Friday, January 04, 2008

Dolly Party

Let's talk about something dear to all of us- carrying that 400 odd lbs of twisted steel up stairs.
You're finished with the exteriors. It's a move inside to the third floor with no elevator. There are only acouple of shots so you hopefully (wincing all the time ) go up to your buddy, your pal the DP and ask, "Do we need the dolly up there?" "Yeah, we might want to do a move." is not the answer you were hoping for. Or even worse, "Oh yes, and the jib arm." So now you have to take the big one.
You get on the horn, cinch up your pants and announce, "There's a party and you're all invited!" Then come the groans.
No matter how you try to do it, it hurts. It's dangerous, and you're sure it's shortening your life and possibly making you sterile.
I personally, on extra narrow staircases am a big fan, when carrying the Peewee, of getting on the lower end alone and taking the weight in my chest. It's easier, you're not fighting another guy past the bannister, and it saves your arms (though it is counterintuitive). I had another grip complain one time that I was making it easier on myself (?) and harder on the guys on the other end. How? They still pick up the same amount of weight to the same height, only now we don't have two grips fighting each other on the lower end. Just one easily carrying the weight in his chest while another backs him up.
My Key Grip recently went out and bought a stair climbing dolly; the type they use to load vending machines up stairs. It's basically a heavily reinforced hand truck with a rechargeable battery and a rotating blade which climbs up stairs. We welded a scrap piece of track on it, with a lengthened ramp piece, and the Dolly-Dolly was born. Roll it on, strap it down, and away you go. Though it is a little slower, it's an effortless way for two guys (one controlling the climb and the other steadying) to climb impossible staircases with the dolly (either size). Unfortunately, truck space is limited so it's a special order item. We used it on a pilot in Savannah (the city of staircases) and it saved us many times.


Michael Taylor said...


One of the many reasons I gave up an extremely unpromising career as a grip was the odious task of carrying dollies upstairs. (That I was the worst grip in the history of Hollywood was another...)

I spent a year and a half doing commercials as a grip, working for a big, strapping ex-Recon Marine Key Grip who feared nothing in life. He always took the bottom when we had to haul a dolly up three flights of narrow circular stairways in one of those mansions of Malibu. Then his back went out during one such ordeal, which left me a the PA's to bring that beast back down -- with me on the bottom. It was not pretty.

Shortly after that experience, I went back to juicing. Yeah, 4'0 is a bitch, but at least nobody expects a juicer to carry four hundred-foot rolls of 4'0 at the same time. One at a time is bad enough.

Gravity -- the bete noir of us all. Same as it ever was...

Anonymous said...

Carrying my Panther 3 floors up was my reason to make a truss-dolly!!!

and a flatbed-skateboard does run on speedrail as well!

Anonymous said...

Any photos of the Dolly Dolly?

D said...

I'll see if I can get one and post it.

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