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2nd AC responsiblilties?


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#1 David Calson

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 01:04 PM

I'm sure the Camera Assistant manual would help answer this for me (don't have $40 to spare at the moment)

But I'm looking to be a 2nd AC and was wondering what the responsiblities would entail beside slating. I hear there's a lot of paperwork, besides camera reports, what other paperwork is there?
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#2 Camera

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 02:06 PM

Honesty, get the book. It's well worth it.

But in a nutshell...

1) First and foremost - assist the 1st AC. It's your job to take care of the people above you. Get them water, food, whatever they need. The 1st AC should never have to leave the camera, so you become their lifeline. And you should be ready at all times - NEVER SIT DOWN!
2) PAY ATTENTION DURING BLOCKING! Rehearsals are key for a good 2nd AC, because you need to be laying marks. Once marks are down, the 1st AC can then start grabbing preliminary focus marks.
3) Slating. This is so important and bad slates should never happen. Pay attention to what lens you are on - if you're on a wide lens, then you know you can bring the slate in closer. Also, keep your slates professional - I typically use military letters (it helps the editor and makes the script sup happy).
4) Lens and Filters. You need to make sure the lenses and filters are clean and free of dust - at all times. NEVER HAND A 1st AC a dirty lens - bad karma.
5) Camera Reports need to be readable and correct. There is no excuse for bad camera reports. If you need to, recopy the reports at the end of the day - the lab, production office, and DP will praise you for great reports.
6) Film Inventory - DO NOT SCREW THESE UP. If you are off in the slightest bit - you will get fired. So, double check your math and make sure everything is added up correctly.
7) Equipment Forms - You may also be in charge of the equipment forms. Make sure you have every piece of equipment at the end of the day and after every company move. You need to make sure everything is well taken care of. That also means - leave at least one latch secured at all times.

I'm only barely touching on all the responsibilities of 2nd AC. Like I said, buy the book. It's really an investment not an expense.
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#3 Dave Green

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 06:13 AM

3) Slating. This is so important and bad slates should never happen. Pay attention to what lens you are on


Absolutely. For the distance of slate to lens, just remember that for every 10mm of lens that's one foot distance away from the lens for the slate. Add a little extra for safety and all should go well. Also, try and look through the viewfinder or at the monitor just to double check where you want the board to be. Wasting time/film while you re-position the board is going to make you very unpopular very quickly. And don't move the board away as you clap. Clap, wait a split second, then move - the logger and editor will thank you for it.

Also, while the 1st AC is your boss, so is the script supervisor. If in doubt about how to set the board, ask the script supervisor.

Low-budget productions with zoom lenses and a million set-ups a day can be interesting for the 2nd AC, too. ;) In these situations you really can't look away for a second, especially when it comes to keeping the board right. If you don't know the lens been zoomed in/out, which can be easy to miss on a very busy set, it will mean the board's wrong for the next take. A couple of those is going to guarantee a pissed off script supervisor will be having stern words with you. ;)

Wikipedia has a reasonable description of the 2nd AC's (clapper/loader) responsibilities.
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#4 Dave Green

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 06:18 AM

Oh, and keep abolsutely everything neat, tidy and all together as much as possible. Running around looking for your marks tape or clapper board when the rest of the crew's waiting is not a good idea. Also, if everything's neat and together, it's much easier to make sure nothing goes missing.

And possibly most importantly of all, keep your sense of humour, 'cos there'll be times when you'll really need it. ;)
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#5 David Calson

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 11:22 AM

thank you both!

Edited by Blade Borge, 27 May 2008 - 11:23 AM.

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#6 Yveline Garnier

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 05:36 AM

I think basics have already been covered, but a few minor things that will make your life on set easier;

-always tell the 1st A.C. if you need to leave the camera. You don't want to reappear on set with a cup of coffee to find a disgruntled first who wasn't able to get something vital because he had to stay with the camera himself.
-When switching lenses, or anything else on the camera, call out a confirmation when he hands you a lens, or anything else. That way he'll know you have a steady grip on it, and when to let go. If you make that a habit, it'll be a lot harder to drop anything because both of you thought the other had it.
-Depending on the 1st A.C., don't directly touch the camera. The rule goes; Second A.C. hands it to the first, who puts it on the camera. If you get along with the first fine, you can sometimes make an exeption, but it's best to stay in your designated area at first, make sure the trust is built up before you do anything that could make him nervous.
-If the 1st asks you for something, repeat it back so he's sure you heard it and got it right. Little things like that will show you're serious about the job, and will help you gain respect and trust faster.

About the slate; depending on the shoot, you might be in charge of loading, and you might be away loading mags at times when the slate needs to be done. try to set the slate right as soon as you can, and make sure the back-up man for the slate knows where to find it, and that you've left the set. That way nobody will get nervous when you're not around when it's time to nail the shot.

Oh, and buy the book, it's worth its money ;)
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#7 Dave Green

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 09:19 AM

About the slate; depending on the shoot, you might be in charge of loading, and you might be away loading mags at times when the slate needs to be done. try to set the slate right as soon as you can, and make sure the back-up man for the slate knows where to find it, and that you've left the set.


And always tell the person who'll be doing the board for you that it is or isn't set for the next take before you leave the set. You really shouldn't be giving someone a board that's not set, though.

Oh, a little tip to help you keep track of takes - once you've marked the take, run your thumb through the take number so that it's obviously been defaced. It also means whoever you hand the board to will know instantly if it's been set or not, although it's not an excuse to not tell them.
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#8 Leon Sanginiti, Jr.

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 02:42 PM

"Also, while the 1st AC is your boss, so is the script supervisor. "

I have to strongly disagree with this remark. The Script Supervisor is NOT in any way, the boss of the 2nd AC. I know many supervisors who like to THINK they are, but the 2nd AC only has his immediate department superiors to answer to. That means, above anyone else, the 1st AC and the DP, then the operator. Other than those people, NO ONE can boss around an AC. Not the AD, UPM, Scripty, etc, etc. They may be unhappy with them, and yell, and threaten...but only the immediate bosses can fire a 2nd AC.

Even if a UPM or Production Supervisor is unhappy with the way a 2nd is performing, he has to defer to the 1st AC to make the decision of letting the 2nd go. Ultimately they can persuade the 1st to make the decision, but it is the 1st that will let the 2nd go. Same goes with a 1st AC, the DP will usually make the decision

By the way...definitely but David Elkins' book, I am very happy to say that I assisted David with putting together the chapter on the 2nd AC!

Leon Sanginiti, Jr.
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#9 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 04:23 PM

"Also, while the 1st AC is your boss, so is the script supervisor. "

I have to strongly disagree with this remark. The Script Supervisor is NOT in any way, the boss of the 2nd AC. I know many supervisors who like to THINK they are, but the 2nd AC only has his immediate department superiors to answer to.


I can see how an outsider might THINK that the script sup. could somehow be 2nd's boss since the 2nd is always checking with him/her for the scene number to go on the slate. But you're absolutely right.
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#10 Dave Green

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 06:43 AM

I can see how an outsider might THINK that the script sup. could somehow be 2nd's boss since the 2nd is always checking with him/her for the scene number to go on the slate. But you're absolutely right.


Perhaps 'boss' is the wrong word, but the 2nd AC does have to work very closely with this person and it's much better to keep them happy. I've just finished a drama with a script supervisor who was really struggling with the way that production was shooting, but rather than antagonise the person by telling them they were wrong all the time, it was much easier and more productive to conform to how they wanted the board to be set until I got them trained. ;)

It made my life far more stressful than it should have been for the first two weeks (as you say I should be checking with the script supervisor if I'm not sure about a board rather than the other way round, which is what was happening), but it meant that shooting wasn't affected while the person got up to speed. It can be argued that the situation should never have arisen in the first place (especially as they weren't exactly inexperienced), but I much prefer to get the job done and try to sort out any problems quietly rather than make the situation worse by getting someone's back up by pointing out their failings (and, when someone's floundering the last thing they need is for their confidence to be further destroyed as that's never going to help sort out anything) or arguing on set.

By the time we wrapped we were running pretty smoothly together, however I'd rather not be in that situation again. ;)

Perhaps I should have said the 2nd AC has certain responsibilities to the script supervisor.
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