Friday, March 03, 2017

JL Fisher Open House 2017

  It's that time of year again. I push this event every year because I am such a big fan. It's the Dolly Grip's day to be center stage and we don't get many. Frank at Fisher sent me a flyer to post but I can't seem to open it so I'll just give you the details:

JL Fisher Open House
Saturday May 20, 2017
9am to 4pm
1000 West Isabel St
Burbank, Ca 91506

There will be reps and discussions from the SOC, IA, and ASC and you don't want to miss it.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 09, 2017


  After ten years of operating this font of information on an obscure craft that half the world sees but few understand, and the fact that I have a child who refuses to take up less than every minute of time my beautiful wife or  I have to give, I have decided to offer some reposts of past columns. Don't be upset. I generally say the same thing over and over anyway. And I'm ususally under the influence anyway.I will accompany these reposts with pithy drunken comments and asides. They will be hilarious or unintellegiable, depending on what is going on. My spell check is telling me that I have misspelled "Unintelligeable." I honestly don't care. Actually it's driving me crazy but I refuse to give in to the ...... screw it. You know what I mean. Unintelligeable. Uninteligeable. Unknowable.

Shut it.

  A recent commenter mentioned how he is an up and coming dolly grip who often loses out to guys who say they are an "awesome dolly grip." Heh. I told him I've always fallen back on the old axiom that if you have to tell everyone how good you are, you probably aren't that good. Guys, if you ask me, I'll tell you, I'm not that good. And most dolly grips I know will tell you the same thing. What keeps us going is our desire to be better. I've spent years studying camera movement. I watch the work of dolly grips I admire. As a matter of fact, I told my camera operator (one of the most respected in the world) today that I try to model myself after another Dolly Grip I know whom I consider to be one of the best.. Anyone who has to tell you that they are the best, or awesome probably isn't  very good. Let your work and your resume speak for itself. The best Dolly Grips I know (and I literally know some of the best in the world) tell me how insecure they are. And that insecurity drives them to go the extra mile. They work that much harder because they honestly don't think they're that great, I'm talking about world-class, A-listers here. If I was a Key Grip or an operator and someone told me they were an "awesome dolly grip" I would move on. If you're good, you don't have to tell anyone. They know. So shut it.

I raise one for all the awesome Dolly Grips,

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Look out! Here comes 2017!

Thankfully we’re just days away from putting 2016 behind us. I think we’re all ready to move on, however, thanks to Facebook and  Google, a lot of people have gone back and re-read a lot of our posts here. I know that the posting has come to a stand still thanks to being too tired from work, NDAs and general unoriginality on our part but we’d be thrilled to revisit any topic. If you’re new here, please don’t hesitate to broach any topic new or old. Things change. Either new technology or thanks to conversations started we may have changed our minds or other’s minds. This is a constantly evolving job - hence why you can’t replace us with robots yet. We would like to stay in the forefront of our jobs and that requires discussion, either with other dolly grips or even camera operators.

Let us help you help us. If there’s a topic that you’d like to know more about please let us know either through the comments here, or on the Facebook page.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year and a knowledge prosperous 2017!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Twas the night before wrap and all the through the set...

Now Fisher, now Libra, now Scorpio and Techno!
On Hybrid, on Hustler, on PeeWee and Slider!

Okay, I know… a lame attempt. That’s why there are writers and I’m not one of them.

From the team here at Dollygrippery, we wish all our new friends and old, the very best for the holidays. May you and yours be happy and healthy! (get better D!) and enjoy a prosperous 2017!

Friday, December 09, 2016


  Hi guys! I'm still here. The demands of a six-year-old and the endless hampster wheel of work and family have unfortunately cut into my posting time. However, I was sitting here drinking a whiskey and watching King of Queens and somehow found the will to check in. I'm presently doing "B" camera on a huge studio extravaganza. After that, I get two weeks off and start as "A" camera on another huge studio extravaganza. I fully expect weeks of life on a green or blue stage, punctuated by days or nights of freezing cold in some godforsaken forest. Til then, I'll have another drink and listen to some 80's music.
  I've been getting a lot of questions about the Stabileye. For the uninitiated, the Stabileye is a remote stabilized head, much like the Moviee. I did a big Marvel picture on it earlier this year. The big difference is that the Stabileye, designed by David Freeth, is specifically intended for dolly grips to move. We shot probably 85% of the movie on it (the rest being Technocrane). I actually enjoyed it. You, as a dolly grip, are actually closer to being an operator. You manually are more free to move the camera to where it needs to be to make the shot. Decisions can be made more quickly and creatively than when chained to a dolly or crane. The danger is the length of takes, especially in digital. After about ten minutes, you just can't effectively hold it any more. I wouldn't do it again without a significant bump in the rate. Anyway, this is the way the business is going. Please email me with any detailed questions. I'm out.

PS: By the way, I am really good on it. My rate is now 60.00 an hour. Hit me up! (I won't hold my breath)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Mr. Carroll

  About twenty-five years ago, I worked on my first tv series. It was a weekly crime drama, popular among the older set, called In The Heat Of The Night. We shot in the little town of Covington about thirty miles east of Atlanta. This last week, the movie I'm presently working on shot in that little town and that, along with the sudden death of one of my coworkers from that show, got me thinking...
  I had signed onto the show as an extra hammer. The grip crew consisted of an LA key, dolly grip and best boy and all local hammers. The hammers were all guys who had been in the fledgling Atlanta film industry for years. I was a wide eyed young grip, still learning the ropes as well as the politics that invariably accompany film crews. I met a future Business Agent of the local, several future key grips, and a cast of actors that to this day still all hold a special place in my memory. Of course the leader of all this was Carroll O'Conner. Most of us knew him as Archie Bunker even though he had by this time been a movie star for the better part of forty years. Carroll, or Mr. Carroll, as I called him, was the executive producer as well as the star and writer of many of the episodes.  Many of the cast and crew called him "Pops." I for some reason never did. Maybe it was because I was still trying to fit in and didn't think I had yet earned the right to call him by this familiar nickname. "Mr. O'Conner" was too formal. "Carroll" was out of the question. So I resorted to the Southern tradition of mixing formal with casual, yet still showing respect for my elders, and calling him "Mr. Carroll." Mr Carroll was the heart of the show. A gentle, friendly man, he ruled the show fairly and graciously, yet there was no question who the boss was.  He loved his cast and crew and was loyal to those who deserved it. I have many great memories of Mr. Carroll and those long days in Covington. He always had a joke or an observation. In my twenties, I was a smoker. Seeing me with a cigarette hanging out of my lips one day (I think, being around 24 years old at the time, I thought it made me look older.) he pulled me to the side and said, "Darryl, I wish you would quit those things. I smoked for years. I even had a cigarette when I was taking a crap. They're no good for you." by now, he had had his famous heart surgery wherein Joe Don Baker had been recruited to fill in for him. It's these types of moments I remember. He gave me my first dolly job.  He was a good man.
  Another person I met in those days was a blustery, swaggering electrician named Carl Johnson. Carl was a huge presence on the set. His big personality filled any room he was in. He worked hard and played hard and I learned a lot from watching him and working beside him. Carl was from the small town of Willacootchie, Georgia. He had gone to Vietnam as a soldier and come home to somehow find his way into the film business. I learned this week that Carl has left us. Although I hadn't seen him in a few years, not many days went by that I didn't think of him, mostly inspired by some saying I'd learned from him. Carl was also a good man. A big hole has opened up in the Atlanta film industry. I wish I had taken the time to keep up with him for all those years.
  Anyway, I'm rambling. I just started thinking about those days and felt the need to write about them.

Rest in peace, Carl. And you too, Mr. Carroll. I'm a better person for having known both of you.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

I am a Dolly Grip

  I am a Dolly Grip. This means that I am an expert in camera movement. I have a highly developed sense of spatial relationships. I can stand an actor up and sit them down consistently. I can repeat a move down to the millisecond. I understand blocking. I know where a camera has to be to make the shot work even without staring into a monitor. If a camera operator asks me,"Can you boom up and push in at the same time?" my answer is, "Can you pan and tilt at the same time?"  I can swing a Technocrane arm around inches over an actor's head, land on a mark and repeat it precisely. That's what I do. If you can't do these things consistently, you are not a dolly grip. If your signature move is to park the dolly, grab an apple box, sit down and open a paper or Facebook, but you can't stand up an actor, you are not a dolly grip. You are a pretender. And you make my job harder .Pushing dolly is a craft. It takes years,YEARS of work. You don't learn it overnight. You don't learn it by being the only guy available so you get the job. You learn it just like you learn anything else: repetition and time. It's not about a bigger paycheck. It's about the craft. Learn your craft. Learn your craft. LEARN YOUR FUCKING CRAFT. If you are too lazy or too stupid to learn the craft, then do something else. I am tired of going onto jobs with operators I have never worked with before and having to audition because they are used to working with crappy Dolly Grips. I should start each job with at least the assumption that I am a competent Dolly Grip. But because we have allowed mediocrity to be the rule, I have to prove myself over and over again to new operators and DPs. Get off the apple box, pay attention, learn blocking and eyelines and basic filmmaking or do something else. It ain't hard, we are not doing brain surgery here. It just takes dedication and work. Every job I go on, I hear stories about how bad the previous Dolly Grip was. You should be every bit as good at your job as the camera operator is at his (or hers). I started this website to uplift the craft. To teach those who are just starting out, and to share tips among us veterans. But I'm tired of hearing horror stories from camera  operators about how bad their last Dolly Grip was. Here are some basic skills: Stand up or sit down an actor consistently; Know and understand eyelines; Repeat a move consistently; Do a compound move with the tilt wheel not being turned; Repeat a Technocrane move consistently and know how to find and remember an eyeline; Understand blocking and know the general shot before the op or DP tells you where it is; Know when dance floor or track is called for; For god's sake be able to execute a basic compound move. Guys, we have to do better, or we will always be the second class citizens they already think we are.  Anyway, rant over. Drink up and stay safe.