Building A Camera Assist Toolkit

I have been doing a fair bit of camera assisting lately, which has been great, but I have felt like I was standing out as a newbie. It’s hard enough acting the part and knowing your stuff, but on the other hand, I also wanted to look the part. That meant coming prepared with all the tools and essentials I may need on set. A camera assistant kit.

Up until this point I have been rocking up to set with this well loved bag (Which at the time was the best I could do). For my first pouch I bought a small carpentry waist pouch to put put tools (also the best I could afford at the time). When I worked on my first big shoot the DOP gave me her first pouch so now I use that. I had also thrown together as many odds and ends that I could find around the house.

I felt like I had a pretty good kit to start off with, but it wasn’t until today when I felt I had finally put together a decent kit to get me through a standard shoot. On top of that, today I spent my last film pay check on a new bag (Which still isn’t as good as a Cinebag but will defiantly do the job. So i’m pretty happy.

For info about working as a camera assistant see my blog post – So You Want To Be A Camera Assistant.

A Basic Camera Assist Kit

So you may be wondering, what do you need for a good camera assistant toolkit? When I started, I looked around at various websites to get an idea of what I might expect to need. However, I found the best way was to observe what other camera assistants had in their bags and what was needed frequently on set.

If you are just starting out, then unfortunately that means you will need to prepare yourself for a few expenses to get the basic tools you will need. I found initially I spent approximately $200 AU to get my kit started, many tools I had lying around the house already. However, as a CA kit if often filled with expendables, you will need to constantly top up supplies and add more things as you discover other tools you need.

Here is a list of basic items that I think every camera assist should definitely have that are not too difficult to aquire. (I still have one or two more things to get from this list)

  • A Kit bag/Cinebag
  • On person Pouch and Belt
  • Work gloves
  • Screwdrivers (Phillips and Flat-head)
  • Pliers
  • Scissors
  • Wrench
  • Leatherman
  • Hex Keys/Allen Keys (Imperial and Metric)
  • Clip board
  • Camera Reports
  • Sharpies
  • Dry Erase Marker (Whiteboard Marker)
  • Staedtler non-permanent Lumocolor markers
  • Grease Pencil or Marking Pen
  • Pen
  • Pencil
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Super Glue
  • Lanyard with various tapes
    • 1″ Coloured Gaff/Cloth Tape
    • 1″ Flurescent Camera tape
    • 2″ Gaff Tape
  • Flashlight
  • Measuring Tape (Soft, Hard, or Laser)
  • Compressed Air or Blower
  • WD-40
  • Lens Tissue
  • Lens Cleaning Fluid / ISO WIPES
  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Zip/Cable ties
  • Velcro
  • Rope
  • Clamps/Grip Clips
  • Lighter
  • Hand Sanitiser
  • Poncho
  • SD/CF Card Reader
  • Batteries (Assorted)
  • Panadol

I also have a few extra things which have come in handy.

  • Black Wrap/Cine foil
  • Sunscreen
  • Box cutter
  • Plain/ Lined Paper
  • Elastic/rubber Bands
  • Double sided tape

Where to buy

Here are a few sites that I would recommend you check out for gear (Ideally if buying from Asutralia, but not limited to)

Film Tools – If you are buying in bulk then Film Tools is my first pick. Being a large corporation they offer great discounts and ship internationally.
Barbizon Lighting Company – Decent prices when buying a few items. However buying in bulk could prove costly unless you can arrange a discount.
John Barry Sales – Premier supplier of production film and television equipment in Australia
Set Wear – Gloves, belts, pouches and accessories for the discerning professional

Here is an interesting blog post from The Black and Blue which compares expendables suppliers and their prices.
The Black and Blue also recommended The Expendables Recycler. I hadn’t heard of them, but it seems that as they recycle products they offer fantastic prices.
Finally, you may also find you can save money by purchasing some items through your local newsagents, hard ware store or superstore.

Resources

All this is just to get you started. There are many more things you might like to look at adding to your kit. Here are some links to various sites dedicated to camera assistants. I found much of my information there in regards to gear.

The Black and Blue – The Ultimate Guide to A Camera Assistants Toolkit
James Leckey, Camera Assistant – My Kit
Luke Perkin, Cinematographer – Beginning to build my Toolkit

A Camera Assistants Toolkit: A Walkthrough guide

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