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Steadicamming Today...


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#1 Ari Robbins

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 04:11 AM

Not really excited about this post, but I think it needs to be said, and as much as it pains me to write. I think we all need to discuss or examine our working traits.
So far this month I have replaced 3 steadicam operators(some of you may know, some of you may not know I replaced you). All 3 productions said the same thing. Personality was not enjoyable for any other crew members on set, from above the line to below the line. Disregard to production, others, shooting, and general not caring (arrogance), and last, but least important in my eyes, was the actual shots.
Not every job will go smooth, we all have bad days. Nobody is excused of it. We all know this.
However, the arrogance and disrespect is not in good taste. I have noticed that the majority of operators tend to be newer to steadicam, not necessarily new to the business or camera, but steadicam. Here is the thing, I"ve been there, I've done it, all it did was lose potential clients that some I very much regret. Its easy to fall into this attitude, you feel your better and worth more, so you try to act like it, well to tell the truth, unless you pull one amazing shot, most people just think your not kind, or don't want to be around you.
I believe that if you agreed to show up to a shoot, it doesn't matter rate, show size, talent, director, dp, ac...whatever, you choose to be there, bring your A game. If you don't, just say no. If your gonna complain you could be out making more as an AC, and the shoot your doing is BS, then I ask you simply, sell your rig and leave. There is no place in any group for arrogance. If your unhappy with your decisions, please, don't take the rest of us down with you. We are hurting our own every time we tune a director, dp, or production from hiring steadicam in the future. We are a specialty, not a must. If your new to steadicam and need experience, remember whether your making 10 cents or 2500, you need to be there. If you came from giant studio feature as an intern, or loader, and are on a 100k film as steadicam, thats where you are meant to be. Its not bad, its just a step of the ladder of progression. I"m really unhappy to hear that people are up to this, I expect to replace people, sure, we all do, but this many this fast sounds like a trend. Maybe some other operators out there have some advice on acting on set, and dealing with productions. Or perhaps a story of situations similar. All I know, is I pulled this shit on a student short, thought I was big time to them, copped an attitude. Yeah... the DP did 3 multi million dollar films immediately upon graduating, now he is signed to the biggest agency as a director, and an as big agency as a DP, we have never worked together since that short. You think it was worth it?
Garrett Brown told us at the end of the workshop, that the only thing he considers as a must to be a licensed steadicam operator is be kind and considerate, and be a good example of what a fabulous tool we bring and represent. He asked us to respect the tool, and the things that came with it. This man started all of us, he is our father, and honestly we need to ask ourselves, are we fulfilling his request?

I just think perhaps those of the newer guys, even some I've spoken to already are really having trouble in those first years, and aren't sure on what the best manner is to handle that phase, I think anyone with any input on this, it might be helpful.

Just be happy out there guys, think of the greater good for your career always. Every job and person matters. We reep what we so, golden rule, yada yada yada....whatever
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#2 William Demeritt

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 05:43 AM

I believe that if you agreed to show up to a shoot, it doesn't matter rate, show size, talent, director, dp, ac...whatever, you choose to be there, bring your A game.


Cheers to that, brother. When I'm doing other work on set while not wearing the rig, that's what I remind myself every day. Doesn't matter if it's a full rate, deep discount, favor for a friend, or whatever... I agreed to come work for the day, so they're getting my all. If I feel like I'm being taken advantage of, well that's one thing. However, attitude is everything.

As a newer Steadicam operator, maybe others feel as I do in that the workshops teach you a lot about the technique, craft and art of Steadicam. However, the positive attitude, collaborative spirit, humility and respect for the overall business is something everyone learns for themselves (like reinventing the wheel). To my knowledge, we've got books explaining grip and lighting equipment, cinematography and video, even a textbook on Steadicam... but I've yet to see a book that teaches you how to freelance in this business.

I guess some people make mistakes from which they'll just never recover a lost client, or a lost career?
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#3 Andrew Ansnick

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 02:59 PM

I can definitely relate. Before coming onto this project the DP wanted to meet with me because of such bad experiences with a certain operator on a shoot in Baton Rouge. I'm currently working on this low budget indie feature which I was brought on to do Steadicam for but only when they called for it, and the rest of the time, help camera out by acting as their DIT. I always try to do the best possible job I can and don't mind rolling up my sleeves and even hauling camera cases around or setting up vtr. I know that if I take care of these guys, they will take care of me when it comes time to switch to Steadicam. It seems like if everyone threw their egos to the side and just practiced being a decent human being we wouldn't be finding ourselves in this mess.
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#4 Nicholas Davidoff

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 04:31 PM

Well said Ari, I don't think anyone can disagree with your message. A professional and courteous work ethic are basic requirements of our job and the image we should project. The best camera operators aren't some foul mouthed roughnecks or snot nosed divas. They are intelligent and diplomatic people who are on set to solve problems and collaborate with their fellow craftsmen. They are leaders on the set and often times the glue that holds it all together. The way you perform and the way you carry yourself reflects on every single one of us in this great profession. No matter what rate I'm getting or how tiny the project, I have a switch. It's either 100% on or 100% off.

I too have heard complaints from DP's about some truly awful people calling themselves operators. They're getting jobs they're not qualified for, probably because they undercut everybody else and the UPM thinks he scored a killer deal. Problem is there are too many young opportunists nowadays who think there's some sort of shortcut to greatness via a steadicam rig. Kids who have no clue what they're doing are buying themselves junk rigs and printing up business cards that say "steadicam operator". These goofballs don't know the first thing about composition or camerawork, let alone the art of dealing with people and collaboration. They show up on a set and spoil a days work, basically tanking in every way possible. Then they wonder why they don't get called back. People like this serve no purpose other than to give Steadicam (and themselves) a bad name.

Frankly, this really upsets me. Coming up as an AC I've always had a tremendous respect for real camera operators, especially ones of the steadicam variety. I try every day to live up to the standards of greatness I saw in these mentors through the years. And it's very sad to see these standards eroding away. It takes a talented and select breed of people to have long term success as a camera and steadicam operator. And rightfully so. A professional camera operator is a position of great priviledge that should only be earned through years of dedication, discipline and experience.

This is why I frown upon encouraging just anybody to take up steadicam. Whenever someone tells me they're thinking of "getting a rig", I do everything I can to talk them out of it. I'll tell them the simple truth. That "steadicam operators" are becoming as common as "actors" and "writers" in this industry. Pretty soon, in addition to a script and a headshot, everyone will have a steadicam in their trunk. And in case you haven't heard, the glory days of steadicam are over. Forget it man, you missed the boat. Rates are in the toilet. Steadicam operators in the Cragslist Leagues are barely making PA money. Not only that, there's fifty guys applying for every freebie.

So to the people who are not making it in the steadicam business, I have little sympathy. Like a major league sport, only the very best can and should survive at this game. And proper work ethic should be part of your most basic programming. If you're not cutting it for any of the many reasons: You're out of shape. Your equipment sucks. You have no eye for framing. You don't train enough. You party too much. You have personality issues and can't get along with people. You think you'll gain an edge by undercutting your colleagues. To all the half-dedicated, clueless, ill-mannered, wannabe steadicam operators out there who will never make it in this line of work, take this great piece of advice:
Buy a Red camera instead! D.P.'s are in super high demand right now!!!
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#5 BJMcDonnell SOC

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 05:44 AM

You party too much.



Ummmm I like to Party. Does that make me a wannabe? Just saying.
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#6 Nicholas Davidoff

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 06:40 AM

You party too much.



Ummmm I like to Party. Does that make me a wannabe? Just saying.


A rare few can party like BJ and still deliver the goods at 7am. I'm not one of them. I salute those who can.
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#7 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 02:05 PM

You party too much.



Ummmm I like to Party. Does that make me a wannabe? Just saying.


Yes.

In order to decrease the shame and humiliation I will gladly take all of your gear off your hands so that you no longer even have to think about this awful part of your life.

~Jess

p.s.
You in town or are you away working on some big movie like always? We should grab a drink sometime.
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#8 BJMcDonnell SOC

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 12:07 AM

For sure Jess I will call ya. Just wrapping up a feature then gonna spend some due time relaxin with my lady. We should plan a get together soon. Im back in LA. Its time for a guild drinky party soon. Anyone?
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#9 Jay Ryde

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 01:41 PM

Not really excited about this post, but I think it needs to be said, and as much as it pains me to write. I think we all need to discuss or examine our working traits.
So far this month I have replaced 3 steadicam operators(some of you may know, some of you may not know I replaced you). All 3 productions said the same thing. Personality was not enjoyable for any other crew members on set, from above the line to below the line. Disregard to production, others, shooting, and general not caring (arrogance), and last, but least important in my eyes, was the actual shots.
Not every job will go smooth, we all have bad days. Nobody is excused of it. We all know this.
However, the arrogance and disrespect is not in good taste. I have noticed that the majority of operators tend to be newer to steadicam, not necessarily new to the business or camera, but steadicam. Here is the thing, I"ve been there, I've done it, all it did was lose potential clients that some I very much regret. Its easy to fall into this attitude, you feel your better and worth more, so you try to act like it, well to tell the truth, unless you pull one amazing shot, most people just think your not kind, or don't want to be around you.
I believe that if you agreed to show up to a shoot, it doesn't matter rate, show size, talent, director, dp, ac...whatever, you choose to be there, bring your A game. If you don't, just say no. If your gonna complain you could be out making more as an AC, and the shoot your doing is BS, then I ask you simply, sell your rig and leave. There is no place in any group for arrogance. If your unhappy with your decisions, please, don't take the rest of us down with you. We are hurting our own every time we tune a director, dp, or production from hiring steadicam in the future. We are a specialty, not a must. If your new to steadicam and need experience, remember whether your making 10 cents or 2500, you need to be there. If you came from giant studio feature as an intern, or loader, and are on a 100k film as steadicam, thats where you are meant to be. Its not bad, its just a step of the ladder of progression. I"m really unhappy to hear that people are up to this, I expect to replace people, sure, we all do, but this many this fast sounds like a trend. Maybe some other operators out there have some advice on acting on set, and dealing with productions. Or perhaps a story of situations similar. All I know, is I pulled this shit on a student short, thought I was big time to them, copped an attitude. Yeah... the DP did 3 multi million dollar films immediately upon graduating, now he is signed to the biggest agency as a director, and an as big agency as a DP, we have never worked together since that short. You think it was worth it?
Garrett Brown told us at the end of the workshop, that the only thing he considers as a must to be a licensed steadicam operator is be kind and considerate, and be a good example of what a fabulous tool we bring and represent. He asked us to respect the tool, and the things that came with it. This man started all of us, he is our father, and honestly we need to ask ourselves, are we fulfilling his request?

I just think perhaps those of the newer guys, even some I've spoken to already are really having trouble in those first years, and aren't sure on what the best manner is to handle that phase, I think anyone with any input on this, it might be helpful.

Just be happy out there guys, think of the greater good for your career always. Every job and person matters. We reep what we so, golden rule, yada yada yada....whatever



I must admit that I am astounded to read such a post! I cannot believe that there is that much arrogance amongst operators in this extremely hard to-get-into business! I recently did a 'studenty' type job for a bunch of guys, ultra low budget everything! And I tell ya.. It was an opportunity to learn more about my art and I thoroughly enjoyed working with them. I couldn’t give monkeys arse how little experience they had, the fact is they gave me the job.. And I was grateful. If you want to earn respect, you have to give it in the first place!

Edited by Jay Ryde, 10 February 2010 - 01:43 PM.

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