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Good Night and Good Luck (goodbye forum)

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#1 Jessica Lopez

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 01:20 PM

Everyone loves a good drama right? 



Remember when you were a child, at the park, and playing with a bunch of neighborhood kids out on the football field? Or even the basketball court. Everyone would line up and the older or coolest kid would start picking whom he wanted on their team? Then the next older or coolest kid would start picking out the other kids to be on his team.


As the line started to disband, the leftover kids where the physically challenged and the little girl just hoping for a chance to play ball. It did not matter that the little girl could throw the ball or that she would leap to catch a pass. Unfortunately for years she could only play when there weren’t enough players to make a complete team.


Today I get that same exact experience and feelings from The Steadicam Forum, Steadicam facebook pages, and throughout the rest of the Steadicam community. I know I’m no angel but what the hell have I done to get negative responses or lack of responses from my posts? Is it really because I’m a woman? I'm younger and peppy, or do I smile too much? Or is it that I don’t have my own mill or lathe?  Or that I have a made a couple naïve suggestions in the past as a newbie? You all had to start somewhere right? Or were you all born with the gift of knowing about everything Steadicam related?


Speaking of starting somewhere, my first year as an operator wasn’t the easiest. Negativity everywhere. Feeding from bitter older ops that are tired of newer operators stepping in and taking low jobs or from younger operators thinking they are looking out for you when they are really bossing you around and being discouraging at the same time.


I became a part of the Steadicam guild back in 2004 when I first visited LA. Then I kept in touch with David Grove for two years before I moved here. I knew I wasn’t getting a rig anytime soon, so I asked David if I could help out with the guild. And from 2007 to 2013 I was a big part of creating Steadicam events. So many operators were very welcoming and friendly to me. Always willing to talk to me, educate me, and encourage me. Then when I got my first rig, most of those operators turned their backs on me, treating me like I was some punk kid and now had no place among them.


I remember during Obama’s election, after he won, a veteran operator from Spain who I used to talk to frequently, asked if I could save him a copy of our local LA Times newspaper. Of course that was days after Obama had won. So I ordered him a copy because I gave him my word. It didn’t matter that I could barely afford to feed myself. I spent what pennies I had because I was so thankful for his friendship. A couple years pass, and rumors spread that I was taking low jobs for low pay (as a newbie, in my first year). So the operator got upset with me and deleted me off his facebook page and cut off all channels of communication.


Another time, I scrambled pretty fast to put together a last minute retirement party for one of our operators. Got him a cake made, and I made this amazing collage of pictures that represented his career. The party caught him by surprise. And his face lit up when we were all there celebrating his achievements. I felt lucky to be a so-called friend to him. But in the end that operator also cut off all communication with me.


If you ever wonder why Hollywood is called “the Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” It’s because of those that don’t want you to succeed. And most people that fail in this business, allowed other people to discourage them. Hollywood is a place where dreams die but if someone is determined enough, they can prosper greatly. The Steadicam community is the perfect example. You have the loudest and most despicable ones on the front lines barking orders and demands, then you have the calmest most collective in the background doing their own things and making a real difference in this community.


How many of you actually help your fellow operator, help the Steadicam community, or help others in filmmaking in general? And that is without expecting payment, or reciprocation of a job in return. I think my highest asset, as an operator is actually caring about the people in the rigs. I’ve helped several other operators move, paint their house, watch their kids, ship some gear, sell gear for them, create parties and screenings in their honor, show up to their BBQ’s (when no other ops do), help out with their side businesses, encourage them, drive them to the airport, pick up from the airport, watch their dogs, organize their shop, and meet for lunch to catch up.


It’s been about a year and a half since I told my struggling story on this forum, about not giving up and how much being a Steadicam operator meant to me. It was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. I was embarrassed at first but the amazing messages I received from other operators had restored my faith in the Steadicam community.


Recently my opinions about this place being so negative have resurfaced. And it always starts with the most evil operator of us all. So quick to judge, so quick to snap, and so quick to hate. It’s disgusting that people like this have a voice here. And some applaud the negativity and some are against it. Most are afraid to speak up against it. 


I put that picture of Sarah Jones on my rig because I felt it was the right thing to do. Unlike a lot of you, I’ve been put into a leadership position with the little voice I have, by being a female Steadicam operator and representing the organization Camerawomen Los Angeles. I have to stay on top of this tragedy, for the sake of other women that may be discouraged or question their futures in a male dominated industry. For the past week I’ve received so many messages, comments, and responses to my posts for keeping so many updated on the unfortunate tragedy of a fellow IATSE sister. The picture on my rig led to other pictures and slates being made in her honor.


I can’t believe a picture of her on my rig is viewed as “strange,” “negative,” or “that I needed permission first," because I didn't know her personally. Just look now!  A week later and there are several pictures everywhere of people contributing to Sarah’s honor. And I actually went out and got the permission from her friend’s and family to post her photo on my rig because of the negativity coming from this forum. I took the time out of my life to ensure your judgments of me ARE NOT VALID when it comes to something like this.


Shame on all of you that assumed that my intentions of Sarah were of anything other than support for her, her family, support of camerawomen, and promoting safety in our industry. You guys have all broken my heart in this bitter community for the last time!


I know everyone has their own struggles, but you have no clue what I go through everyday by dealing with you all. As a matter of fact I will tell you what I am dealing with and you go ahead and pass your hateful, bitter, sad judgments towards me for this is the last time you hear from me on here.


The day that Sarah died around the same time, I rushed to the hospital to be with my best friend who I’ve only known for the past year. Her name is Cira and she took me in last year when I was living in my car again. She took me in at a time when she was recovering from breast cancer, naturally of course (from cannabis oil). Cira is an IATSE Local 600 Cinematographer. Cira has been my shining light and the most beautiful person I have ever met. She gave me the strength to keep going, and look what happened? I survived so much after I had lost so much.


As I am taking valuable time from my priorities to write this message to you all, my dear Cira is suffering from lesions in her brain. Doctor’s say if she doesn’t get radiation treatments she will die in a few weeks. For the past week without anytime to really think about what is going on and assess my emotions, I have been scrambling to pack and move out of my apartment by this weekend. To move back in with Cira and to help her take care of her bills, to help prevent injuries from her seizures, to help change her diet, to help drive her anywhere she needs to go, and to help her enjoy the time she does have. All while I am trying to work for I still have my own bills to pay.


Cira refuses radiation treatments because she saw her mother die that way as a young girl. Instead of telling her what to do, I am just being there for her. I believe just as much as her, that she can naturally heal herself with alternative medicine. 


So this past damn week, I’ve been dealing with Sarah’s tragedy (which really affected me). I have also been dealing with taking care of my loving friend Cira and her dog. I’ve been working steady and in between my time I have been scrambling to pack up my things. To me, both of these women are very important to this industry. Both are my IATSE sisters, both loved their jobs, and both are not in control of their own lives at the moment. I can’t bear to see that happen. Suddenly my life and my struggles are not important right now. And I will do everything I can to help either of them. I made a promise as a filmmaker to be there and help people. Because that’s how we survive by being a team, by support, by guidance, and by love. Not by negativity and discouragement. And I am a person of my word. Everything I say I’m going to do, and I do it.


I used to desperately want all of your approvals and support. I actually would get all excited and nervous around Garrett and Jerry, locking up and stuttering my words. The day I met Liz Ziegler, my heart was going to pop out of my chest from beating so fast. And Peter Abraham, you are the dearest, kindest, and happiest operator I have ever met. Thank you so much for giving me the dream and always being in support of me for the past 10 years. You've seen everything I have accomplished and  I am also so very proud of you for getting back in the vest and doing what you love! 


Now that I am more experienced, and have been beaten to the ground by this community for the last time, I just don’t care anymore. You all have killed my excitement for you. The pedestal and honor I have for you in my heart and my mind no longer exists. None of you guys pass me work, none of you guys give positive feedback on my posts, none of you guys give encouragement. I don't need to be here. 


And the operators that do want the best for me, we don’t communicate through this forum. To me the real operators are the ones in my phonebook that I talk to every week. They are like my big brothers and I am like the kid sister. And Liz and Janice play the favorite aunt roles.


I have been lucky to have some of the best mentors a steadigirl could have. For that I am so thankful for. I would not be here without them. So, I’ve decided communicate with them outside of this place. I don’t want to be a part of so much hate. I’ve worked very hard to fight negativity that I have been living with for decades.


The show must go on. I will never give up my love of Steadicam. And I will never give in to your attitudes about me. I officially have more important things beyond my own life.


Thank you all for empowering me to step up and make more changes! Just watch!



Fly safe everyone! 

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#2 Kevin Andrews SOC

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 02:02 PM

Jess, sucks that you've gotten negative vibes from people. Your passion is clear from what you've written. Stay the course and do what you love.


If people are hating on you, it's because they see you as competition and a threat.


But, congrats! That's not an easy level to achieve in your market. You can give the big LA ops a run for their money now. Go get 'em

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#3 Dave Chameides

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 02:36 PM

Agreed. Sorry to hear this from you and that you are going through tough times in other areas. Stay strong. I don't know all the details of what you have been through but don't throw the baby out with the bath water. There are some assholes everywhere for sure, but there are more good than bad. The important thing is that you do what's best for you. Continue on and for what it's worth, I don't know you well but you have my email. Feel free to reach out and say hi.



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#4 Evrim KAYA

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 02:38 PM

Farewell Ms. Ladyop. We will miss you.

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#5 Janice Arthur

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 03:50 PM



1) You're in this period of great emotion, take a break.  You're post had about 10 different levels to it and I'm lost at how to address even half of them.

2) Come back in one month-six months.

3) No one who cares this much can just let go here.

4) F- the bad guys, this is your forum too, everyone has made great strides to win it back from the bad tone that was pervasive here is greatly squashed. Brooks Robinsons and Dave Chamiedes are veterans who have started the ball rolling to great success; if you leave the bad guys win.

5) Emotion, sometimes it scares the guys, figure that out on your own.

6) Job referrals are really local, and you know this, someone you know is going to recommend you but not a random person on the forum.  Heck I don't pull out names here and hand jobs to them so give up on that leg.

7) Take a breath, strides are made job by job and its never a straight line, are you paying the bills; then keep going.  My benchmark was always 'if I sold the gear tomorrow I'd be rich for ten minutes, then I'd be qualified to work at Dunkin Donuts.

8) Ultimatums are hard to pull off and seldom successful let alone on internet forums, so watch that practice is my thought.

9) If you quit what will you tell your grandkids?  I almost made it?  If it weren't for the bad times you'd have no good stories.


take a breath and go have a chardonnay.



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#6 Brad Hruboska

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 04:42 PM

What Janice Said.....

And I'm older than a lot of guys on here.,....almost a geezer......


I think a lot of the negativity you are experiencing is overall frustrations with how the rates and conditions have been going for a long time. You also have the unfortunate situation of being in California where the work is flowing out of , not into.

You've just been a convenient target.

I have had a long enough career to see people Ive trained and assisted get going, take some of the very work i want for myself,

Its just the way it is. Try and keep the rates up. iTs tough when you are struggling, its why i caution  young people when they start this career path, to have deep pockets before you start. IT sounds oxymoronic, but the reality is there is only so much work and more people are entering this trade than can comfortably retire competing for the same or less number of good paying jobs.

Believe me , no one who was an established operator was delighted when i showed up in Panavision Toronto with a model 2 sled, 22 years ago, and I fell on my face professionally A LOT. Some days in the early years were so bad i would just sit in my car shaking , wondering what the hell i had gotten myself into, and every job i didn't get seemed like a blow from a whip. I know many camera teams I will never get a chance to work with,

But with time , you build relationships that are positive and they carry you through the tough times....


There is a great satisfaction in outliving your critics.


Take care.

Stay level.


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#7 Nelson Villamil

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 07:14 PM

Hi Jessica.

I have read all your post.

I understand you, I have also lived. According to Kevin, you are a powerful competition, and that make you fear for business owners and forum.

Go ahead, it's not easy, but it is very satisfying.

Many, many operators, forget their origin and today they believe they are on his throne with his fame.

Sure, I've also known many traders, great professionals and great people.

And give the best example, I feel free to say and share and experience.

Thanks to whoever we are here today. If Many thanks Garret Brown, who made history with his invention industry, and to share and talk to him, it's exciting. excellent person.

Many more names, Jerry, Peter Abraham, behind the power, Dan Ikeda, Michel Craigs, Aldo, the list could continue.

Jessica, do not stop. fly fly fly. always safe.

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#8 Lawrence Karman

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 10:08 PM

First Jay Leno and now this?


Jessica, I for one am sorry to see you go. It sounds to me like you have much more important things to deal with than sitting in front of a computer screen and reading all this bullshit. (where does Chameides find the time? ……he never sleeps, obviously he's an alien or a meth addict)


Remember, being a camera operator is just a job. It doesn't define you. Your good deeds do. 

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#9 Michael Wilson

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 12:00 AM



I've never met you but your passion and energy comes across in all your posts on this forum.  In a way I feel like I know a good deal about who you are.  It sounds like you're having a rough time right now.   Sorry for that.  Keep your chin up.  You seem like a great ambassador for steadicam ops and ladies in the field.  FWIW    

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#10 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 01:37 AM


A few thoughts...

Remember that, although the negative voices can be loud, they are not, and have not, been the only voices. Bullies are very good at sniffing out vulnerability, and very good at claiming they speak from authority or speak for the entire community. They don't. And slowly but surely, (and often behind the scenes) this community has policed itself and the bullying behavior has been corralled, if not eliminated completely. Kudos to the mods especially.

For us as individuals, it is a subtle practice and hard to master: to be open and vulnerable, but strong and confident. To keep our childlike enthusiasm but shed the need for external approval. We all have better days and days when we can be wounded by a careless comment or nasty barb thrown our way.

I was "that kid". The one who was the last one picked for the team. Every time, for years. I was the bookish shy kid with tape on his glasses, literally. The one who couldn't throw or catch or run. I know that sting of having only talents and interests that had no currency among the "cool kids." Bullies, like sharks, smell the blood in the water. There is no way to convey to anyone who wasn't in those shoes what a special corner of hell it is to grow up this way. I hate locker room mentality, and I hate how much it has infected this forum in the past.

And I will say this: it's all bull. F*ck it and f*ck them. Live your life, and do your work, in the way that makes you happy. Gather friends that are true friends and shed the ones aren't. Grow your own garden, metaphorically speaking. Try not to let the voices of the jerks drown out the voices of reason and support. People have no right to judge you. Nevertheless, some will. And it will hurt. The secret, as a wise person taught me, is to learn to let the emotion pass through you, and deflect the energy in a way that will serve you positively rather than stay inside and fester into bitterness and resentment. Emotional tai chi. And trust me, I know it's easier said than done.

I believe in "not feeding the trolls" whenever possible. But sometimes silence is equal to enabling, so it is important to speak up and call it out. The attack on you in the other thread was one of the most offensive things I've seen on this forum in a long time. I was happy to see you stand up for yourself, and I was glad to see people expressing support. I'm sad to read that it continues to affect you so deeply, especially with the other stresses you are facing.

When I met you a few years ago at Stabilizer Expo, I was still pretty new to this community and felt like an outsider. You were one of the people who, by your warmth and passion and generous spirit, made me feel welcome. I'll always appreciate that. From my perspective, you are as much a part of the community as anyone else. One of the good ones.

So I'll leave you with this thought: if you feel you need to take a temporary or permanent break from the forum, I understand and respect that. I've had those moments myself. But consider this: you are a valued part of the community and no one...not one nor a dozen bellicose, blustering, bombastic elitist asshats...has any right to chase you out if you want to stick around. The prerogative is yours and yours alone. Be well!
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#11 Lars Erik

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 02:44 AM

Hello Jessica,


I did ask you if you had permission to use Sarah's picture. But I also think I did it in a respectful manner. The cause I said, was a good one. But before anyone made Sarah a national symbol, someone should ask her family if they were ok with that. Remember that people grieve differently. None of us had any way of knowing how her family dealt with her loss.


I hope you come back to the forum someday. There are far too few women out there in our industry. It's sadly too male dominated and sadly our business also attracts a lot of d**kheads and individuals with low social abilities. Like certain people on this forum. Not naming anyone, but a beer to the one who first sends me a pm and guesses right…the next time you're in Norway that is.  :rolleyes:


I understand that you're going through a lot these days. My thoughts to your sick friend and you.


Be safe and all the best to you

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#12 Dave Chameides

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 06:39 PM

Wow Doc, whats up? If Breaking Bad taught us anything it's that meth addicts aren't all bad. Why do you hate? Besides the key to being prolific, if you want to know, is finally finishing your BA degree online as i am struggling to do. You thought procrastination when we were in school was bad, try writing papers with the internet in front of you.


Jessica, read Janice's words.  Wise and worth listening to. Beyond that, I'd add one thing i shouldn't have. I know how passionate you are about steadicam, but I'll tell you this, if anything in this business is the most important thing out there to you, you're going to get hurt. There's so much more and while your passion is great, don't let it define you. You, and we all, are much better than this business and as a result will only elevate it. But having it be the paramount thing in our lives is a recipe for disaster. It's a tough line to figure out when you are young but later in your career, it will become completely clear. Trust me.


Be well. Laugh often. Stay Safe.

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#13 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 07:58 PM

I was going to post here but naaaaaa, your not here anyway.

Ill hit you up personally, if I'm still in your phone
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#14 Alan Rencher

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 11:01 PM

Just let the soothing sounds of Minor Threat carry you into that sunset. https://play.google....7yzemw6xzd3yxau
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#15 Dave Bittner

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 01:45 PM

How many more people are we going to lose on the forum, all because of one bully? For every person who publicly announces they are leaving, I'll bet we have a handful who simply never come back, with no fanfare. I've considered it, myself. Sometimes it just doesn't seem worth it, having to wade through the gruff, know-it-all, condescending responses to people genuinely trying to learn, genuinely trying to get help from more experienced ops. The comically predictable response to any pushback with, "My IMDB credits are bigger than yours, so your argument is invalid."


One of the great things Garrett did, from the get go, was establish a cordial environment where operators support each other and share information as we all try to learn and enhance our craft. There were no stupid questions, and everyone treated each other with respect. There were spirited debates, but very little in the way of personal attacks. 


And yet, here, because of one bully, that environment is out the window. It's a shame, because he's got a lot of experience to share. Often it's not what he says, it's the way he says it. 


It's frustrating as hell to see thread after thread effectively shut down, poisoned by negativity. 

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