My last post generated a lot of comments, so obviously it's a subject that merits more attention. Most Dolly Grips will assist in handheld mode by lifting the camera and placing the camera on and off the operator's shoulder. My regular Key Grip has always insisted on this and I've never really had a problem with it. I consider myself "camera support" and am generally happy to do it. To a point. Lifting and placing the camera in handheld is a courtesy, or at least that's always how I've viewed it. I've never seen anything in the Dolly Grip's job description that mandates it. I've always tried to follow the British tradition of "Camera Grip" and be as supportive to the camera department as possible. Generally, I follow the Key Grip's lead. If he expects me to do it, I'll do it. He's (or she's) ultimately the boss and I'll do my best to fulfill his wishes. I'll always start out doing it as if it's expected of me until one of the camera crew gets snotty about it. When a 1st or 2nd assistant starts yelling for me to pick it up, it's over. I will patiently explain that I'm providing a courtesy out of respect, that can end at my discretion. At some point, it just became expected that we carry the camera when it's not on a shoulder, which is nowhere to be found in any union by-laws that I've ever seen. Again, I love my camera brothers and sisters. But don't get cheeky or, as my friend GHB says, you'll find yourself getting very lonely around the camera.
In recent news, my pilot is almost over. Three weeks of handheld (which I happily carried out of respect for my operator) is almost over. After almost six months without being behind a dolly on "A" camera other than a few second units, I may be ready to jump back in. My regular feature DP has a show in New Orleans and I'm excited, for once, about getting back to it. I was so burned out after my last job that I took a few months to only do "B" camera and second unit jobs, and was perfectly happy with that. I'm looking forward to it. I'll let you know how it goes.