Why It's a Good Thing Nobody Notices You

Why It’s a Good Thing Nobody Notices You

On Facebook a couple of weeks ago, a camera assistant I once worked for posted a picture that I thought was amusing. In it he’s standing next to the camera, looking somber, while holding a sign that reads, “Nobody notices what I do, until I don’t do it.

“How perfect,” I thought. In 10 words, that phrase encapsulated so much of camera assisting.

Remaining invisible is what good AC’s do and the price of that anonymity is a lack of recognition at times.

(Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not complaining. The pressure of being noticed — often cause you screw up — is already enough as a camera assistant)

But it’s not just camera assistants, many crew fly under the radar:

  • The rigger who secures the set
  • The art PA who is able to hide a prop perfectly
  • The grip left for fire watch at the truck

They’re the silent heroes of the set.

And while their duties seem menial at the time, would you notice if the set fell down? If the prop stuck out like a sore thumb? If the truck got stolen?

“…until I don’t do it” is key in that phrase. It denotes a sense of responsibility and importance for the task, even if it lacks appreciation.

Every film production is built on the shoulders of crew members whose small responsibilities quickly add up.

You might be one of them. If you are, then you already know that this is why you have to love the job.

You put in the time and the effort to get things right the first time. You try your best to learn new skills and techniques to become better the next time. You trudge on not because you want to be noticed but because you enjoy what you do.

If you’re not satisfied with that, then by all means stop doing what you do and see what happens. It’ll get you noticed, but for all the wrong reasons.

What you really want is to make sure that if when you are noticed, it’s for a good reason.

To take notice of what Evan does, until he doesn’t do it, follow him on Twitter.

  • Andrew Mckee

    Lets not forget post-production. The same applies to my work as an editor. Certainly for dramatic scenes, the better I do my work, the less the audience should notice it.

    Andy

    • http://www.theblackandblue.com/ Evan

       Very true, Andy. Although in some instances, highly stylized work calls attention to itself as part of its charm

  • Anon.

    While i totally understand the premise of the post (being the quiet AC), I have to say i am now struggling with this myself. for years i was the very quiet, very ninja, 2nd AC. for years and years i tell you!. then when stepping up to 1st (like the past year) its like, oh, yeah, who are you? the draw back to not being noticed, is, well, not being noticed / thought of on the next job or with new people. People should talk about you (in a GOOD way) not forget about you. its ok if you’re in with a solid team who gives work all year round. otherwise, it sucks.

    • FB

      It’s a question of balance and I totally understand what you’re saying. While the the premise of the post is totally right, though you might also add “nobody notices what i do until I do it wrong”, it is also true that being too “invisible” is not always a good thing. In the end, it’s like whatever job you’re doing should be indeed “invisible”, but you yourself, as a person, shouldn’t. I guess it has to do more with one’s attitude more than anything else. When I was working as an assistant director I once had a trainee who was incredibly efficient, almost never made mistakes, and who was truly quiet. So quiet, in fact, that most people on set didn’t even know who she was, though she was friendly and hanging around with a few people from other departments at lunch break or in the weekends. She was always working at an amazing level, but she never looked like she actually was, and even when things were not going the way she wanted or when she was having a bad day because of some problems on set, she wouldn’t show the slightest sign of being upset, at all.

  • GarySteele

     The assistant is a Key like the grip or the gaffer.  g

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  • http://twitter.com/reggwebbdesign ReggWebb Design

    I have been reading articles on your blog for twenty minutes now…I like how you touch on so many different angles on so many different topics… (5 Steps to Boost Your Professional Credibility was the mind-catcher.) The article above touched space with me because as a website designer, I can relate. Behind the scenes but totally needed, often over-looked as a reason behind the success, but one of the first blamed in the face of failure. And before I went freelance, I was working as a server in a restaurant…glutton for punishment I guess :)

    Anyway, thanks for the blog, I hope it lives long.-Regg