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Shanra J. Kehl goes green with Dutti Dolly

Feb 2, 2021

Filmmaker Shanra J. Kehl is partial to green, especially when it comes to her Dutti Dolly from Matthews. And she’s been working it consistently. A member of Local 600 and the DGA, she’s says she’s fortunate to have regular production gigs during the age of Covid. That’s what made her decide to get her own Dutti Dolly instead of using the one her AC Jordan Lee brings to set.

A veteran of unscripted and documentary filmmaking, Kehl needs to be ready to be a one-person band or work with a full crew. “Having the Dutti Dolly with me allows for smooth, slow moves and inventive positioning,” she says, “The great thing is that I can also carry it with me and set it up anywhere on my own. That makes it a great tool for a filmmaker to use on their own for documentaries.”

“Its emerald, my birthstone, she says, “Different colours bring different energy. Green reminds me to be more ecofriendly too. Either way on set it’s an attention-getter whether slowly creeping by or just looking awesome.”

Everyone uses dollies or sliders but you can do more with this one because it is much smoother and you can lay the track down lower to the ground. On one series we retrace shots for intercuts often of a murder victim’s POV. So I use it to slowly glide over things. Dutti Dolly is so low I can do those gradual, sneaky moves, easier. It’s just as useful for food shows. “I’ve used it on a baking show for food beauty, smoothly floating around cakes and baked goods. It’s so stable I can put my coffee cup on it!”

Kehl feels her move into DP/director has come at a perfect time in the industry. “When I started 20 years ago there were not many women in the camera department. 2020 has really taught me is that this is the time to make any transition we want. I like to be diverse – to switch between directing and DPing. And by directing I realised that when you give up operating the camera you lose some of the intimacy with the scene and cast in order to be able to follow the action. So you have to trust in the process. But it’s invigorating to see what the camera operator’s team comes up with and opens my mind to other people’s perspectives as to how something is captured.”

She loves that her Dutti Dolly fits in a small case, ready for the next job. Before going to set Kehl asks herself “What’s the gear I need and how does it fit into the location? Now that we have the tools like Dutti Dolly its easier to do more things regardless of budget.”

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