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.
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