Still: SUSPIRA (1977) - DIR: Dario Argento, DoP Luciano Tovoli
We are Ballerinas. Our kit is worth an awful lot of money, regardless of department, and I've found it very surprising that; given the quantity of kit that is out on any given shoot on any given day, that things don't get broken.
Let me give you an example, a main TV channel show going out in a prime slot is likely to have a production value in the multiple millions and a crew of say, 60. For a shoot of that size, I alone have anything up to 200 metres of cabling out on the floor at any one time!! We have props teams, things that look heavy that aren't, electrical cables and wires, things that look light but are heavy, scaffold, carpentry kit, circular saws, sticky things everywhere, EVERYWHERE. Food, red hot tea, boxes with lids open. Boxes that are fake, boxes that aren't boxes, animals running around on set; and backstage, make up bags on the floor, trolleys with rogue legs, grip track and wooden blocks, more dogs. I could be travelling a <Insert ridiculous 7 figure value here> Zeiss camera zoom lens 15 metres across a room, over all of this stuff, through two doorways, having been awake and running around for 10 straight hours, after a 5 am wake up call and not even wobble. In fact I do every day.
It truly is a miracle that anything even gets made sometimes. Luckily in the UK, we are VERY fortunate that we are looked after with our workplace health and safety. Along with your call sheet that will be emailed out to your each shift you work on a production, you will see an MO attachment (more on those later on) and an RI, that's the Risk Assessment - READ IT! Know your rights, know your limitations, know what is and isn't allowed to be asked of you and know yourself! IF in your gut something doesn't feel right, then don't under any circumstances risk hurting yourself or others on set, speak to your superior and if still unsatisfied, speak to production. Take your time, be present and focus. DON'T RUSH!!! Just don't. I have third degree burns on my right hand from doing exactly that, I am speaking from experience.
A GREAT DoP once pulled me aside during a shoot in a ropey part of London one evening and said the following to me... I will leave you with this....