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Build Your Own Butt/Pedestal Dolly for under $140

Mark Vargo, ASC

Add this versatile tool to your next shoot for hundreds less than retail.

There’s a long history of tinkerers in the film business. In fact, most of the grip equipment we use today started as garage prototypes, built out of necessity by some handy guy. Walk onto any well-equipped grip truck, and you’ll find some homemade gadget that is a one-off item built specifically for an ambitious shot. Every film project I’ve worked on has required some rig or jig not found anywhere else in the industry. Challenging these self-taught engineers is fun, and more often than not, they come up with something that works really well

I certainly don’t have all the tools to fabricate something elaborate, but every now and then I come up with something that works, and I use it constantly.

Build Your Own Butt/Pedestal Dolly for under $140 — Components

With these three inexpensive items, you can construct a dolly that is in wide use today. We used this this dolly every day on my last production and got some great shots very quickly. It can function as a camera pedestal dolly for low shots, but we mainly sat an operator on the seat with a handheld camera for great low-angle shots — while silently scooting around the set to follow the action.

Necessary Equipment

The bar stool seat was surprising cheap — $15. The adjustable boat seat pedestal cost $33 and is available at Bass Pro Shop. The “Down Under” plant caddy is a wheeled platform meant for rolling big, heavy pots around — $31.

Build Your Own Butt/Pedestal Dolly for under $140 — Wheels

The biggest additional expense was changing out the plastic wheels that came with the plant caddy for soft, quiet skate wheels (available from “Coolcasters” — $9). If you want, you can spend way more for high-end, in-line skate wheels. I had the aluminum plates made for looks and a little more rigidity. Plates are totally optional.

Build Your Own Butt/Pedestal Dolly for under $140 — In Progress

Assembly

There isn’t anything complicated about putting these pieces together. The ½” plywood “washer” is the only the part that needs to be cut and pre-drilled; the pedestal plate itself made for a wonderful template. I made a similar plate for attaching the fluid head to the pedestal when you remove the seat.

This dolly works great, is easy to put together, and costs hundreds less than similar units available online. Expand your grip tools with this versatile and customizable piece.


Do you know other DIY gear hacks? Let us know in the comments.