What Camera Assistants Don’t Do

I was late once to a pre-production meeting because half the roads in Washington, D.C. always seem to be under construction. After winding my way through the myriad of one-ways and cross streets, I finally arrived at the meeting about 30 minutes late.

By then, everyone was wrapping up, but the producers – who had heard about me from the director of photography (DP) – were still around and excited to talk to me.

We chatted for awhile before, eventually, one of them took me towards the room at the location we’d be shooting in. As he showed me around the room, he started briefing me on what kind of shots we’d be doing, where the sets would be built, and what the “look” of the film would be. This is all great information to get as a camera assistant as it helps me get into the DP’s mind and, subsequently, try and stay a step or two ahead of their needs.

But then he started saying things like, “If that’s what you want…,” or getting into specifics like, “Do you think we can use a 35mm lens?” or “Would it be better to shoot this handheld?”

While the DP, Karl, wasn’t around, I wasn’t about to step on his toes. I told them those were “Karl questions.” It occurred to me then that the producer may not have a firm grasp on what a camera assistant does. He came from a broadcast background, so I wasn’t completely …read more


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