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#1 Adam White

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 02:48 AM

Ever worked for a camera team and spent your time photocopying daily food menues, cycling tea to and from set in pristine china or having to address the DOP by his full title and honorary initials each time you say his name? All this while the actual loading and upkeep of the camera is overlooked somewhat.

Some teams like to toughen up newbies by being demanding and seeing whether they sink or swin. Whats your most extreme experience?
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#2 peter bartle

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 09:46 AM

Hi Adam,
Welcome to the new forum. No major horror stories here, other than the occasional B-grade celeb with a F-grade ego problem...

So are you a 1st AC? What do you mainly work on?
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 10:44 AM

I wouldn't let a camera PA be treated like that, if I noticed (being so busy, on the set, it would be easy for me to not notice what was going on...)

I've always had a problem with the whole hierarchy nature of a film set myself -- the breakdown of jobs & responsibilities makes sense of course, but the treating of some people as serfs practically is very distressing.

As human beings, we're all equal. I remember on my first feature with a real budget, I got called to set early before call time, pulled out of the breakfast line, so the AD said "we'll get a PA to bring your breakfast to set for you". Even though it makes sense, it still makes me uncomfortable when someone gets me food -- I was raised to take care of myself, and it feels so "Upstairs/Downstairs" to have some PA bring you food as if I had servants.

On the other hand, there may be legitimate reasons to have a camera PA xerox lunch menus, etc. if someone has to do it. And even getting coffee for crew members too busy to leave the camera does not sound so abusive. But I also recognize that a camera PA is there to learn about the camera department and how it works, so I would be happy to answer any questions they had, talk to them, etc.

Actually the problem I tend to see is the tension between the 1st AC and the 2nd AC, especially if the 1st feels that they have to train the 2nd. Some 1st AC's are pretty tough on their 2nd's, and it can border on petty tyranny.
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#4 Adam White

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 11:40 AM

Hi Adam,
Welcome to the new forum. No major horror stories here, other than the occasional B-grade celeb with a F-grade ego problem...

So are you a 1st AC? What do you mainly work on?


Ive done enough assisting to know the true value of a good 2AC and the pleasure of seeing a good 1AC work wonders as chaos unfolds around him. I ended up lensing low budget features for people and pride myself on having attitude free teams. Not pro, just passionate.

I am glad this forum has been set up. As David stated, there are sometimes issues between 1ac and 2AC and this would be a good area for those working around this to discuss one of the most vital partnerships on set.
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#5 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 12:57 AM

this past weekend I was 2nd'ing for a 1st Ac that came from a camera shop. I knew more than him, not like it mattered, but everything he said, was something negative about what i was doing, or how not to do something.

It got old real quick and I set him in his place...

Offtopic and offcomment.
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#6 peter bartle

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 08:38 AM

On the other hand, there may be legitimate reasons to have a camera PA xerox lunch menus, etc. if someone has to do it. And even getting coffee for crew members too busy to leave the camera does not sound so abusive. But I also recognize that a camera PA is there to learn about the camera department and how it works, so I would be happy to answer any questions they had, talk to them, etc.


If I was a PA for the camera dept, i'd have no problem doing "petty" jobs like bringing coffees, food etc provided at the same time I was being taught by the DP or AC and they didn't mind answering any questions I had whilst they're not busy. After all, everyone should help out when they can.

Actually the problem I tend to see is the tension between the 1st AC and the 2nd AC, especially if the 1st feels that they have to train the 2nd. Some 1st AC's are pretty tough on their 2nd's, and it can border on petty tyranny.


Interesting comment, I had no idea that occured!
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#7 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 08:30 PM

this past weekend I was 2nd'ing for a 1st Ac that came from a camera shop. I knew more than him, not like it mattered, but everything he said, was something negative about what i was doing, or how not to do something.

This happens in both directions. Sometimes a 2nd thinks they know more than the 1st (and sometimes they do) and they constantly complain about it to anyone who will listen. In those instances I think there are two rational options. The second can either quit, or keep quiet. Nothing is gained when a 2nd is constantly in the ear of the operator and/or the DP about how he should be 1sting instead of 2nding, or telling them how they know more than the 1st. It's just counter-productive. If the 1st isn't a doing a good job the operator and the DP will notice whether or not the 2nd says anything or not.
This isn't aimed at you Jamie, you just reminded me of these types of situations.
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#8 Dajan Bozanic

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 10:27 PM

whats the difference between a 1st and 2nd AC role/responsibilitiy wise?

Is there anywhere a newbie can get a clear breakdown of all the roles on a set??

Edited by Dajan Bozanic, 10 June 2006 - 10:29 PM.

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#9 Camillo Foramitti

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 03:24 AM

whats the difference between a 1st and 2nd AC role/responsibilitiy wise?

Is there anywhere a newbie can get a clear breakdown of all the roles on a set??


For a good breakdown of all camera assistant's duties I suggest you read Doug Hart's or David Elkin's manual.

Edited by tapeworm, 11 June 2006 - 03:26 AM.

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#10 Max Jacoby

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Posted 14 June 2006 - 04:25 PM

I once worked for a Dop who always made me show him the camera report sheets to see if they were clean and that there were no mistakes. He constantly critizided my handwriting. Apparently when he was a 2nd that's what the Dops he worked for did to him as well. They constantly had him redo the sheets because of his handwriting. At least he never made me redo anything, but still it was very annoying to always have to walk up to him like a schoolboy who has to present his homework. I mean I am a professional and once I knew that he was so picky, I put a lot of effort in the sheets, but there really was no need to check up on me constantly. It kind of turned into a battle of wills at times, since after a while I stopped showing him the sheets at the end of the day and when he complained ('You didn't show me the sheets yesterday') I put on my most honest face and said: 'I couldn't find you after wrap'. Then I'd show him for a couple of days to put him in a good mood and then stopped again.
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#11 Hans Engstrom

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Posted 14 June 2006 - 05:50 PM

This happens in both directions. Sometimes a 2nd thinks they know more than the 1st (and sometimes they do) and they constantly complain about it to anyone who will listen. In those instances I think there are two rational options. The second can either quit, or keep quiet. Nothing is gained when a 2nd is constantly in the ear of the operator and/or the DP about how he should be 1sting instead of 2nding, or telling them how they know more than the 1st. It's just counter-productive. If the 1st isn't a doing a good job the operator and the DP will notice whether or not the 2nd says anything or not.
This isn't aimed at you Jamie, you just reminded me of these types of situations.


When I´m 2nd AC i allways try to make the 1st look as good as possible. I allways tell him first if I belive anything is wrong or if I have a solution to a problem. I have no problem in letting him take credit for my work or ideas. On the other hand, I have never worked with any a**holes but I think that I would behave the same then.
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#12 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 02:25 PM

When I´m 2nd AC i allways try to make the 1st look as good as possible. I allways tell him first if I belive anything is wrong or if I have a solution to a problem. I have no problem in letting him take credit for my work or ideas. On the other hand, I have never worked with any a**holes but I think that I would behave the same then.

That's a great way to work and a great attitude! I wish all A.C.'s took this approach. Taking the blame when something goes wrong and sharing the credit when things go good is a sure way to have a cohesive camera crew. It doesn't really matter who's fault it is when something goes wrong, it only matters that it gets fixed. No good can come from pointing fingers.
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#13 Larry Nielsen

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Posted 18 June 2006 - 01:20 AM

As always I find the relationship to be some what difficult at times, I came up through what was called the old school. As a 2nd I always adapted to my first's, after all they were the ones pulling focus and the system they used worked for them, and it was my job to adapted to that system, And the same goes for 1st AC's with DP's. Some DP's call stops in quaters, thirds, and even tenths. Its not my job to tell the DP how he or she should call a T-Stop. Its my job to adapt. It can be a very delicate balance, but one thing I will say is this. At the begining of every show I do I tell my seconds this simple little thing, "If I tell you to do something do it, If some one yells at you for doing it let me know, and I'll take care of the problem, But If I tell you to do something and you do something completely different and some yells at you, then its your hat." Like everything else in this business, some will tell you I'm hard to work with, some will tell you I'm a pleasure. I expect from a 2nd what I expect from myself. Other things to remember, if you talk back to an operator, or a DP, then don't expect them to hire you back, Same goes for a 2nd towards his or her 1st. Just my thoughts
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#14 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 10:31 PM

This happens in both directions. Sometimes a 2nd thinks they know more than the 1st (and sometimes they do) and they constantly complain about it to anyone who will listen. In those instances I think there are two rational options. The second can either quit, or keep quiet. Nothing is gained when a 2nd is constantly in the ear of the operator and/or the DP about how he should be 1sting instead of 2nding, or telling them how they know more than the 1st. It's just counter-productive. If the 1st isn't a doing a good job the operator and the DP will notice whether or not the 2nd says anything or not.
This isn't aimed at you Jamie, you just reminded me of these types of situations.


Totally understood brad, I had to vent a little bit. I really didn't complain at all, I try not to do that, but the thing is, I'm only 21, and he's like 30+ looking at me like I don't know how to load a mag.

He underestimated me quite considerably, and I really do not like being put into those situations. If you have any suggestions for how to ease out of that or clarify it, let me know.
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#15 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 12:38 AM

Totally understood brad, I had to vent a little bit. I really didn't complain at all, I try not to do that, but the thing is, I'm only 21, and he's like 30+ looking at me like I don't know how to load a mag.

He underestimated me quite considerably, and I really do not like being put into those situations. If you have any suggestions for how to ease out of that or clarify it, let me know.

Not much you can do I don't think. It's really his problem if he doesn't want to trust you. All you can do is your best.
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