Sunday, March 23, 2008

Calling Your Shot

I was recently on a website that is production oriented and someone had asked how to accomplish a particular shot. Along with the shot he gave a link to a similar shot as a guideline. Several recommendations were given by various professionals, as well as mine, and all would accomplish what he was trying to achieve. This got me in mind of the Dolly Grip's role in the practicalities of a shot. If we're really lucky, a DP will describe what he wants, where he wants it, and then leave. Then it's up to us to decide the fastest, safest and easiest way to give him what he wants. Most of us have done this every day for years and are experts at accessing, and attacking a particular problem. A shot is thrown at you, you listen carefully and as the DP is talking, you are already running various scenarios through your mind,listing pros and cons, and deciding which plan is best. One of the answers given on the website offered more versatility, yet would have been a little awkward to operate. Another one was a little bit of overkill. This is the line we tread. How much is too much? I gave a scenario that would give the DP exactly what he asked for, but left little room for adjustment if the shot changed. Another person gave an answer that offered versatility, but would be inexact and hard to operate dolly-wise. Somewhere between the two is the correct answer. Generally, we tend to overthink things and make them more complicated than they have to be. Actually, it wasn't that complicated of a shot, something any of us would have come up with an answer to right on set in about 5 minutes. The beauty of experience is knowing that that simplest answer WILL work, and throwing it out almost off the cuff, because in your mental file, somewhere you've done the shot or something similar sometime in the past. After thinking about it, I still like my answer the best. I was shown a shot and asked how to duplicate it, and I gave the easiest answer, not one that would accomplish multiple variables of shots, but the one I was asked about. I don't think the other guys believe me, but that's ok. It beats the hell out of the idea the guy had about using the crane to do it.