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#1 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 04:37 PM

I was told there is a test to get into the guild as an AC and that it involves some written questions, building cameras, etc. If anyone can tell me more details about this that'd be great; I am quite curious seeing as how this is something I plan to do relatively soon, as in within the next few years or so. Thanks.
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#2 Matt Irwin

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Posted 03 October 2005 - 03:54 PM

Hi Annie,

For IATSE Local 600 (Los Angeles), I think you simply have to show 30 days worth of pay stubs earned within one year of each other that state your job as "camera assistant" or "loader". I may be wrong on this, but I think the stubs also have to be from union shows. (can't be a union without at least a few catch-22s! :) ) The rules for the Georgia unions may be different, though.

Anyone feel free to chime in if the rules have changed.

Edited by Matt Irwin, 03 October 2005 - 03:55 PM.

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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 October 2005 - 04:32 PM

As far as I know, the rules for joining Local 600 are the same for all categories. No testing is involved except for safety certification.

Basically you have to prove to Contract Services (not the union) 100 days of paid work within a 3-year period in your particular job category (camera assistant in your case.) It does NOT have to be union work (obviously, since you're not in the union). But it does have to be work done in the USA or its territories. Contract Services is actually run by the producers, not the unions.

The 3 years counted date backwards from the date of application, so it would be work done between Oct. 2002 and Oct. 2005 if you apply now.

The chief obstacle, assuming that you've worked 100 days in a 3-year period as an AC and were paid for it, is proving it. If you're lucky, all the work was paid through a payroll agency, so all you have to do is talk to the payroll company and get them to send a letter to Contract Services confirming your days & job category. If not, you have to get letters from producers and production companies listing the dates worked, and confirming that it was paid work -- but don't be surprised if some percentage of those letters is rejected for various reasons as not being legitimate.

Keep copies of EVERYTHING you send to Contract Services. They are like the DMV, if you know what I mean. They lost the first payroll company letter sent to them. I only found out because I called them a month later to ask how my application was going.

There's no reason to join the union if you're just starting out and building experience, and don't have the 100 days anyway. You generally don't START your career by joining the union. I worked for a decade and shot 25 features before I joined the union. Although most AC's join earlier than DP's, probably because they work more often and collect the days faster.

If you're just starting out and plan on eventually joining, the best thing you can do is carefully document your work history as much as possible, and keep records, including call sheets where you are listed.
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#4 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 02:28 PM

Sounds good David.. That's pretty much what I thought but I wasn't totally sure. I will be relocating to LA by the new year and have started trying to find work. Thanks for your reply!
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#5 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 06 October 2005 - 02:28 AM

I think Contract Services lost every letter I gave them at least once. They even made it clear to me early on that I should NEVER give them the original because they tend to get lost. So just make sure to give them copies of letters. I thought it would be a simple process once I submitted my paperwork, but it ended up taking about 6 months before I was eligible to join. Just something to be aware of once you're ready to join. I wouldn't necessarily rush to try to join the union, but I would certainly get letters for days as quickly as possible and be ready to join in case a good opportunity arises. Oh, and getting letters can be pretty easy if you just make a sort of form letter and change it for each individual job and ask the producer to sign it and print it on the companies letterhead. It's much easier than asking them to write the letter on their own, because that may never get done.
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#6 Robert Baird

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Posted 06 October 2005 - 05:35 AM

In L.A., it's 30 union days in a year, to get on the COMMERCIAL roster. Or, 100 non-union days in three years to get on the Industry Experience Roster, which allows you to work on union features and TV shows. I've heard that in NY, they used to give a test. Don't know if that's still true. Depending on how busy it is at the time you attempt to join, these rules can be bent or even thrown right out the window. When skilled labor is hard to find, they will make exceptions. It helps if you assist in "turning" a show (organizing a strike), but still KEEP ALL YOUR RECORDS!

If you are in L.A., just call Mary McDougal at Local 600 and she will be happy to send you an information packet with all the details. Then get ready for the long road ahead. Good luck!

IATSE LOCAL 600 MEMBER
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#7 thepaul

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Posted 09 October 2005 - 03:29 PM

Do call sheets work as evidence of working on shows?
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#8 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 02:54 AM

Do call sheets work as evidence of working on shows?

Not really. They're good backup to have, but you really need the letters from the producers more than anything and copies of your checks. I brought call sheets in to contract services when I submitted my paperwork, but they didn't even want to look at them.
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#9 Paul Maibaum ASC

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 03:28 PM

I was told there is a test to get into the guild as an AC and that it involves some written questions, building cameras, etc. If anyone can tell me more details about this that'd be great; I am quite curious seeing as how this is something I plan to do relatively soon, as in within the next few years or so. Thanks.


Many years ago when I got in what was then Local 659 I had to take a verbal test that in front of a panel, members of the local and Dick Barlow (dec.) who ran The Burbank Studios (a merger of Columbia and Warner Bros studio facilities on what is now again just Warner Bros.) Camera Dep't. I believe that there were quite a few questions but they only asked me one and since I gave the correct answer they had no need to ask me any further questions.
The question was,..."If a magazine with film in it is immersed in water what should one do?".
I replied with a question of my own, which is apparently what they wanted to hear.
Any guesses as to what that question might have been?
Paul Maibaum
DP/LA
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#10 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 04:01 PM

I don't know...hm...does it have something to do with whether it is salt or fresh water? Or perhaps as simple as "how deep is the water"?

I know your'e supposed to put the mag in a cooler of fresh water if it is immersed in salt water.

Now I'm curious.
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#11 Paul Maibaum ASC

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 04:14 PM

I don't know...hm...does it have something to do with whether it is salt or fresh water? Or perhaps as simple as "how deep is the water"?

I know your'e supposed to put the mag in a cooler of fresh water if it is immersed in salt water.

Now I'm curious.


You got it right....I had answered the querie with the question, "fresh water or salt water?"

Best of luck to you.
Paul Maibaum
DP/LA
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 05:41 PM

You got it right....I had answered the querie with the question, "fresh water or salt water?"


Maybe you should have asked "African or European Swallow?"
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#13 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 09:48 PM

Yay, what do I win? :lol:

Someone at school dropped a slate into the water. As in, they clapped the sticks and the slate itself dropped off and fell into the ocean. I would pay to see that footage.
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#14 Mike Panczenko

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 07:18 AM

On the East Coast, they will bend the rules of requiring the 100 paid days, quite often. Give them a call and talk to them, and you might be surprised!
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