Saturday, March 06, 2021

Greatest Hits

I'm gonna set the stage now. I'm doing a technocrane shot. We're on a Scorpio 45' with a Matrix head. The shot is, an actor runs out of a gymnasium into a lobby. He slides to the ground as we push in on a ground scraper to meet him. He jumps up and we rise with him. He runs right, around a corner. I match him on the crane. Round the corner, push at full speed over his left shoulder and WHAM! You know those clocks they have in some high schools? The ones that stick out 90 degrees from the wall? I obliterated one of those with a $100,000.00 head, The arm rang like a bell and my immediate reaction over the headset was, "Ohh s&%t!" The funny thing is, I had joked with the special effects coordinator before we even did the shot that I would knock it right off the wall. Anyway, this put me in mind of a post...

  If you do this job long enough, you're going to hit something. In 30 years in this business, I have never hit a person but I have had about four major hits on a technocrane. They are as follows:

4. The afore mentioned clock obliteration,

3. Football movie. The shot is a quick screamer on a 50' Supertechno from full height to ground level. I bounced the head off the turf like a rubber ball.

2.Very popular cop franchise reboot. I hit a light fixture so hard the grid shook,

1, On very successful car franchise, I slammed a head into a helicopter on a gimble. This one bears some explaining. I was swooping around a gimbled copter on a 50' Technocrane. The DP asked if I could take the camera lower. I'm already stretched out as high as I can go on the bucket. I then had a foolish thought. I thought that if I could let go of the back of the arm for a second and grab it closer to the column that I could get the camera lower, and thus become a hero in my DP's eyes. Big mistake. I lose the arm completely, and it now starts slowly swaying toward the bucking helicopter (because it absolutely wouldn't go the other way) and I start yelling to Mike, the pickle op that  I've lost control of the arm as I watch it bounce off the helicopter.

  The  point of all this is, if you do this long enough, you will make mistakes. Our job is such that we are entrusted with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and then asked to narrowly miss destroying it. Sometimes you just lose. Let it go. Don't dwell on it. This is the hardest thing for me. I hate, HATE making mistakes. I hate blowing takes and I always feel like I'm letting my DP down. Let that go. When I hit that clock my DP laughed and said, "You almost made it!" He loved that I was trying to give him what he wanted. The truth is, sometimes we just lose. That's the truth. Every NFL quarterback throws an interception and he just has to let it go for the next play.

Let it go.



  1. Excellent post. "Letting it go" after screwing up in front of our crew might be the hardest thing we ask of ourselves. My own expensive blunders on set don't bother me now that I'm retired - if anything, they make good stories on those increasingly rare occasions when I'm able to get together with other film industry vets - but at the time of my screw-ups, it was wasn't funny at all.

  2. Thanks Michael!

  3. Love this, thanks for the reminder!

  4. Love this, thanks for the reminder!

  5. Love this, thanks for the reminder!

  6. I work with a dolly grip who once told me, "You're not a dolly grip until you hit something with a techno crane." He was joking, mostly, but his point was that if you haven't at least bumped into something you are probably not really using it.

  7. Jérôme1:22 PM

    Excellent Post ! Failing on trying is definitely not loosing the game, i had had a Ronin crash 2 Years ago trying running after a stunt guy on a slippery floor. After the 6th Take with different lenses, i failes and slipped, i told to myself "it took me 6 takes to fall down, not that bad :)" As long nobody gets injured, it's part of the game to try hard, that's why we are grips i guess..

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