Ever since studying Media I have always loved the visuals, which might be something everyone would say as it’s the thing we see first. What camera angles are being used to display an emotion, event etc. For almost every university project I have been camera assistant or Director of Photography. My inspiration stemmed from Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch – two people who have influenced my work and what I want to portray through film ever since I started studying film.
I will always remember Kubrick’s ‘One Point Perspective’ which I’ve tried to embody in some of my own work. Below is an example of his technique:
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/48425421″>Kubrick // One-Point Perspective</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/kogonada”>kogonada</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Whilst researching into the role of a camera assistant I came across a book titled ‘The Camera Assistant’s Manual’ by David E. Elkins (1991) within the first pages I discovered some of the history behind the technology used before camera’s became more complex and required individuals to learn this skill “The process of motion picture photography started when George Eastman introduced the first 35 mm film in 1889, and Thomas Edison, along with his assistant W. K. L. Dickson, designed the Kinetograph and Kinetoscope, also around 1889. Various reports indicate that the patent was applied for in 1891 but that it wasn’t granted until 1897. The Kinetograph was used to photograph motion pictures, and the Kinetoscope was used to view them. These early pieces of equipment were very basic in their design and use. As film cameras became more complex, a need developed for specially trained individuals to work with this new technology and equipment. Two of these individuals became known as the First Assistant Cameraman (1st AC) and the Second Assistant Cameraman (2nd AC).” Billy Blitzer, one of the first well known cinematographers who worked alongside Director D. W. Griffith was assigned what they would call back then, a Camera Boy, which is today’s Camera Assistant role – to simply carry the equipment and make a note of the shots for the day as there was no Script Supervisor back in 1914.
“When you start looking for that first professional job, any experience, even if it is on a student production, increases your chance of getting a job. ” It is true that getting experience on a film set whether that being a student production or a professional production it will increase the chances of landing the job in media which you desire. I found that my opportunity on a real film-set came from working with individuals who had made connections doing the same routine – working on student projects, contacting professionals and then landing experience even if it is volunteer work. There’s something very humbling and more rewarding when working on a set you have volunteered for – I found myself working extra hard to prove my worth of being there whilst on the set of ‘Sustain’.
With this in mind I decided to do a little research on how to go about applying for a role as Camera Assistant:
- have good colour vision, and good hand-to-eye co-ordination
- have a working knowledge of how the relevant camera equipment works
- have good communication skills and show diplomacy and sensitivity when working with artists, production staff and crew
- be able to take direction and work as part of a team
- be able to carry out instructions with great accuracy and attention to detail
- be able to work under pressure and in stressful situations
- be able to frame and compose shots after you’ve gained some experience
- have good IT skills
- possess physical stamina for working long hours and moving heavy equipment
- understand the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures
Intensive industry experience is the best route into this role, having gained a grounding in the basic camera skills and knowledge required. You could begin your career as a Camera Assistant, and then work your way up through the ranks of the camera department over several years.
When searching for job vacancies a lot of free-lance work was cropping up over the place as well as trainee jobs – which is inspiring to see as most people would assume media jobs are sparse. Just by searching ‘camera assistant’ into a job search website like Indeed.co.uk pages and pages of jobs were displayed under that same criteria.
“Camera Assistant (Studio And Outside Broadcast)”. Creativeskillset.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 5 Apr. 2017.
Elkins, David E. The Camera Assistant’s Manual. New York: Focal Press, 2013. Print.