I've got a nifty little application that tells me what visitors to this site are looking for when they come in from a search engine. It's always fascinating to see what people are interested in and it gives me ideas on which way to steer the conversation. As I've said in previous posts, I don't know if any of them found the answers here or not. And it drives me crazy. The message board has been quiet so none of them just came out and asked for the answer to whatever was troubling them, so I'm going to take a few and answer them anyway. Some aren't questions per se, but I'll address them as if they were.
Working with dolly considered lowly.
The answer is.... only to people who really have no idea what we do. And there are a lot of them. I've worked with really big name directors who valued my input and would call me to the monitor frequently to consult about a shot, and I've worked with tv directors who didn't even acknowledge that I existed (and vice versa). This is true, though, in any position to an extent. I've watched as the same thing has happened to DPs, camera operators, ACs, gaffers, and any other position you could name. The bottom line is... we're not lowly but we're replaceable. What we do takes mainly common sense, timing, and is learned by doing the same thing over and over until you get the skills down (just like any other profession). The film business is like a pyramid, but that's mostly in the chain of command area. When you need a good dolly grip, you can't do with a crappy one. Anyone can roll the camera around and park it to shoot. Not everyone can immediately see what you need to get a shot, set up the dolly, lay out the surface, and do a five point move with three booms in it and nail it on the second take....and the third and so on. You're only as "lowly" as your skills allow.
Fisher Ten/Chapman Peewee for sale.
How much does a Dolly/Key Grip make?
Again, depends on your skills, reputation, and work ethic. There's Union Scale which most of us try to get a little over and some can command it, which is somewhere in the 32.00 to 40.00 an hour range. There's also "low budget" Union Scale which can be 15.00 an hour. There's also the abominable cable side letter rate which is around 28.00 an hour. It also depends where you are working and under which contract. New York and LA rates tend to be the highest in the US. Some make a lot more than that on equipment rentals. On non-union, it's often a day rate which can be anywhere from 150.00 to 300.00 a day. These figures are ballpark so don't send me emails telling me the exact number. I really have no idea what they make outside the US.