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Getting out into the field


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#1 ben goldberg

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 03:40 PM

I am getting ready to graduate from school this year and will be trying to get gigs as a 2nd ac or camera PA.

I have worked on a feature as a 2nd ac that was shot on the Sony EX 1. I still am in contact with the 1st AC on the shoot and hope it will help but I know that 1 contact in the camera dept. is not enough.

I also have experience on shorts as DP, Boom Op, still photographer and PA.
My goal is to get into the camera dept though and work.

As far as training goes, I have experience with 16mm (Bolex, Arri S, Eclair NPR) and some HD (Sony EX1,) DV - Canon.

I want to get into the industry in LA because where I live now (San Francisco) seems like a lot less work for a lot of people.

Any suggestions? Anyone care to share their challenges/Stories when relocating to LA to work in the Camera Dept.

Should I just try and get as many gigs as possible and email every single person I know that is a DP?

As well as start upgrading my camera kit to a more professional level.

And camera knowledge, what would you recommend doing to learn cameras that more in use today (RED, 35mm, HD)?

Thanks
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#2 Joshua Powless

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 04:52 AM

I could only advice getting yourself connected with your local film communities and having your name listed as a 1st Assistant that I experienced up in seattle, and just like you said calling the DP's you're connected with and see what their working on. And make sure to have everything to do the job; you don't wanna be on the job and not have what is needed for what your being paid to do. you also may need to do some freebies just to get your name out their as an second but thats all I can really say. Also I'm sure you will go back and forth between different cameras so you should just be ready for whatever comes your way so just get to reading what cameras manuals to the camera's that are being rented out at your local rental house.

As for moving to LA you just need to have some contacts and a place to stay be careful with your finances and have enough to support yourself for a few months. well I wish you luck!
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 01:30 PM

I disagree. Don't list yourself as a 1st AC yet. You don't have the experience for that and it would be lying. What would happen is that you would be called for something, either sound like you can't do it on the phone or you would get there and not be able to do it. 1st AC is one of the worst jobs to fake your way through. It's pretty obvious if you've never done it and if you mess up, you could mess up footage or expensive equipment.

You should be honest when you advertise yourself. Don't exaggerate your abilities too much.

Here's what I would do that will be a good start to working in the camera dept.:

I would put yourself out there as a PA. I know it sucks a lot of the time, but working as a PA for at least a little while is valuable. You'll learn how things run and you'll get to watched skilled camera crews. If you have a chance, do work for the camera dept. Help them carry stuff and from there many ACs will teach you some things.

While you're doing that, go to some rental houses on slow days (NOT friday or monday) and ask them to show you how to load some magazines. Find a copy of Doug Hart's camera assistant's manual and read it through a couple times.

Edited by Chris Keth, 24 February 2010 - 01:33 PM.

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#4 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 02:04 PM

I disagree. Don't list yourself as a 1st AC yet. You don't have the experience for that and it would be lying. What would happen is that you would be called for something, either sound like you can't do it on the phone or you would get there and not be able to do it. 1st AC is one of the worst jobs to fake your way through. It's pretty obvious if you've never done it and if you mess up, you could mess up footage or expensive equipment.

You should be honest when you advertise yourself. Don't exaggerate your abilities too much.

Here's what I would do that will be a good start to working in the camera dept.:

I would put yourself out there as a PA. I know it sucks a lot of the time, but working as a PA for at least a little while is valuable. You'll learn how things run and you'll get to watched skilled camera crews. If you have a chance, do work for the camera dept. Help them carry stuff and from there many ACs will teach you some things.

While you're doing that, go to some rental houses on slow days (NOT friday or monday) and ask them to show you how to load some magazines. Find a copy of Doug Hart's camera assistant's manual and read it through a couple times.


I couldn't agree more with Chris. Don't oversell your abilities. The employers will see right through that. Working on some freebies would be a great way to gain experience and contacts.

Greg
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#5 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 02:10 PM

In addition to those last two posts which I agree with, I urge you to read the entire section on the Camera Department in the book "What I Really Want to Do: On Set in Hollywood." The more you know about the realities of how this industry actually works, the better choices you'll be able to make.

As you might already realize by virtue of the fact that you're posting here, there is no simple path to landing a profitable career in the film industry. It takes time to work, gain experience, and meet enough people until you're able to work enough days per month where you can pay for food, shelter, and the other things you want out of life.
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#6 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 05:14 PM

Hi Ben!

I agree with everything Chris has said. Don't spend your money on camera gear right now - you'll need it to tide you over for the next year while you'll be working for peanuts as a PA, working for free for experience, or more likely, not working at all for long stretches at a time.

That said, it's still probably a better move than staying here, it's super slow right now. At least you'll be making connections with people who will be able to get you paid work.

Anyway, best of luck.
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#7 ben goldberg

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 05:45 PM

Sounds like I just got to try to work on as many productions as possible and make contacts in the camera dept. with DPs, Ops, and AC's.

THANKS!!!

Too bad money is always an issue though....
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Glidecam

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Aerial Filmworks

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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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Visual Products

Rig Wheels Passport

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