Monday, December 31, 2007

1:00 pm and All is Well

Boy the posts are flying now. Mainly because there's little or no work going on. I have little else to do once the dogs have been walked and the laundry done. As I was sitting here, I got to thinking about a phrase that sums up a lot of our job- "They don't know what we do." This goes for the public at large, not a small number of film students, producers, directors, and even, sadly, a DP or two.
I was doing a movie awhile back, not a huge budget, but it was a studio picture that ended up doing inexplicably decent business. We had done the master and were moving into closeups and I threw down a sheet of plywood to hold the coverage. The DP, straight from music video world on his first big break, asked the operator and myself why I was doing it. The operator, an old NY veteran, said, "to hold the overs." The DP looked perplexed and nodded and walked away. After the first take, in which the actors were everywhere but on their marks, the DP walked up to the operator and said, "Great job, I don't know how you made the shot work, but it did." The operator said, "D did it." The DP looked confused and said, "D was doing that?" The operator looked at me and I just looked back at him and shrugged and thought, "He doesn't know what I do." I was amazed. This studio hired a guy on a 15 million dollar picture and he doesn't know what a Dolly Grip does.
How many times have you done a particularly technical shot- one that involves several stops,turns, booms, and even a slide into home finish after ducking under the camera - only to have the director walk up to the operator, look at him with admiration, slap him on the back and say, "Wow, great job!" and walk away? They don't know what we do.
That's what this site is for. Not to make sure we get more backslaps, but to distribute info, and let us laugh a little at all the things that we share on film sets all over the world. Dolly Grips, unfortunately, are one of those positions where you don't work with others in your position very often. But, since starting this site I've met a Dolly Grip from Toronto, one from Vancouver, and several from the US. They've all shared tips and opinions about equipment, as well as questions from those just starting out. Thanks guys.



7 comments:

drld said...

You said it, bro!

azurgrip said...

Dolly Lifting Party - Bring your back!

D said...

Only there's beer at this party! Happy New Year!

aaron said...

so why did you put the plywood down? this site is to explain right? well im a newbie...enlighten me por favor

D said...

Why yes, my friend. The plywood was to "hold the overs" which refers to the "over the shoulder shot" It's the Dolly Grip's job to make adjustments right or left, sometimes up or down, to keep the over the shoulder shot framed properly. Sometimes the foreground actor will move left or right and block the actor who is facing camera; or make the over too "wide" leaving too much space between them. This is easiest to accomplish using a monitor, but we used to do it without them before we had monitors. Sometimes the operator will also give you signals as to which way and when to move. Thanks for the question and always ask if you're unsure.

tanner said...

what's up? did you give up posting for the new year?

D said...

Sorry Dude,
I'm slowing the stream down, just a little bit. I'll still post at least every other day, and usually once a day. Because less is more, right?