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brett.mayfield

do it once, do it right. farewell, trusty rig!

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It was a sad wednesday, last week.

 

I have been the sole steadicam operator (full-time) with a production support company for the past 3 or 4 years. i had put in my two weeks notice and was slated to leave on friday in order to pursue operating full-time on my own.

 

our new york team managed to slate a steadicam job and they requested that i ship out the rig and they would quickly learn how to use it and then shoot on monday (this mentality is much of why i decided to leave the company), rather than have me fly out to help another team member learn the ropes as i had been doing in los angeles.

 

i put the rig together, did a few last line dances, disassembled and packed it up.

i gave it my last salute, and sent it off to new york with the cvolution and camwave. probably the last time ill get to fly the rig that i learned on.

 

it was a strangely emotional experience. i have always been much more compelled by still photography, and ive built out a full wet darkroom in order to work on fine art prints, but steadicam operating is what has pulled me into the film world and really been my reason for working. without it i really wouldnt care much about cinematography and film. this was my introduction. sending the archer to new york to be handled by others was like sending a foster dog to live with a new family; in many ways it has become your own but really it's someone else's.

 

after i brought the cases to fedex i realized there was nothing else for me to do at the company so they let me split a few days early. may as well; gotta get a jump start on this new-found freelancing lifestyle.

 

the next day i got a call from the company's equipment manager

 

"hey dude, they broke the steadicam."

 

it was bound to happen. in the efforts of being cheap the company had me ship the steadicam rather than (for the same price as shipping the rig, fiz, and transmitter) have me come out and demo the rig for them. it was not as bad as i was led to believe; they had popped on the batteries and flipped it from | to | |, sending the rig in 24v mode and blowing the monitor. thats what ya get, i spose.

 

anyways, moral of the story is

 

do it once, do it right. dont be cheap!

 

since being on staff with the company didnt give me the opportunity to work with many crews, i now look forward to working with yall in the near future!

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Enjoy the freedom. Unfortunately there are just as many cheap a-holes that you will run up against, (look at the Craigslist thread), but at least you are in a better position to just walk away.

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That sounded like a great pitch for a short film! but i can see how you can be attached to a rig, the rig that i first practiced on is being sold and i wish i had the funds to buy it. but it will be sad to see it go as there is alot of passion and effort that you put into you first rig.

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I'm going through withdrawal right now knowing these are my last few days operating in my EFP before I sell. It became an extension of my body. I learned every part of that rig.

 

Welcome to the freelance world Brett. It's a whole different ball game. But you call the shots on your career. Nobody else. I hope you get into your own rig quickly. If there is anything I can help you with please let me know. Fly safe!

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Hey steadijess!

 

got my rig, at almost the same time you were getting yours! i saw your name up on Jacks board while i was picking up my own.

 

hope you enjoy your new toy! i am thrilled with mine.

 

brett.

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I brought that Steadicam into Brett's former employer. There were a few folks there as I did the demo. Nobody had the single-minded drive of Brett. Was Brett good for myriad phone calls, questions, etc? You betcha. One of the best parts of teaching people how to properly operate a Steadicam is the follow-up communication.

 

I wish you only the best of luck. You have the right combination of assets moving into freelancing: You love Steadicam, you're upbeat, you listen, you work very hard and you've applied endless hours to raising your skill set.

 

Regarding the letting go of rigs. A fair range of experiences. A sled damaged by fire. That hurt... though of course that sled became Old Smokey and launched a few more careers after mine. Letting go of every single item I owned that had anything to do with Steadicam was quite difficult. That was in 2003 and when Alan Mehlbrech drove down the driveway and turned, oh man did I weep. I truly did. But hey, everything changes and 10 years later I'm happy to be holding onto the system I have- using it daily.

 

My thoughts on all of the emotions connected to hardware? Complex. On the one hand, it's just stuff. Insured and replaceable. On the other hand? One falls in love with a fine instrument and rues the departure of it from one's hand.

 

Brett, assume a slight learning curve as you settle in with whatever your next rig is. No matter which high-end rig you've gone for, every instrument requires a bit of education to the hand and head. Subtle differences will show and you'll adjust. After a short time of settling in, it will feel like second nature.

 

And for god's sake stay in touch !!!!

 

Best to all,

 

Peter Abraham, S.O.C.

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