Saturday, August 18, 2018


  I took a day off this week just because I wanted to (something I have never really done in almost thirty years). As I was lying on the couch I decided to watch Casablanca. I had seen it as a teenager and didn't really understand it or appreciate it. I was blown away. Photographically it was gorgeous. The story was funny and moving, and the actors were all great. Of course, being a dolly grip, what really caught my eye was the camera movement. Most dolly moves back in the 40's and 50's were clumsy, shaky affairs used to accentuate a story point. Then MTV spoiled us and we became accustomed to the swooping, gliding camera we see now.  The moves in Casablanca were flawless. Although the name of the dolly grip is probably lost to history (they didn't give us credits back then, and technicians were studio employees assigned to projects by the studio department), the guy was a master. You could see it in the walk-and-talks where the distances, and starts and stops were perfect. There were a couple of sit downs and compound moves that he nailed. And push-ins were rock solid. Now if you watched a movie made today, these things wouldn't even register. Dollies, cranes, and track have become so advanced that it's not as hard as it was to make a steady shot once you've mastered the craft. I was just so impressed that the camera moved as much as it did ( a compliment  to director Michael Curtiz) and that the moves were so flawless that I was really struck by it. You can also see the influence it had visually on a young Steven Spielberg, whose camera is also rarely still. If you have nothing to do on a lazy Sunday, or are a young dolly grip working his way up, check it out. This is how it should be done, and why we do it today.

Saturday, August 11, 2018


  In over ten years that I've been doing this website, I've touched on just about every technical aspect of the craft that applies. I've discussed track laying, dance floor, louma beams, Fisher vs Chapman, Technocranes, camera ops, compound moves, stand-ups, sit-downs, load outs, load ins, safety, handheld, steadicam, timing, wheels, flags, stands, and just about any facet of dolly gripping, and gripping in general that someone in my position may run up against. But it occurs to me that the one thing I may not have covered is attitude. How do you come across to your camera operator and DP? How do the other members of the crew view you?
   Years ago I worked with a DP who was a real.......hard guy to like. I've discussed this before in previous posts, but this DP was just mean. He talked to me like I had never been talked to by a camera man. The guy was a dick, but.... he taught me something. I remember when things got tense for other departments (not mine because he was usually yelling at me) he would say, "Icy calm." And that stuck with me. I still have the occasional nightmare about the guy and, to my shame, got drunk at a major industry event and went looking for him years ago (thank God he wasn't there) but I learned something from him. Icy calm. That's what a dolly grip should project. No drama. Nothing to get excited about. Just icy calm. To this day, when I'm confronted with an impossible shot, one that makes the sweat break out on the forehead of a normal man, I get a little nervous and then I think, "Icy calm." People look for competence. They expect and admire it. They gravitate towards it. Stay calm. Icy calm. As my Dad used to say, "Act like you've been there before."
   And then smile and nod as the camera operator takes all the credit. Congratulations, cog. You've done your job.

Time to mix another one,

Saturday, August 04, 2018

This and That

  Hey all. It's been a while since I've posted.  I've had a rollercoaster of a year and I'm here to catch up on a couple of things. First, what have I been doing.? Well,, I'm going to name drop a little because it's just easier. In the time that I've been radio silent I've done some "B" camera work Venom, Ant Man and The Wasp and some "A" camera work, Blockers, Instant Family. Then a little bit more "A" camera work: Wonder Woman 1984. And frankly, I'm tired. So, I'm going to talk about my daughter.
That's her. Yeah, she's awesome. She's truly the coolest girl I know. She has sang in Vienna and Italy and  though she doesn't believe it, I am very proud of her,

Anyway, to get back to the  task at hand...

   I had a whole dance floor post in mind but then realized that  I have probably covered it already in the last ten years. Listen to some opera. It will calm your soul. Moving  cameras is an art. Learn it, I'll be back but when I'm not as tired. Or drunk. ...Drank. ...Drunken..... Yes.