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-   -   Do ACs need reels? (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/taking-care-business/51846-do-acs-need-reels.html)

Zach Mull September 27th, 2005 01:40 PM

Do ACs need reels?
This weekend I am supposed to speak to some students from the Brooks Institute about working (or rather volunteering) as a 2nd camera assistant on their thesis film, shot in SW Washington. They called me based on a resume that listed a camera department internship and some scattered, paid AC credits on small-budget shoots, but they've asked me to bring a reel to the interview. This seems odd to me. I've never had any creative input when I worked as an AC before, and I don't expect to have any in the future.

So my question: is it standard practice to to request reels from camera assistants? This seems odd to me, especially for an 2nd. Do 1st ACs have focus pulling reels? I thought that AC was a job where I would continue to work based on recommendations and previous credits, but maybe I am being naive. Do I have to put together a reel to be a dolly grip?

I would appreciate advice from anyone but would especially like to hear from someone who hires camera assistants occasionally.

Don Donatello October 4th, 2005 05:03 PM

from 1982 - 2000 i never saw a AC reel or heard of any ..
i retired in 2000 ... so don't know the current situation

Charles Papert October 5th, 2005 12:20 AM

No, they are being silly and showing their inexperience. There is no such thing as an AC reel. Ever. Especially for a 2nd AC! Just for a lark, you should assemble a reel of slates, one after another. "Marker!" SMACK! "Marker!" SMACK!

This sort of thing is happening more and more, students being super-picky when asking people to work on their freebie shoots. I have a friend who is constantly getting calls to do Steadicam work for $300/day or less (he has the full-blown, $100,000+ rig and normally gets 5x that) on student films, and they always demand reels of late.

The shoot may well be worth it. But feel confident in telling them that there is no such thing as a camera assistant reel, and you can tell them I said so (and they can look me up on the IMDB if they don't believe it).

Meryem Ersoz October 5th, 2005 09:03 AM

[QUOTE=Charles Papert]Especially for a 2nd AC! Just for a lark, you should assemble a reel of slates, one after another. "Marker!" SMACK! "Marker!" SMACK!

that's pretty dang funny....

Zach Mull October 5th, 2005 12:59 PM

Thanks Charles and Don. I just wish I would have had that slate reel idea before I met them. They did show their inexperience, and the director looked about 16 years old. I took a different gig for that week that pays a little bit and doesn't require a reel. I think I will look for more like that in the future.

Dean Bull October 5th, 2005 10:03 PM

I've been wondering about the movie biz as "of late", and not to take this thread into a completely different place, but I think a discussion about the "state of the industry" might be appropriate.

I'm not sure, being 22 and all, but I get the impression that not long ago DP's actually had 35mm reels (like the real deal, ready to project) or a VHS which of course doesn't do justice to anything. So could it be that the ease of DVD and digital post has allowed everyone to create a reel, therefore asking for a reel has become akin to a business card?

I am really not taking a stand as to the ups and down of this, but I do find it strange how much moooo-larky goes on now-a-days on the "indie" or student shoots. I mean Charles, you live in LA, you KNOW kids at UCLA and the like are breaking the bank on their shorts, and often times blowing tons of money for no reason... like your buddy with the rig, they want his reel but really, why are you whipping out the steadi-cam folks.

Like, really... what if your buddys reel was awful but he agreed to their day rate? I bet they would take him in a second!!

Ah heck, I can't even find a good point to end on!



Charles Papert October 5th, 2005 10:25 PM


Regardless of how easy it is now to make a well-packaged reel, it's the footage on it that counts, and you can't fake that. Beautiful photography can't be generated by software (not yet!). I am reminded by this every time I am led to a website or given a DVD of a short film that has been carefully built to look just like a studio release (copping the credit font, fake posters, fancy production company logo at the head) but when the movie starts, all that packaging is a wash as the film falls flat on its face.

The business with the Steadicam reels--that says more about the number of new operators that have popped up in recent years, that students can actually have their pick of folk who will compete for that $300/day rate, thus their boldness in asking for reels.

Still though--a second AC reel...that's sweet.

Don Donatello October 6th, 2005 10:38 AM

everybody wants to see a reel ... they want to pick the best .. or IMO what they think is the BEST .. i have found that persons with little experience do not know how to view a reel .. they tend to like the loud up beat ( as in music) that is cut to the beat of the music ... seems they think the best is the one that has their foot keeping beat to the music or makes they move the music in their chair .. they also tend to like reels that are cut very fast ( music video editing) ...
i recommend that inexperience persons viewing camera reels turn OFF the audio ( you're hiring a cameraman not a composer) and watch the images ... now all that fast cutting leaves the viewer wanting to see the images a little longer ...

Nick Hiltgen October 31st, 2005 04:10 PM

I think Charles is on to something, In addition to having footage of slates, maybe you should have shots of yourself putting marks down ("note how I use the popular T foldover pattern on the tape for quick removal of marks") and judging distances by sight, then whipping out a tape measure and showing them how accurate you are, and then you could assemble a camera...

George Ellis November 3rd, 2005 12:41 PM


Originally Posted by Nick Hiltgen
and then you could assemble a camera...

Blindfolded, while working the marker. HIRED!

George Ellis November 3rd, 2005 12:42 PM


Originally Posted by George Ellis
Blindfolded, while working the marker. HIRED!

It is wrong to quote yourself, but....

You know, there is a 48 hour film script in this that could be hilarious! We need to bang it out.

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