Friday, March 02, 2012

Bite Your Tongue

 This post was suggested by a Dolly Grip buddy of mine from Texas. He had worked with a relatively green operator, who, when he made a suggestion, would disregard it it, and say, "I'm the operator, you're the Dolly Grip." There was a time, in the not-too distant past, when I would have probably not taken something like that sitting down. My reaction to a situation like this, however, is directly proportional to my financial situation. As a new (and old) father with a new mortgage, I find that I'm suddenly much more agreeable and willing to let such comments slide right off me. Although I've never had a situation arise like this with an operator, I have with a DP.  While I'm a firm believer in knowing where you stand in the whole pyramid structure of the film crew, I also am not very good at being treated like a tool rather than a technician (see previous post). There are times when you just have to bite your tongue. Dealing with an inexperienced or attitude challenged camera operator can be trying, and sooner or later you will reach a point of saying, "Enough's enough." One thing I won't be is verbally abused. I may take it for a while, but sooner or later it's going to boil over. A good camera operator knows to rely on his Dolly Grip. The operators I work with regularly know that I can help them if they'll let me. They may not take my suggestions, but they always listen and are usually willing to try them. An operator who casually dismisses his Dolly Grip and has the attitude of Operator> Dolly Grip is unknowingly letting his inexperience show.  Still, if you need the job, taking a deep breath and telling yourself it's only temporary is necessary. The older I get (and more in debt), the less hotheaded I am. So maybe biting your tongue is also a by-product of maturity. I recently watched a short film on Dicky Deats, a legendary Key Grip who recently passed. He said that his favorite part of filmmaking was being part of the process. Being relied on to solve a problem gave him the greatest joy. That's all any of us want, especially as Dolly Grips. Part of that process involves knowing when to bite your tongue.

2 comments:

Michael Taylor said...

Solving problems is what this business is about. For all the blather about Hollywood (and beyond) being a "factory," every show is a custom-made project requiring the entire crew to solve a host of problems all day, every day. To take any member of that crew out of the problem-solving loop -- particularly one as crucial as the dolly grip -- is idiotic.

Unfortunately, there's no shortage of idiots in this world.

Sorry to hear about Dicky. He keyed a few jobs I did in the 80's and 90's, and he was a good one.

Question: what's the title of that short film? I'd like to see it.

The Grip Works said...

Well said D,
There's no shortage of fools and arrogant people in this business.
I'd rather have (if I had to choose) a fool over someone arrogant in the operators seat. It can make a movie feel like a lifetime.
There is nothing like having children to teach you patience on set :-)
The various mortgages are all reminders about why you need to keep working.
Shame about Dicky ... I never worked with him, but I did work with his son Shannon recently. He was Best Boy on a movie that I Keyed.
Great guy, and a real gentleman and professional.