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.
Good words Brooks. Definitely not in the wrong. It would be fantastic if the bitter ones removed the center post out of their asses. Disrespecting another operator isn't what we should be doing. We should be protecting each other, especially from those outsiders who choose to diminish and devalue our craft. Everyone is focused on each other instead of promoting a system and guidelines we all could abide by. Even the studios.
Our profession is being threatened everyday with cheaper immediate technology. Our value is more about dollar signs than it is about how good we are at our jobs. Both from an operator's view and a producer's view. And because of this we attack each other. We didn't choose to create stabilizers you can control in your hand, we didn't choose to give the world less quality images because the internet makes it less important.
We need to learn to coexist in this new market. Band together to protect it, stop living in fear of the other guy. Yes there are more and more operators out there. Most new operator's aren't educated on the real demands of gruesome steadicam day with a heavy enough camera.
Rigs are now so readily available one can unwrap a rig from underneath the christmas tree, the next day an inexperienced no/low budget job taking operator is born. Young hot head, feeling invincible, and caring more about how many jobs they can get in the camera department than just sticking to one job category. I've met so many AC/Steadicam/DP/Grip/PA operators in the small markets lately it makes me sick to my stomach.
I just turned down a sale offer for my EFP because the DP just wanted to add a full size steadicam rig to their portfolio, so they don't have to pass on any jobs. No real intention to master the art of steadicam just another hand held device. I know some smaller end rig manufacturer will do the job for me and gain the profit. But I felt happy with my decision. I felt I did something good for this community.
Another example is these smaller rental houses are sending out cheap rig packages and one of there interns to operate it. I came across a story from a friend of mine that produced his first music video last year. Low budget with decent enough rates for a good days work. They had asked Action Video Camera Rentals (Burbank I think) if they knew/had steadicam resources. They of course said yes. I found out they charged the production $500 for their Glidecam gold rig and another $150 for the intern to operate it. They assured the production there wouldn't be a problem. The next day they fired the operator that held up their production with a million excuses as to why the setup wouldn't work.
Because of that one little experience, our profession is devalued. These little experiences have been adding up for years. Steadicam is now just a easily available accessory. Anyone can do it. And if they can't it's still good enough to distribute.
To me this is unacceptable and we must do something to stop it. But how? Only thing I can really think of, is to first stop the disgusting behavior amongst each other. Start banding together. The union can do it, the SOC, the ASC, even makeup artists, etc... Why can't we?
I've asked questions on this forum before and have received tons of help but would have loved to ask more if not for the dickish responses that I expect. Or a thread I start might start a flame war between others.
As a newer member and starting out operator I tend to lurk on this site purely due to the way I've seen members respond to each other. I try to leave posting to a last resort and do as many searches before asking any questions because of the way I've seen threads turn into flaming arguments and/or rants about how someone is stupid. I don't understand why this forum has an issue with this. I've done two Tiffen workshops and all the ops I've met and worked with (in workshops and out ) have been amazing, loyal, and understanding human beings. I think there are moments of that on this forum, but that it tends to get buried under everything else.
Great post Brooks. Thank you for taking time to write it down and posting it.
The senseless death match between brands is something that needs to stop. The comments made is usually braindead comments that belong in a 2.4 out of 10 movie on IMDB. Great shots are made by ops on PRO, XCS, Tiffen, MK-V etc.
Also posting negativity without constructive criticism is something that need to stop. Pointless and beneath the operators here who do it.
But Brook's post also reminds me of someone who suggested we try to inform the newbies what this forum is. Because a lot of the negativity from some individuals come from replying to newbies.
I'm sure I myself could have expressed myself with more thought sometimes, but I'm quite sure I'm not the problem on this forum.
What if we made a frequently asked question page to the newbies? Like they have on every other site in the world except here...
I'm not going to write it, because I am way out of my comfort zone doing that, since I'm not seasoned enough. But I would happily pay some dollars for some of the most experienced guys here to take a day or two to do this. What if we contributed $10 each so someone could be paid a little bit to make a page that might help the newbies out before posting.
Who's on this forum?
Seasoned operators who's worked +15 years and done Hollywood movies, to the moderate seasoned ops to the newbies.
Should I buy a rig?
If you have little or no experience in the professional film/tv world, perhaps you should wait. Get more experience before investing in a rig, as this is usually a big decision and will take a hefty sum out of your balance book. Also attending a workshop will help you a lot. Doing a workshop before buying a rig is essential.
How much would I need to invest in Steadicam gear?
This will vary greatly depending on the rig you buy and extra gear. But expect at least $5,000.00. The operators here who work on big shows, have invested $120,000.00 + for the gear they use.
Which rig should I buy?
Again a question which has multiple answers. There are many manufacturers of stabilizers out there, from low-end rigs to the high-end rigs used on blockbuster movies. Important points to think about is price range, quality of the rig, weight limit of rig/arm, service, location of you vs manufacturer, modularity etc
What extra gear do I need?
Depending on your market, this will vary. You will always need multiple power cables, extra batteries for your rig, different type of tools for quick fix of the gear while on set etc. You'll usually need a decent HD wireless transmitter and a good follow focus. The last two items will easily set you back close to $10,000.00
What about low-end rigs? (Below $4,000.00) I listed this price because of the Pilot from Tiffen.
This forum consist of mostly operators who's invested several thousand dollars in "higher-end" rigs. Rigs which cost more than $4,000.00 So there might not be a lot of knowledge about the rigs which are listed below this. But you are welcomed to post your concerns/question about any rig on this forum.
Let's bring the love back to this forum and give each other hugs and kisses. Peace out. Now where is that god damn bong?
I'm all with you Brooks! Nobody judges a chef by the knifes he uses. All that matter is does it taste good. If I'm really eager to know more, I'm interested in how the food is made and not the tools used. I don't care what rig, camera etc. was used. Is the shot good! But please keep in mind for what it is made for - small youtube promo or big feature. It's a big difference if you buy a take away or sit in a restaurant.
It has been suggested several times to get a thicker skin and move on. WFT? That is exactly what people do. They move on and it's a loss to this forum.
I leave my thick skin at work! I visit this place in my off hours. I have no need to spend my leisure time with people just tossing a commonplace at everything - except for Ron - and that with a negative attitude. Seriously, what is the wealth of information in opinions like: buy this brand, set and forget, your work is shit, this vendor is shit or even highjacking classifieds.
Facts get mixed up with or replaced by opinions and sold as wisdom.
Brooks is right! This has to stop!
It is far more interesting in how shots/scenes are achieved. How do we collaborate with others. How do we make things work on set. How can we can be better camera operators.
Klemens Becker once said on a workshop: Lets not talk about how we get the f*cking level right, lets talk about the important stuff we have to handle every day as operators.
Great thoughts and well articulated as always. I was having the same problem a few weeks back and wrote something similar up about it. I think the problem that we are talking about is bigger than this board though.
We seem to have come into an era where everyone has been brought up to feel that they are special and that they stand out. As a result, when people see others thriving (becoming popular in school, getting attention for anything different from you are, or god forbid, buying a sled that isn't THE sled we are supposed to use), it doesn't fit. How can they be special if I'm special? So people start to tear them down as a means of defense. "If I can show the flaws in that person than that person is not a threat to me because they are not as good." It's base, ignorant, and destructive to all parties.
If you find people on this board who are abusive over and over, what you will find are people who are flawed and uncomfortable with who they are both professionally and emotionally. They can only exist if you are beneath them so they will take any chance they canto tear someone down. We don't become better by bringing others down, we become better by helping others up. It's that simple. Sadly these people will probably never learn.
I appreciate what you've written Brooks and would also like to add that I too (gasp) have absolutely no idea how to dynamic balance a rig. Never learned, never wanted to. I know that in conjunction with my old school green screen that makes me a bad op, but if that's the way someone feels, so be it. I'm comfortable with it. Their problem is their problem and they need to sleep at night knowing their opinions are out there for all to read.
Sadly I haven't had my coffee yet so I'm typing in circles. Bottom line for me is this. The ops who have some years in probably don't have much to worry about as I believe most of us know our strengths and weaknesses and it will take more than a dolt on this board (who may very likely have many years in as well) to make us run for cover. It's the newer ops who have questions and are afraid to ask them that get to me.
So I'll put this out there. I think it's incumbent on any op with 15 plus years experience to call it out when they see a nasty post on this board no matter how much they don't want to get involved. If anyone is going to be keeping things in line it's us, not the newbies as they are green and usually don't have their sea legs. I don't read a tremendous amount of threads on this board but when i do I will address it.
And if you are a newbie reading this and are feeling beaten down and afraid to ask, feel free to PM me and I'll PM the person being a schmo and gladly answer your question if I can (assuming I'm in agreement with you on what's going on or that I have a clue about what you are asking - I probably won't). This won't stop but at least people won't feel that they aren't free to be inquisitive. That shite makes me sick.
If you ask a question you get answers here. If there are people with political agenda's, well, the can get corrected if that information the give isn't correct or have double agenda's. Remember, a lot of newbies lurk this forum, so it should not be a factory forum, but op's sharing there experience about gear and others. This is internet, everything written here stay's on forever. Yes we can answer with passion if its about our gear. I wouldn't call that bullying. I have a lot of texting with messenger on FB from operators with a question, and i love to help them out. If the have issues, i also help them out. I still read this forum on a daily basis, and i can only say that most, if not all op's are friends of me. Hence, i flew over to LA just to check out op's who i only had seen on the internet. ( sure, looking for gear is great, but i could do that at the ibc overhere )
I don't think passion is the issue, I think it's more an issue of slamming someone because they feel a different way than you do. Civility is more the issue. At least that's what I suspect Brooks is alluding to.
Decorum on the Forum along with respect and civility is a reasonable expectation in a professional group such as this.
It's not just this forum, it is a problem across the Internet where normally polite people type out and say things they'd never say face to face or if it was said face to face you might see a subtle facial expression that tempers the true thought behind what was said, or you'd get punched out for saying it.
Healthy debate and passionate discussion, including disagreement is not a bad thing; it's how we challenge ourselves, each other and third party information to ultimately arrive at our own personal decisions. I don't necessarily want to see that diluted here anymore than it already has been. If someone can't call BS on obvious misinformation or call out an unprofessional vendor / shoddy product then the value of the information and forum is compromised.
I think it was either Brooks and/or Dave who touched on this (I'm too lazy to read back through it all), but our society is plagued with the same problems we have here; people on every side of every issue going for the kill instead of politely and professionally disagreeing. It is okay to disagree completely and okay to speak up about it if done so respectfully.
This profession isn't kindergarten, grade school, community soccer or day care where "everyone is a winner". However, everyone can be a hero and help his or her fellow operators and the profession by sharing experience and mentoring.
Disagreement is fine. Criticism is fine. Needless negativity and bullying is not. It's like porn - difficult to define the exact line where one ends and the other begins, but we all know when it has been crossed.
I agree with Dave. We should all take a more active role in calling it out when we see it.