Earlier this year I was called in to do "additional photography" on a movie that had shot here earlier. Now, this was a very big movie. Fine. I went in and it all went well. Until one day when it was decided that the 50' Technocrane we were using wasn't big enough to do one shot they wanted. OK, they brought in a 75'. Now I'll say right off the bat that I hate these cranes. Once you get over 50' it becomes impossible to control these monsters. So, here we are. We are on a set built outside with the 75' on a platform for a rather easy pullback with two characters through the set. We get that and move on. At this point, it gets hairy. Now they want to do some rather intricate moves around the characters as they talk and go into a quick pullback to the edge of the set which involves a swing and a pickle. As an added bonus, the DP has boxed in the set with 20' by 30' bounces leaving me a 20' hole to work through. From 50' away. It did not go well. I ended up (after almost hitting one actor and brushing the other with the camera and taking out a 20' by 30' frame) hanging on to the front of the arm and basically getting dragged around by the pickle guy. This is after I spat into my headset, "I'm not doing this. I'm done." This often happens when these oversized cranes show up. They get the big shot it was brought in for, and then since it's there, they want to do detailed work with it. It doesn't work. You can't swoop a 75' arm from a wide shot into an over the shoulder and circle around and do a bunch of fancy stuff that should be done on a dolly. So the end result is I look like a jackass. It's happened twice to me now on rather high profile pictures and so I'm putting out a heads-up. When this thing shows up, it's for a certain shot. Don't let the powers that be suck you into an unwinnable situation. Hold your ground and explain that this is the wrong tool for detailed work. I got embarrassed, It won't happen again.
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Happens ALL THE TIME!! Apparently we should not be included in the decision making process either. Directors and DP's seem to think that all techno cranes are the same regardless of their size. and are simply appropriate for whatever shot they come up with. The tricky part is explaining the problem that should be obvious to the powers that be. This is delicate, I hate the look you sometimes get from them that simply says "why is this paeon talking to me?"
If you're lucky you have a good relationship with the operator and can work out some rational way to proceed, but it usually just becomes an uncomfortable muddle that leaves everyone somewhat frustrated and seeking someone to blame. guess who?
True, and I'll voice my objections and go along with it. Until it gets dangerous. Then they can get someone else if they wont listen.
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