Chapter 1 Dolly Grip Q: Why were dollies invented? A: So grips could learn to walk on their hind legs. We were standing under the Brooklyn Bridge when a production assistant ran over to tell us the actors were on their way. There was no time to rehearse the last scene, and if we didn't nail it before sunset, everything we'd shot with Julia Roberts would be worthless. Worse, Julia Roberts had to catch a plane that night for Prague, where she was shooting a costume drama with Brad Pitt. Since our half week in New York with Julia Roberts was the only reason the studio was making this movie in the first place, there was a strong chance that if we blew the last scene, they'd pull the plug and we'd never go to Texas and finish the movie. There was only enough light to do it once, and the only person who could screw it up besides the actors was me. The dolly grip. "Do you need anything?" the production assistant asked, staring at me like I had a bull's-eye stapled to my forehead. "Would a blow job be out of the question?" "I'll take that as a no," he said and stomped off. "Thanks for the understanding, fella," I shouted and trudged back to the eighty feet of dolly track I had set up two hours earlier. There was nothing to do, but I unlocked the brake on the dolly anyway and pushed the five hundred pounds of metal, rubber, and hydraulic fluid to the end of the track and back. On a movie set it's always good form to make it look like you're busy. My cell phone rang, and before I could pull it from my cargo shorts the production assistant was back in my face. "Make sure that's off when Julia arrives." "Absolutely." I felt like pushing him in the East River, but after twenty years in the film business, I'd learned that sometimes even the lowliest gofers grew up to be producers. "You near a computer?" my friend Hank Sullivan asked when I answered the call. "No. Why?" "I just gave dickhead's movie the green light. It was supposed to be announced in tomorrow'sHollywood Reporter, butVarietyposted it on their Web site an hour ago." "You're kidding me." "Nope, there's even a picture." "Does it mention Natalie?" I asked. "A least a half-dozen times." "Damn it." "Sorry, pal, but I had to do it. There's a management change at the studio, and I need to have my third movie in production before they start firing people." "No biggie," I said. "I wish you all the best." "That was an excellent line reading. For a second I almost believed you." The production assistant was back. "The actors are here," he shouted. "Cell phones off." "I gotta go," I said. "Hang in there, Bobby. When we get to Texas I'll buy you a drink." "Right. See you in Texas." Before I could begin to feel sorry for myself the big guns arrived and panic hour began. Production assistants ran in circles while the crew set up equipment they would never use but had to have standing by. "Why did the scene in the taxicab take so long?" I asked Troy, the camera operator. "Fucking first-time director. He wanted every take to be perfect. Even for shots where Julia Roberts was off camera. You want to go out for beers after this?" "No, thanks. I have to pack for Texas." "You sure you're okay?" "The shot's just a walk-and-talk." Then I understood what Troy really meant and said, "You heard about the article inVariety, huh?" "The sound guy had it on his laptop. You need somebody else to push dolly on this one?" I shook my head. "I can handle it." "It's your call." "Oh, Troy, darling," said a singsongy voice with a thick Polish accent. We turned and saw Andrzej, the director of photography, strolling onto the set. He held a light meter in one hand and an ice-cream cone in the other. "Go see what Andrzej wants," I said. "I'm okay. Really." Troy slapped me on the back and dashed off. More and more peoTaylor, Billy is the author of 'Based on the Movie' with ISBN 9781416548775 and ISBN 1416548777.