I can remember as a young Dolly Grip how nothing got my palms sweating more than a big dance floor move. It was hard enough doing one where all the points are known and you got a chance at a couple of decent rehearsals. But the really scary ones were the ones that evolved as you went through a rehearsal, with the director shouting out a new instruction at each point. "Tighten up when she leans in here" or "Boom down when he goes around" were added to the pile of instructions you already had in your head and before you knew it, the whole scene was a useless muddle while you broke out in a cold sweat wondering how you would ever remember it all, much less execute it. Over time I learned the secret: Take it one piece at a time. If you try to think about the move as a whole, it'll scare the hell out of you. Think of it in chunks, one building upon the other, until soon it all comes together. Here's another secret. The actors will tell you what to do and where you should be. No, I don't mean to go up to Robert DeNiro and ask him where number three is. I mean that if you understand the shot, and move with the actors, it's a lot easier to remember what happens when. It's all about understanding the actors movements in the scene in relation to the camera as opposed to a bunch of mechanical "okay, now I go here" movements. Generally, in Dollygrippery, the camera moves when someone in the scene does. Watching where they go will tip you off quickly to where your next mark is. Recently I did one of these moves that just builds and builds with every rehearsal. The director was Jonathan Demme, a great guy but not afraid to challenge you. What started out as a simple half-circle around a desk countering an actor turned into a five point move with a boom from the bottom to the top of the arm and a couple after that. As the move got more complex, the old sweaty palms started. Then, I took a deep breath and remembered to watch the actors and think of it one piece at a time. I nailed it on the first take, except for a minor blockage on a line, and by the third take I had it down. This is the secret that will save you these pregame jitters. Don't make the mistake of trying to shoehorn the whole sequence into your short-term memory all at once. It doesn't work. Watch the actors.
On a totally different note, I'm missing some of my old buddies I used to hear from pretty regularly. Where are you guys? GHB has been silent, as well as Wick and my old friend Megamoose. Just drop me a line and let me know you're still out there.
On a happier note, Dollygrippery would like to congratulate Sanjay Sami and his beautiful wife, Tara, on the birth of their baby boy. Mother and son are doing fine. Get some sleep, Sanjay. I'm not far behind you.