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Long night ext. steadicam shot - on celluloid...


Joshua Silverlock
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1 hour ago, Matthew J. Walker said:

You also have to consider what lens is to be used. It is well known that modern glass is obviously very consistent as it's machine made whereas older lenses are handmade

Older lenses were handmade, yes, but handmade to extremely high tolerances. Depth of Field does not vary just because it’s an old lens.

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2 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

What an asinine comment.

That is exactly the kind of thinking that gets people hurt. There is no shot that is worth risking injury or death to get. It was that attitude that got Sarah Jones killed, and expressing it here, under the guise of offering help, is highly irresponsible and offensive. I sincerely hope you are  not passing on such ridiculous advice to those poor unfortunates you have as “students”.

Agreed. Low budget filmmaking is no excuse to ignore safety. I think one of the most important voices on this forum are those that say things like "your DIY dimmer causes risk of death". Being cautious is not stupid.

  • Don't know how to or can't rig it safely? Don't do it.
  • Can't afford a real special fx guy to do explosions? Either find someone who has the credentials and is willing to do it for free or go for CGI or make it so that you don't need to show the explosion. Work around it, don't go for DIY with fire and explosions.
  • Looking for an abandoned industrial building to shoot in? Don't go in without permission! Find one you have permission to go in. Survey risks. Maximize safety to the extent it is possible: helmets, safety shoes for the production team. Minimize risk. Make sure everyone is aware of the risks beforehand so that nobody has to make the call under pressure whether or not to be part of the production.
  • Etc. etc.

There is a real reason why there are safety protocols: People were killed or seriously injured in the past.

 

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In regards to filming on London streets you have to get permission from the respective London borough film unit. This goes for all public places where it is illegal to film without a permit and insurance. As soon as more than a hand-held camera and one operator is involved, a permit is required. I'm sure plenty of young film makers ignore this but if something does happen, you can get into a heap of trouble.

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From a safety perspective, as a cinematographer, I would veto any shot like this as soon as it involves crossing a street.  I've worked a lot on low and no budget projects (more than I wish lol) and that's one point where I draw the line.  I do think, under certain circumstances, you could steal something like this if you're entirely on a sidewalk and never cross any car paths.  Even a busy driveway or parking lot entrance is too sketchy for me to sign off on.

I were your collaborator, my first question would probably be "why does it *need* to be a single take?"  Maybe you've had this conversation already and have an excellent answer for that of course!

Regarding lighting:  One counterpoint for 35mm is that if you're pushing the limits on exposure, grain will be less overbearing.  If you can shoot at a 2/2.8 split or deeper, consider 35, especially if you're shooting 3-perf or 2-perf (and have a great 1st AC)

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12 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

This is exactly the type of situation we are talking about. In the case of ‘Midnight Rider’ the director called for a dangerous shot, and none of the keys put their foot down and said no. That’s how most set accidents happen, someone in charge has a bad idea and no one speaks up. Peer pressure and the hierarchical structure of a film crew are powerful things and not to be underestimated. 

Well sure, when you have a big crew with paid people, everyone makes the assumption the production management has their shit in order. In this case, they did not have their shit in order, they lied about having permission to be on private property, on active train tracks. 

You do know it's legal to shoot on the sidewalks in the United States right? It's also legal to shoot FROM them into the street. No permit, no insurance nothing required. So the only "complication" here, is a camera operator crossing an empty street in the middle of the night with a camera wearing a reflective vest, with PA's surrounding them with flashlights to insure cars can see them. This is the way it's done and has been done on so many high profile films. I'd be more than happy to show you films of actors AND cameras crossing busy city streets with no crew around them, no blocked off streets, nothing. The famous scene from "Midnight Cowboy" when the car almost runs into Dustin Hoffman? Do you think my suggestions are THAT risky? Come on man. 

12 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

My point is that all of the worker protections I mentioned (unions, workplace laws and regulations, 40hr work week, the weekend, OSHA) which we all take for granted today only came about because individuals in the workplace were not able to protect themselves. 

Having fun with friends is not a "workplace". If it were, then low budget films would simply not exist. 

It becomes a workplace when you have a legal production company, paying taxes and your crew are on payroll or at least 1099. Where you have production insurance and permits for each location. Where you have a line producer AND location manager who deal with issues like these, NOT the filmmaker going onto an Internet forum to ask questions. 

I understand your reservations completely, I get it. But they're sadly unrealistic. 

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26 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

You do know it's legal to shoot on the sidewalks in the United States right? It's also legal to shoot FROM them into the street. No permit, no insurance nothing required. So the only "complication" here, is a camera operator crossing an empty street in the middle of the night with a camera wearing a reflective vest, with PA's surrounding them with flashlights to insure cars can see them.

This shoot is in LONDON.

Shooting in London without a permit is ILLEGAL

Shooting in the street without a proper lock up is DANGEROUS.

Locking up a street without a permit is DANGEROUS AND ILLEGAL

Stop advising people to risk their safety and break the law. It is highly irresponsible. As usual, you're so desperate to be right that you won't listen to any of the numerous people who have told you why this is a bad idea.

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Thanks to everyone who has responded! The shoot's a long way off and only in very early development so we're really just feeling out options for what might be possible. 

The safety of everyone involved would of course be paramount! If we were to go ahead with the shot as described it would definitely be a route that doesn't cross roads, it would also be a suburban, residential area we'd be looking at (as opposed to central london!) and would be late at night so definitely reduced traffic/passers by (of course that doesn't negate the safety considerations in any way - just makes life slightly easier). 

With regard to permits my understanding was that since it's not being produced for commercial gain and will be a small crew, no permanent equipment (steadicam, boomed lights/sound etc.) we wouldn't actually require a permit. This of course precludes us from locking anything off and so we need to take that into consideration and understand that traffic/public have right of way, blocking the shot to take that fact into consideration. Do let me know if this is incorrect though! Budget is also very much up in the air still and so it might be that we end up applying for permits, locking it all off properly and doing it 100% by the book - either way we will make sure no one is in harm's way above all else. 

On the lighting side - thanks to @Kevin Nealfor the Beach Rats link - very helpful/reassuring! I guess the best thing to do now would be some testing! 

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7 minutes ago, Joshua Silverlock said:

With regard to permits my understanding was that since it's not being produced for commercial gain and will be a small crew, no permanent equipment (steadicam, boomed lights/sound etc.) we wouldn't actually require a permit.

Most short films are non-commercial projects but you still need a permit. Contact the council’s film unit or check their website for more info. The only way you can shoot without a permit is on private land but then you have to get permission by the owner. 

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15 minutes ago, Uli Meyer said:

Most short films are non-commercial projects but you still need a permit. Contact the council’s film unit or check their website for more info. The only way you can shoot without a permit is on private land but then you have to get permission by the owner. 

This is the paragraph I'm basing my information on, taken from Film London: "

If you are using a handheld camera and your filming will not cause an obstruction then there is no restriction to filming on London’s public highway. In some boroughs this also extends to small crews with a tripod. No licence or any form of official permission is required." (source: https://filmlondon.org.uk/resource/advice-for-small-crews

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49 minutes ago, Joshua Silverlock said:

This is the paragraph I'm basing my information on, taken from Film London: "

If you are using a handheld camera and your filming will not cause an obstruction then there is no restriction to filming on London’s public highway. In some boroughs this also extends to small crews with a tripod. No licence or any form of official permission is required." (source: https://filmlondon.org.uk/resource/advice-for-small-crews

I stand corrected. Honestly, this is news to me. If you read on though, I would still advise you to contact the Borough and let them know what exactly you’re planning to do. Walking a Steadycam with focus puller, sound recordist and lights through several streets at night, following one actor (that’s your crew of five) is not that simple an affair. 

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13 minutes ago, Uli Meyer said:

I stand corrected. Honestly, this is news to me. If you read on though, I would still advise you to contact the Borough and let them know what exactly you’re planning to do. Walking a Steadycam with focus puller, sound recordist and lights through several streets at night, following one actor (that’s your crew of five) is not that simple an affair. 

Personally, unless you have a very specific story need for a particular area of London, I'd go out to a town in Kent or Essex and do it. They're much more amenable.

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1 hour ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Well sure, when you have a big crew with paid people, everyone makes the assumption the production management has their shit in order. In this case, they did not have their shit in order, they lied about having permission to be on private property, on active train tracks. 

You do know it's legal to shoot on the sidewalks in the United States right? It's also legal to shoot FROM them into the street. No permit, no insurance nothing required. So the only "complication" here, is a camera operator crossing an empty street in the middle of the night with a camera wearing a reflective vest, with PA's surrounding them with flashlights to insure cars can see them. This is the way it's done and has been done on so many high profile films. I'd be more than happy to show you films of actors AND cameras crossing busy city streets with no crew around them, no blocked off streets, nothing. The famous scene from "Midnight Cowboy" when the car almost runs into Dustin Hoffman? Do you think my suggestions are THAT risky? Come on man. 

Having fun with friends is not a "workplace". If it were, then low budget films would simply not exist. 

It becomes a workplace when you have a legal production company, paying taxes and your crew are on payroll or at least 1099. Where you have production insurance and permits for each location. Where you have a line producer AND location manager who deal with issues like these, NOT the filmmaker going onto an Internet forum to ask questions. 

I understand your reservations completely, I get it. But they're sadly unrealistic. 

You seem to think that there are only two types of film productions - ‘fun with friends’ with no production company entity, and ‘big professional crew.’ 

From my own working experience, I can tell you that there is a huge range of shoots in-between these two poles - student films, self-financed narrative films, small commercials, corporate and documentary films. And that is where many of these issues can occur, since experience level will vary widely. You’re far less likely to have someone step up and say, ‘hey guys this is a bad idea. Let’s change it up.’ There’s nothing unrealistic about wanting to change that. 

As far as ‘Midnight Cowboy,’ you’re talking about a film that came out in 1969, more than 50 years ago. There were some extremely sketchy working practices back then that we have thankfully moved past. Most film producers no longer think it’s a good idea to shoot on an old contaminated nuclear site like ‘The Conquerer’ (1956), or to run a picture car at 80mph thru multiple intersections on live city streets like ‘The French Connection’ (1971). It was unnecessary back then, and it’s unnecessary now.

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2 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Well sure, when you have a big crew with paid people, everyone makes the assumption the production management has their shit in order. In this case, they did not have their shit in order, they lied about having permission to be on private property, on active train tracks. 

I want to circle back to this, because I think it’s important.

Set safety is not one person or one department’s responsibility.

When it comes to dangerous situations, every single person on set has the responsibility to say something if they see a problem.

This is especially true for the key department heads who need to look out for the people working under their supervision. It’s always easier to look out for someone else in the heat of production than it is for yourself, as any camera operator can attest to. 

Safety is a mindset. When we all share that mindset and take responsibility to make things as safe as possible, we can catch each other’s mistakes. This goes for something as simple as handing off a lens or formatting a card, to something with more inherent risk like filming with firearms blanks, going up in a lift, or placing cameras for a car crash stunt.

When we make safety the other guy’s responsibility and assume they have everything in order, bad things happen.

This has nothing to do with budget, or whether you’re being paid or not. We can all look out for each other on set (and in life) and make sure we all go home at the end of the day.

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8 hours ago, Joshua Silverlock said:

This is the paragraph I'm basing my information on, taken from Film London: "

If you are using a handheld camera and your filming will not cause an obstruction then there is no restriction to filming on London’s public highway. In some boroughs this also extends to small crews with a tripod. No licence or any form of official permission is required." (source: https://filmlondon.org.uk/resource/advice-for-small-crews

I was going to post the same thing. 

This is basically identical rules to the USA as well. 

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

From my own working experience, I can tell you that there is a huge range of shoots in-between these two poles - student films, self-financed narrative films, small commercials, corporate and documentary films. And that is where many of these issues can occur, since experience level will vary widely. You’re far less likely to have someone step up and say, ‘hey guys this is a bad idea. Let’s change it up.’ There’s nothing unrealistic about wanting to change that. 

From my personal experience, the crew on a low/no budget production generally are closer and henceforth, everyone's opinion matters. Where I agree, experience does matter widely, I find that people have less confidence in their abilities. So they will ask a lot of questions and there is an ego-free camaraderie, that you just don't get on bigger shows. People speak up about everything and they'll voice their concerns with everyone all at once. I also find the stress levels on no/low shows is generally much better than fully paid/fully crewed shows. Most of the time you're out there doing the best you can, not really worrying because you aren't getting paid anything. Plus because you can work longer days on no/low shows, that makes up for the stress of trying to make your 12hrs. 

I feel on bigger shows, there are so many moving pieces, people just "do" things based on prep/experience. People just go through the motions and sometimes have over-confidence in their abilities and they rely too much on other people. Many departments, don't have much connection with the line producer or UPM. They're hired to do their jobs and they aren't going to them for everything that's wrong. They certainly aren't bothering the producer(s) or director. They simply do their job and hope it all goes well in the end. 
 

Quote

When it comes to dangerous situations, every single person on set has the responsibility to say something if they see a problem.

I want you to be a PA who asks a UPM if they have a permit to be on that location. See how fast they shut that PA down and say "yea yea we're good" but they're just lying. What is that PA to do? Go to the producer? By the time that happens, the dangerous thing is probably already done. Trust me, I've seen this before on bigger shows. I've been the whistle blower before and ya know what, by the time my voice was heard, the scene was over. I then grabbed the UPM and showed them how unsafe the situation was and he told the proper channels.  The people who made the situation unsafe, then spent the rest of the shooting hating me. Do you really think I will speak up again after that mistreatment?

The camera department voices are HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR, but very few other departments have that luxury, especially other units. 

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This has nothing to do with budget, or whether you’re being paid or not. We can all look out for each other on set (and in life) and make sure we all go home at the end of the day.

Yes and when I mean no/low budget, I'm referring directly to the size of the crew, not necessarily the budget. 

On bigger shows, I have never once seen any shits given across departments. You've really seen a cinematographer put sand bags on a stand that looks like it's going to fall over? Come on. That's the kind of stuff I do and then get yelled at by someone in that department because I touched their equipment. 

I was on a union commercial show few years ago that someone had forgot to put stoppers at the end of the track. The camera was in rehearsal and was headed down the track with a 500lb Fisher dolly on it. The grip didn't even notice the problem and I was walking next to the track. I saw it, ran across the room, grabbed a sand bag (only thing I could find) and threw it on the end of the track. I was the one who got yelled at for not putting the proper clamp at the end of the track. I was the damn camera operator! Are you effin' kidding me? 

I got dozens of stories like this but honestly, zero from no/low shows. Why? Because everyone looks after each other on the smaller shows and they aren't yelled at for doing something outside of their department for safety sake. 

 

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10 hours ago, Joshua Silverlock said:

If you are using a handheld camera and your filming will not cause an obstruction then there is no restriction to filming on London’s public highway. In some boroughs this also extends to small crews with a tripod. No licence or any form of official permission is required." 

That exemption exists to allow News crews to do their job without having to have multiple permits. That why it mentions handheld cameras. It also prevents tourists with handycams from technically breaking the law.

A shoot with multiple crew members, and camera and lighting equipment blocking sidewalks is still going to attract attention from the police.

it also specifically mentions not causing obstructions. What is locking up a road, if not causing an obstruction?

Of course,  safety is a separate issue from permits, and I’m glad that you seem to understand the issues, even if some people are determined to give you poor advice.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Joshua Silverlock said:

If we were to go ahead with the shot as described it would definitely be a route that doesn't cross roads, it would also be a suburban, residential area we'd be looking at (as opposed to central london!) and would be late at night so definitely reduced traffic/passers by (of course that doesn't negate the safety considerations in any way - just makes life slightly easier). 

Which is exactly what I thought you'd say. Pity nobody else thought you'd be capable of making this decision for yourself and doing the right thing. Funny how I was the only one who made the assumption you were not shooting in down town London, in a high traffic area. Kinda funny how no/low budget filmmakers think a like hahah 😛

Yea the permitting thing is not required unless you have more than 5 people on the ground. This is how news organizations can shoot without having to strike a permit for every single setup. No/Low production is really no different, especially if you're in and out very fast. 

I've done shoots like this so many times in my life, it's all just 2nd nature. Setting up lights and not turning them on until the camera rolls for instance, tricks like that help get your shot and not get too much attraction. 

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On 3/14/2021 at 12:17 PM, Joshua Silverlock said:

Thanks to everyone who has responded! The shoot's a long way off and only in very early development so we're really just feeling out options for what might be possible. 

The safety of everyone involved would of course be paramount! If we were to go ahead with the shot as described it would definitely be a route that doesn't cross roads, it would also be a suburban, residential area we'd be looking at (as opposed to central london!) and would be late at night so definitely reduced traffic/passers by (of course that doesn't negate the safety considerations in any way - just makes life slightly easier).

Very glad to hear that Joshua. Best of luck with your shoot!

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On 3/14/2021 at 11:37 PM, Tyler Purcell said:

From my personal experience, the crew on a low/no budget production generally are closer and henceforth, everyone's opinion matters. Where I agree, experience does matter widely, I find that people have less confidence in their abilities. So they will ask a lot of questions and there is an ego-free camaraderie, that you just don't get on bigger shows. People speak up about everything and they'll voice their concerns with everyone all at once. I also find the stress levels on no/low shows is generally much better than fully paid/fully crewed shows.

Okay, so many things to unpack here. Where to start...

1. I actually agree with you on this point, though I don't think we are talking about the same thing with regard to what constitutes 'fully paid/fully crewed shows.' And that's fine, production scale is all relative. I'm sure Greg Irwin has a very different idea of what constitutes a 'big show' than the rest of us here. It's important to realize that the bigger you go, the more complicated and hierarchical personal interactions can get. They are different cultures that one has to learn to navigate.

Most of us (if not all of us?) have had bad experiences on set due to missteps in etiquette at one time or another. It's best not to take these experiences too personally, but accept them more as a learning experience. Usually, there are things one could have done differently to avoid the problem. And if not, then at least you know not to work with that person again.

 

On 3/14/2021 at 11:37 PM, Tyler Purcell said:

I want you to be a PA who asks a UPM if they have a permit to be on that location. See how fast they shut that PA down and say "yea yea we're good" but they're just lying. What is that PA to do? Go to the producer? By the time that happens, the dangerous thing is probably already done.

2. I think this is not a great way to deal with the situation. It's best to go up the chain within your department, so as a set PA it would be best to go the Key Set PA and have them take it to the 1st AD. Or something along those lines.

With regard to permits, you hope that it never gets to a point where a PA has to ask that question - realistically the key department heads should be the ones to bring those concerns to the 1st AD. If you are in that situation, then you are on a shit-show, and you should get off that job as quickly as possible.

 

On 3/14/2021 at 11:37 PM, Tyler Purcell said:

The camera department voices are HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR, but very few other departments have that luxury, especially other units. 

3. I agree with you that Camera often gets their voices heard above others. The Gaffer on a lot of smaller sets also will have quite a bit of pull. Which is why if you can develop a good relationship with those departments, you can speak to them privately about those concerns. Much harder situation for day players who don't have time to build that rapport, as I well know. On the other hand, if you're only there for a few days then conflict is less of an issue.

 

On 3/14/2021 at 11:37 PM, Tyler Purcell said:

On bigger shows, I have never once seen any shits given across departments. You've really seen a cinematographer put sand bags on a stand that looks like it's going to fall over? Come on. That's the kind of stuff I do and then get yelled at by someone in that department because I touched their equipment. 

4. If the c-stand is actually falling over and you're in a position to grab it, then do it. I've never seen a grip yell at someone for saving a piece of equipment. Just don't make a big deal about it, don't embarrass them, and usually you've made a new friend in the grip dept.

On the other hand, if the c-stand just looks precarious, then it's best to quickly find a nearby grip and quietly let them know that their stand is about to fall over. Let them do their jobs, simply informing them of an issue is enough. Same thing for a camera issue, lighting issue, makeup issue, etc.

 

On 3/14/2021 at 11:37 PM, Tyler Purcell said:

I was on a union commercial show few years ago that someone had forgot to put stoppers at the end of the track. The camera was in rehearsal and was headed down the track with a 500lb Fisher dolly on it. The grip didn't even notice the problem and I was walking next to the track. I saw it, ran across the room, grabbed a sand bag (only thing I could find) and threw it on the end of the track. I was the one who got yelled at for not putting the proper clamp at the end of the track. I was the damn camera operator! Are you effin' kidding me? 

5. Who exactly yelled at you for not putting an end stop on the end of the track?

It is the dolly grip's job to do that, no one else's. I know at least one very experienced dolly grip who doesn't bother with end stops in certain cases, as he's very confident that he knows exactly where the end of the track is. It may be that this was the case here - unless you had that conversation afterward, it's a little rude to assume incompetence right up front. Certainly, making a big show of saving the day and embarrassing the dolly grip in front of the entire crew probably wasn't the best move.

Really, it's not that hard to whisper to the dolly grip that there's no end stop on the track while you're riding the dolly. You're certainly within your rights as a camera operator to mention it and ask for it. The operator and 1st AC really rely on the dolly grip, it's a very important relationship. You have to manage that relationship carefully and work as a team.

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On 3/15/2021 at 12:01 AM, Tyler Purcell said:

Which is exactly what I thought you'd say. Pity nobody else thought you'd be capable of making this decision for yourself and doing the right thing. Funny how I was the only one who made the assumption you were not shooting in down town London, in a high traffic area. Kinda funny how no/low budget filmmakers think a like hahah 😛

Please, that is ridiculous.

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6 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Okay, so many things to unpack here. Where to start...

1. It's important to realize that the bigger you go, the more complicated and hierarchical personal interactions can get. They are different cultures that one has to learn to navigate.

Right, I mean it is an entirely different world. More like a small city, rather than a bunch of friends. 

6 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Most of us (if not all of us?) have had bad experiences on set due to missteps in etiquette at one time or another. It's best not to take these experiences too personally, but accept them more as a learning experience. Usually, there are things one could have done differently to avoid the problem. And if not, then at least you know not to work with that person again.

Personally, I think the "etiquette" can be a bit aggressive. Some people take things too seriously. It's the entertainment industry, we are here to make entertainment, not make space rockets. Luckily, I've worked with a lot of the same people before, so it's rare I have issues, but those occasions where I do, it's generally only one person who everyone struggles with on set. 

6 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

2. I think this is not a great way to deal with the situation. It's best to go up the chain within your department, so as a set PA it would be best to go the Key Set PA and have them take it to the 1st AD. Or something along those lines.

I guess the P.A. example may have been wrong. I've just seen people walk by dangerous situations on set and do nothing. When I ask them about it, they always, not sometimes, ALWAYS say "not my department" and continue walking. It gets very annoying when a camera falls over in the wind when there is a PA on set watching the equipment during lunch break. How bout you notify everyone there is something wrong and to catch it? 

6 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

With regard to permits, you hope that it never gets to a point where a PA has to ask that question - realistically the key department heads should be the ones to bring those concerns to the 1st AD. If you are in that situation, then you are on a shit-show, and you should get off that job as quickly as possible.

Right, I mean why should a PA or ANY of the crew even give concern about permits? Generally if you have to worry about permits, it's a problem, but how would you know? Like the situation with the train track shot, how would you ever know they didn't belong there? 

6 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

3. I agree with you that Camera often gets their voices heard above others. The Gaffer on a lot of smaller sets also will have quite a bit of pull. Which is why if you can develop a good relationship with those departments, you can speak to them privately about those concerns. Much harder situation for day players who don't have time to build that rapport, as I well know. On the other hand, if you're only there for a few days then conflict is less of an issue.

Day playing is the big problem. On bigger, longer shows, things are very different. You can very easily build rapport and things run a lot smoother. It's those one day shoots, with a lot of crew and a lot of moving pieces, those are the ones which are the biggest struggles. Imagine being a AC who has never worked with the DP. A DP who has never worked with the gaffer. A gaffer who has never worked with his crew either. I mean y'all show up for breakfast at 7am and half of the crew are zombies, the other half are not talkative. I'm the worst at remembering names, so it takes me days to remember everyone's name, so I feel like an idiot, barely able to remember the cast and directors name, let alone the 2nd key grip or electrician. I feel bad for those introverts on set, who literally keep their mouths shut, they must have a much worse time than I do, gabbing to everyone. 

6 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

4. If the c-stand is actually falling over and you're in a position to grab it, then do it. I've never seen a grip yell at someone for saving a piece of equipment. Just don't make a big deal about it, don't embarrass them, and usually you've made a new friend in the grip dept.

On the other hand, if the c-stand just looks precarious, then it's best to quickly find a nearby grip and quietly let them know that their stand is about to fall over. Let them do their jobs, simply informing them of an issue is enough. Same thing for a camera issue, lighting issue, makeup issue, etc.

It's not even me honestly, I always do my thing. It's other people who I see just not do anything when they can clearly see something is wrong. 

But yes no emergency = tell them and they'll fix. Sometimes I find that "fixes" take longer to explain than just doing in a lot of cases. That's when it's rough to be lower on the totem pole. Seeing a problem that needs to be fixed, a shadow on the wall for instance. Something you can walk over, tweak the flag, and it will go away. But as a camera assistant or operator, you have to tell the DP, who maybe busy talking to the director. They have to make a decision if it's going to be in frame, then there is a long winded discussion about it, meanwhile nothing is being done or shot. Again, 10 second fix to walk across the sound stage and remedy it. By the time the "committee" has discussed it, you're now thinking to yourself, man if I open my mouth, I'm going to have to work late. So ya just don't open your mouth after a while and that mentality spreads to the entire crew and you see lots of mistakes that nobody brings up. I know, because a lot of the pretty big (50+ cast/crew, multi-week) industrial/commercial jobs I've worked on, I get to edit as well. So when I'm shooting, I'm always looking for ways to NOT do cleanup in post. So I'm constantly making my image as flawless as possible in camera. A lot of people just don't care and it bugs me because when they leave the set, they never have to see it again. When I leave set, I'm going to be on it for another 6 months to a year. It's that mentality that kills me on bigger shows, on smaller shows, people generally care more because they can't afford to fix things in post. 

6 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

5. Who exactly yelled at you for not putting an end stop on the end of the track?

It was years ago. It was a rough shoot, we were way behind schedule. One of those music videos where the company funding it, thought we were making a feature film. So like 20+ on the crew for absolutely no reason. I had my own damn camera truck, just for my single film camera and some accessories, it was one of "those" shows. Anyway, it was a 2 day shoot if I recall and towards the end of the 1st day, we had this big shot to do with a dolly track. Maybe 20 ft of track. The dolly was put onto the track and the grips all left the set because the "star" wanted minimal crew, so everyone who didn't belong there, needed to go. I was wrangling cables for that shot because the DP wanted to run the camera. It was a rehearsal, everyone was super quiet and we started down the track. About half way down, I noticed the "star" was going faster and the dolly grip sped up to compensate. I calculated, there was no way the dolly operator was going to stop at the end of the track and I noticed, there was no clip at the end of the track. Now these guys were good, they were always on top of things, but I guess they ran away so fast because they were ordered off by the 1st AD, that it was a simple mistake. I dropped my cables and ran over to a sand bag near by and tossed it at the end of the track, just in time for the dolly to slam into it. As I suspected, the dolly track was too short, we used every piece of track we had and the "star" who was also the director (yea one of those) wanted to leave screen. 

When the dolly slammed into the bag, the dolly grip looked over and shook his head. He walked over to the sand bag and said "who put this here" and I immediately said "the dolly was going to roll off the track, there was no clip" and the guy made a big stink about it in front of the entirely quiet moment. He called for one of his guys to come back in, they came in, put two clips on it and we continued shooting. Honestly, I didn't care about it because later that night, we made amends when they couldn't figure out how to assemble the Fischer crane arm for the dolly. I was the only one there who had set one up before. All 5 of them were totally lost and I offered to do it and they reluctantly said yes. So I pieced it together over the course of 20 minutes after they failed for over an hour. We were friends after that. But still, I mean it was a safety issue and it was my personal camera on that dolly. 

6 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Really, it's not that hard to whisper to the dolly grip that there's no end stop on the track while you're riding the dolly. You're certainly within your rights as a camera operator to mention it and ask for it. The operator and 1st AC really rely on the dolly grip, it's a very important relationship. You have to manage that relationship carefully and work as a team.

He didn't have any clips on his belt, I checked. So he wouldn't have been able to do anything outside of stopping the shot and starting over again. 

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9 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

 Seeing a problem that needs to be fixed, a shadow on the wall for instance. Something you can walk over, tweak the flag, and it will go away. But as a camera assistant or operator, you have to tell the DP, who maybe busy talking to the director.

To me, this is a clear case of stepping outside your lane.

Maybe as an operator, you would quietly point the shadow out to the DP and ask them if they're ok with it, if you have a good relationship. If you have a really good relationship, the DP might empower you to make those little tweaks while they're busy with the director. Barring that though, they'd be right to be upset with you for touching their lighting, no matter how well-intentioned. Not to mention, the grip who was responsible for that flag probably wouldn't be happy with you either.

At the end of the day, the DP is the one who has to answer to the producer and director for these issues. Not the AC or the operator. Imagine if you've been hired to pull focus, and a PA standing by the camera tweaks the focus wheel from where you've set it for a split because they thought it was 'off.' Wouldn't that upset you as well?

You have to respect other people enough to let them do their own jobs. If you can't do that, then you shouldn't be working together.

 

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26 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

He didn't have any clips on his belt, I checked. So he wouldn't have been able to do anything outside of stopping the shot and starting over again. 

But you said it was a camera rehearsal? There's no reason to not stop the dolly during a rehearsal for safety. Even if it was a take, you can stop the dolly for a serious safety issue.

The whole shoot sounds like a shit-show, frankly. None of the Local 80 grips knew how to build the jib arm? Hard to believe, really.

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7 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

To me, this is a clear case of stepping outside your lane.

Well it was a made up scenario, but it's an example of stuff that can happen. It's rare I work on something where I'm not either intimately connected to the director or cinematographer and/or the director OR cinematographer myself. When I am not connected to anyone on set, I generally keep my mouth shut. That's the point I'm trying to make tho... sets full of people who just don't speak up. 

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