Sunday, March 14, 2010
I can remember when I first started pushing "A" Camera. To say I was a little nervous is an understatement. Which way should I orient the Dolly? Should I use track or floor? I remember when working out a dance floor shot, the operator would keep adding positions and camera heights and I would begin to sweat. My anxiety increased with each new variable. How would I remember all this, much less actually execute it? As time went by, however, the anxiety began to dissipate as my confidence, and skills, improved. I would spend a little time before each show just practicing compund moves. I couldn't have imagined a time when a six point comound move with four camera heights wouldn't send me into the nervous sweats. Now, I don't even think about it. I even enjoy them. It's a little more of a challenge, and it makes us worth our money. Looking back, I think one thing helped me master this skill more than any other: TV. Episodic television is the perfect training ground for Dolly Grips and the older I get the more I believe it. The moves are consistently more complex, you're with people you know well from being around them for endlessly long days, and they're a little more apt to forgive mistakes. And you have to learn to be fast and accurate. You have to nail it by the third take, minimum. This is invaluable when you move to Feature world. Features move at a much slower pace (generally). By comparison, a TV dolly grip who knows his stuff looks like a whirlwind on a Feature set. I try to go back and do a little TV every so often, and though it's a grind, nothing keeps you sharp like TV. So those of you who still get a little sweaty at the prospect of a seven point, five boom combo, stay with it. Believe it or not, there will come a day when you'll actually enjoy them. It just takes a little (OK, a lot) of time.