Ok, I have been a member for a long time and rarely post anything. Frankly the venom and posturing is tiresome and I find virtual interactions difficult. I have found the resources here invaluable and easily accessible so I rarely need to ask questions because of the wealth of knowledge available going back a long time.
My experience of the group of people who are crazy enough to pursue steadicam as a career has been largely amazing. I am in an interesting position because of my experiences. I am caught somewhere between new and old school. I was an assistant for a very long time before finally drudging up the courage to wear the vest. It was not a decision I made lightly. I was also fortunate to be trained in steadicam by some amazing teachers. Dave Crone, Steve Adelson, Peter McCaffrey and Quincy Paglaro are very dear friends and taught me so much more than simple drills and pan/tilt. I am incredibly grateful for their expertise and kindness. I spent my time as an assistant learning as much as I could from whoever would teach me. I was taught respect and self respect. The steadicam community is unique in the world and especially the film world! There is a mass of knowledge which we share with each other. If I have a job anywhere in the world and encounter a problem I have no doubt in my mind that there will be another steadicam operator somewhere nearby who will go out of their way to pull my ass out of the fire. I would do the same without hesitation.
This community is built on innovation, compromise, respect and hard work. This has to be one of the most difficult jobs there is. A blend of physical prowess, artistry and politics held together by quick thinking and charm. The best I have met have all been humble and passionate. They know they are good without being arrogant or condescending.
That said there is also a new breed being born right now. They are entitled, confident, arrogant, talented, and driven. There is no "one way' to succeed. The business has changed so much since I started and the community has changed with it. There are two main points I wish to bring up.
First is a message to the new generation of Steadicam operators struggling to make a name.
This is an impossible time to be following this path. It is thankless and difficult and there are very small rewards anymore. It has to be a passion, a dream. There will be so many disappointments that you will want to cry and quit. Those which overcome those obstacles will be granted a special place in the world. The rewards are not in money but in experiences. You will learn things about yourself and the world you live in which you never imagined possible. You will achieve things which everyone around you said couldn't happen. That said, there are a lot of people who have been through it before you who deserve to be treated with respect. I guarantee that if you treat them well, they will share every bit of knowledge and experience that they have gained through, in some cases, 30+ years of pushing themselves. They want you to succeed. They want to share what they have learned. Don't be surprised if, when you don't acknowledge their experience, they are not willing to share. They do deserve respect. They are human, they have been there, and they are flawed. These people are sensitive artists. They have grown tough through adversity, and strong through perseverance. And they have been and still are pioneers. This community was fortunate enough to begin with an atmosphere of collaboration. Remember that. Nobody knows everything and has done everything.
Second is, of course, a message to the Veterans.
Everyone starts somewhere. The most extremely talented of you began knowing nothing. It's so important to nurture the up and comers because without them, the great legacy of the steadicam is lost. Without sharing and training the next generation all of the hardship and experience which you have gained by your blood, sweat and tears is lost. The next generation is here. And they are hungry. They are hungry for guidance, knowledge and experience. They will fight you. More than that they want to learn. The extraordinarily talented ones might even succeed in this ludicrous business. You folks, more than anyone else, know how impossible those odds are. Do not fear them, help them. It's what this group was built on. Nobody here got where they are alone. Everyone had help. When someone asks for help, give it. If they ask a stupid question, teach them and maybe next time they ask something which blows your mind. You have earned a place of honor in this group and it is your duty to share and teach what you have learned. That is part of the price of your success. There are new ways of doing things and new innovations all the time. Maybe that asshat who criticized some bs last week comes back the next week with a brilliant idea. Be open to it and you might learn something. You have already succeed, you have your career. If you are still here after so many years then you shouldn't feel threatened. You should feel confident enough in your skill and experience to remain humble. We are all in this together.
As I said before I am not particularly good at online interactions. I find that the anonymity of it all makes people act irresponsibly and miscommunications abound. I care about this group so much that I am forcing myself to be more involved. The simple fact that there is so much knowledge, experience, community and history, and it is easily searchable, is not to be taken lightly. The steadicam community as a whole is the mostly tightly knit group of people, whom have almost never worked together and often never met, that I can imagine. Lets keep it that way. Support each other.
There is no reason that we all can not be respectful of each other. Both old school and new, there is a lot to learn from each other.
To all my brothers and sisters out there, I am always good for a drink with any and all of you. You are all my friends.