Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Q&A with Christopher TJ McGuire

Do you remember the first time you saw or heard of the Steadicam?
'Rocky'! .... The inspirational film that motivated most of my Teenager years - I first spied Mr Garrett Brown ringside with the Rig that would change my life!

What was it about the Steadicam that made you want to pursue it as a career?
I was an Athlete at school following on from my Dad - I trained pretty much most of the time and loved the 800m and High Jump - so it was either a job in the Royal Marines or a career pursuing my dream of working in the movies. Steadicam, ultimately allows me to offer up creativity while physically pushed.

What were you doing prior to Steadicam?
I was shooting documentaries for television in the UK - things like; World in Action, Cutting Edge, Dispatches and Panorama.

What were some of the biggest challenges you remember about becoming a Steadicam operator?
Being taken seriously!! I ended up buying my own rig, a SK2 and training myself. At the time I was shooting a lot of performances for a music show, so I was able to earn a decent amount and get paid flying time in the rig.

What are some of the biggest challenges now?
Finding work!!

Did you ever have a "big break" moment? A career event that clearly changed or paved the way for everything to follow?
I ended up shooting a major scene in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" with the Revolution - 4 major characters, 3 minute scene, continual 360's and assorted Lens sizes on each Character! - it knocked the stuffing out of me, but I did it!

From whom do you take your inspiration? Has that changed over the course of your career?
My Inspiration goes back to my Teenage years from my Dad. He used all the 'Rocky' movies and 'Chariots of Fire' to instill physical motivation. It's he who pushed me into the world of movies.

Is there a shot, film, or moment in your career that you can think of as your most proud?
I'm probably most proud of the demo films I shot for MK-V for the Revolution. They we're tough both physically and mentally as I was using a piece of equipment that was completely new to the industry.
On a paid Steadicam gig!!! - I would say I'm most happiest with the opening shot in 'Conan the Barbarian'. It's a huge 360 degree move around a battlefield with lots of Warriors fighting with swords and axes, lots of choreography with stunts and our hero Ron Perlman!

Is there a shot or film you can recall as being your most challenging? Why?
All the Steadicam shots I did on 'Fright Night 3D'!!! It's the adverse conditions I've worked in that makes it all the more challenging! The Tropic heat on 'Streetfighter' in Thailand, -30 degrees / Snow and Ice on 'Whiteout' in Manitoba.
I shot 'Conan the Barbarian' last year in Bulgaria and although tough - highly satisfying!! I love a challenge!!

What work of your peers do you admire?
I have the utmost respect for Garrett Brown especially for his work on 'Rocky'! Colin Anderson is an Operator that I aspire to. He's incredibly focused and makes Steadicam look easy! More recently after seeing 'The Fighter' I have to say that Geoff Haley's work on the movie added to its authenticity, both Steadicam and hand-held!.

Many people will say they've tried on a Steadicam once, and immediately thought, "absolutely not." What do you think is different about those of us that say "absolutely"?
We like the graft!!

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