photo credit: Nathan E Photography
Do you take too much time to do certain things on set?
I’m a short guy so sometimes it takes me awhile to lug heavy camera rigs to new setups. By the time I get there, I’m almost out of breath and forget to make the quick-adjustments the director of photography (DP) expects me to.
Meanwhile, I’ve seen camera assistants (AC) swap out lenses quicker than the DP could finish calling for them and I always wish I was that guy.
That’s why I’m constantly looking for shortcuts — ways to save time and make myself more efficient.
When I first started doing more first AC work, I noticed more and more the negative effect how I carried the camera was having on my speed. It’s not like I was terribly slow, but there was certainly room for improvement. A major reason for this was my pride as I would He-Man the entire camera+sticks to the new setup.
Eventually, I knew I had to change. So I pulled my 2nd AC aside and setup a new process with him. When the camera was being moved, I would release it from the head, carry it towards the new location, and he would follow me with the tripod/sticks. If we were changing to a high-hat or baby sticks, I would take the entire head and he would swap out the sticks.
I know what you’re thinking, “Duh! That’s the way you’re supposed to do it.”
Well, I wouldn’t be an AC if I wasn’t a little stubborn and now I don’t do it any other way unless I have to. By making this one simple change, I was able to drastically reduce the time between camera setups and I know the DP’s I’ve worked for appreciate it.
So, are there times on set where you wish you were a little bit faster?
I bet there are.
Maybe it’s the way you slate, or the way you mark, or, like me, you struggle to carry the camera. Whatever it is, you’re tired of it: You’re ready to boost your speed and maximize your efficiency.
I wanted to take the time to let you know it happens to all of us and to help motivate you to look for those time saving tactics and shortcuts that help you get your job done better, faster, and more efficiently (which helps impress higher-ups, which helps get you more jobs).
Starting tomorrow and for the next two weeks, I’ll suggest one time-saving method per day you can implement the next time you step on set. Some of them will be specific, while others will be more generic, but all of them will help you become a quicker camera assistant.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear what some of the things you struggle with are in the comments below.
Posts from this Series:
- Be a Faster AC #1: Use a Camera Cart to Transport Gear and Equipment
- Be a Faster AC #2: Cut Down on What You Say When Slating
- Be a Faster AC #3: Maximize Your Camera Prep
- Be a Faster AC #4: Ask Questions for Clarification
- Be a Faster AC #5: Use Your Sharpie for an Emergency Mark
- Be a Faster AC #6: Stage Your Equipment Nearby
- Be a Faster AC #7: Make One Trip for Battery Swaps
- Be a Faster AC #8: Keep Your Mouth Shut
- Be a Faster AC #9: Wear a Pouch
- Be a Faster AC #10: Dictate Your Duties Effectively
- Be a Faster AC #11: Label Your Cases Inside and Out
- Be a Faster AC #12: Customize the Camera
- Be a Faster AC #13: Talk to the DP About the Scene
- Be a Faster AC #14: Slow Down and Make a Plan