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How to Pull Focus as a Camera Assistant

The last time you watched a movie, did you notice whether everything was in focus? Probably not. You probably just finished the film and either enjoyed it or not.

But what if the movie had been out of focus? I bet you’d notice then. You’d check your eyes first, then your TV, then finally figure out it was the film itself. You’d be distracted from the story, from the characters, and might even decide the movie isn’t worth watching.

That’s what’s at stake when you’re the one in charge of pulling focus — the actual act of shifting a lens to keep a subject sharp – that falls to the 1st Assistant Camera (AC).

The 1st AC (also known as the focus puller) is tasked with judging the distance between the camera and a subject and physically manipulating the lens on the camera to keep said subject in focus.

It sounds simple, but it is one of the hardest jobs on a film set full of pressure.

Pulling focus is as much an art as it is a science, but there are practical approaches on how to do it correctly and well. While the best way to get better at pulling focus is to do it,  dive into this 12-part series and I promise you’ll come out on the other end a better focus puller.

  1. 3 Simple Ways to Become a Better Focus Puller Over the Weekend
  2. 5 Common Focus Pulling Mistakes
  3. 3 Must Have Skills for Pulling Focus and How You Can Improve Them
  4. How to Pull Focus Like You’re a Master Musician
  5. How a Basketball Defense Helps You Pull Focus
  6. How to Pull Focus with Mirrors and Reflections
  7. What to Do After Your Focus Goes Soft
  8. How to Measure Distance for Focus Marks
  9. The Marks You Need to Pull Focus on Closeups
  10. Marking the Camera on Dolly to Keep Shots in Focus
  11. Marking on the Lens vs. Marking on the Follow Focus
  12. How to Nail the Timing of Your Next Rack Focus
  13. Keep Your Eyes on the Talent with This Quick Focus Pulling Tip