Here's a tricky subject. Key Grips traditionally bring their own Dolly Grips. It makes sense since Dolly Grips are actually members of the Grip Department. Over the last few years however, I've noticed an uptick in the number of calls I get from camera operators checking availability. I haven't spoken to any of my colleagues about this but I would imagine they've noticed the same thing. Years ago, this never happened. In the last year alone though, I've done "B" camera on a show with my regular Key Grip because the operator brought his own guy from LA, and I've lost a show that the operator campaigned hard for me to get, but the Key Grip insisted on bringing his own guy. I should say at this point that I have no resentment whatsoever in either of these instances. I've been in both positions before. Although I would have liked to have done both of the jobs as "A" camera, in each case I understand why I ended up where I was and respect both decisions. The point I'm getting at is that in each case the camera operator had a Dolly Grip in mind and contacted him for the job. I think a couple of things are in play here: The huge demand for content has resulted in more production probably than at any time in history, leading to a shortage of Dolly Grips who are qualified to do the job; and more young Key Grips who don't understand the position and hire Dolly Grips who can't put the camera where the operator needs it. I hear over and over again nightmare stories from camera operators about their previous Dolly Grips. Guys who can't do compound moves. Guys who can't do dance floor moves. I heard a couple years ago about a Dolly Grip, "A" camera on a fairly large feature, who couldn't put the low-mode on. It was inevitable that operators would take matters into their own hands and build up a list of Dolly Grips that they know will get the job done and not make them look bad. I think this is a good thing. It goes a long way toward establishing us in producers' and directors' minds as not just an afterthought but as one third of the shot. Which we are.
Time to mix another one.
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Im a local 80 Key Grip and I’ve noticed this also. Some DP’s now request that operators hire their own dolly grips and although I didn’t like this idea at first. I’ve realized that its much better for operators to have someone they trust and have a good relationship with.
One of the best things is that I’ve now met some of the best dolly grips in the business. Thanks for the article.
This makes total sense -- it's how most crews are built, regardless of the craft. When I was a Best Boy, I hired the people I knew were solid, who would have my back and deliver on set -- juicers who had proven themselves and I wouldn't have to worry about. Same thing once I became a gaffer. The crew can make you look good, or make you look very bad -- but few have that power like a dolly grip.
I agree, Greg. It seemed strange to me at first, but it makes sense. Thanks for the input.
Thanks for the perspective, Michael.
Great post!! I recent years I have noticed some new dolly grips on set with their coffee cup holds and pelican cases full of the toys, yet most of them still mark the back wheel and have no reason why this is a NONO! Most of these new dolly grips are so concerned with the rental aspect of the business that they are lost when it comes to the nuts and bolts of being a dolly grip. I idea of a good dolly grip is like being a caddy for a golfer. I’m gonna but you in the right position to succeed. I’m gonna use my experience to position the chassis in the rights spot, lay a bigger than necessary dance floor and make you as the operator as comfortable as possible to succeed. My 2 cents.
Very good comment. Thanks Billy!
William - I agree with you on the toys and lack of craft development. I'm still a green horn on the dolly, and learn the hard way but I want to learn. I realized not long ago all the toys in the world wont make my skills better. Also having well maintained gear is ideal, but I should be able to make it work with what I have...I'll just be sweating, cursing, and praying to any divine being that can hear me the whole way with a junker of a pedestal and steering mode
D - Another good article with food for thought, this is why i keep coming back to read every week
Thanks for reading! Keep at it!
I'm not sure where you are getting your information, but great topic.
I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
Thanks for magnificent info I was looking for this information for my mission.
I get it from experience. Thanks for reading and good luck!
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