What does a camera trainee do?
Camera trainees work with all members of the camera crew, but they usually work most closely with the second assistant camera (second AC) or clapper loader.
They help prepare the kit at the beginning of the job and may be involved with camera and lens tests. They might mark actors’ positions during rehearsals and keep records, camera logs and other paperwork ready for the edit.
Monitoring can be a big part of the role; setting up the monitors, cables and wireless. If there isn’t a dedicated monitor operator, it becomes the role of the trainee. Experienced trainees may also be asked to take on the responsibility of using the clapperboard, changing camera batteries and helping the focus puller(first AC).
The scope of the job changes depending on the size of the production. They might start out making tea and coffee and getting the sides (printouts of the scenes to be shot that day) from the production office to the camera department. On bigger productions, they might help with the second unit camera, a camera set up to do secondary shoots while the main action is taking place elsewhere.
What’s a camera trainee good at?
- Photography: have a good eye and understanding of composition, light, colour, focus and story-telling
- Watching film and TV drama: have a passion for the genre and a love of the industry
- Learning by watching and asking: observe the clapper loader and focus pullerand ask questions at the appropriate moments
- Taking instruction: listen, do what’s asked, stay calm under pressure
- Reliability: get to set on time
- Communication: work well with crew members, write accurate and detailed camera reports