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Will the union slash his tires?


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#1 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 12:59 AM

I was at a camera rental today (semi-prominent in the East Bay area), and they were thinking of starting a program for training AC's. Basically, they were going to hire out aspiring AC's to renters, along with the camera, at PA wages.

They're looking for people who would be able to commit 2 YEARS at this position, and at those wages (as if anyone could seriously make a living at those wages), solely for gaining the experience and eventually becoming a true AC/Camera Technician in the process.

Whereas I think it would be great experience for any aspiring AC, it COULD be another case of people working for lower wages and making it harder for experienced and unionized technicians to get those gigs.

They will be turning away people who are AC'ing and using it as a step to becoming a DP. What they're looking for are people who wish to become true technicians.

What do you guys think of this?
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#2 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 10:03 AM

You get what you pay for. I wouldn't want to have to hire an A.C. who was basically a trainee.
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#3 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 10:29 AM

Some of that goes on in LA.

Everybody has to start somewhere. Not everyone has the financial ability to start out freelancing without some kind of guaranteed income, no matter how small the check. Working at a rental house first is a good way to learn the equipment and meet people who might hire them after they do go freelance.

If the rental house requires that these "technicians/PAs/ACs" (whatever they wish to call them) go with the gear on your shoot, I wouldn't argue, but the cost shouldn't be billed to you and you are free to hire your own "normal" assistant. Having that extra body doesn't have to be a bad thing, afterall, theoretically, that person knows the rental gear you have and what extras might be back in the shop. Plus an extra body to push carts and carry things helps you while they get to learn from watching and helping you.

I wouldn't expect to have to carry the cost of a mandated person from the rental house unless it was with a very specialized piece of gear, like a Technocrane or something. If it's all about the standard stuff (camera, sticks, bricks, lights) then the rental house should be responsible both for paying the "kid" as well as insuring him while he's on your shoot. Otherwise, no rental facility should be able to force you into using their personnel because the industry runs on experience and trust (well, it really runs on fear, but I'm trying to paint a brighter picture :) )
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#4 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 11:47 AM

I thought about this some more and got to wondering if it really IS a real training program or just a way to get cheap labor (for them and for you). Will they really "train" these employees with hands-on workshops, homework, practice shoots, etc. .... or do they expect the renters (people like you and me) to give them "free" on the job training in exchange for extra help moving gear around?
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#5 Simon Miya

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 01:16 PM

As a full time working AC, I'd be very upset with that rental house for trying to take away my gigs by undercutting my rate.

Edited by Simon Miya, 04 October 2007 - 01:18 PM.

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#6 David Negrin

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 09:44 PM

Hey Jonathan
While this might be distressing, eventually (sooner than later) the a.c. trainee rental program will go away.
If you got an a.c. from the camera house in he wasn't up to snuff, you wouldn't use that camera house anymore.
only bad news travels at light speed, no matter how cheap the rental is, if there are A.C. related problems, you don't
have it in the can, and that will kill the program and possibly the bussiness if they try to hold onto it too long.
you also have to rely on natural selection and wash out.

Dave
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#7 Hal Smith

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 10:33 PM

A lot depends on who they take into the trainee positions. If they're looking for young people who are already handy at a related skill it could work. A computer hardware hacker, an apprentic mechanic or machinist, someone who followed a journey electrician dad around as a helper, etc. would already have technical experience, just not directed right at film gear. Those type individuals would obviously be interested in film if they applied for the job and they'd have something to offer in return.

My best apprentice started working for me while in high school. He's now one step short of being a Vice President at a major commercial sound equipment manufacturer. VP is coming soon, they just moved him into a large corner office.


......Oh yah, his dad was a senior AT&T Long Lines Microwave Engineer...............
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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 29 November 2007 - 05:45 AM

> They're looking for people who would be able to commit 2 YEARS at this position, and
> at those wages (as if anyone could seriously make a living at those wages), solely for
> gaining the experience

This sort of thing has been endemic in London for at least a decade. It's one major reason why so many up and coming crew are enervating Knightsbridge rich kids whose parents bought them a £500,000 flat in the middle of town - it's the only way you can possibly afford to do it.

The BBC are particularly bad at this. I know people who've been runners for four or five years.

Phil
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#9 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 29 November 2007 - 07:49 PM

Are the AC's for either film or video, or both? If these are AC positions for film, my answer would be....

The irony on the film side is it seems that anytime "growth" happens, there are some people who get concerned. Whereas on the video side it seems the more the merrier. Kind of reminds me of the VHS vs Beta battle two decades ago. Betamax was better, but there were was only one distributor, whereas VHS wasn't as "good" but it was available to everybody.

The more talent on the film side, the easier it is to consider film on projects that maybe originally weren't going to be consider shooting on film.

------------------------------------------

If they are AC's for video, I have no answer.
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#10 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 29 November 2007 - 09:45 PM

This rental house caters more to the ENG crowd, so mainly video. But they have a couple Aaton's in stock.

The more I think about what the guy proposed, the more ridiculous it becomes. I haven't been AC'ing for too long, but I got up to union scale pretty easily.

I suppose for the aspiring AC (ideally a student living on loans or mommy & daddy's money) it might be a worthwhile deal.

But I do see what you mean David. One big slip up by an endorsed AC from this company, and I certainly wouldn't go back to them again, either.
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#11 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 03:56 AM

That has kind of been happening for a while in the feature world for a while. A camera PA is usually hired by production to be trained so that he or she can become a full fledged AC someday. While this camera PA is not sent out by the camera rental place and it is paid PA wages by production, it is never intended that a camera PA would replace a full-on AC -never right away, in any case.

If persistent and capable enough, eventually this camera PA gets in the union and becomes a loader, starting the slow ascent through the camera department's hierarchy. Think of it as an AC-in-waiting.

But make no mistake, no DP/ operator in his/ her right mind would consider hiring a fresh-off camera PA to replace a much more experienced AC. That mistake could be the last mistake that DP/ op made on a set. I mean, getting fired as a DP/ op for not hiring someone who is capable of keeping the camera dept straight, ranks as a sure-fire career-killer as far as I am concerned. Camera PA's are usually hired to help AC's to keep cameras in check, and it mainly involves moving A LOT of cases.

Maybe on a short commercial, a camera PA can hold his or her on a little better. But it's still a tremendous liability to have such a person keeping track of innumerable details an experienced AC should.
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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 06:51 AM

> mean, getting fired as a DP/ op for not hiring someone who is capable of
> keeping the camera dept straight

As if that would ever actually happen.

In my (very direct) experience, the DP is the last person to get fired. Teflon-desking a go-go!

Phil
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#13 Sam Kim

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 02:02 AM

first day back on this site and your article is the first i read.

i think everyone else has the right opinion. the AC/PA would never be hired to 1st but i could easily see them being asked to 2nd or load on smaller shoots if they have proven to be able to do so.

you know how it is up here in the bay, indie flicks are always trying to cut around corners.
i just got off one that was shooting in the delta/sac area and the DP hired a 1st for his HVX200 (w/ no adapter mind you) that had NEVER touched one before and was not quick to pickup on it at all. so as sad as it may sound i think stupid dps would use them.

good to see a familiar name/face frequenting these boards. keep up the good work.
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