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Gaining first-time Clapper Loader experience


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#1 James Malamatinas

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 03:56 PM

I am searching for some advice on how to get experience clapper loading. I've recently moved from running to camera assisting (something I am looking to do full time) however I have been limited to digital productions currently because I have no film experience - as such I keep seeing and missing film projects looking for clapper loaders, many of which are larger, more valuable opportunities.

Given how much responsibility there is in loading/unloading film i.e. the cost of, and risk to, damaging exposed stock, I assume there will be few to no shoots that will allow me learn on the production so I am looking for a way to get this knowledge elsewhere.

Can anyone recommend a way? Would rental houses be a good option? If I buy short ends and a mag can I learn myself? Ideally I am looking for teaching that would give me enough confidence and skill to go onto a production in this position.

I look forward to your thoughts, thank you.
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#2 Charles Boileau

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 07:37 AM

I say got to rental houses, ask them for a few mags and some exposed film. Do it a few times with light and then go to the darkroom.
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#3 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 08:32 AM

There's more to the job of "Loader" than loading and canning out film from magazines. Also, the job of Second Assistant Cameraman is different than that of a Loader. Sometimes, on lower budget productions, they ask a single person to do BOTH jobs, but you need to know that these jobs are distinct even if you are asked to do both simultaneously.

As mentioned, the best way to learn how to load and unload mags is to go to a rental house that has many different types of magazines and just sit there and do it all day long.

But also as I've said, there is much more to the job. Too much to post here. It's for that reason I wrote it ALL down in the book "What I Really Want to Do: On Set in Hollywood." I URGE you to find a copy and read chapters 1-5 and then the ENTIRE Camera Department section AND at least the Script Supervisor Chapter.

Yes, you need to know how to do the actual loading/unloading part, which is arguably the MOST IMPORTANT job on set (yet, ironically, not the highest paid), but as a Loader (and/or the Second AC) there is so much more you MUST KNOW if you want to have a viable career. In addition to the book I mentioned above, you should also read books regarding Camera Assisting, which are excellent.


http://www.amazon.co...86976632&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.co...86976644&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.co...60&sr=1-2-spell


ALSO, I urge you to browse through the countless resources listed in the forums at www.realfilmcareer.com.
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#4 James Malamatinas

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 04:23 PM

Thank you very much for your advice, both of you.

I was aware that many other skills go into being a respected clapper loader or camera assisting - I have worked as second AC on several low budget productions, and also focus puller on a couple of other micro budget shoots - but as you point out I need as much experience and practice as I can in all of this. I was more concerned with handling film specifically because I am very VERY aware of what the costs can be if you do not do this job correctly.

I will definitely check out the books and forum, in fact I have already read the third book by David Elkins. I will also contact some rental houses to see if there is anyone who will let me practice on some mags or short ends.

If you think of any other advice will be very thankful to hear it!
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#5 grant mcphee

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 02:25 AM

Also, the job of Second Assistant Cameraman is different than that of a Loader. Sometimes, on lower budget productions, they ask a single person to do BOTH jobs, but you need to know that these jobs are distinct even if you are asked to do both simultaneously.


The UK system is different. Clapper Loader is a single job here, even when referred to as 2nd AC it still means assisting the focus puller and doing the mags. On jobs with an exceptionally high amount of stock being used there will be a central loader. There is also a camera trainee (3rd ac) who deals with batteries/boards when the loader is loading mags etc
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#6 Aaron Francis Farrugia

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 11:45 PM

The UK system is different. Clapper Loader is a single job here, even when referred to as 2nd AC it still means assisting the focus puller and doing the mags. On jobs with an exceptionally high amount of stock being used there will be a central loader. There is also a camera trainee (3rd ac) who deals with batteries/boards when the loader is loading mags etc


thats the same as australia, although the 3rd who is responsible for the video split and also to assist the 2nd AC....increasingly over here the 3rds role has been upgraded to a videosplit/ bcam or truck loader position.... this way the A Cam loader can be on set full time
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#7 Austin Michaels

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 02:13 AM

With being a loader you have to be VERY organized! Have to make sure everything is labeled correctly and up to date and put back into the can and label the can. When I am a loader/2nd AC or sometimes i was a 1st AC/Loader but we were shooting 16mm and I had All the cans pre labeled and all I had to do with the can when it was exposed was tape on the camera report.
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