What does an Assistant Camera do? We spoke to Kitty May Allwood, a notable Assistant Camera who has worked on numerous short form and long form content, including Wentworth, Clickbait, and Jack Irish.
Let's journey into the day of an Assistant Camera.
1. Describe your typical day:
When I’m working it’s usually on Long Form productions Movies and Series. The shooting schedule is based off a ten hour day and we usually start quite early pending what is required. I’m usually getting up around 4:30/5am and then half a 45 minute bump in to get out the gear, build the cameras, find out the first set up with the cinematographer and 1st AD get ready to turn over when Crew Call and actors are on set.
We have a Call Sheet which gives us the layout and plan of what needs to be shot for the day and follow that, along with shot lists and notes from the cinematographer. Any special builds are usually planned ahead of time along with special gear. The days are long and our job can be quite physical pending locations and getting the gear to where it needs to be. Once the day has been shot we pack up the gear and usually have a drink or two to finish up before heading home.
2. Best bit about your job:
Camera department are usually quite busy. It’s great being at the centre of the shoot and seeing how its going to unfold. I adore being a focus puller and seeing the performances first hand. Plus I adore building cameras, it never gets old.
3. How did you get to where you are?
I have been in this industry for over 15 years. I started at the bottom as a camera attachment on ‘The Pacific’ back when they were still shooting on film. I learned and grew and slowly made my way up the ranks, being a truck loader, video split, 2nd AC and now 1st AC through supportive peers and my love of this industry.
4. What skills and training do you need to do what you do?
There are attachment programs from Film Victoria and 2nd AC short courses through the ACS, that help to give you an understanding, but most of the experience is learnt on the job. AFTRS in Sydney have a course as well. You can study this specific job of camera department broadly though the film and television courses at Uni too. All these places are good to meet people and learn. I also highly recommend going into rental houses and playing with the gear and meeting peers, having chats.
5. Advice to someone thinking about the job:
Make contacts and show your interest. We spend so much time together on set, it all about personality and getting along with the people you with work with, down to what kind of tea they like to drink.
The camera department is bigger than you thought! We hope this post has helped you consider other positions within it, if you're interested in this particular area.
Stay tuned for another entry to A Day in the Life where we explore other roles within a production.