Reel Opportunities

1st Assistant Camera

Also known as: AC, Focus Puller

What does a 1st Assistant Camera do?

The 1st Assistant Camera (1st AC) is responsible for maintenance of the camera, such as keeping it clean or adjusting the focus. Often, an AC whose main job is to maintain the camera lens’ focus during each scene is called the “Focus Puller”.

Pulling focus is not an easy job onset and is very important for production. The 1st Assistant Camera will sit next to the camera operator and use a dial to bring the picture in and out of focus. The 1st Assistant Camera will need to know exactly where the actor, or the object, that needs to be in focus is, so they can correctly mark the dial and pull to it.

They also manage the camera equipment and make sure it is organized on set. They will help with preparing the equipment, cleaning the lenses, and even setting up and tearing down the camera rig each day.

What's a 1st Assistant Camera good at?
  • Photography

    Have a good eye and understanding of composition, light, colour, focus, and framing

  • Technical knowledge of cameras

    Have a good understanding of the latest motion picture equipment, cameras, lens, filters monitors, and lights

  • Taking instruction

    Listen, do what’s asked accurately, stay calm under pressure, pay close attention to detail

  • Communication

    Work well with crew members, onscreen contributors, presenters and production staff, be responsive

  • Handling cameras

    Be well-coordinated, prepared to lift and move heavy camera equipment frequently throughout a shoot

Who does a 1st Assistant Camera work with?

The 1st Assistant Camera will work directly under the Camera Operator of the production or the operator of the camera unit. They will work closely with the Camera Operator and be by their side for most of the production. They will also work closely with the 2nd Assistant Camera as they both will help in the daily functions of the camera department. The 1st Assistant Camera will also work with the DOP (Director of Photography).

How do I become a 1st Assistant Camera?

Like many other departments on a set, it is possible to learn on the job by starting out in the lowest tier of the Camera Department and working your way up. Another way to gain an intimate knowledge of the gear is to work at a camera rental house. Many equipment rental companies encourage their employees to learn about the equipment that they offer, and it can be a great way to gain experience that you will later use on set. You can also look into the local camera unions such as IATSE and try to gain experience from them. They can provide qualifications to acquire entry-level positions on sets.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

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Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.