Jump to content


Photo

Jumping departments.


  • Please log in to reply
5 replies to this topic

#1 Nathan D. Lee

Nathan D. Lee
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 69 posts
  • 2nd Assistant Camera
  • Salt Lake City

Posted 29 June 2006 - 01:50 PM

As you all might imagine, camera department is my goal and aspiration. I have been working in the movie business for a solid year now. I got my first job, however was in production and thus for the past year I have worked on 3 low budget features and one big budget studio feature, a PBS documentary and 2 commercials, one local one national. The problem is that I am in production. On the big budget feature I also day played as a camera PA mostly doing video assist.

Through all of this I have been working as hard as I can to learn the camera department. I feel comfortable and confident in my abilities to jump departments.

So now my current question: I have become good friends with a producer here who is producing a 2-3mil feature in a month. He is trying to back me in any direction I want to go. The 1st AD likes me and offered me a position as a set PA for the run of the 40 day shoot, paid in full.
I had a chat with the UPM yesterday and he said that our DP doesn?t want a loader who has never loaded a full feature before in 35. (I have only practiced with slugs in 35 and loaded 16 on shorts.) from what I understand there is not currently any budget set aside for a camera PA, other than interning which I cant afford to do. I don?t mind working for a lot less but I definitely can?t work for free, especially on a 40 day show.

I don?t mind Set PA-ing, but I would like to jump departments as soon as I can so I can start building in that area.

Any thoughts as to what might be a good course of action. Like I said money is not the main issue but it is, as it is for all of us, a factor since life costs money.
(Note: This is not in LA or New York)

Edited by leebob61, 29 June 2006 - 01:52 PM.

  • 0

#2 Michael Nash

Michael Nash
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3330 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Pasadena, CA

Posted 29 June 2006 - 04:04 PM

Well it sounds like this one may not be the right opportunity for you to get a full-time camera dept. gig. As you said the DP doesn't feel you're qualified to load (and no offense, but he's probably right), and there's no budget for a camera PA. If you can't afford to work for free, then there's no camera dept. slot for you on this show.

What you might do is take the Set PA job, and try to hang out with the camera department whenever you can (without neglecting your PA duties, of course). If the camera team likes you you may be able to ask them questions, show your interest and ability, and they may let you practice dummy-loads and things like that. You have to pick up the skills and personal contacts somewhere, and this sounds like an opportunity to do that.
  • 0

#3 James W

James W
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 14 posts
  • 2nd Assistant Camera
  • Germany / England

Posted 24 October 2006 - 02:50 AM

Michael has hit the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned!

There is no better start to any training than being around experienced professionals asking informed questions. Plus if you do get on with the camera dept. and get some loading practice in, then the next time you're up for a camera dept position you've got another layer of experience.

Have a read of "The Camera Assistant: A complete professional handbook" by Douglas C. Hart (if you already haven't) and go to the camera guys with specific questions, that always goes down well.

Good luck!
  • 0

#4 Brian Dzyak

Brian Dzyak
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1517 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Encino, California USA

Posted 24 October 2006 - 08:55 AM

As the others have mentioned, any experience you can get to observe while you're getting paid real money is a plus, not something to run from.

And while it's obviously important to know the mechanics of how to load film into magazines, there is a lot more to being the Loader on a show. You're usually expected to be on set helping the 2nd AC in any way possible if you're not in the dark on the truck. The paperwork is important. You might be asked to fill out timecards, work orders, run requests for Transpo. Time management is crucial as you balance doing your own job with helping out the rest of your department when they absolutely need that extra hand to move carts, build cameras, or get things from the truck. If two cameras are rolling and each take runs 600 feet, you've got to understand the pressure you'll suddenly be under to get those mags back the truck as fast as possible to can out the exposed, short-end the extra 400', and reload before the next batch of mags hits the floor.

There are a lot of things that the Loader does which have more to do with just putting film in magazines. Take this opportunity you're being offered and learn as much as you can while meeting as many people as you can. And don't just shadow the Loader. Watch the 2nd because you'll be expected to know his job too.

Almost more importantly, watch the First, the Operator, and the DP. Really really watch what they do and ask yourself if this is the career you really want to pursue. Know that if you want to eventually DP, that if you begin as a Loader that you may never make it to the top. Most Loaders do become 2nds but not all 2nds become Focus Pullers. Not all Focus Pullers get the opportunity to move up to Operator. And most Operators never move up to becoming DPs. If you want that job, you might consider just going out and doing it. You'll have to start small, of course, choosing low to no budget student projects as you learn and build a reputation and a body of work. That road may not lead to success either, but you'll know that you at least tried your best. A lot of guys, like Electricians and ACs, will do the big shows to make real money, then take a few weeks off between jobs to go shoot to build a reel. It's a balance between working to survive while pursuing your dreams. It's not impossible and if you really really want it, then anything is possible.
  • 0

#5 Jamie Metzger

Jamie Metzger
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 773 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • San Francisco

Posted 25 October 2006 - 02:00 AM

Anything is possible. I say do it, and as soon as you can, introduce yourself to the DP and his team. Make sure you quickly explain that your situation, and let yourself be known to be open for helping them as much as possible.

I know in my experience, if someone asks to help me, and they fall through right in the beginning, there isn't much of an incentive to rely on them after that.

If you stay close to camera Dept through the whole production, I am sure you will get many hits in those 40 days.
  • 0

#6 timHealy

timHealy
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1252 posts
  • Other
  • New York

Posted 25 October 2006 - 04:10 AM

Why all the pessimism with him becoming a loader? I was the loader on an independent film right out of college. My very first film job. I had no problems or issues. Loading is not brain surgery and anyone with a bit of technical sensibilities can do it.

The hardest part is concentrating and not talking to anyone while your hands are in the bag.

Best

Tim
  • 0


Glidecam

Aerial Filmworks

CineTape

Ritter Battery

Wooden Camera

Willys Widgets

Abel Cine

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Visual Products

Tai Audio

rebotnix Technologies

The Slider

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

FJS International, LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Opal

Technodolly

CineLab

Metropolis Post

Paralinx LLC

FJS International, LLC

Ritter Battery

Abel Cine

Willys Widgets

Paralinx LLC

Tai Audio

Opal

Aerial Filmworks

Wooden Camera

Rig Wheels Passport

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

rebotnix Technologies

Technodolly

CineTape

Metropolis Post

CineLab

Visual Products

The Slider