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Letter From LA LA Land ~ Tristan Milani ACS January 2015

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Whatever Happened to Focus Pullers...!

On a recent shoot I was having a natter with my gaffer Tim Strattan ( an LA legend 40 yrs in the biz). He had just wrapped on Fast and Furious 7, a 110 day shoot around the world. He was mainly focused on the Atlanta, GA. portion of the shoot.
Tim went on to tell me they had 7 Alexa cameras running on the show the whole time. What is so interesting about this? Apart from the number of cameras it is the powering of all the monitors for the ACs. Seven cameras, seven tents, seven 1st ACs all tucked up nice and warm starring at 4k monitors. All needing power to run the electronics. Tim had to put on an electrician just to the service the ACs!
On a recent movie in Australia my 1st AC told me with great conviction and confidence “ dont worry Tristan, I wont be anywhere near the camera..” He took his Preston and very expensive monitor and hid in various locations, in back rooms on location, outside under a tree, next to the camera truck, near the coffee trolley! Anywhere but nowhere near the camera...
Am I the only DP that finds this a concern, a stange new way of doing things? Now I have to get off the dolly and walk and find the AC, and tell them if I thought the shot was slightly soft. We cannot yell across the set “ hey man its out...” that drives them all crazy!. It used to be a whisper and a nod and straight back into it!
I miss the bad old days. I miss the great AC Frank Hruby by my side with the wiff of tobacco on his breathe. I even miss his shirtless stage, the coldest of night shoots. Still no shirt for Frank.....
The grips are the best part about production. I love my grips, the grip on my last film even gave me a present at the end of the shoot. A book, a great book “The Book Of Insults”. He hadn’t read it of course but it was a lovely gesture. We got to know each other really well because there was no one else around the camera!
Come back guys and girls we miss you! It makes for better filmmaking if you are standing by the camera. After all, the camera is the audience...
Tristan Milani ACS


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