From our ongoing exploration of ways to become a faster and more efficient camera assistant, today’s tip — and the final one in the series — is:
14. Slow Down and Plan Your Approach
I know it sounds counterintuitive, but in some cases, slowing down may actually make you faster. Let’s look at an example:
The director of photography asks you to move the camera to a new position, change a lens, and drop in a filter. You bark the instructions over to your 2nd AC who stops what they’re doing immediately to help you.
You lean down and unscrew the head and camera from the sticks, ready to take it to the new position expecting your 2nd AC to follow with the tripod. But when you look up your 2nd is standing by with a lens to change. Not wanting to risk anything being loose, you tie down the head again and change lenses.
They go to return it to its case and you, again, prep the camera to move positions.
But the 2nd AC comes back with the filter now…
Sounds like chaos, doesn’t it? Obviously you weren’t on the same page.
That’s because, in this case, there wasn’t any methodical approach.
Call it a workflow, a plan, a method — whatever — but you need to have an understanding with your crew on how certain actions are handled.
This develops over time the more you work with somebody, but is easily established verbally at the beginning of a shoot or the first time you’re met with a task.
In those moments, take a few seconds to step aside and figure out the best way to approach what you need to do. This may mean moving slower at first, but the speed it saves in the long run is unrivaled.