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Need professional advice and experience, I'm ready

new reel critique professional experience advice

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#1 Billy Nicholson

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Posted 31 March 2015 - 01:29 AM

I've been opperating since Collage with a rig that has not made "getting the shot" easy. The vest rotates and pulls, the arm is not very articulate and far from isoelastic and the sled, well it's there. It's all I had money for but I've always loved moving cameras and Steadicam is my passion and path in life so I made due with what I had and as a result I was the "go-to Opperator".


I'm trying to change all that and break into the professional world so I dug deep in my thin pockets and bought a used rig to hold the heavier cameras (with accesories attached) and mount the camera properly on my back.


Here is my current reel which was hard to make because some of the pieces are SD and there's not as much Narrative in there as I wish because of the lack I've gotten back from the "no-budget" productions I've worked on.


Please rip it apart and give me tips of the trade, I'm ready to take this thing professional and want to make a name for myself.


Thanks a million, happy flying.


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#2 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 31 March 2015 - 05:39 PM



Welcome to the tribe that is Steadicam (formerly known as the "Knights of the Greenscreen," but then the 21st Century came and we got into an argument about which LCD monitor we should be named after and no one could agree).  You are very lucky to have ANY gear at such a young age because when many of us started that was simply not an option.  The flip side is that you are entering this career when there are a LOT more of us.  Trade off, I suppose.


A few notes on the reel.  Which is it?  A DP reel?  A Steadicam reel?  An Operator reel?  Pet peeve of mine (that also applies to business cards).  What are you showing me?  Be clear.  Advertising too many hats is never a good idea because it makes you unclear and steps on the toes of otherwise clients (i.e. DPs).


Shorten it.  Doesn't need to be 3 minutes long when you are starting out.  At this point in your career, you don't have "faces" on there (which is normal) and all you need is to show that you don't suck.  It dose not take three minutes to show this.  There are plenty of good shots in there.  Certainly cut the off-level shot at 2:13 though.


Other tips?  If you are in this for the long haul and want to get into dramatic work, don't forget that you don't need to start as an Op right away.  You can build Steadicam chops on no budget stuff while you work as an AC (electrician, whatever) on bigger sets.  I can not stress enough that as an operator, only 10-30% of the job is panning and tilting.  The rest is politics.  Dealing with Actors, Directors, Producers, and the CREW!  You build relationships and shots… together.


Keep reading here and ask questions!


Take good care,



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#3 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 31 March 2015 - 06:37 PM

Knights of the Mirror Finish LED Screen?




Welcome Billy!


+1 on everything Alec wrote in his post!

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#4 Billy Nicholson

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Posted 01 April 2015 - 06:08 PM

RIGHT ON!!!! Thanks a million for the words of wisdom. I'll take your advise on the reel and condence it, Thank you for that.


It was nice having my own gear in college but I wouldn't call it a "Steadicam" by any means. More of a spring arm with hopes of stabilizing a camera load lol. It was a Varizoom DV Sportster with a Glidecam 4000 sled. Janky to say the least but I made due with it.


I currently have a Flyer with wireless FF and I'm trying to obtain some wireless video Transmitting.


So currently my biggest issue is breaking into jobs. I live in Colorado and the film envoirnment isn't exactlly bustling. I'm more than humble enough to PA on sets, hold cables, move gear, etc and start off as an AC (in fact I look for that all the time because I want to shadow the professionals and learn their little trick of the trade) but how to I get there....?

I currently work as a staff editor at a small production house in Denver and they have used me as an AC and go-fer/PA on a couple productions but they are far and few and not enough to get my name out there or network with more than two people.... There are a couple Ops based out of Denver that I've connected with but they're usually out of the state on gigs so I haven't had the oportunity to shadow or help them on set yet....


It's tough but I'm willing to start at the bottom and do what I gotta do to break into the biz, so any words of wizdom are greatly appriciated. I hate stitting in front of a computer editing every day. I love being on set, moving cameras, flying a rig, pulling focus, operating a jib, you name it, I'm a hands on "doer".


Thanks a Million! Cheers.

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#5 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 01 April 2015 - 08:05 PM

Hey Billy, 

Young op here.

Looks like you are doing the right thing. In my experience, the next step is patience and perseverance. Remember, all it takes is one person to notice you one day and you could be on your way. Practice, shoot, meet people and it will work out... eventually ;)

For the demo reel, don't hesitate to make multiple versions of your reel depending on who you will show it to. A DP reel, a Steadicam reel, a show off reel (to impress your family and friends)...

Keep them all short, Look at other reels and mark the time where you want to look away/fast forward. That's the max time your reel should be. 


Welcome to the Knights of the nit screen ;) (we really can't agree on a name, can we?)

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#6 chris fawcett

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Posted 02 April 2015 - 04:59 AM

Knights of the Order of the Gimbal?

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