Thursday, June 26, 2008

CineGear 2008?

I have yet to come across on the Internet any type of posting relating to the show; either manufacturer's release or visitor's reviews.

Did anyone go this year? And if so, was there anything new to be seen?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Putting Back on the Tool Belt- The Aftermath

It wasn't as bad as it could have been. The best part was, I couldn't find the belt to go with my tool pouch so I found one of my wife's old belts (a rather girly camo number that goes great with designer jeans) and wore that. The first thing I told the Best Boy was, "No, this ain't my sister's belt, it's my wife's."
It was kind of fun to work the set again. It was just plain old nuts and bolts series shooting, like they've done for 50 years. Some other guy was tied to the dolly all night, so I set flags, carried sandbags, built 12x's, and sat by the carts. We started with 5 guys (one of them being a "permit") . But by lunch, two of them disappeared (I don't know where and didn't ask) so me and a buddy pretty much hauled ass after that for the rest of the night. We laid 100' of track and all I did was throw out wedges. That part was strange. The Key said they had more days coming up and to leave my number, but I don't think I want to do that on a regular basis. I'm too damn tired. I'm sick of getting laughed at because of my belt anyway.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Putting Back on the Tool Belt

A friend of mine who's Besting second unit on a TV show has asked me to come on out and work as a third tonight for some car work. So I'm going to go down into the garage and see if I can find my old tool belt. Should be an easy night (oh boy, what was I thinking?)

Saturday, June 21, 2008


It is true that I and a couple of friends have bought Supersliders. The owner, Tom Slocum, unfortunately passed away and a friend of mine (who was a friend of Tom's) was offered the company by Tom's wife. I, unfortunately, never knew Tom, but I have met several people who did and he is remembered as a good man who started a business and made it a success. The Superslider he created is a beautiful piece of work. Since I've become involved with it, I have become familiar with the care and attention to detail he put into developing this machine.
Our plans are to first, pay off the loan we acquired to buy the company, and then carry on Tom's vision of excellence in his company.
A few of you have enquired as to what the status of the Superslider is now. Right now, we aren't selling any sliders. I have several lengths (28", 3', 4' 5' 6') and we are renting them out to pay back the loan first. We're still in the process of trying to get it all set up and then we will begin making them again. It's very important to us that the Superslider continue to be made to the exacting standards Tom set forth and made the Superslider the best on the market. As soon as we have all our ducks in a row, we will begin to make them available for sale. To those of you who have asked, we're working on it.
Thanks to all of you who are fans of the Superslider and have asked about it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I'll Never Do Another Music Video

I have been saying this for years, yet I keep taking them when I've got nothing better to do. I just finished a video in Las Vegas that was an 18 hour orgy of pain. We shot at the Red Rocks Casino (which is beautiful by the way) and the production shorted us a guy right off the bat, so I ended up Besting and pushing dolly ( I hate Best Boying. I hate dealing with the office and accounting etc. and I hate doing time cards). We shot from one end of the casino to the other with a Key and three and got our asses kicked because there was never enough time to catch up. Halfway through the night, someone got the idea to move the truck from the side of the casino where we started to the other side where we ended, ( a freaking half of a mile) leaving half of our crap still there for us to figure out how to get it to the truck at the end of the night. I was behind the dolly and didn't know anything about it until it was done. So, I ended up using my pickup truck to haul two loads back to the truck . Oh yeah, for all you production types, grip and electric sharing a truck doesn't save you money. It may look cheaper when you see the initial costs and are comparing the price of one truck to two, but the grips or electrics always sit around waiting on the other department to get loaded depending on who goes on first. My guys were waiting on electric to wrap about 2 miles of cable last night before we could load our stuff (at $100.00 an hour). If I hadn't gotten tired of waiting and used my own truck, they'd probably still be wrapping. And if you think we all pitch in together to help, wrong. I'm not an electrician. I don't know anything about electricity other than it makes lights glow, so I'm not going to muck up some juicer's wrap by "helping" him load 4 ought. I'm a Dolly Grip. You don't hire a plumber to put a new roof on your house, so figure it out. If you are too short sighted to have two trucks so the boys don't get beaten up at the end of an 18 hour day, I'm more than happy to take your money by sitting on the dolly and watching juicers wrap cable. I'm a helpful guy but I have my limits. Anyway, I didn't mean to get off on a rant, but it really was a ridiculously planned day. The producers were all very nice and I was treated very well with accomodations, per diem etc. I just hate to see someone trip over a dollar to pick up a dime and the working guys all get the crap kicked out of them as a result.
Now I'm much calmer.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all us Dads out there. I hope you're all taking a well deserved day off. I'm in San Francisco with the In -Laws, headed to the House of Prime Rib. Everyone have a great day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New Video

Check out the Video Bar for the Travel Channel show Made in America's trip to Chapman/Leonard to see how the Peewee is made.

Staying Put

The one thing I hear most from other people about my job is,"I don't know how you stay behind that thing all day and never leave." The one thing I hear from most operators is, "You won't believe how many Dolly Grips just leave when the shot's over, and then they come back and I have to explain the next one to them." It's hard to stay there all day. Typically, you go from blocking rehearsal, to discussing the best way to do it, to laying a surface, to rehearsal, to shooting, to tear down, to blocking rehearsal. During the lighting and building phase, your camera buddies get to leave. You are the one guy who never can (except during the three favorite phrases: "Sticks," "High Hat," "Private Rehearsal").
It ain't easy, but this is what separates a lot of real Dolly Grips from the part timers. It can be grueling and tedious and sometimes infuriating but it's all part of it. I don't know how someone can leave all the time and know what's going on. I like being part of the process and making decisions about the best way to do a shot. Once I take myself out of that equation, I'm invariably screwed. Any time I've left and not been there for the discussion and set up, I've had problems with the shot. No matter how good the key grip is, if I'm not there to be in on the process, I've just made things harder for myself and had to redo what was done in my absence.
On dolly intensive days, I usually allow myself two breaks (not counting lunch). I take one in the morning at a slow period (actor discussion, lock offs, waiting on actors) and one in the afternoon. I just pick someone I trust to watch the thing for 10 minutes while I get away. There have been days when I literally never left except for lunch. It's hard, but this leads to the operator, DP, and director trusting you. They know they can count on you to be a calm voice of reason when things are starting to get a little wacko. There's also nothing like that chorus of PA voices shouting your name when they discover you're outside and they need you.
A lot of Key Grips count on you to be their eyes and ears when they're out doing something else too. The DP knows if you can't personally take care of whatever it is he wants done, you'll see that the grips know about it.
So, Stay Put (We always said this in the South, meaning, "stand still". I don't know if they say it anywhere else.)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

It's Over

We finally wrapped. We shot our last day in New York City where I had the pleasure to work with some great grips (including Ted, who has written to the site before) It was great to meet someone who's actually written in.
Altogether, it was a great job to work on. The crew and the director were wonderful and the DP, Oliver Stapleton, was a pleasure to work with and top notch in every way. Jimmy McConkey, the "A" operator, and Dave Knox, the "B" operator were the best.
The main thing I learned on this job (actually I didn't learn it, I already knew it, but it was re emphasized) was the importance of checking out your dolly at the shop before it's shipped. This used to be a common thing, but productions no longer want to pay for it (unless you're getting your dolly out of the same town you're shooting in, then you can do it on a prep day) The last time I got a dolly out of Orlando, the production actually flew me down there for a day and back that night to check out dollies. The one I got this time was not good and I won't go into anymore details, I've covered it all previously, but the dolly was crap.
Productions just don't understand that the money you save in not checking out your machine will be lost and then some in down time and blown takes if you get a crappy one.
Anyway, enough about that, it's over and I made it work.
Another thing I learned: if you use a Euro-head, and don't have an adapter to Mitchell, a half-inch roll of camera tape works like a champ. I have a picture and will put it up when I get to my own computer.
Thanks all for the encouragement and the comments. Keep them coming. I'm headed home on Tuesday after a wrap day on Monday and I'll have more then.