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When should you go to Steadicam school?


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#1 Alex Olszewski

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 12:53 PM

My younger brother works for a local TV studio doing low-level stuff and is interested in perhaps doing steadicam work. However, he hasn't done any field productions at all, and probably won't for at least several years.

He would like to go to Steadicam school ($2200 which I would give to him), but I'm not sure if he should go until he has some prospect of working on a professional job.

Should I give him the money, or should I make him wait until he has a little more experience? Any advice appreciated as $2200 is a lot of money for me.
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#2 Lars Erik

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 03:19 PM

Hello Alex,

how old is your brother? Personally I would say it's quite early to send him to a course for $2200, specially when a prospect for a "real" job is years away.

Tell him to be patient. A lot of ops start out as assistant camera men, or camera operator. And after years of doing this, they start with Steadicam. I did 8 years of regular camera work (non-steadicam), before I took a course and bought a rig. It's important he understands visual storytelling before he takes up Steadicam.

I'd advice you to hold on to your money, and send him to a course when he's gotten into the professional market. Learning the basics of Steadicam can take you a week, but getting good at it, boy it's difficult. I've done it for a year and a half, and it's one of the biggest challenges of my career so far.

That's my advice. Maybe someone on the forum lives near you. It's not unusual that ops let Steadicam prospects to come over to their house and try on their rigs.

LE
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#3 Stephen Press

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 03:28 PM

Make him wait. It wouldn?t be a waste of money to send him but I think he would get more out of it if he had a few years in the field behind him. He needs to learn to walk before he tries to fly.
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#4 Alex Olszewski

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 07:01 PM

Thank you Lars & Stephen. He is 22 years old. I checked with him and learned he's done simple field shoots, eg, local news, but no professional-type filmwork.

What is the best way to make the transition from small-time local studio to the real world, ie, a movie or something with a real budget? I don't think he's worked on anything with more than a $1000 budget.

He's in New York City right now, but doesn't have a film degree or other certification.
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#5 Charles Papert

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 10:27 PM

Perhaps the $500 Tiffen Flyer workshop will be more appropriate--while everything is scaled down from the "Classic" workshops, he will get a thorough grounding in the basics and it will either get him really excited about doing Steadicam, or he might find out it's not his cup of tea. Either way, much less money!

There is one coming up in NYC very soon--don't know if it's all booked up or not.
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#6 Lars Erik

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 02:44 AM

The Flyer workshop is a good tip.

The best way to make a transition into the pro market, would most likely to go the assistant way. Your brother needs to hook up with someone doing pro tv or film. Most likely someone in his community knows someone who's higher up on the scale. This is usually how it works. Someone knows someone who wants a job...

But since I'm in Oslo and he's in N.Y., maybe someone here can help out with any good tips for people to contact. You can also get him to let people know he's available as an assistant on cinematography.com. It's a similar forum like this, but targeted at cinematographers and ordinary camera operators.

Good luck

LE
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#7 Christopher T. Paul- SOC

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 09:06 AM

I'm doing a movie in NY now, and he can look me up and come on for a day or so if he's interested. Caveat: COLD nights!

Email via this forum if he's interested.

CP
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#8 Jean-Nicolas Dorion

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 09:21 AM

That's the way to go! Watch, learn, help and work.
Really nice of you Chris... I would've done the same if I was in New York area...
The small workshop is a good idea as well.
Being patient is necessary in this industry.
Fly safe!
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#9 Gordon Li-Ron

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 02:38 PM

Alex,


That is really nice of you to offer your brother the funds to take the workshop. I'll basically relay what other OPs told me when I was getting into steadicam.... the workshop is the cheapest investment when it comes to steadicam. Rigs can cost anywhere between 7k and 70k depending on brand and the application it will be used for. If supporting him with a purchase of a rig is something you're not willing or capable of doing, then definitely hold off for a while. If he is really interested in steadicam, he will have to make a choice and do what it takes.

I was always fascinated with steadicam and thought it was entirely out of my reach. One day I asked myself why can't I do it too? I began to realize what it would take and two years later here I am...still very new to steadicam and struggling in between jobs but I love it so much...very glad I made the choice. I Still have a long way to go but it will be fun.


good luck
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#10 Alex Olszewski

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 09:07 PM

Thanks Gordon. I didn't realize rigs were so expensive, and I thought production supplied all gear.

I could buy him a low-end rig, but that means I'll be driving my POS '89 Dodge Aries for a couple more years. Good thing I'm not dating much these days!

Does it matter what rig he trains with when he does go to Steadicam school? I mean, if he learns on Brand X, will he be able to use Brand Z? Or does each rig require specialized training?
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#11 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 10:20 PM

Alex,

I'm in NYC. Email me through my web site and I'll be happy to speak to your brother about the different ways of getting into the biz. I'd also second Charles suggestion on Peter Abraham's Flyer workshop. Also, take Chris up on his generous offer to go by set.

Best,
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#12 Alex Olszewski

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 02:37 PM

Guys,

Thank you all for your advice. This thread confirms my brief experience doing grip work in middle-America. I noticed that while the actors & producers could be difficult to deal with, the camera and sound crew were almost always personable, down-to-earth guys. I don?t know how it?s in the big city, but you guys are certainly welcoming.

Alex
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#13 Charles Papert

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 04:03 PM

Rigs can cost anywhere between 7k and 70k


Not to give Alex any more sticker-shock, but the average amount that it costs to buy a complete package is up around $120K.
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#14 Erwin Landau

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 04:50 PM

Hi Alex,

Getting back to doing or not doing a workshop until you have the funds to buy a rig...

I did my first workshop on borrowed money with no funding for a rig or any jobs in sight. I just wanted to learn about the steadicam as much as I could. I had spend years drooling over all the toys and to read and collect anything and everything there was to get... which was not very much in the 90-ties, only after I met a couple of operators, my "collection" on Steadicam memorabilia started to explode... as many started to get rid of stuff or were cleaning out there garages... (also got me started on little bits and pieces that were no longer used, I still have some of this equipment in my kit today).

Anyhow, I was ready to start actually using the machine versus just watching it on pictures. I signed up with the absolute certainty to never own or operate one... ever. And I wanted it to count... I made hundreds of pictures during the workshop and tried to suck up as much information as I possibly could... I learned the basics to be able to actually balance and use the machine as well as met several operators that let me practice with there rigs after the workshop, let me come visit a set and who have become longtime friends... (some are still sorry they met me in the first place as I'm a big pain and I cost them a lot of money over the years... as they started listening to me about gear and such...)

I know many operators that took the workshop years before having the funds to actually buy a rig, but it's like a drivers license, you never regret having done the drivers test, you can always jump into the car and take it for a drive... but as with driving you only get good at it if you do it on a regular basis!

I took several workshops over the years and still am not to full of it to take more... you never stop learning and if you get the chance to practice with the best, you would be stupid to pass it on... there is always space for improvement. Trust me there is...

Just my 2 cents,


Erwin
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#15 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 06:54 PM

"some are still sorry they met me in the first place as I'm a big pain and I cost them a lot of money over the years... as they started listening to me about gear and such..."


Let's see....

New 2" Center post, $2000 (plus everything else you have to swap)
New DB3, $4250
New Preston, $30K
Erwin... priceless.....
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