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Mike Braaten

Comebacks

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Hello Everyone~

This week I had my first paying gig with my new Archer... I don't know whether to frame the C-note I earned or spend it on booze, but at least it won't affect my unemployment checks!

 

I've done a few gigs now on vanity projects and I've noticed that the rig tends to attract a crowd of slack-jawed people when I'm starting to line up shots. A couple of my favorite questions are:

"Is that thing heavy?"

"How much did you pay for that?"

"Why's it so wobbly with the 85 on there?"

 

I try not to be a total dick when people ask questions since I'm a curious person as well, but I have a feeling I'll be getting a lot more questions like those and more. Could some of you more seasoned operators could throw a couple pithy comebacks my way for these questions and others I'll be hearing over the course of my career?

 

Thanks again to the forum for all the war stories. Lots of good stuff in the archives...

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Other fond favorites....

 

You must have a really bad back / watch that, it'll do your back in... (yeah thank's)

 

Why is that green? (Not so prominent anymore)

 

You must have really strong arms, lifting that all day...

 

That looks heavy, ohh actually no; I see the arm is taking all the weight...

 

What?s the longest time you can wear that for?

 

Don't forget the multitude of humoring smiles you must put on every time someone tells you that you look like a robot etc...

 

Also the way you have to listen to people tell you when they last saw a Steadicam, and what it was doing...

 

If I really care, and It's a heavy enough camera package, I?ll let them try and pick it up when it's docked, and then you get to see the two stages of lifting technique people use, as they realize the weight.

 

I'm becoming a grumpy bastard....

 

Rick.

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I try not to be a total dick when people ask questions since I'm a curious person as well, but I have a feeling I'll be getting a lot more questions like those and more. Could some of you more seasoned operators could throw a couple pithy comebacks my way for these questions and others I'll be hearing over the course of my career?

 

If you don't want to be a total dick, you could try simply answering the questions. Yes, you'll hear the same ones over and over but people are just curious.

 

Once in a while, someone will state something, instead of asking, and it'll be way off the mark. For example, "Those things are expensive--like $10,000." To which I may reply, "Sure, if I had a coupon for 90% off."

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I used to try and get all witty in those situations, but I've softened with age and as Steadicams have become much more prevalent (and as I have moved onto bigger sets) there is definitely much less reaction. Now, when asked if it is heavy, I just smile and nicely say "yes, but it is well balanced and the weight sits nicely on the hips."

 

The best question I ever got after someone has come up & assessed "how it works" (this actually happened on two separate occasions by different people) is "where is the water?"

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For, "is that thing heavy?" it depends on who's asking. A hot chick gets the no handed 360 and a, "naww, it's not so bad".

 

For, "how much did you spend for that?" I like to include the cost of the camera, lenses, mag, video tap, exposed film, et. I'll usually say, "about 500k".

 

My shit doesn?t wobble with an 85 :P yours won?t some day too.

 

I used to get the, "why is your monitor green?" before my Boland. Sometimes I'd just say, "just cause green is cool, I can make it purple or orange if I want".

 

And for, "you look like Robocop" or "I saw one of those..." I like to tell the story of Vasquez in Aliens. "Remember that cool gun? That was on a steadicam arm".

 

 

You have to recognize that you have on of the coolest pieces of equipment and are in one of the coolest industries in the world! The only people with a "cooler" job might be Space Shuttle pilots. I'm sure they have a long list of, "how does that work" questions too....

 

 

Do your best to be a good ambassador of our trade. Learn to re-adjust your vest and let people try it on. You can have the satisfaction of knowing that you will give those curious enough to ask something super cool to talk about for years. "I was with my wife at the mall and I got to wear one of those things..."

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You have to recognize that you have on of the coolest pieces of equipment and are in one of the coolest industries in the world! The only people with a "cooler" job might be Space Shuttle pilots. I'm sure they have a long list of, "how does that work" questions too....

 

OK, I'll take that bait...ten years ago I was working on "ER" when John Glenn and a few of the other astronauts who flew on the Discovery mission with him stopped by our set after a Tonight show taping. While the producers were herding them around to meet the various actors and hoi polloi, the Senator in particular kept glancing over at the Steadicam with obvious curiosity. As they passed through the set, Glenn stopped and asked me to demonstrate the rig for him and asked about the various components and how they worked. It was clear he was much more interested in the mechanics and engineering going on there than meeting a bunch of producers (much to their annoyance)!

 

p.s. check out name of director on the slate...

 

post-79-1227470682_thumb.jpg

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Someone on this forum I believe had a bunch of cool sayings about steadicam, I think it was when I was asking for sayings for a T Shirt design, I got tstuff like "What's your drop time?, etc..

 

Some folks love it so much that they have their own made up stories about it.

I remember working with a Tech supervisor who told me when I rigged up that he first tried on a steadicam in 1975, I asked him, "did you work on bound for glory" he said "no", I then asked, what was it? , He said some sports show!, I asked him if it was maybe after 77, like 78, 79?, He insisted it was in 1975, but didn't remember the operators name, or if it was Garrett or Jerry He went on to tell me how he didn't like it, since it messed up his back. I just nodded and said, Cool! and moved on.

 

I always get the "Your back must be so sore after using that thing all day" I always tell them, it won't mess up your back if you use it correctly and if your back isn't messed up in the first place, it won't hurt it, but if you have back problems, Definitely don't use it for any length of time.

 

When working with a director or producer who has never worked with a steadicam on set before, after working a while on the set, if I feel they're abusing of us like using us as moving human tripods in order to save time inistead of using the right tool for the job, I insist on having them try it on because it will be a "Super Cool " picture for them. And after they rig up and stand up straight, I have the AC Move the stand away, like at least a full minute away, and when they get tired of learning how to walk a line and keep the crosshairs on something, etc.., and they say, "OK let's put this down", I call for the stand, and ... you guessed it, It's another minute till it gets here. After that it's a whole different story when the steadicam gets used. And there is one more Director and/or Producer who respects the tool and it's operator.

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......When working with a director or producer who has never worked with a steadicam on set before, after working a while on the set, if I feel they're abusing of us.....

 

I´ve a trick.... Hey, sir.... Do you like steadicam shots... Do you....??....

-Oh Yeah!...... Said me!

-Well, first, try it. I can leave you my gear, you try it.... (At this, I said my assistant to trow away the stand..... Hey... one more minute..or 30 second more... !!! Hey... You hold it fine.... !!! Follow, follow.....

Of course, I don´t want kill the director´s back, but the lesson.....will be forever.

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I used to try and get all witty in those situations, but I've softened with age and as Steadicams have become much more prevalent (and as I have moved onto bigger sets) there is definitely much less reaction. Now, when asked if it is heavy, I just smile and nicely say "yes, but it is well balanced and the weight sits nicely on the hips."

Thank you, Alex. C'mon guys. Let's not be like the builder that says "All this will have to come out!"

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Thanks to everyone who responded! I definitely like the idea of strapping the director in for a spell... I've already strapped in a DP who uses me from time to time. He had enough after about 90 seconds and my rig is pretty light, all things considered...

 

I'll try to be a good ambassador to the craft and keep the smart remarks to a minimum. Sorta goes against all my natural instincts, but I'll try to keep in mind the fact that I'm representing a fraternity of elite cameramen.

 

I reserve the right to use the rig to impress chicks, however (thank you for that Mr. McGowan). It sure gets a lot more attention than a bundle of cable in my hands!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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I just wanted to say this thread is great.

 

I've only been doing "real" operating since August of this year (so about 4 months). Obviously I am quite new to the experience but have already come across all of those same questions and comments.

 

One of our talent on a couple different occasions seems to go with this one,

 

"Don't take that thing onto a NY subway. You look like a terrorist."

 

Not entirely flattering :rolleyes:

 

Just wanted to add my two cents. Here's to hoping I'll one day be a solid operator!

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