Everyone has been in this situation: very long lens, wide open apeture, dolly in or out combined with the lack of time and ofcourse: NO rehearsals. The DP is freshly "out of school" and doesn't has the experience of giving you a fatter stop or calling the 1st AD for a proper rehearsal for you to lay out marks. Camera's rolling and the shot becomes soft time after time. Impossible shot to pull? Sweaty hands? How do you coop with these kind of situations? Brushing it off as quick as possible?
Tell me your "worst story" and how to deal with it on set and especially, how do you stay cool and brush it off to move to the next shot without a bad taste in your mouth? Comment below!
For me the key was to learn how to communicate better.
Taking responsibility of the focus was telling my colleagues what I needed.
And maybe educate them in a way.
If they can not meet my request they would be a part of the decisions instead of my vs them.
What I really like to do is ask the 2nd AC to help me count.
I place marks on set with a number and the 2nd AC calls the number when the actor stands on it.
I then only have to look at the remote and that helps me to be on que better.
This is a very old trick but it works really well.
In my horror story; the key grip saved my ass by being very precise every take and taking the time to rehearse every free minute. Nailing a perfect shot is a group effort, also the focus.
So my tip; keep the responsibility but include your team!
My opinion is that smallest mistake 1st AC can make is to be out of focus during the take. If lens is dirty, or you did not use filter DoP told you to put in, or you miss color balance... that is big mistake. Pulling focus is just one part of 1stAC responsibilities.
I always try to make my own marks and try to predict what can happen during the shot.
My advice is: put manual follow focus, stay close to the lens and use your own marks
Everyone on set should know if there is no rehearsal, you can't expect perfect shot, because rehersal is not only for 1st AC. So there is no reason to feel bad if take is soft if you did your best. If you have to explain why take is soft - than you are on the wrong set.
This is a good description of my everyday life.
Sweaty hands and my glasses starting to hurt on my head of all the pressure.
so, there is no worst story,
Just an advice, teach your fresh DP how it works and what you need to be the best you can be. Because in the end, thats what he will remember.
And if it does get soft, well....its not the end of the world. Just smile and wave, and do it again.
Yeah, we've been definitely all there. Want to ear a very scary story? Here's mine. I was shooting an horror feature, of course it was night and I would say it was the 10 or 11th hour of our day. The shot was the following: the main character would wake up from a very bad nightmare and suddenly he would seat on his bed. In the moment he reached a straight position the camera would push in to a very tight close up. 50mm master prime wide open (of course), from 1.5m to 80cm, the actor would "land" on a different spot every take and the DoP wanted the push in sharp during the whole time. I told him I would try my best, and that I would need quite a few rehearsals with the grip and the actor. After 10/15 minutes of rehearsal I thought I had it so I said we were ready. Even so, it took me like 8 takes to nail it, and it was damn luck in the end. We were preparing the next shot when the 1st AD comes to me and says "the FX guys forgot to activate the rain effect on the windows, we must repeat the shot". Thank god there were no assault weapon on set. And the second time it took me just 6 takes, but again, I know I was just lucky.
To make the long story short, sometimes we are going to find ourself in situations very close to the impossible. Sometime we get lucky, sometime we don't. And when you don't it leaves a bad taste in your mouth but in my opinion is also something that is part of our job.