How to be a Second Assistant Camera

Posted on August 20, 2007

The Good Joe

  • Eat before you arrive. As soon as the grip truck arrives your main priority is to unload the camera equipment, load the mags for the day, and help build camera. Once all that’s done, you can maybe grab a bite to eat if they’re still setting up the shot.
  • Learn how to load mags quickly but carefully. You’re the only person that physically touches the film. Everyone’s hard work is in your hands.
  • Make sure a fresh mag is always on standby. Do this when you have some down time. Production should not have to stop for ten minutes when they run out of film because you have to load a new mag.
  • Wear cargo pants or get an AC pouch. You’ll be stuffing lens and mag covers in them as well as pens and a tape measure. You’ll also need some tools. For the bare minimum, I’d get a D-Ring and dry erase marker with eraser.
  • Get the slate ready for each shot. When slating use a word for the letter, so it’s clear what you’re saying. So for scene 2B, say “Two-Bravo.” You can also get creative and come up with slating themes. Just make sure it’s okay with the director and doesn’t throw the actors off by making them laugh. Apparently scene “Thirteen Admiral Ackbar” can do this.
  • Keep pre-torn pieces of red tape on your pants. You’ll need to access these quickly to give the actors foot marks.
  • Live near the camera. Someone always has to be by the camera, and that will either be you or the 1 AC.
  • You’re the 1 AC’s arms and legs. Keep the lenses nearby since that’s what you’ll most likely be running to get.
  • At the end of the day, download the film, possibly load a new roll for the next day, and help break down the camera.
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