Saturday, October 31, 2015

Guest Post

I received an email  recently from some filmmakers asking to do a guest post. I get a few of these every so often and usually discard them. This one, though, interested me. The director had written a short post about the movement in his film and I thought, "Why not?" I haven't seen the film, so I can't speak about it one way or the other, but I did find it interesting. So check it out....

Creating the Cinematic Camera Movement for LA Riots Short, April’s Way

By: Robert Nyerges, Director

Originally, April’s Way, my latest short about a Korean store owner struggling to protect his family and his market during the looting of the 1992 LA race riots, was conceived as one single shot. An evolving narrative, as well as location and budget constraints forced our hand to trim that concept down into a series of long sweeping takes with multiple hand-offs to help accentuate the multicultural collisions that are featured in the story. 

I’ve always been inspired by the Spielberg approach of turning two shots into one. Obviously, he adopted it from the old studio style of shooting movies but I think the impact and practicality still remains. I prefer to shoot my projects dynamically for time and efficiency’s sake. For example, one of the long takes early in April’s Way follows two characters down a grocery store aisle in a medium shot, until the end where they round a corner and dip out of frame. We continue the shot by introducing another character in a wider shot who eventually walks towards the camera to create a close up. End shot. 

Cinematographer, Nicholas Wiesnet, was also on board with this style from the moment I presented the project to him. “We are both very much drawn toward classic movies. We wanted this to feel grounded in reality but we also wanted it to feel cinematic.” Niko said of our similar preference for aesthetic. He even referred to the style that we both wanted to achieve as that of a ‘Movie-movie’. “By movie-movie, I just mean you’re enhancing reality. You’re making reality slightly magical so that it hits certain emotional chords. Whether that means starting on someones back and pushing in really slowly, etc…You’re enhancing the drama and just responding to the script.” 

To accomplish these types of shots, we knew that a Steadicam was the best approach. Our operator, Neal Bryant, was such a champ and definitely the right man for the job. He used the Steadicam M-1 with the Arricam LT, and we also had to cut all of our film down into 400’ rolls to accommodate the size and weight needed to fly the camera on the sled. 

Unfortunately, further location limitations, as well as technical issues with our camera and video gear resulted in an even further reduction of our cherished long sweeping Steadicam shots. Inevitably, only two of the long takes remain in the film and the rest fell into more traditional coverage to facilitate quick turn-arounds. Niko said, “We had limited time and didn’t have much time to improvise. We had to move fast. The fact that Robert storyboarded was really critical to us making our days and getting all the shots that we needed to tell a story.” We remained on the Steadicam for the majority of the shoot for the sake of speed and since our budget didn’t allow us to carry a Chapman in our arsenal. Poor Neal, with all of his talent, ended up feeling like a ‘Human Dolly’.

Overall, I think the style still shines through and we successfully achieved a cinematic look to the film that still feels gritty and down to earth. I’m super happy with the way the film looks and we couldn’t have achieved that authentically if we had shot on digital. 

We are currently in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to finish the film. Please head to the link to support and share. every little bit counts!

Check it out here:

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Little Down Time

  Hi all. I actually have a couple of weeks off before I start the next one. This comes after a marathon of about 22 weeks with only a couple of days off (and sometimes not that) between jobs. Now I sleep until noon when I can and drink long into the night. I say things on Twitter and Facebook under the influence that may go viral at any time and end my career (not really). Anyway I'm still here, just not in the mood. My wife has given me a "honeydo" list of 16 items that I am to complete before I go back "to work." Let me read off a few: New kitchen sink faucet, fix screen door, fix wall under stairs, move the couch, take BBQ to Goodwill, fix hole under fence, help me paint the chair, and these are just a taste. So you all can see what I'm up against. As I'm a notorious cheapass, I recently found myself taking apart the freezer accompanied by a Youtube video on appliance repair. I was, of course, successful but it took four hours. Therefore, my posts have been few and far between as the demands of family (wife) have left me with precious little time for writing about the intricacies of pushing dolly. Please forgive me and don't stop checking in. Also, if your freezer is leaking water onto the floor I can totally fix it.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Still Here

  Still here, guys. Working a Tuesday thru Saturday schedule on a twenty day shoot with a bunch of kids. On a farm. It's also over an hour drive to work every day, so I'm a little pressed for time. Once all this has died down in a few weeks, I'll be back as usual. Until then I may have a couple of guest posters. Stay tuned and be safe.

Saturday, August 01, 2015


 (I had to look up this word like, three times to spell it correctly, and I'm a spelling freak.)
 Rhythm is a very important concept when talking of camera movement. Now you may think I'm speaking of the beats of a move or any such high-minded ideas ( what an awful sentence. I really have dranken too much,). I'm talking about the rhythms of the set. In other words, the flow of work from one take to the next. When you do a difficult shot, with many variables- focus, framing, actors, dolly-, you get into a rhythm.  You rehearse, and get 50% of it if you're good. If you're really good, you get 90% of it on the first take. By the second or third take you nail it. Unless the rhythm is off. Twenty minute delays between takes are a killer.  I know the director needs to talk to actors and lighting needs to be tweaked blah blah blah. But you have to establish a rhythm to the shot and once it is interrupted, it's hard to get it back.
   I'm doing B camera on a show now. It's basically a fill-in job until my next one. But the concept of rhythm has really been re-emphasized on this one. It's what allows us as dolly grips to pull off a multi-point dance floor move. It grounds us and keeps seemingly impossible shots from becoming overwhelming. I've always said that the way to master dance floor moves is to think of them in separate chunks of movement. If you try to visualize the whole move at once, it will freak you out. Establishing a rhythm is just as important. Once it's broken, by a wardrobe malfunction, or a lighting adjustment, it's hard to keep it. That's where the true pro shines. Remembering the speed twenty minutes later. Work on that.


The Captain has spoken.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

New Stuff

Very tired. Little time for myself. I love you all. Drink Up. Lay it straight. Lock the boom handle when you wrap it up. Put a safety on it. Check the "Jesus Pin." Bring it all. Remember your eyelines. Flat stock sucks. Strap it up. Cinch it tight. Don't "Flatten out" your booms. Suck it up. Check your lenses. Blah blah blah. Have fun. Making movies should be fun. You're lucky. God bless. Call me if you need me.
The Captain has spoken.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


  We in the camera movement community lost a good friend this week. Joe Cuzan, who was a tech for Cinemoves, was killed on Friday while working on his truck. I first met Joey in 2003 on Big Fish. He was a big, smiling man who was quick with a joke and never got frustrated or angry. I remember on that job we were pulling a 50' Technocrane through mounds of sawdust at the circus set at wrap, trying to get it to the trailer. It was about 5 am and we were tired and ready to get back to our hotel rooms..  At about a hundred feet from the trailer the steering handle sheared off, making a long night even longer. Joe didn't curse or get upset (unlike me). He calmly got down under the base and figured out how to fix it. That's how he was. He knew there were more important things than this business. I just happened to see him Thursday night on a job after not seeing him for a year or so. He shook my hand and gave me a big hug with that smile he always had. We later made a joke about a PA telling him where to stick his paperwork. At the end of the night I shook his hand, said  "Thanks Joey," and left. The next night we learned that he had left us. He was a good dude. Those of us lucky enough to have worked with him will miss him. Scott Howell and the whole Cinemoves family has stepped up to help support his children, Sebastian and Isabella. A fund has been set up in Joe's name at
 Please give if you can.

   Joey, "Fancypants," I'll miss your smiling face buddy. See you down the road.

                                          The Cinemoves Family. Joe is in red on the left.