, draped in duventyne (to hide a reflection of myself) while steering the dolly and booming up at the same time. Figure it out for the operator first, then do what you have to to work around him. Watch the dp closely during the blocking rehearsal. Is he lower than low mode will get you? Then you will need an offset and the Lambda head. Factor this in to your surface requirements. You must be constantly calculating how you will make the shot work. Unless I know something's absolutely impossible (usually requiring a crane arm) I almost always say it can be done and then immediately start formulating a plan to do it. When in doubt, involve your key grip. The two of you can usually figure it out, no matter how impossible it may seem at first glance. You may have to ask the dp to compromise a little. Will he give up 2 feet at one end to make the end of the shot work? If one part is more critical than the other, fudge a little bit to make the whole shot work. Sometimes physics and the set just require it. Then, once you have a plan, lay whatever surface you've chosen and get the dolly and camera ready. One final rehearsal, and you're ready. On a tv show you may only get one rehearsal and a couple of takes, so you have to nail it. TV is the best proving ground for dolly grips for just this reason. You have to think fast and solve problems and it has to work the first time. This will make it all second nature when you get that 100 million dollar feature.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Prepping a Dolly

Checking out a dolly can be a little intimidating as a rookie. You always think that the guys in the loading dock know more than you and that they think you are an idiot. (on a side note, this column is written from a Chapman enthusiasts point of view. Fisher users will have to go elsewhere to get their own info). First, which dolly are you getting? A Hybrid?, Peewee? Hustler? It all depends on the locations and the demands you'll put on it. Check the arm. Be sure to put around 50lbs of weight on the arm before trying it out. Most rental houses have this close at hand. I know Chapman in LA keeps plates close for weight. Now, activate the arm. How much play is there until the arm starts to move? This is really a matter of personal preference. Does it activate smoothly like butter or is there too much resistance? How about speed? Is it fast enough to keep up with a stand up or sit down? I generally ask the techs to "goose"the valves for a little more speed than the factory standard 6 seconds. I actually have a tech (James out of Austin) that I pester endlessly with questions, and/or demands, who always sets them up perfectly for my taste. I generally like a single detente (a detente is the neutral "stop" position you can feel between up and down) with very little play until the arm activates. It should have a smooth feather in and out and not feel "chunky" as my friend Brooksie calls it. Once the arm is signed off, check the brakes. Make sure both work properly and stay down when you push them. Next, wheel tabs. Make sure they are tight and require two hands to pull them up. Otherwise, the wheels will come out of alignment every time you hit a bump. As far as the Hustler 4 (the Mercedes of dollies) goes, every one I've ever gotten has pristine arm movement. Brakes are a non-issue since they finally borrowed from Fisher and got a real brake. Next, check out your accessories and make sure they are all there. If you're getting track, look down each piece and check for crowns, dips, bows, doglegs and pieces that look like they were dragged behind a stakebed. Don't let the rental house guys rush you. You will be using this equipment for a while and be depending on it. Shortcuts you take now will haunt you later. Trust me on this. Oh yeah, always take the biggest camera offset they have. The big 4 footer with the holes in it. This is always handy and I use it on every show.

The English System

I recently recieved an email from a British DP (whose work I really like) and this got me thinking about the British system of filmaking as opposed to the American system. I realize (or realise) that grips in Britain are mainly camera grips with the juicers actually handling the flagging chores that we all spent years learning how to do. I have always thought of myself as a camera grip, borrowing from the British tradition. I set up the sticks, carry handheld cameras, and (when the assistants aren't freaked out by it) will carry the camera anywhere it needs to go. Americans are really not used to this but once they experience it, they generally like it. I would appreciate it if any British dolly grips reading this would email me or comment on their experiences. What exactly are your duties? What do you experience in a given shooting day? How can you trust a lowly juicer to flag a light? (they're lucky if they can find their way to work in the morning). Also, I would like information on surfaces. Do you lay dance floor the same? Track? What dollies are used most frequently in the UK. (I should mention here that I'm a shameless Anglophile and fascinated by the British in general. I even listen to your talk shows online). So send an email or leave something in the comments section. Cheerio!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Guiding Steadicam

It's your job to guide (or steer) the steadicam operator through difficult shots. I've worked with the best, and the not-so-good. Generally, you put two fingers under the vest in his/her back and gently guide them back. I also often put a gentle pressure on the opposite hip of the direction I want them to go. When they reach the end, give them a sharp tap on the lower back. Some operators want to be touched very little, some want you to basically carry them through the shot. On all of them, unless asked not to, I will at least put a gentle pressure on their lower back for psychological reassurance. You are responsible, as the "A" dolly grip on the show, for their safety. If something goes wrong, and they are in any kind of danger, stop the shot. The same goes for working on the dolly. Don't forget that your job is the safety of the operator. If they are in any kind of danger, speak up. Stop the shot until the situation is rectified. I'll write a column later on gunshots and car work, but most of this is common sense. When an operator has his eye, or attention focused in the lens or on a monitor, they depend on you to watch out for them. Don't be intimidated into letting a shot go on because you're afraid of blowing a take. While it sounds a little strange, a bond of trust is formed between you and the operator and they need to know that you are looking out for them. The same goes for handheld, which I addressed in an earlier column.

Know Your Heads

This means know what the various camera heads are capable of and what works best for each shot. some examples: a straight down overhead shot-the o'connor is the optimum head for this. Also realize that when it tilts down, it also throws the camera out another 6 inches or so which comes in handy when calculating what equipment (camera offset?) you need to do a shot.
Ultra low shot- Lambda or if you go old school, Weaver Steadman. Realize that the good people at Lambda-for whatever reason-decided to put a 3 inch knob on the bottom of the head which compromises your height. Replace it. Long lens tracking shot- the wheels, my old favorite. The operator can subtly correct any variances in the track on a 300mm with a geared head. Knowing these things will help you immediately know what needs to be done when a shot is presented to you and the operator says, "what's the best way to do this?"

Answers to more questions I was asked...

1. For small dollies I prefer the Super Peewee 3 or 4. It's stable and versatile. This is just a preference but I (and most dg's I know)prefer it over the Fisher 11 for feature work. The Fisher tends to not be as stable especially with a heavier operator and the arm doesn't respond as well and tends to rush on the downs because of camera weight.
2. When you prepare to do a compound move, find the spot on the valve handle where the movement starts and back off just enough to stop movement. Lock it where it is with a finger on the steering column. When you start your move, crack it open and let her go. This way you always know where you are in the arm and can start your arm move immediately. On a side note, this doesn't work with a Fisher because of the spring action in the valve handle. On a Fisher, you just have to get used to the arm and where it starts.
3. When checking for flares, get in front of the camera on the opposite side of where the offending light is coming from (so you don't block it with your head) and look at the lens element or filter. You will see the offending light reflected there and get a better idea of where it is. To flag it, I generally get somewhere around 1/3 to half the distance to the light from camera. This way, if it's a backlight, you don't have to worry as much about accidentally flagging the actors out of it. Be aware if you're using 2 cameras not to get in the other camera's shot.
4. Most guys are now using precision track which is aluminum track with a "beam" built into the bottom of it for support. This track gives an exceptional ride but is fairly fragile and I've seen the way it's often treated (especially by pa's on commercials). You also will need to use more wedges than normal because it flexes more with the weight of the dolly and can be death on an especially tight shot. I love the stuff, but still tend to use good old fashioned steel track (partially for financial reasons).

Stand ups/ Sit downs

This is one shot that scares a lot of newer dolly grips. It's when you raise or lower the camera with an actor as he stands or sits. A lot of the difficulty of this shot depends upon the actor doing it. An actor who has been around and understands and is aware of the camera will know that he shouldn't just leap out of a chair(unless the scene calls for it) or collapse suddenly into a chair. He will also know to avoid double take movements or false starts. The old timers- Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves, Robert Deniro-(and I've done this shot with all of them) understand this and will ease into a movement making it easy on you. For your part, watch the actor. Do not watch your marks. After doing this shot literally hundreds of times I can tell you that if you watch the actor intently, you will generally hit the mark (or be within an inch of it). Here's the bottom line, generally when you do this shot, one of the main reasons for it is to go upwith the actor so the camera isn't tilting up into lights or equipment. You don't have to nail the mark perfectly and if you have a sense of where it's supposed to stop, you'll generally be very close to it. So WATCH THE ACTOR, not your boom marks. Get the control valve ready so that you only have to crack it to start your movement. Watch how the actor does the movement during rehearsals. Does he lean over and then sit? Does he slide slowly into the chair? or does he suddenly fall into the chair with no warning? Most newer actors will do false starts or sudden movements making it hard to match them. It's because no one has ever taught them how to do it. Be ready for anything (as I say all the time). If an actor does a false movement and you commit, blowing a take, LET IT GO. It's not your fault and the operator knows and was probably caught in the same trap. I once worked with a jackass dp on a show who refused to believe that any fault lay anywhere but with me and the operator. The actress was rocketing out of a chair from 5 feet away and he wouldn't slow her down or change the shot no matter that she was going way faster than the dolly arm could. I had it wide open and it just couldn't keep up, so after 12 takes of this and the dp screaming louder and louder with each blown take, we finally got one that was passable but crappy. All he had to do was widen back a little so that we weren't right on top of her or ask her to take 10% off her move but he found it more constructive to simply scream at the operator and me. (On a happier note, his little tantrum (among others on that show) has since cost him at least one job with the producer who observed this tirade and refused to hire him again tee hee). Anyway, I digress. The main thing I want to get across for this shot is: watch the actors, not your marks

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Holding Overs

While this title may seem a little strange it simply refers to holding an over the shoulder shot. As a dolly grip, it is your job to make sure the actor facing camera in an over the shoulder isn't blocked by the actor facing him. This is where you will develop and use your knowledge of composition. Every camera operator and DP has a different preference for this. The DP I am currently working with likes a little more space between the two actors than most, however, not allowing too little of the foreground actor to be seen. You don't want him right on the frameline. Generally, this results in my dividing the frame roughly into thirds, with the foreground actor on, say, the left third (or right, depending on which shoulder you're over), the space between them filling the middle third, and the actor facing camera taking up the remaining third. (Acually, the actor facing should take up a little more than a third because he/she is the focus of the shot, but this is a rough estimate). On the other hand, other dps I've worked with like tight overs, with very little space between the actors. You hold the overs by turning your wheels on a plane parallel to the actors and moving the dolly subtly during the shot if the foreground actor's movements cause him to block the other actor, or ruin the composition. Of course, you generally need a monitor to do this. I (and a lot of other guys) did this for years before onboard monitors were available by getting right behind the camera and doing the best we could. Also, look for signals from your operator during the shot. They may give you a signal for right, left, or up or down. Anamorphic lenses are a little more difficult if you aren't used to them. The frame is so wide, most dp's like to let the actors "play the frame" or have movement in the frame as long as they don't block. I did two anamorphic movies in the last year and it took some getting used to. Some people like the "over saver", a sliding plate that mounts on the dolly and allows the operator to adjust himself. While these have their place and I like to get a break, I generally dislike using them. They are a pain in the ass and I'm quite capable of doing it myself once I know what the dp likes. Watch the monitor as the operator lines up the shot. Learn and remember the relationship between the actors (or stand ins) that he likes and simply hold that composition wherever the actors go. Don't over do it though. Let them play the frame a little as long as they aren't blocked. Be ready for anything and adjust. If the shot goes on longer than you expected, and an actor leaves, or goes somewhere you didn't expect, go wherever you need to to get a good composition for the operator. This is where your creativity comes in and can be one of the most fun parts of pushing dolly. This is one of the times when it's on you and you can really prove yourself to a dp or operator. Also, and I've said this before, know your eyelines. Knowing where an actor should be looking in a scene is crucial to doing your job. Right-to-left, left-to-right, learn these terms and what they mean. Pay attention during the master and remember where each actor should be looking. This can get confusing so if you don't understand, ask the operator. It takes awhile but will become second nature in time. This seems like a lot of useless information but it will help IMMENSELY in your work. I could try to explain it here but would fail miserably and would only end up confusing both of us. Make it your business to know where each actor is moving, where the camera is, and when actors move during a certain part of the dialogue. Remember these relationships because it will help you know what is coming up.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Brave One

I went and saw "The Brave One" this week and I really enjoyed it. Masterfully shot by my friend Philippe Rousselot, it stayed with me long after it was over. There were a few clunkers in it: too many one-liners as Jodie shot bad guys. One particularly bad shot/cut as a bad guy was shot in extreme close-up and went down, but overall I really liked it. The dolly work, by New Yorker Keith Bunting, was beautifully done. My buddy Neil Norton also did a great job operating (I'm sure Keith made him look good though). I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

here's your answer g

I carry it on my shoulder because I don't want to look like Batman.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

going handheld

AT some point in the past, we became responsible for carrying cameras when handheld between takes. This means you take it off the operators shoulder at "cut" and put it back up there on "rolling." I don't mind this so much. It's part of the job and keeps me busy. Some newer dolly grips are often shy about grabbing the camera, or are unsure about how to grab it. First, realize that you aren't going to hurt the camera (unless you drop it). Cameras are pretty rugged so don't be tentative about touching it (the main thing is try not to accidently hit the on button when you're holding it). On a Panaflex, I generally grab the lens support rods with my right hand and the mag with my left and lift it off. Be sure the rods are tightened though. Generally on a Panaflex it's acceptable to grab the mag but on some cameras (like the Moviecam) it's better not to because of the locking mechanism on the mag. In this case, grab the handle on top with your left hand instead of the mag. This can be awkward but just takes some getting used to. Arriflex, you're on your own. I still haven't figured out the best way to do it. On the Genesis, I was told by the Panavision techs not to grab it by the "mag" part. If you're unsure, ask the AC. Incidentally, some veteran dolly grip buddies of mine have reached the point where they refuse to even do any of this any more and I totally agree with them and will probably reach that point someday too. It's a courtesy you provide. If and AC gets snippy about it, tell him/her they have to help you carry the dolly up the stairs next time.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

camera operators

I am persuaded at this point to write about some of the greatest people I know: camera operators. Number one- They aren't God, although some think they are. I have had the priviledge of working with some of the best in the world. They are all cool as shit. It's the one's who are 25 and think they are the next Vilmos you have to watch out for. The old school ones realize you are a team and they will work with you that way.
Number Two: You are not in the army. The operator is not a general. If you have been wronged or unfairly attacked for a shot gone wrong, speak up! It ain't the end of the world if a take is blown. The good ones know how much they need you.
Number three: It's your job to make the operator's job as easy as possible. This means make yourself indespensible. Look for flares, cables in the shot, bad reflections, anything that shouldn't be there. Never stop looking. Put your head right in front of the camera and survey the set. You'll always see something. Bring it to your operator's attention. He/she has a lot of things to look for. Doing this will show that you're there for them. Besides, you are an operator too, it's part of your job.
Most operators, the good ones anyway, think of the dolly grip as part of the camera department.
Oh, I just thought of this- keep one seat on the dolly. Just one. You aren't there to give the first ac rides. The good ones walk until they can't for some reason and ask you if they can ride. If an AC expects to ride every shot, he/she has bigger problems than you can help them with. Prepare to get buried and take evasive action.

Monday, September 03, 2007

This one's for you....

I normally write about crazy things that come to mind concerning my job. Or, I fill a considerable space with "shop talk" about various techniques or technical aspects of dolly gripping. This one's different. This post, I promise, will have nothing to do with the movie business, and there won't be anything funny in it, so please feel free to skip it and move on to the next post. I promise you won't miss anything.
I lost someone who meant a great deal to me recently and I have a need to write about her.
Kay was my mother's younger sister. Some of my earliest memories are of her, as a teenage high schooler, babysitting me. I must have only been two or three, but I still can vividly picture us in a porch swing somewhere playing. It's one of my earliest memories. Kay was the "wild"sister, I guess you would call her. I've heard stories about her my whole life. How she hitchhiked to Atlanta in the seventies to see Black Sabbath. The parties she would go to. The motorcycle accident that injured her enough to send her to intensive care. I still remember her in a cast (she was probably still in high school then, but I've never thought to ask). It was this accident, though she didn't know it then, that would affect the course of the rest of her life. They say it was a dirty needle in the hospital that gave her hepatitus. All I know is that for the rest of her life, she was in and out of the hospital with liver problems. She dealt with it though, going on to marry and have a son, my cousin Seth. She became my confidante over the years. As a teenager, she would help me through whatever crisis I was having with whatever girl I was dating. Nothing was off limits to ask. She was the one I went to with problems or questions that most of us have growing up that we don't want our parents to think about. She never judged, never got angry. She just listened and patiently gave advice. Maybe it was the bond we had developed when I was a toddler, I just felt safe with her.
She went on to divorce and date a few boyfriends until she finally met Lynn, a good man who really loved her. After my own divorce, her house was a place to go to get away from life for a few hours ( she still threw the best parties). She died last year. The liver problems that had plagued her since that long ago motorcycle accident finally wore her down. She was on the donor list, but was always "too healthy" to qualify. When my mother called me to tell me the news, I was doing a commercial in LA. I couldn't finish the day. I had been meaning to call her for a week or so, I was just too busy. That night, I called my ex-girlfriend, with whom I had recently split. She came over. I was inconsolable. She talked to me and stayed with me all night before quietly leaving the next morning. Kay was the first reality check for me. I had lost others, but I was really too young for it to affect me. I don't think of her every day, but every so often, like tonight, she crosses my mind and I am left with a deep and profound sadness. I miss her terribly and the space where she used to be is heart-wrenching. Anyway, Kay, I love you and miss you terribly. This one's for you.