Something that happened earlier this week put me in mind of a post. I'm sure most of you who still pay attention have noticed that posts are few and far between these days. Honestly, it's hard to come up with anything new after almost fifteen years of Dollygrippery. Every now and then, though, something happens that gives me an idea.
A lot of the movie I'm doing now takes place on an enormous interior mansion set. The rooms are huge, the hallways are huge, and as a result, we do a lot of the shooting on this set with a 23' Scorpio Crane. It's a no brainer really. I can put the camera anywhere, and I don't have to lay a lot of track etc. This all worked out fine until one day last week when we devised a big master with several actors on the Techno, and the Techno wouldn't boot up. Time for Plan B. We threw the Matrix head on the dolly and basically did a huge dance floor shot. This of course entailed going somewhat old school and getting floor marks as well as several boom marks. It occurred to me as we were setting it up that twenty or so years ago I would have been sweating bullets as more and more camera positions were added. I think I ended up with six floor marks and three boom marks, As it was, it was no sweat and I have one thing to thank for it: television. Around fifteen years ago I did three seasons on a very popular HBO series. And it was brutal. I had already been a dolly grip for ten years or so and had some fairly big features under my belt so I was decent. This show however showed me how unprepared I was. Every shot was a dance floor. We even did them outside. And I never rested. I would basically lay half the room, shoot it out and lay the other half for the reverse. It was the most intense training I could ask for. I was exhausted, I got to the point that I could generally get 90% in the first take and nail it by the second. I didn't have a choice, We moved fast and things had to be figured out and corrected on the fly. This brings me to my point. For a Dolly Grip there is no better training than a dolly intensive tv series. You have to move fast, be accurate, and get it with minimal rehearsal. You learn to break the dance floor moves into chunks, because trying to think of it all in one will scare the hell out of you. The next thing that was hammered home was to let the actors tell you where the moves are. I don't mean to ask them, I mean that if you understand the blocking, their movements will remind you where you next mark is. Some of the best dolly grips in the world work in television and I was reminded of that last week. So if you are a young up and comer, don't be so fired up to get to feature world. Take a few years in television to learn your craft, After that, everything is easy.
till next time,