My New Favorite Website

It’s called Steadishots.org: A Tribute and Study of Steadicam Operators and Their Work, which pretty much says it all.

OK, maybe I should clarify a bit: it could easily become my favorite website, with a little work. Right now, the list of shots is much too short for someone as obsessed with the Steadicam and its cinematic uses as I am. And it includes far too many commercial, music video, and television instances of Steadicam work. (Yes, I am an unmitigated snob in these matters. Which is one of the reasons I love the fact that the website lists shots by “camera operator” rather than by DP or director.)

Currently, Tillman Buttner’s work on Russian Ark must rank at the top of any Steadicam list. Despite recent impressive additions from films such as Children of Men and Atonement, Buttner’s technical and physical mastery in shooting Sokurov’s single-take film is amazing. I could barely breathe while watching it. (The inability to breathe while watching is true of nearly all longish “single-takes” shots for me. I’m not sure why, but I become increasingly aware of the amount of time between cuts, and anticipating the next shot weighs more and more heavily on my mind.)

Sometimes — as in Russian Ark — I’m not convinced that the Stedicam single-take shot is serving any actual purpose other than a bravura show of technical master. But when it’s done well and with a sensitivity for the film’s overall artistic tone and message, it’s as breathtaking (in my case) a cinematic tool as a director can employ.

I can’t be the only person fascinated with these sorts of shots, right? So let’s open it up: anyone out there with favorite Steadicam shots they’d like to share? Or single-take shots, more generally?

Joseph Susanka

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Joseph Susanka has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since his graduation from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. Currently residing in Lander, Wyoming -- "where Stetsons meet Birkenstocks" -- he is a columnist for Crisis Magazine and the Patheos Catholic portal.

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