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Introduction/Question about 1st AC

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#1 Hans Roth

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 11:45 AM


I am a somewhat new Steadicam operator in Switzerland. I'm working with only a Steadicam Pilot, but it fits well in my market. I also am using the Flyer vest as I find it more comfortable. Already though I have worked many jobs with DSLR rigs, which is what I hope to work with for a year or two when I can move up into a big market. I have also just bought other accessories too, so now I have most of the gear an operator should (I hope :P )

I will also be going to a workshop when they come back in Switzerland or France. But for now I am being helped by other operators.

The only accessory that I am missing in my equipment is a follow focus. Up until now my clients have not wanted one. But I think if I am to be a full time operator some day I must take this step and buy one.

There is a focus puller in my area who also is newer (but very good of course!) who wants to work with me. This could mean we each only pay for half of the follow focus and also gives us both more business.

I am not sure though how a company will see this though. I can not do this if they do not pay more to have a focus puller with. Will most clients have a focus puller already, and not want to pay more for one with the operator, or might they pay more for somebody who works only with myself and has good experience in that area?

Thank you for your help, I hope to one day be working with you!

BEA. Sorry also for my bad english! I hope you can understand OK!

Hans "Hansi" Roth

Edited by Hans Roth, 09 March 2011 - 11:49 AM.

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#2 James Davis

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 06:49 AM

Hi Hans,

I'm sure that some way more experienced operators than myself will chime in here, being that I am only just shy of two years in as a steadicam operator (longer in video/media but thats not so relevant here I guess!).
But from my experience I have found it quite difficult on productions that are not organized by close colleagues/friends to push for a 1st AC of my choosing to be used...even though there are two in particular who I really like working with, who I know are absolutely bang on the button when it comes to pulling focus, steadicam, and general AC duties.
I normally go this route with the questions:

Do you guys have a 1st AC sorted? Yes/no?

If no then I try and recommend one of my regular guys who i've worked with before

If Yes then I the next thing I ask is:

Are they experienced with Steadicam?

If they say no, I will usually voice my concerns in a polite manner, and explain that I can recommend one or two 1st AC's who I work with on a regular basis who are both very experienced with Steadicam.

I have found the majority of the time though that I am expected to provide a wireless FF unit, or production have already sourced one, or they are asking me to source one, it's very rare from my experience for this kind of thing to be asked of the 1st AC, and also I think if it was something you owned, and pushed as a piece of your equipment on your gear rate, you would probably be able to get it out and earning money for you on 80-90% of the jobs you do.
My business partner and I were in a similar dilemma a little while back, and when we calculated what had been spent on sub-hiring through us, and the amount of productions we were on where a wireless FF was used.....well if it was provided by us I think we would have been close to having paid off 50% of a basic bartech set-up or one of those new ho-fo Pro FF kits.
So now we are looking to buy a unit in the near future, after demoing one, the Ho Fo Pro, as in my opinion if you want another option equipment wise to earn you money from production, I think its a no-brainer, around 35-50 days with it out on hire, and you are into profit. I guess the question is, do you want to share that profit, or do you want it all for yourself?
I would also be wary of putting yourself in a position where you are obligated to find work for this AC, as it could potentially sour your relationship as friends/colleagues if it goes wrong, or you can't get him in on a nice paying job that you got hired because they already have an AC etc etc.

Just my two pence

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#3 Ants Martin Vahur

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 04:13 PM

Hi, Hans!

If your shots need focus pulling, then you definitely need a remote focus.
If you get your own then you surely can and should charge for it separately or merge it into your package deal.

I don't see though how it brings more work for your friend focus puller, as usually this kind of equipment comes from rental house (or from a steadicam operator) and not from a camera assistent.
And- yes, mostly, if not almost always, production already has their camera assistent, who also comes usually with the DP, before they bring in a steadicam operator.
1AC-s job is not only to know and work with your (steadicam operator) remote focus, but they have to run the whole camera department below the DP- organise the equipment, keep on eye on 2AC-s, camera trainees etc., so it seems quite unlikely that they would consider the AC recommended by you, unless they agree to have a separate focus puller for steadicam.

Also, if this focus puller is your friend and you are planning to buy the remote focus together, I deeply recommend to sort out the business scheme beforehand between you two. So you know exactly how much you will each get for it from the rental. Maybe you want to do 50:50 split, or maybe if it goes out with one of you then the other gets only 30%, or some other deal, but this needs to be clear between you beforehand and it would be good to make a written statement about it too, so there is no misunderstanding in 2 or 3 years.

About half the films I've worked on have their own remote focus and I have kept mine as a back up. But most commercial and TV shoots don't have their own remote focus, so I can rent them mine.

Hope my long letter makes any sense. :)

All the best!
Ants Martin, working on a feature film in Helsinki, with Alexa cameras and my own Bartech remote focus.
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