David Grove, Steadicam Operator
David Grove was born and raised in Des Moines Iowa. He went to Iowa
State University in Ames Iowa. He was in theTelecommunicative Arts program with an emphasis on Film.
At the beginning of 1992, he interned at Iowa Public Television (IPTV) as a camera operator. That same summer, after his
internship was over, the tv station had an
opening in the studio engineering department. This was a contract position
lasted 6 years. (1992 to 1998) Mr.Grove worked in various positions including camera on-line editing, videotape
and replay, master control, second Audio and for 3 to 4 months time travelled the state installing equipment for thestates
In the fall of 1994 Grove took the SOA (Steadicam Operator's Association)
workshop. Garrett Brown, the inventor of the Steadicam, and operator's Jerry Holway and Andrew Casey were his instructors.
"The test at the end of the workshop was extremely difficult and the instructors were tough on us." Only three out of
the eight students passed the Steadicam "Grand Prix" test on the first try and Grove was one of them! Those
who didn't pass had to take the test over and over again until the instructors felt like they could do a shot perfectly within
ten takes from their intial try.
|On the set of "I am Stamos"
Grove bought first steadicam in July of 1995. He started shooting with
it just a month later. Most of the work involved coporporate videos. Grove also worked on a few PSA's and a few projects with
the TV station. He didn't have enough work shooting Steadicam for him to go completely freelance so he continued
to work at the station.
Grove still wanted to get into film so, to keep motivated he took a couple of
from the Film and Television workshops in Rockport Main in 1996.
In 1998 he left IPTV and began work on a national
home renovation show called "About Your House with Bob Yapp" "This was 81 days of work so I was really excited!" This allowed him
to buy a lens control system that he wouldn't have otherwise been able to afford. Grove worked out a deal with the
production company where they would buy the Lens control system and he would in turn buy it from them over the period
of the show by having them take it out of my pay. It was a great deal and again he was suprised that they agreed to it
because the system cost over $20,000! The show was very successful but the Presenting station WTTW and the shows producers
had a fallout. So the show wasn't renewed for the next season and he was out of work.
Grove had a few steadicam
jobs in 1999 working again on corporate videos but it
wasn't enough to make a good living. So, he worked on several
as a videotape replay operator. This kept him afloat but he hated it. "Sitting
in a dark cold room
inside a mobile truck starring at monitors for hours on
end just wasn't me."
In 2000 a friend of his who
was the lighting director for "About Your
House" show had written and was producing a low budget movie called "The
Public" which is airing on Showtime currently and is on DVD. A
month after he finished the movie, he and his wife
moved to Los Angeles.
Grove made it into the International Cinematographers Local 600 Union in 2002.
year Grove helped Dan Kneece form the Steadicam Guild
http://www.steadicamguild.net. He created and maintain the webpage. Members of the Steadicam Guild have monthly meetings,
demos and workshops. It's a great organization.
|On the set of "Iowa" Starring Rosanne Aquette
Brick (2004) (post-production) (steadicam operator)
Iowa (2004) (post-production) (camera operator: "b" camera) (steadicam operator)
Talking In Your Sleep (2004) (post-production) (steadicam operator)
Drone Virus, The (2004) (completed) (steadicam operator)
I Am Stamos (2004) (steadicam operator)
Hairless (2004) (additional steadicam operator)
All Babes Want to Kill Me (2003) (steadicam operator)
Irish Eyes (2002) (steadicam operator: second unit)
"Beyond with James Van Praagh" (2002) TV Series (camera operator)
"American Family" (2002) TV Series (additional steadicam operator)
|Shooting "About Your House"
Q & A with Mr.Grove
Film Addiction: As a steadicam operator, what is the toughest shot you have
set up and capture? (This coincides with the question "What is the most
dangerous shot you have had to make?)
I can't recall a time where I had a really dangerous shot. I've done a number of
vehicle mount shots. Any time you
are riding in something, it's potentially
dangerous. One shot in particular was difficult because I was riding on the back
camera bike shooting a dirt bike as he jumped 20 to 30 feet in the air. Trying to
keep the dirt bike in the shot
was extremely difficult because we were tracking the
motorcylce closely plus it happens so fast and the camera bike I was
riding in had to
accellearte extremely fast and stop suddenly due to the lack of space that we had.
Just keeping the steadicam from getting away from me at the beginning and the end of the shot was exhausting.
The centrifugal force was incredible.
Another "dangerous/difficult" shot was walking up a flight of steps at a
preceding Tracy Nelson. I had to keep Tracy in frame as well as the police
car and the crowd in the background. At one
point I felt like tripping and having 80 to 90 lbs strapped to your body would've hurt. I don't remember how many takes I
did. I do remember extras in the background that weren't doing what they were suppose to and on another take I hit my steadicam
with my knee as I started to climb the stairs.
The most exhausting time I ever had in the rig was an hour and half
country music concert. This was one of my first jobs as a steadicam operator. It was August in Iowa. (Imagine being
in a swamp in Alabama during a heat wave!) It was
95 degrees 90% humidity and we were in a huge tent and a big audience.
I wasn't use to being in the rig for that long of a period. It was extremely painful to take the rig off after the show. The
sudden release of pressure was very painful.
During your career, what advances have you seen in the steadicam industry?
far as equipment goes there have been some big adavnces. Earlier steadicams didn't change much then because there was only
one company that made them, Cinema Products. Then, in the early 90's when the patent ran out other companies made better versions
of the Steadicam. Monitors became bigger and brighter the arms made it eaiser to boom up and down with. Vests were easier
to get into and out of and were more comfortable.
Currently there is a device called the "Alien" which is suppose to
any wobbling horizon issues. So far there is only the prototype but I've heard it's amazing.
Describe a typical shot that requires a steadicam.
Walk and talks. Steadicam operator walks backwards as the actor(s) follow. Following actors and POV's are very common.
Vehicle mounted shots. An actor that runs or rides a bicycle. Shooting a vehicle usually requires the Steadicam to be mounted
to a vehicle.
|David on the Rickshaw (steadicam dolly)
This may sound like a stupid question but here it goes:
appears to be a physically demanding job, do you have to be in decent shape to do this type of work?
Yes, you have to be in shape and strong. I know some operators who
don't look like they are in shape but are as strong
as bulls. You also have
to have grace. Steadicam requires Strength and a lite touch. This combination is essential to good
steadicamoperating. The "Average Joe" doesn't often realize this. It's like weightlifting and ballet.
type of cameras do you like working with: Film or Video? What model camera do you prefer?
I love film cameras. Oddly enough at this point in my carreer, I like
working with heavier film cameras I really like Panavision's
Millenium. Heavier cameras tend to be more stable.. it's just physics. Plus it helps more in windy conditions. This opinion
will change as I get older... so I'm told :)
I HATE Hi-Def cameras. They are too long. and actually way too heavy.
though I like heavier cameras) I think if you ask any Steadicam operator who has worked with Hi-Def cameras
they will all agree. These cameras
are so long it's tough going through doors and into tight spots. I actually had to change
the way we shot a scene becuase the camera was too long. Had we been shooting with a film camera, it wouldn't have been a
There is a fairly new Camera out called the Viper by Thompon which is better
than Hi-def. It records raw data
directly into a computer with no down conversion as there is with Hi-Def cameras. Right now the data has to be recorded to
a computer so it isn't real "Steadicam Friendly" at this point. They are working on portable hard drives that connects
directly to the camera like a film magazine.
Once this camera is perfected it's going to be a great camera for Steadicam!
are some of your influences within the field?
Well, everyone that I know who is a Steadicam operator has influenced
my work in some way...Here is a partial list in no particular order.
Garrett Brown(Rocky The Shining) , Andrew
Shuttleworth(Much Ado About
Nothing), Dan Kneece (Jackie Brown, Blue Velvet) , Larry McConkey(Kill Bill,
Bonfire of the Vanaties), Jim Muro (T2, Titanic,True Lies),
Chris Harhoff (Fight Club) Charles Papert(ER, Crazy Beautiful),
Luckenbach(Twister, Pirates of the Carribean, X-Files) , David Chameides(ER,
Catch that Kid), Guy Bee(ER, Magnolia)
list goes on and on.
|Click poster for official website
A Closer Look:
I Am Stamos
A dark comedy about a character actor whose wish to be a leading man comes true when
he magically begins to photograph as John Stamos, provoking the unholy wrath of Stamos.