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Ted Churchill Remembered.


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#1 PeterAbraham

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Posted 16 June 2004 - 04:07 PM

9 years ago tonight, Ted Churchill left the house and never came back. I feel it is appropriate to use our Forum to mark the day and offer thoughts of memorial.

I've a lot of Ted stories. I'll share one short one that is typical of his approach.

I was in Rockport, teaching the Steadicam Workshop with Dan Kneece and Travis Clark. Ted came by one evening. He brought a bit of videotape and showed it, sufficiently wowing us all with the clarity of movement, decisive framing and fluid operating.

He was his usual biting self, humorous and fast. One person asked him what he felt was his best asset. I figured oh god, this is a fat pitch he's been thrown. He stopped with the wiseass stuff and got very sober for a moment, and thought. Then he said, " I am not the best Steadicam Operator in the world- ( At the time, debatable..... )- but I can tell you this much: I'm the fastest. Nobody waits on me. I get in there, I do my homework, I prep and am ready, I shoot the scenes and I get out. Quick and painless.

He was very proud of this trait, and I made an effort to incorporate it into my skill set. Be ready. Anticipate like hell. Don't hold anyone up with the three ring circus that our craft can sometimes become.

Be fast but never sloppy.

I miss that man.

Peter Abraham, E.M.T.
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#2 guillermo nespolo

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Posted 16 June 2004 - 07:09 PM

well i did not meat the guy but i learn to operate with the efp video ..with jerry and ted and i alwasy love the way that ted move his hands to explain something////
its a good thing that some never forget u after u left.... :D that talks very high of u
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#3 Charles Papert

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 12:01 AM

Peter, thanks for posting that. I had a feeling that sad anniversary was coming up, I couldn't remember the exact day.

TC is gone but certainly not forgotten.

Does anyone--ANYONE?--have a copy of that "Day in the Life" video? It needs to be up on the web, doesn't it. Once I remembered who shot it, no longer (I have a feeling it was the same gent who did the handheld vs Model 1 run-up-the-stairs demo in that National Geographic documentary; Garrett, can you identify?)

It's times like these that I can almost smell that pipe tobacco...
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#4 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 12:30 AM

That explains a lot. Today, I got a call from an acquaintance, who just finished the workshop, bought a model 3a (in reverse order actually) and has his first gig this coming Monday (a student film, so no freaking out anyone). Anyway, Peter Abraham had graciously offered to lend him a hand in going through his gear to figure out what he needed for his upcoming job. Unfortunately, Peter had to back out last minute, thus the call to me. So, I told him to come over. Upon seeing his cases filled with snarls of cables, a custom junction box, a loose 3a stage (didn't anyone notice this at the workshop?), etc., I made the pot of coffee and got out the multi-meter. Hours later, he was on his way and I was left wondering where the hell my day went. Now, I see... Ted taught Charles who taught me. That crazy lack of "oh, I can't help him; he will be/is a competitor" is one of the best things Steadicam has going for it. I am so glad that Ted lived by this and passed it on to some many others.
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#5 Ruben Sluijter

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 03:23 AM

Thank you Peter, for adding a much needed Ted post to this forum.
I wish I had some stories to share but there are may others who can tell them much better than me.
He made such a huge impact on the art of Steadicam operating, effectively inventing the operator and we still follow his rules today (the manual of style is mandatory reading for any aspiring operator!)

I still vividly remember reading all the posts on the old AOL forum after he passed away and still get emotional reading through them (took a while for me to fully believe he simply wasn't there any more, just when I was getting ready to ask him a bunch of questions about this silly job I had gotten myself into)

Ted would probably have loved this forum and the opportunity it provides to communicate with operators on such a grand scale...and put everyone firmly back in their place, I'm sure he would've been all over it.

I'm certain he's still cranking out great shots on that big set in the sky and telling all the pretty angels where to stand so the light hits them just right (and what his phone number is, should they have any other questions).
Glad to know he's still remembered, we still miss you!

Peace, Ruben "nothing more to say" Sluijter
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#6 Marc_Abernathy

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 09:51 AM

yes thank you for bringing ted up. i have tried to read everything i can on ted. just the other day i was watching those frantic and fluid moves in ghostbusters and looking over some pics of ted and chas with the 80's style beard :) and i was thinking how much of a legend teddy was. i am also sad i wil never get a chance to meet him (in my life on earth).

at our gathering the other day anthony told of the last time he saw teddy on set and that was really cool!

i did not know what day his anniversay would be but i am glad you guys are remembering him for those of us who never got the chance to met him.


i am looking forward to any stories/memories you guys would like to share.

thank you!
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#7 PeterAbraham

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 10:53 AM

Charles, Erich Roland shot the hand-held v.s. Steadicam footage in the National Geograpic doc. I don't have a copy of that- and really, we'd want to talk to Jack Churchill before posting it onto the Web. He's been very gracious about use of the infamous Steadicam Operator's Manual of Style, but we would owe him a call for permission.

Alec- Oh thank you man. I felt awful about having to run to Philly on an emergency, and I knew Dave would wind up in good hands. I didn't get to touch or fly his rig, because I can't now. Hence missing the loose top stage. Damn ! I'm glad you were able to work with him.

Kenn Ferro, my other half and co-owner of my cerebral cortex called me to tell me. The family was with me, on the way to a drive-in. They watched, I sat numbly.

These responses are so heartening. Without being overly heavy-handed, I agree wholeheartedly with those who appreciate the tone, approach and enthusiasms that Ted brought to the Steadicam world.

On a purely personal note, when I teach a workshop, I feel as though I am carrying on a particular love of Ted's. If I can do that a tenth as well, and with a tenth the energy and skill and mindset that he brought to it, then I'm on the right path. He was an educator in addition to everything else.
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#8 David Allen Grove

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 10:55 AM

The Steadicam Guild web site now has a "In Memoriam" page.
We currently only have a listing for Ed.

We are asking for everyones help on this. If anyone has photos of anyone in the Steadicam community that are no longer with us, like Ed, Ted, Chuck, etc..
We would ask that you send those photos via email to admin@steadicamguild.net

Thanks a bunch.
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#9 Oliver Roetz

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 05:08 PM

Unfortunately I never got the chance to meet Ted. Then I did this workshop 2 years ago. Of course I had heard of Ted before, but all of a sudden he was there. I mean, the instructors started telling stories about him and we as newbies were just sitting and listening. It was...incredible!

In preparation for the last day of the workshop where the groups had to do their final shot they've shown us video footage of former workshops. Again Ted was there. On this big sreen we could see him talking, acting, joking and of course...operating. His sense of humor was so phantastic - we were laughing ourselves away.

As Alec said: That crazy lack of "oh, I can't help him; he will be/is a competitor" is one of the best things Steadicam has going for it.
I had exactly this feeling during the entire workshop. That's one reason why I am here.

I am glad you guys are remembering him for ops like me- thanks for sharing your stories.

Keep flying safe, Oliver
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#10 AdamKeith

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 05:57 PM

[QUOTE]I was in Rockport, teaching the Steadicam Workshop with Dan Kneece and Travis Clark. Ted came by one evening. He brought a bit of videotape and showed it, sufficiently wowing us all with the clarity of movement, decisive framing and fluid operating. Peter Abraham.

Peter,
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#11 AdamKeith

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 06:04 PM

[QUOTE]I was in Rockport, teaching the Steadicam Workshop with Dan Kneece and Travis Clark. Ted came by one evening. He brought a bit of videotape and showed it, sufficiently wowing us all with the clarity of movement, decisive framing and fluid operating. Peter Abraham.


Peter,
Wasn't that the night Ted ran over the tricycle you where working on all week with his pick-up truck. :rolleyes:



Adam Keith
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#12 PeterAbraham

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 07:46 PM

He kind of...bumped into it. Almost scraped off a layer of paint. Thank god I had 22 layers of blue spraypaint on the trike already !!!

:lol:
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#13 AdamKeith

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Posted 18 June 2004 - 03:12 PM

[QUOTE]He kind of...bumped into it. Peter Abraham.


Now come on Peter....he crushed it. I thought Dan Kneece was going to die from laughter. :D

Adam Keith
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#14 WillArnot

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Posted 19 June 2004 - 12:17 AM

Peter, I too am grateful for this topic. I feel very fortunate to have benefitted from Ted's company and tutelage. He is certainly missed.

A very bizzare moment happened to me not a month after his untimely death, in his old neighborhood, the West village of NYC. I was about to don the rig when there was a friendly tap on the shoulder, I turned around, and to my shock/horror, there he was... mad thinning hair, beaming that mischievous smile. It took me a moment to realize it was his twin (?) brother Jack. We had a nice chat. It was like it was Ted tho. I'll never forget the goose bumps I got, being in his old 'hood and all. It was like a part of him refused to leave his old stomping grounds, 'was very surreal.

I also wanted to second Alec's very important point of how generous people like Ted and yourself (Peter) have consistently been with their knowledge and wisdom. I find it quite troubling and simply annoying how much griping and judging (no names) seems to go on nowadays on this forum. People complaining and trying to discourage others, it really is sickening sometimes. That unconditional generosity of character really separates the men from the boys.

So Peter, I wanted to publicly acknowledge the help and friendship you showed me when you wrote a letter on my behalf, as a fellow camera man, to help me get financing together to get my first rig. As you stated in the letter itself, "competition is a healthy thing". That to me is the generosity of character I refer to. To acknowledge that and also fully back the presence of another operator in your midst. That is huge. I won't / haven't forgot that.

And I won't forget Ted.

Will
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#15 TJ Williams

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Posted 19 June 2004 - 02:38 PM

The Maine workshop Ted comes in on this huge platform standing up, rigged on top, shooting the moving steadicam crane shot, carried by a bunch of guys at the bottom of the legs like some surreal royalty.... He didn't just write the manual of style
he had style...
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