Do you remember your first time?

Posted by on September 6, 2011

I grew up in Athens, Ohio, small town in the hills of southeastern Ohio.  I graduated from Alexander High School in 1999, and then enrolled into the engineering college at Ohio University. Being one of many kids at age 18 who don’t know what they want to do for the rest of their life, I figured

I grew up in Athens, Ohio, small town in the hills of southeastern Ohio.  I graduated from Alexander High School in 1999, and then enrolled into the engineering college at Ohio University. Being one of many kids at age 18 who don’t know what they want to do for the rest of their life, I figured an engineering degree seemed like a good place to start.My sophomore year, looking to give my GPA a shot in the ass, I took Film 201.  We watched the standard dull film school fair, Birth of a Nation, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Citizen Kane.  I excelled in the class; possibly because I was one of the few who were able to stay conscious through out each film.  I enjoyed the class enough to volunteer to work on a student film over the winter break, for free of course.  I unwittingly made my first step towards a fate that was already decided for me.

Chris Luccy was my teaching assistant, and he was working on his second year film, entitled Vicious.  On the first day of shooting, Chris looks to me and says, “Thanks again for joining us.  You are going to be our Dolly Grip.”  I didn’t know what that meant, but it sounded important.  I hadn’t seen a script. I had no idea what the film was even about.  How was I supposed to “grip” the “dolly” effectively, if I didn’t even know the story?  Why is this thing called Vicious anyway?  There was nothing vicious in it; like wolverines, hyenas, or IRS agents.

Eventually, I caught onto the fact that my duties were two fold.  First, assemble, set the track, and push the dolly when it was to be used in a shot.  Second, carry all the heavy shit from location to location.  By God, I was a natural.  After all, I had over 19 years of experience in carrying heavy shit.  I never missed a day of that production. I would carry anything and everything just to hang out and watch the process.  I would listen in each time the Director and DP would talk about the next shot.  The technical side of the gear, and the artistic aspects of storytelling and photography fascinated me. And when there was need for a dolly shot, that track was set up faster than you could say, “hyperactive 19 year old. “  I was the best Dolly Grip EVER!!!

I could go on and on about that film.  Most of my memories of college are pretty blurry, but not working on Vicious.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew it had to be in film or television.  I transferred to the school of Communications, with an emphasis on video production.  I told my Mom, “I’ve been watching television as an amateur for years. It’s time for me to go pro.”

The decision to work on Vicious seemed simple, insignificant, and unimportant.  Just like most of the decisions you make when your 19.   But, not only did that project introduce me to the world, in which, I wanted to work, but the people who would fill the largest roles in my life.  I would continue to work with Chris Luccy throughout college.  All my coolest IMDB credits are thanks to Chris. Jimmy Hall was the boom operator on that film.  Jimmy has since become one of my best friends, and the man I owe every job I have ever gotten, in one way or another.  I met Chase Massingill in my first TCOM class the next quarter.  Chase taught me more about cameras, computers, and post-production than 4 years of college ever did.  He became another great friend, and would one day be the minister in my wedding.  Most importantly, that same quarter, in Film 202, I met a girl named Emily.

I guess the point of all of this is to say that life has a funny way of bringing things all together.   Pulling the strings, just to put you where you are meant to be.  Fate. Destiny.  Crazy how life has a way of bringing everything back to the beginning.  Full circle.

A circle.

A vicious circle.

OHHHHHHHH…..now I get it.