Sunday, August 31, 2008

Great Post on Hollywood Juicer

Check out this week's post on It concerns the move to renegotiate the IA contract that HBO has been beating the crap out of us with for years. This contract was awarded to HBO when they were starting to do their own original programming and we threw them a bone. Now, they're a powerhouse, yet still working under the same low rent contract. Check out the post and sign the petition to the IA.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Things Are Slow

I'm not sure what's going on in the business right now, but from all I can gather, things are slow in the feature world in LA. Two friends of mine are working in Detroit (the latest winner in the incentives race). Personally, I've been offered, and then lost two shows in the last month when they went away. One was in Atlanta and one was in Detroit. The Detroit one disappeared when the producers apparently didn't turn in their paperwork on time for the incentives and lost them. They then decided to move the show to LA and shoot it as a "tier 3" production (think $19.00 an hour to key) My Key Grip told them they'd be doing it "MOU" (Mit out us). The other one just disintegrated when the director got fired. I'm fortunate enough to be working on one of the two studio features shooting in LA right now. It's a mixed blessing, however, because it's second unit and has quite a few down days while we wait for first unit to finish a particular stage or actor. So, I'm in the midst of an eight day layoff and the phone ain't ringing. Not for features, anyway. Television is going gangbusters though. Those same guys we felt sorry for when all us feature guys were working and they were off, during the writer's strike, are now passing us on their way to work as we walk to the mailbox. It is one of the most fun second units I've ever done though. We've had a Techno almost every day (if not two), and are doing actual scene work as opposed to just inserts of radio knobs or POV's of guns. I've made an uneasy truce with my dolly and am starting to get the feel for it. It had been a good ten years since I'd pushed a Fisher and was not happy at first, but it's getting a little better as I get reaquainted with it. The grips are all top notch and we have a good time. I probably have a better time than they do though as I watch them haul 40x40 greenscreens up to the perms.
I am getting some commercial calls and picked up a few days during this hiatus, but I need a full on first unit feature for about 4 months.
We go until October 6, and then who knows?

I Won the Contest

I won the "Best Wrap Party" story over at Script Goddess ( with my intoxicating tale of a night many years ago when I was much younger and hangovers didn't take three days to recover from. Check out her site and learn about the mysterious world of the Script Supervisor (a Dolly Grip's best friend).

Saturday, August 23, 2008


The new website for Supersliders is up at Check it out!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Quick Reference for Searchers

I can tell what a lot of people are searching for when they find this site from a search engine by checking my stats. To aid some of them and save them some time, read this...

You can't buy a Fisher or Chapman dolly, they are only rented.

There is nothing about Dolly Parton on this site (But maybe there should be).

The link for Doggiecam is to the right in the links section.

There is nothing meaningful about the Wally Dolly on here. I've never used it but it's Australian.

Key Grips on larger budget films make anywhere from 35.00 to 40.00 an hour. (In the US). Email me if you want to know general dolly rates. I'm not going into it here.

There's nothing on here about making dolly track out of PVC or making your own dollies.

I don't bad mouth people or productions on here. If I have a story to tell, I'll generalize it so that you can't tell who it is, but you'll get the point I'm making.

Dolly Grips deliver camera movement in the motion picture industry. We rig cameras on objects and keep camera crews safe.

Deferred Payment is a way to get you to work for free and make the producer feel better. You won't get paid. It's a scam.

There is nothing about moving furniture on this site.

I hope this saves some time for those who accidentally stumble on this page. You are still welcome to look around.
There is another new post below this one. It's two-For-One-Day!

Race Between the States

Hi all. Not much going on here this week. The SAG strike/non strike seems to still have most people in a state of confusion, me included. But work continues and there's no strike as of yet. I was suppose to be off for most of the week, but will be shooting some tests for a couple of days.

I keep hearing that the rest of the year will be busy. Around the country, Shreveport appears to be ramping up. Michigan is busy. And Atlanta, which just passed a hefty tax incentive package is poised to get busy. So continues the neverending race by the states to see who can pass the most giveaways to entice producers to shoot in their state. In a lot of ways, this is a good thing. In many of these states, the local technician pool just can't support two or three productions, so that means a rate and housing/ per diem for the rest of us. I benefitted quite well last year (Connecticut, Shreveport) and this year (Massachusetts) from this situation.What can get comical about this is the insistance by producers that you hire non-existent locals to crew up. We ran into this situation last year in Shreveport. With three other productions going on, the people just weren't there. Yet the producers insisted on hiring locals. Acording to the Best Boy, the conversation went something like this...Producer: "We want you to hire locals." Best Boy: "There aren't any. They are all working." Producer: I know, but we want you to hire locally." Best Boy: Yes, we understand, but there aren't any more." Producer: "Yes, but to maximize our tax breaks, we're going to need you to hire some local technicians." Best Boy: "If they aren't working right now, there's a reason. We can't find any more. There are three other shows right now." Producer: "We need you to hire locals." This supposedly went on for another 20 minutes or so.
Later, when one of the locals we did hire almost got run over by a bus he was lying under and another couldn't figure out how to open the does- all cart (lift the latch), more outside techs were brought in. This is a generalization and the order of events may not be exactly correct, but it all happened.
Here's the thing, I was a local on the East coast for years. I know what it's like and the good ones who are there will be the first to tell you when there aren't any more. I don't know if the local Film Commission is fudging the numbers when they tell the studios about the crew base or what, but many times they arrive in Ball Ground, Georgia or Natchitoches, La thinking the place is crawling with out of work top -of -the- line grips and juicers. And the deals they offer to bring you in are even more hilarious sometimes. Producer: "We'll give you 25.00 and hour and 100.00 a week living allowance. Best Boy: "That's against union rules and we wouldn't work for that anyway." Producer: "OK, how about 200.00 a week box rental and 28.00 an hour and you join the union there (we know a guy) and work as a local?" Best Boy: uhh No. Producer: "I'm sorry, but the prices you are asking are way out of line for _____________." Best Boy: "Well we're not from ____________. We can stay home and make our rate and go home every night."
Producer: "Allright, I'll pay your rate but you have to hire the locals that aren't working on the other four movies here in ______________." Best Boy: "There aren't any locals."
You can imagine the stories we tell.
So wherever you end up this coming year, be safe, have fun, and save your per diem.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Checking In

Still on 2nd Unit although we've shut down for a few days (I guess to let 1st unit catch up-ha ha) We move along pretty fast. Chris, who has written to the site several times, was working on the Sony lot on a commercial and stopped by to say hi, although we only had time to shake hands and say "Hi." It was good to see him. That's one great thing about starting this site is that I've made friends with a lot of Dolly Grips and Grips I otherwise might have never met. Dolly Grips by design rarely work together, but are starting to fraternize more than they used to. It's starting to be seen as more of a specialized craft than just something some guy bumps up to to get the rate, at least in my opinion, and the more we all communicate the better it will get.
I'm using a Fisher 10 on this one and as most of you know I'm not a regular user. The DP chose it before I got there though and I'm stuck with it. Other than his taste in dollies, which I have yet to bring up to him, he's a good guy, though , and I like him a lot. This dolly, though, is going to be the death of me. I had a push in and boom down on a doorknob the other night on a 65mm at about 4 ft to 3 ft with about 2" depth of field and it was a trial to feather the stop on the boom down. I remembered something from my earlier days on the Fisher, however, when someone told me to use the whole forearm rather than the wrist which should dampen it a little. I'm just used to the immediate feedback from the arm on a Hustler/Hybrid that you don't get with the 10.
Chris, it was good to meet you in person. If any other of you are on the lot in the next few weeks, please stop by and say hi.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Rocket Cars and Technocranes

Hey everyone,
Still on 2nd unit. Had a lot of fun tonight with the Griptrix camera car. We mounted a 15' Techno on it and raced down the stage following Tom Hanks. We also had the 50' Techno on a 20' platform swinging around above us, so it was a chaotic day. Herb Ault himself came in and drove the car and it was a pleasure to work with him (for those of you who don't know, Herb is John Toll's Key Grip).
We just got a set of the new Fisher skates delivered. I haven't put a dolly on them yet. I looked at them and just from that I think the wheels are too soft. They are certainly sexy looking, but I don't think they'll withstand a long period of sitting still before flat spots become a problem. I'll let you know after I get a dolly on them. The wheels come with a set of inserts for the 11 (god forbid) and are really nicely machined.
I hope you all are staying busy and safe.