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.


  1. I've found that I'm more stressed about a shot when I fight the setup. Questioning the operator on every little thing. If I go with the flow, I can take anything that changes and zen into the shot.

    I'm getting too old and not paid enough to be second guessing the camera operator. "you'd like ANOTHER sideboard?!? But of course sir, coming right up!"

    I start on a pilot first thing tomorrow morning as the B guy.

  2. I remember i was dreaming the night before my first show. I'd lay a track, put the dolly on, had about 5 or 6 marks on the track and when i had to make my first move, my track wheels where flat and the whole crew and cast looked at me and laughed! Its a good thing to know that trackwheels will never run flat...

  3. Anonymous1:47 PM

    Being relaxed is really the key to executing complex moves.

    It's a process where the shot can change a number of times before you actually get to the part where you make the moves.So roll with it

    Operators can smell fear so always keep a calm demeaner don't ask too many questions.

    Get a monitor cause in tv world you are dead without one.


  4. Thanks Anonymous. All good points. You are right about the monitor, but don't get dependent on it for everything!