Monday, May 25, 2009
When You Are Operator's Choice
For the most part, most of us are hired by the Key Grip. Usually someone we've been with a while. This keeps things easy. We're with a crew we know well and are friends with. I've been with my regular Key for about 15 years, 10 of that as his dolly grip. Some of us, however are brought onto a job every now and then by camera operator who likes us. This can get a little hairy when coming onto a grip crew as an operator request. You're basically putting the dolly grip they all know out of work. It can get a little awkward. My B camera dolly, who just left a few weeks ago to do "A" on a show, was a particular Director's request for years. A very well known director who pretty much gets his way. He told stories about the last show he was brought into and the stone wall of alienation the grip crew, mostly the Key and Best Boy, put up against him. It ain't fun. I've been on the other end of this as well. Your Key calls and says he has a show, 12 weeks in (insert exotic location here) and he'll call back with details. A week goes by and then he calls and says the operator has his own guy and it's kind of out of his hands, but you can do "B" if you like. No thanks. It ain't easy being on that end of it either. I bring this up because an operator friend of mine recently requested me for a show in (insert exotic location here). It got me thinking and sounded like a good post. We all hope our Key will stick his neck out and say, "I want my guy and that's it." And mine has done that, which led to 12 of the most hellish weeks in my career at the hands of a DP who found new and petty ways to make my life hard every day. No thanks. So it could go either way. For you grip crews out there, just realize that the guy the operator is bringing in is just a guy who got offered a job, and he took it. Just like you did. You don't have to be his best friend, but just treat him with a little decency and respect. For the operators who had to use the Key's regular guy...ditto. Give him a shot. He may be better than what you're used to. There's no reason to be a jackass to someone just because it's not who you wanted. Either way, it's just a few weeks. If whoever it is is honestly not getting the job done, then replace him, but don't be petty. There's enough of that in this business.