It’s easy to find interviews with big players on set with DVD/Blu-ray, but it’s a lot harder to point the camera on those behind the camera in the first place — the camera assistants.
This is disappointing to those of us slogging away through productions. You often learn best when someone who has been in the trenches simply talks about their experience. With some luck, however, you can find the odd interview with a camera assistant.
So watch above as 2nd assistant camera (AC) Sterling Wiggins talks about life behind the camera.
The Camera Assistant Paradox
While the entire interview is interesting, I particularly enjoy when Sterling talks about seeing the film, “One thing I do love about camera though is, you know, you work on a movie and you go to the box office and watch it and one thing I can say about being a cameraman is that, when I see that picture on the screen, one thing I really enjoy is the fact that I’m directly behind that lens.”
I agree. I’ve always thought the most rewarding part of the camera department is you have a direct impact on the image on screen. The most obvious example is focus pulling, but even when I was data loading, I thought it was cool that every frame of footage had to pass through my hands.
The old metaphor for the filmmaker is they must paint a picture with hundreds of people holding the brush. As someone within the camera department, you get a prominent hand on that brushe and your strokes, though small and subtle, are there — they make a difference.
Camera assisting is truly a paradox in that sense: your job is highly technical, you make little to no creative decisions and yet, you have tremendous responsibility to make sure the film appears as it does in its final form.
To quote MakingOf.com, “so much of what goes into making of movie is unseen by the people who love movies the most.”
If this is your first time experiencing the content from Making Of, I urge you to go check out what they have. The site was launched only a few years ago by Natalie Portman, an actress keenly aware of the camera crew, and has more videos like this one.
How would you answer to some of the questions in the video? What’s the best part about being a camera assistant? And what’s the most difficult?