My history teacher used to say “If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail”, and every Camera Assistant knows that not a truer word was spoken.
The Camera Assistant has one of the hardest jobs on the crew, with considerable responsibility for both their human and mechanical counterparts. They need to be not just one, but several steps ahead of the game, able to predict the needs of the camera team and be ready and waiting with the necessary solutions.
So one sure fire way of being the Eagle Scout of Camera Assistants is to follow the Boy Scout motto; “Always Prepared”. Your biggest ally on this quest will be your Camera Support Bag; usually a Porta Brace or Billingham. Within this Aladdins cave hides a horde of technical trinkets; a maintenance kit that helps you to keep your camera and crew in running order. The kit will generally change for each job, varying greatly on drama and documentary, but some core essentials are a must…
So here are my TOP 10 MUST-HAVES for any Camera Kit Bag that’s worth it’s (considerable!) weight:
1. Lens Cleaning Fluid + Pad of Lens Tissues
2. 1-inch Brush
4. LED Torch
5. Measuring Tape
6. Camera Tape (Black & White)
7. Set of Permenant and Non-Permenant Marker Pens
8. Bungie Cords
9. Adjustable Cable Ties
10. “Dust-off” Compressed Air
And as a BONUS, here’s a ‘Life Hack’ that’ll save your butt!
11. Disposable Hotel Shower Cap
Next time you’re on an overnight stop in a hotel, pocket a few of the complementary shower caps in the bathroom. No, it’s not to protect your perfectly groomed hair when it starts raining, it’s for the camera!
A rain cover will protect all of the camera except the front element of the lens, as this needs to be clear to shoot. Place the shower cap over the front of the lens, the elasticised ‘headband’ will tighten and keep it in place… this is obviously only a protective measure for when you’re not rolling and must be removed at some point, but it stops you having to keep inspecting and cleaning that pesky rain water away.
So now there’s no excuse to not be Johnny-on-the-spot and be ready to deal with any on-set emergencies.
In the video below, Elliot walks you through his super awesome assistants bag that we took out to Africa to help us with our documentary filming.