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Director picking up Camera without asking on Union set


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#1 Paul Bartok

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 08:15 AM

I know union has some pretty serious rules when it comes to don't touch other departments equipment and I've heard of people being fired because of it,

What happens if a director picks up a camera with out asking the DOP or Camera Op?

Do they get special privalage or same rules apply

 


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#2 Neal Norton

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 09:18 AM

Of course I can't speak for every crew and set. . .

 

In my experience as an IA camera operator, we all work for the Director.  The Director would not be 'asking' permission in any case in regard to using the camera.  As long as the company has followed union rules and hired the required crew for each camera on the job then it would be unlikely that a complaint would taken very seriously.  The Director can simply say "I am operating the camera" and that is that.  Imagine telling Mr. Speilberg not to touch the camera:)

 

I have worked with Directors who like to operate the camera at times and in that situation I try my best to support that Director in any way I can - such as making sure a handheld camera is set up in a user freindly way or clearing trip hazards from the path. I would also watch the monitor if possible to let the Director know if there was any kind of problem (c-stand in shot?) or maybe a possible improvement.

 

I have seen a Director take over operating a camera when the operator has not gotten the shot like the Director wants - and that is an ego crushing scene for sure.  But we are here at the discretion of the Director and DP so a thick skin can be an important asset as a camera operator!

 

The more common situation I have seen is that a DP will hire an operator to 'stand by' while the DP does the operating.   In some cases this might be a pretty good deal - I would jump at the chance to watch Bob Richardson work and get paid for it to boot.

 

Regards,

 

Neal Norton

Camera Operator


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#3 Paul Bartok

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 09:47 AM

Thanks Neal for that awesome answer
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 11:38 AM

I recall on a very non-union shoot a good friend of mine, Adam, the director, asking me sheepishly if he could operate the camera for a scene. I just gave him a quizzical look as to why I'd ever say no to the chance to take a 435 off of my shoulder, handed it over to him and chuckled a bit as he tried to get the right posture. Then we cleared set for an intimate scene between himself and the actress, and called it a day.

It's not my movie, nor is it my cam ops movie. It belongs to the director (well and the producers/actors). I want to do what I can so they can get what they need, as put by Neal.


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#5 Richard Boddington

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 11:18 AM

 The Director can simply say "I am operating the camera" and that is that.  

 

Yep, that's exactly what I do, when I feel like it.  I'm the director and the producer, plus I own the Alexa  ;)

 

I would simply tell the DOP in a courteous manner, I am operating the next shot.  I operate the shot and we move on, no big deal.

 

If the union has an issue they are welcome to visit the set and tell me off. Oh wait, my sets are more than 5 minutes from the city of Toronto, I never see them!

 

R,


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#6 Joshua EarlesBennett

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 02:53 PM

Its not so much a union rule as it's a set experience/etiquette rule. People are in charge of that gear and accountable for it, so it's always best to ask to use it. Snagging a sandbag from the grips without them knowing so you can prop open a door is a no no because at wrap, some poor grip has to look for that missing sandbag.

I know union has some pretty serious rules when it comes to don't touch other departments equipment

 


Edited by Joshua EarlesBennett, 01 July 2013 - 02:53 PM.

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#7 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 11:05 AM

Regardless of who the set 'belongs' to, it's a matter of etiquette and politeness for a Director to ask if they can operate. Replacing the operator, even if it's just for one shot, can easily carry with it an implied criticism of their abilities, so it's just good manners for the Director to explain his/her reasons for wanting to take over.


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#8 Bruce Greene

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 08:35 AM

I think it is sufficient for the director to say that he/she will be operating the shot. They don't need to ask permission.

They should not be simply grabbing the camera though, as the camera crew will want to assist and guarantee the safety of the camera...and the director :)
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#9 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 03:12 PM

I think it is sufficient for the director to say that he/she will be operating the shot. They don't need to ask permission.
 

I disagree. Unless the Director is an ex operator, and therefore has proven skills, it is kind of insulting to the Operator to have his/her job taken away from them, however temporarily, by someone who doesn't necessarily have any ability.

 

I don't allow people to look through the viewfinder without asking, I'm certainly not going to let them operate the shot without an explanation.


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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 03:51 PM

We've gone beyond rules here into etiquette and manners. There's no rule that a director has to show some manners when dealing with crews, or anyone else they encounter in life... but it would be nice.
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#11 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 03:57 PM

 There's no rule that a director has to show some manners when dealing with crews, or anyone else they encounter in life... but it would be nice.

Amen to that, David.


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