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How the role of Camera Assistant changes in low budget feature filmmaking?


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#1 Tom Sykes

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 12:11 PM

Hello Ladies and Gents.

I'm writing a report on "Understanding the role of a Camera assistant on low budget feature films" focusing on specifically how the role changes and what other jobs you may have to do etc.

If anybody could share any experiences on how their role as Camera Assistant changed during the production process then that would be fantastic and help my grades considerably, even if it's just minor change, as obviously due to budget restrictions, more people on set be used as a 'multi-tool' instead of just doing one job, similar to what a steak knife would do.

Does anybody prefer working on low budget films as opposed to bigegr budgets, if so, for what reasons? Less pressure, more creativity, less creativity?
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 01:46 AM

In my experience, the job changes in two ways. The first is that you start doing things that would normally be other jobs but those positions don't exist.

For example, there may not be a script supervisor so some of those responsibilities may fall to the 2nd.

Another real world example: I did a whole feature as the only camera assistant without a second. It sucked. We were in some rough desert locations where I would have killed for some help schlepping gear around. It was also a pain hitting sticks and then going back to the camera to pull focus.


The other way the job changes on low budget films is that you get fewer "extras." The best example I can think of from my own work experience is that I pulled focus on a surprisingly low budget anamorphic feature with a lot of steadicam. There were days I really needed either a cinetape or time to get lots of marks but I couldn't get either for money reasons. For that reason, they had to be satisfied with a lot of buzzes. The DP knew that big steadicam moves at a T2.8 on 40mm and 75mm anamorphics wasn't going to go well but the director insisted we go ahead even knowing the technical problems we would have.
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Visual Products

New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Tai Audio

FJS International, LLC

Aerial Filmworks

rebotnix Technologies

Ritter Battery

CineTape

Abel Cine

Willys Widgets

Glidecam