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Eric Mc Keown has over 20 years industry experience as a Lighting Cameraman and DOP

Some of his biggest clients include: Daimler Benz, HBO and The BASF Chemical Company

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Assistant cameraman

Assistant cameraman

The job of assistant cameraman was my task for several years before I decided to become a cameraman.

As an assistant cameraman your responsibilities range from cleaning and maintaining the camera to setting up the menu as needed by the camera person or DOP. When shooting a sequence you will also be responsible for the focus. This is the reason most DOP’s insist on an assistant. Prior to the digital revolution in film making DOP’s would have a focus puller and a loader as assistants. Now the focus puller is the assistant cameraman and the loader is a DIT which means rsponsible for the data wrangling. Sometimes the assistant cameraman will take both the roles of focus and DIT. In any big production the assistant will be responsible for the camera equipment; this includes everything from the lenses, monitors, camera, computer for wrangling and hard drives. 

I assisted some excellent cameraman who taught me the art of lighting and composition. This is not a simple art as might be expected. An assistant cameraman will often help with these details in a shoot especially if there is no gaffer on set. Normally the DOP will instruct the gafffer to light the scene as is required while the assistant cameraman will ready the camera and lens. An assistant cameraman will remind the cameraman of any changes in the scene which may compromise the shot. basically anounce the differences in lighting which may have occured prior to shooting. Noticing flares and reflections can be vital to saving time with setup of a shot. Having relevant filters standing by, also extra batteries and camera cards is a huge advantage in a great assistant cameraman.

Being an assistant cameraman gave me oppotunities to work on a drama set when I would not otherwise been considered. I relished the excitment of watching masters craft the set and extra the magic. Working in these situations was priceless, I learned how not to ‘cross the line’ and what to shoot for the editing process to work. I got to be involved with famous people seeing how best to deal with them respectfully. Being assistant cameramanan assistant cameraman gave me the confidence to progress and become a cameraman; it was a perfect introduction to film making.

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