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Where to go to become a successful camera assistant?

camera trainee LA Atlanta Camera assistant Film school graduating

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#1 Erik Goodman

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Posted 06 March 2015 - 10:38 PM

Hello,

 

I will be graduating film school in less than two months. I am, of course, an aspiring camera assistant. I am having a hard time deciding where to move after I graduate. The school I attend is located in Florida which has little to no film industry anymore. I have no choice but to move. Based on your experience or knowledge...where would be the best place for me to move to get starting jobs such as Camera PA/Trainee gigs? LA? Atlanta? I know that there is really no right or wrong place to be...I just need a little bit of guidance. Thanks.  :)


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#2 Miguel Angel

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Posted 06 March 2015 - 11:13 PM

Hey Erik! 

 

I am not based in the States so I cannot give you any advice on where to go, however, what I did even before finishing school was going to the best camera rental place in my city, Madrid (in Spain) and asked the owners if I could become an intern there, cleaning filters, tripods, cameras, etc. 

 

After some months of learning everything, a camera crew came to the place and picked me up for a movie.. and then everything got rolling. 

 

So my recommendation is that if you want to become a camera assistant, go to either Panavision or Arri and ask them for an internship, it will be worth the try!

 

Have a good day! 


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#3 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 07 March 2015 - 02:30 PM

I guess the question is, do you want to eventually work on mostly studio features and TV? Or are you fine with mainly working on commercials and/or corporate films and documentaries?

If the former, then you need to go where those projects are being produced and where those crews exist in large numbers so that you can build your network. LA and NYC are safe bets. Louisiana, Georgia, and New Mexico currently have a lot of studio work due to their tax breaks, but that may not last for the 5-10 years you'll need to work your way up the crew ladder and develop your skills and network to the point where you can work anywhere. Vancouver and Toronto are busy as well, but you probably can't work there without Canadian citizenship or special dispensation. I know very little about the rules, so hopefully others can enlighten you there.

If the latter, then you'll have more options. SF is currently booming due to the tech industry, commercials, and a handful of features and TV shows that shoot here every year. Lots of work available at good rates, good crews with lots of experience to learn from, but very little on studio features or tv. I'm sure that's true of other cities as well, maybe other locals can chime in on those.
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#4 Erik Goodman

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Posted 07 March 2015 - 10:47 PM

Miguel, I will definitely look into rental house internships. I'm sure it's a great way to meet camera assistants and gain contacts. Thanks for the advice!

 

Satsuki, My goal is to eventually work on mostly feature films and television but I wouldn't mind commercials and such while working my way up the crew ladder. I'm really starting to think LA might be the right choice for me especially in the long run. Thank you for your comments!


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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 06:28 AM

There is the slight problem that as you move up in one "skill" be that commercials or narrative; you become less and less marketable in other "skills." And to switch over, you often have to take some massive steps back.

Now this isn't always the case, mind you, but something to think hard about is the end goal. If you want to work in the end in TV/Studio narrative, then it perhaps is wiser to work up from the bottom in LA/NY -v- getting to a good level in say, NM, Atlanta, NoLo, then moving, and having to reset a major portion of your network.

 

I was in a similar situation when I left the east coast for LA, and while I don't regret it (though I do miss Philadelphia) at all; it did substantially set me back in work for about a year. How/why/what voodoo got me to where I am I really couldn't say, or really say that where I am is in any way enviable or all that important/major, but I think, at least, it is wiser to go where you can get to the end-goal in as straight a shot as possible. There are enough set-backs and worries on the road to a career anyway; might as well try to minimize them from the get go.


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#6 Freya Black

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 11:18 AM

Hello,

 The school I attend is located in Florida which has little to no film industry anymore. I have no choice but to move.

 

Hey you always have a choice... but don't feel bad. I mean if I could move to LA then I would be sleeping on Adrian's couch right now! ;)

So work out what the end goal is and try and work out how to get closer to that.

 

Freya


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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 03:50 PM

And my couch will always be open to you should you need it; though you'll have to get used to Noodle and Gandi (the fish) making odd noises when they get hungry. It is 100% the strangest thing I've ever heard.


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#8 Erik Goodman

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 05:27 PM

Adrian, You make some very good points. Thank you! 

Freya, That's a good way to go about it. Thanks.

 

Also, Does anyone know of any good paid internships or training programs in LA? I have heard about the Panavision Two Year Program. I am definitely going to apply for that one but are there anymore that I should look into?


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#9 Miguel Angel

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 06:36 PM

Shane Hurlbut's internship? 

 

Best.


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