Those of you who are regular readers may have briefly caught a post I did last week entitled So You Want To Be A Dolly Grip. It listed some questions that every dolly grip should be able to answer or situations that a good dolly grip should be able to think his way out of. It was written under the influence of several Captain Morgans and inspired by a situation that I was irritated about. After reading it the next day, I deleted it. I didn't like the tone which came across to me as a little smug and a lot obnoxious, which most of you probably didn't even pick up on, but sprung right off the page at me. I deleted it and got a lot of emails and a few comments asking where it went and when I would rewrite it. Everything I write comes from experience and long hours of doing things the wrong way until I figured it out, or someone showed me the right way. There's no substitute for putting in the time and you can't learn it all overnight. I still learn things every day and am still trying to be better. Dollygripping is a craft, like any other that requires you to develop specific skills and a base of knowledge to solve problems quickly. You can't learn it in school but if there was a final exam, these questions should be on it:
Director wants to boom up from the lens at ground level to roughly eye height (or as close as you can get), what do you need? (No, it's on a dolly not a jib).
What is the inherent problem with pie pieces in a dance floor?
What are some things you can do to eliminate a track that is squeaking?
Track is on a wooden floor, the floor is popping under the weight as the dolly moves, what can you do to help eliminate the noise?
100' of track on a 300mm. It has to be smooth. What do you need? (No, Sanjay)
Crane track should always be ________.
You're doing a commercial and the company has rented a Fisher 10. What question have to ask? (after, "What's the rate?")
Director wants to pull an actor down a sidewalk with the camera directly in front of him. He can't step in the track and the director doesn't want to use Steadicam. What do you suggest?
A camera is to be placed looking directly down on an actor lying on a bed. What do you need?
Doing a haul-ass move on track with another grip helping push. You rig up a push bar on the back of the dolly. What shouldn't you do? Hint: If you do it wrong, the dolly can go off the side of the track.)
All right. There are some basic questions that a dolly grip should know the answers to. Smugness removed.