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Mentor needed

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#1 MegSchrock


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Posted 22 June 2004 - 01:44 PM

Hi, I just graduated from a liberal arts school and have already worked on two feature films in the past 3 months. However, I'm tired of being a PA. What I really want to do is be a steadicam operator for documentaries. I would really appreciate any advice for getting on the right track. Should I go to a film school? should I take classes? How soon do I need my own equipment. Is it a stupid idea for a girl to be a steadicam operator (almost everyone I've told has scoffed at the idea)? I think I can do it, but I have no idea how to start. Any advice is welcome. Thanks so much!
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#2 ckf


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Posted 22 June 2004 - 03:58 PM


My opinion is worth what other people here may say, but...I think that you should go and kick butt!! Never mind what other people say...just kick butt!!

If you've wanted to be a steadicam operator, then go and chase your dream!! You only live once.

Best of luck!!
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#3 charlesneufeld


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Posted 22 June 2004 - 05:10 PM

Hi Meg,

I believe the general consensus amoung us operators is that first step is to take a steadicam workshop, to determine if this is what you want to do, and go from there.

There are a number of weeklong and some shorter workshops that are offered.

Take care and good luck! :)
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#4 Howard J Smith

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Posted 22 June 2004 - 05:37 PM

Hi Meg

My wife Kelly (a woman..) is a very good steadicam op - this is how we met.
You have an advantage over us men as you have a different body type more suited to Steadicam work.
Kelly can carry the heaviest cameras without even a sweat.

But as I have said before - steadicam is just a tool for telling the story - it is all about the frame and the story. - this is what you need to learn and practice.
(and the on set polictics..)

I would say a big no to film school - you will learn more in one week on a set than a year in film school. - An un baised syeadicam workshop would also be good for you.

Regarding equipment - it is usefull to practice with - first you need to see if steadicam is for you - you may hate it - you also need to think about where you would like to be in a year or twos time and that is the type of kit to work towards.

Live your dreams - but nothing is easy
Good luck

Howard J Smith MK-V :D
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#5 Nikk Hearn-Sutton SOC

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Posted 22 June 2004 - 11:13 PM

[[QUOTE]I would say a big no to film school - you will learn more in one week on a set than a year in film school.

I'd agree with Howard on this quote I have friends who went to Florida St for film and they got screwd on everything,[/B] they said they were going to do and didn't but myself everything I learned was in the field itself and it would be great to see a female steadi op. I asked in one of the general discussions about female ops and there wasn't many but that would be great if you became one. Meg, Check out the Newbie Forum there are alot of insightfull posts there.

Fly safe, No Worries!!

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#6 MegSchrock


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Posted 23 June 2004 - 01:43 AM

Hey guys, thanks so much. I'm definitely checking out the newbie sight and am beginning a web search for workshops. Any recommendations? Today I actually began working on my second feature film. Unfortunately, I'm not in the camera department. I got moved from camera PA (my first film) back to locations assistant. But hey, I guess that is a good way to learn about set politics. Thanks again for all your responses.
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#7 jay kilroy

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Posted 23 June 2004 - 05:49 AM

www.steadicam-ops.com This is the Steadicam Operators Association site, we offer a week long workshop twice a year. The next one is in October, the site has all the information. See you in the fall.
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#8 Brian Leid

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Posted 23 June 2004 - 03:21 PM

Check the International Film & Television Workshops in Maine. http://www.theworksh...shops/index.asp
They have a 5 day workshop listed for this July.
I took a this workshop several years ago and it was awesome. I went in knowing nothing about Steadicam. Two weeks after the workshop I had my first paying gig.
A workshop is definetly the way to get started.
Good Luck

Brian Leid
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#9 David George Ellis

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 02:03 AM

Hey Meg,

First thing for me was meeting the right person who spoke to me about the ups and downs of being an operator. This just solidified my decision to want to become one of the few, the proud, the hardcore. I know, sounds like a Navy commercial, but still, it's cool. Next is to find operators in your area and talk to them. See if you can come on and shadow them as they work and ask questions as they come into your head. They're all great helpful people in a niche sector of this mussed-up industry.

The second most important thing is to take a workshop. I just took the one Jay had mentioned earlier in May and after it was all said and done, I came home with a more internal understanding of what it means to be a Steadicam operator. The more and more I live in that thing, the more I love it. There were 16 of us and one was a woman who, as far as I believe, did very well in this male-dominated field.

The MOST important thing you should do is look in the mirror and ask why do you want to do it. I mean, you have got to be crazy to want to strap 80 lbs. of metal, widgets and volts to your body!!! As long as your intentions are pure of mind & soul and not just in it because you heard you can make a lot of money doing it. Other than that, FUCK SHIT UP!!! Pardon my American. The French have been blamed for so much. The Canadians, too for that matter.

I hope that being a newbie myself, I was able to help point you in the right direction. If not, I'm sorry for letting you guys down. Well, get to it and we'll see you in the Forum. :D
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#10 Ruben Sluijter

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 06:52 AM

I mean, you have got to be crazy to want to strap 80 lbs. of metal, widgets and volts to your body!!!

Hey dude, are you calling us crazy?!?!?!
You starting something? Wanna take this outside???? C'mon, bring the pain!
We're not crazy, we just have very interesting and diverse personalities okay!

And Meg, by all means go for it however I would recommend learning about things like framing, composition and basic camera operating first!
Once you throw all the extra distractions that the Steadicam provides into the mix you'll find that it becomes nearly impossible to concentrate on your framing (which is still the most important thing!)
Remember that Steadicam operating, no matter how cool it may be, is still a form of camera operating requiring all the same skills of framing.

And by all means, take a workshop!
Atleast you'll find out if this is something you really want to do, and you'll have a lot of fun finding out as anyone here can tell you!

Don't let anyone tell you that women can't/shouldn't operate!
Hell, some of the finest operators are women and you do have a few extra muscles already developed (for pregnancy) that most men don't ever develop, though most male operators end up developing these same muscles (so we are now physically able to carry a child, though the actual birth might create some problems).
These muscles allow you to carry more weight up front (I have no idea what the scientific name of these muscles are but I believe there are four of them).
Also, women tend to have a better sense of balance and a more fluid way of moving than most men.

Have fun with it, build experience and become a great operator!

Peace, Ruben "I'm not crazy, the voices in my head tell me so" Sluijter
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#11 Fred Davis

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 11:56 AM

This just solidified my decision to want to become one of the few, the proud, the hardcore.

Heh heh.... "The dolly that bleeds"
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#12 KarloTomic



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Posted 26 June 2004 - 12:32 PM

And Meg, by all means go for it however I would recommend learning about things like framing, composition and basic camera operating first!

I was wondering when someone was going to point that out. Taking the course is a given but it's akin to putting the horse before the trailer, you have to understand your tools if you're ever going to use them properly. It sucks that they moved you from camera PA to locations assist but for the most part people are always willing to help someone who wants to learn so search them out.
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#13 ChadPersons


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Posted 26 June 2004 - 01:51 PM

Wow, Meg....

Looks like you chummed the water by asking for a mentor; never seen so many responses so quickly. Such a chivalrous group we steadicam operators are wouldn't you agree.

My humble advise regarding steadicam is that you should try it first with an experienced operator. Don't be too quick to spent a thousand or more on a class if there is a good chance you won't like it. It is hard on your body (at first especially) and will require several months practice before your ready to work on a real show. Judging by all the eager responses to your call for a mentor I'm sure someone close to you would offer you a free test drive of their steadicam. Again though, make sure you find someone qualified so that they can adjust the vest to fit you so you won't hurt youself. If you are in the LA area you are more than welcome to try my rig on to see if you like it.

I wish you the best of luck and offer you the advise of the late George Burns who said on his 90th birthday, refering to his experience in life, "Never get stuck doing something you don't love doing".

All the best,
Chad Persons
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