I am constantly teased by friends, family and sometimes crew that I wear a fanny pack on set.
“It’s an AC pouch!” I snap back, but really, I know they’re right.
My “pouch” was purchased before my first camera assisting gig as a result of my naivete and is actually a fanny pack. At that point, I had only read The Production Assistant Pocket Handbook by Caleb Clark which recommended having a fanny pack to keep essential gear.
Fast forward a few years and I use my pouch about 80% of the times that I am on set and I have never bothered to buy a new one. For me, I like the zippers that aren’t as loud as Velcro and prevent items from falling out.
With that said, I know plenty of AC’s who wear specially made pouches for camera assistants. These pouches often have specific pockets for markers, pens, and come with a customizable belt in which you attach canned air holders and other accessories.
Pros and Cons of Wearing a Pouch
Whether you choose to wear a pouch or not is going to be personal preference, but here are some advantages and disadvantages to wearing a pouch:
- Keeps essential tools within quick access
- Provides a place to store things regardless of what you’re wearing
- Can hold more than your pockets
- Keeps the tools you use the most in one central location
- If working alone, you don’t have to worry about a ditty bag
- Can be uncomfortable and cumbersome
- Makes noises when opening/closing the pouch to access things
- Items can fall out if walking briskly or running on set
- Can make it difficult to get into tight situations with the camera
- Can become cluttered and end up being counterproductive
Cons related to wearing a pouch are mostly inconveniences — that is, the worst part about a pouch is that it simply gets in the way. The pros, however, are focused more on holding more tools.
Customizing Your Pouch
Like anything camera assistants get their hands on, they end up customizing it. Many AC’s will replace Velcro on a pouch with magnets so they can open and close it while being quiet. Others may rip out the internals of their pouch and add glow in the dark lights or separate pockets.
Don’t settle for the stock shipment of your pouch (if you get one), get creative and think what you could do to your pouch to make it even better and more useful.
A pouch isn’t the end all be all to carrying your tools with you on set. There are alternatives such as basic tool-belts you find at a hardware store. I also have read about AC’s buying tool pouches designed for paramedics, police, or for military use. They found these at Military Surplus Stores.
Another option is to buy individual belt attachments for each piece of gear you would like to have strapped to your waist. There are so many tiny little accessory pieces available so you don’t have to strap a whole pouch to yourself.
The last option is simply not wear one at all. Many AC’s will prefer to have their tools loaded in a frontbox or a ditty bag that lives near the camera with one or two tools that rest in their pockets.
Different strokes for different folks.
Should I Wear One?
Whatever route you decide to go, make sure it’s because it suits your style of working.
If wearing a pouch is slowing you down, you should take it off. On the flipside, if you constantly find yourself hustling between your toolkit and the camera, a pouch can make you more efficient on the job.
For those on the fence, I recommend getting a pouch and trying it out. You can always take it off if you don’t find it useful. If you are tight on cash, keep in mind the alternative options above.
Personal preference is the name of the game when it comes to pouches, so don’t be afraid to stray from what some will consider a “standard.” I get teased about my “pouch,” but at the end of the day, it helps me get my job done and that’s all anybody cares about on set.
Do you wear a pouch? What brand do you wear? What do you prefer instead of a pouch?