Fitness for Film Crew

As I settle into the fitness mindset, I have written down my goals. One of them is to condition against fatigue working as a boom operator. It is something that I have had in mind for a while, assuming I would use dumbbells (though I had never gotten around to getting the right size dumbbells). Now that I am weight training, it is among my stated goals.

Microphone booms are fairly light: only a few pounds. They can be heavier with a blimp-style windscreen or a radio transmitter. The real issue is blood flow to the arms when holding the boom for long takes, especially repeatedly. This is felt most with long scenes, especially those requiring awkward positioning. Many boom ops also experience back fatigue, especially when wearing a bag loaded with gear, although that has never been an issue for me.

I’m reading a book on bodybuilding, and I’m in a section about weight training for athletes. It concluded that every sport has different demands for strength and endurance, and weight training programs should be designed for each sport to target those specific demands. That’s when I realized that operating a boom on a film set is an athletic skill. Technically, anyway.

That immediately got me thinking about other athletic jobs on a film crew. #1 is obviously the steady-cam operator, or any other handheld camera operation. There’s also the dolly grip, and after that, any other grip.

I’ve been thinking about what exercises to do for boom operation. Overhead presses with the barbell, obviously. Also, anything that strengthens the back or core, like dead lifts and squats. There are so many different dumbbell exercises, and I need to start noting the ones that might be beneficial. Operating a boom is definitely an endurance task, so high reps should be the focus.