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!