I’m writing this to address a topic that has unfortunately become more prevalent on our forum in the past few years…bullying. I do so with the hopes of opening a dialogue that might eventually bring about positive change. The topic has indirectly come up in several threads in the past few days and I’d like to put it front and center for discussion…
Each of us on this international forum is in a different place in our career – some are students just starting out and looking for basic advice, some work the wedding circuit, some in live TV, some in features (etc.) – yet we all share a similar bond that unifies us…the rig. Again, there are differences among us - some own inexpensive rigs purchased on Ebay, while some have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in higher quality rigs made by Tiffen, Pro, XCS, MK-V and so on. Despite our differences in experience and equipment, I believe our eventual goal is the same…become the best operator we can be with the gear we own.
I am on the forum frequently to see if there is a new product I should be aware of or something I can do to improve my business or operating. Instead, what I am finding is quite alarming (to me)…people write in with simple questions or comments on operating and gear and are immediately slammed for asking, or worse – for providing an answer to a question. This is totally unacceptable behavior anywhere, but especially here where people have always gone out of their way to help a fellow operator (like when Joe Broderick (whom I’d never met or talked to prior) drove 50 miles at the drop of the hat to loan me his Cinema Products model 2 sled for the day when my model 2 blew up on a commercial set). Remember those days? Where are they now? We still help each other with equipment issues without question, but why can’t we be civil to one another on a public online forum?
Are there differences among us and how we do things? Yes, of course. I use a white-knuckle death-grip on the post when I operate and a faster than usual drop-time…I’ve also never attempted to get my sled in dynamic balance. Would I ever chastise or berate someone for operating differently than I do? Of course not, and that is what concerns me…some on this forum do just that day after day to others they don’t know.
This forum is an invaluable wealth of information, where one can quickly find answers to very technical questions that in the past would have proved difficult. It is also a place where people are attacked for the brand of equipment they own, the gauge of wire in their center post, the videos/reels they post when looking for a constructive critique, the way they call “set” when they are ready to start a shot, and in some cases, just for being who they are, or for working at a particular company.
This has to stop. If someone asks a question we find beneath us and we don’t feel like taking the time to answer or direct the person to the appropriate place, why not just skip over it? Why waste your time and mine (if I unknowingly take the time to read the spiteful response) writing a mean-spirited comment? If we don’t have anything positive to add to a thread, why take the time to write anything at all? Is it really that hard to be a nice person? Isn’t it enough to let our work and experience speak for itself…do we really need to beat our chests in public at the expense of those just starting out to feel better about ourselves? What good is that wealth of knowledge, earned over years of running the set, if our peers think very little of us as people?
I look forward to hearing more comments on this…perhaps I’m the one in the wrong, and in that case, I hope none of you criticize me too harshly…after 21 years of operating a steadicam, I too am learning. Let’s all try and get along and make this forum what it has the potential to be.