I've had one really interesting initiation into the camera crew, that was (originally at least) a welcome bit of excitement. Crafting! Wait, what....?!?
Yep, you read that right, crafting. It surprised me too when we first started making equipment accessories during our prep week, but then we continued doing more of that every week of filming thereafter. By crafting I mean taking paper, plastic, card, Corex (an oft-used film corrugated plastic that's like old boots to cut), and fashioning them into various pieces of camera accessory that either aren't readily available, don't work how we want them to or are simply too expensive. It seemed really nuts at first to be doing a Blue Peter job for things that you'd expect to have been provided for within the camera department budget.
The thing is, quite often our kit and cameras are specific to the job in hand. We build them during prep week to fit the demands of the shoot and as such we find value in making something like a camera rain cover from scratch.
Crafting is done for a number of reasons including to make an item that is more 'custom' than the market normally provides for, or to create something that doesn't exist that we need. This extends to having kit made for us by other members of the team, for example the chippie on site. I myself have a BEAUTIFUL custom blue "on-set box", inspired by those used by the 1st AC's to hold their pens, netbooks, focus rings etc etc. It's perfectly sized to fit onto a Magliner in a certain way and to fit into a floor bag too if I should so wish.
I've not made so many things out of card, sticky back plastic and tape since I was 5 years old. I loved it at first. I've made special fit sun shades, waterproof rain covers, tape roll holders and all manner of tchotchke, but the novelty wore off. In fact, the idea for this post came to me one evening whilst I was cutting an emergency shade /cover / wrap out of rock-hard cold Corex, with a blunt Leatherman tool, whilst kneeling in a muddy gutter in the rain.
All at once the idea of making cool stuff (which intrigues the life out of everyone else on set) became less appealing; as did filling up spools and spools of tape for people that couldn't be bothered to do it themselves. Not learning much doing that apart from patience. Not a bad thing I guess. It gave me a great lesson though. Planning. All of my planning is essential to save time, money and generally smooth my filming life, yours should be too! Good preparation for camera teams is essential, but as a good trainee you can be prepared also yourself before you get on set. Make sheet covers for all of the equipment doing your prep. Cut corex shades also. Make an entire set of rain covers for when you go mobile. Cut and wrap a card tube on each Mag to store a brolly. I lost track of the times that I humped umbrellas along on short notice with an extra set of arms that I didn't know I had. This isn't a comprehensive list. You'll find that in Thursday's post... until then, prepare for every eventuality, plan for every inclemency that might be visited upon you and carry on crafting.