AC Kit

I am just starting out in film and am interested in becoming an AC. I was advised to start up a "kit" does anybody have any suggestions for what I should add to it? I have sharpies, dry-erase markers, hard and soft tape measures, scissors but I'm not sure of what tape and what else I need. Any advice would greatly be appreciated.

Beyond the normal AC stuff. I have a tool bag that is stuffed full. I bet it weighs almost 50 pounds!


Hammer, shouldering iron, spot meter, incident meter, volt meter, continuity meter, cube tap, ground lift, package of ear plugs, small first aid kit, small coil for Beldin coax cable, small coil of Beldin 2 pair wire (8241 I think). XLR, TRS, RCA and BNC cable and connectors, headphones, Tupperware containers with various BNC, RCA, RJ-11, RJ-45 connectors, allen multi tool, coax stripper, package or razor blades, small bottle of 100% alcohol (cleaning solution), metal construction type tape measure, 12" level.

Around exterior of the bag.

Lineman's pliers, large dykes, medium needle nose, small needle nose, small strippers, heaver gauge strippers (up to about 14 g), mag light, stud finder, AC line beeper thing (not a very safe tool, but good to confirm if an edison box is hot before you cable a 100' stinger back to the video monitor), large and small: flat, phillips, hex, tweezers, utility knife, electricians scissor, BNC crimpers with various dies, cheapo Radio Shack coax crimpers (great for fixing all kinds of bent and broken connectors), RJ-45/11 cripmers. Two crescent wrenches (that I'm constantly replacing).

There are some other tools that I've forgotten. I drag this bag around with me on every shoot. There is always an obscure tool or connector (generally outside camera dept, but holding things up) that saves the day. The hard part is getting everything back at the end. Disposable earplugs are the best thing to have tucked away. You may only use them once a year. But when you need them...

The true basics would be :

 - Changing Bag, Harrison Tent if you're serious

 - A few ink pens

 - A few sharpies

 - Steel Tape Measure

 - 25' Soft tape measure

 - 1" Black Camera Tape (for taping cans of exposed film)

 - 1" White Camera Tape (for taping Unexposed cans of film)

 - A bag of some sort to carry kit (You don't have to start out with a expensive one)

Bret Lanius - Camera Assistant - Atlanta GA, USA

Hi Kim,

May I suggest that you get yourself a couple of lge lanyards, (like the ones you might use when absailing to attach small items to yourself). Have one which is your "On Set" one. On that I have every colour 1" camera tape under the sun and also maybe a roll of Gaffer tape. On the other lanyard, your "Loading One" which is kept in the eski and I'll keep it where ever your position is, if you are using a tent setup somewhere near set clip this one onto the handle of your eski (So Hopefully It Doesn't Walk :-) and put the rolls of tape your are using for your film stocks on it, For loading & Down Loading.

I also have a pouch made up out of "Spandex" that is made for my Slate & Macro Slate which has clips on the back of it so it can be cliped onto the Magliner Trolly. So they don't get stepped on (Try telling people that u need the prod. Office to race over with another slate because the "Goofy" footed Grip plonked his hoof on it. ;-) and so you aren't panicing to find the slate at the last second, when you have placed it down and the "Props Dept" moved it without telling you.

Also go into your local camera house and "hang around" the test bays and see what toys the other AC's drag out of their kits.

Stu Drayton

Sydney, Australia

It depends what kind of assisting youll be doing as far as what youll need to do the job. Are you going to be a 1st ac or a 2nd ac, doing movies/tv or commercials. These things are all done a little differently and require different tools.

To start out thought there are some things you must have.

A changing tent or something to load film in. A workbelt with a pouch to keep your necessary items on you. Tape measurers. A bag to bring your gear in and keep accessories in on the job. Some slates ( a small insert slate and a full sized slate (the full sized slate is almost never needed on commercials)). And markers and pens and tape and other expendables that you can acquire as you work. Then there will be all kinds of other stuff you can crowd your closets with as you figure out the way you like to work.

Scott Maguire


< does anybody have any suggestions for what I should add to it? I have sharpies, dry-erase markers, hard and soft tape measures, sissors but I'm not sure of what tape and what else I need. >

All those items are great also some great advice, in addition to the others I would like to recommend some things.

Especially if you are just starting out on indie projects, in addition to that stuff which will all come in handy you will also want to have at least a couple extra cores/cans/bags/ camera logs with a clipboard and a pen that does not run when wet. It is always a good thing to go to the local lab they can supply most of of these things for free. Make sure to have a flashlight very important for when you get in a dark space and for checking the gate , a orange wood stick and some 1/4 inch paper tape to mark lens focus marks. Handi wipes in case your fingers get yucked up in the day and you are handling the lenses/filters. I'm just starting out too but so far these things are essential.

Lorelei LaBella

AC-- Seattle

It's been very interesting watching this post & reading what some assistant carry as part of their 'on-set' kit. Over the years I had accumulated a ton of stuff. Stuff I thought I couldn't perform my duties as an AC (2nd & 1st) if they weren't by my side. Well, many years ago, I did a big clean out of about 95% of the crap I used to carry around with me. I conciously 'upgraded' my camera bag to one about ¸ the size & all I can say is after you've figured out how LITTLE you need to perfom your job, you will probably do the same. I'm not saying you should go minimalist when you start out because as an AC, especially 2nd. AC, you need to figure out YOUR system of working! Working with as many 1st. AC's as possible is IMHO crucial to the way you learn your craft. After a while, perhaps, you will learn which 1st's are good & which are not so good.

As a 2nd. AC, I was fortunate to have worked with some very good 1st's & on most occasions the 'unspoken' teachings were the ones I remembered best. Just observing the way a very competent 1st AC goes about their job. Everything from basic (and sometime complex) prep before a shot, to the liasing with the DP, Operator, Director, Grips & Electrics. Some AC's were good 'all-rounders', some great at perhaps pulling focus but poor communicators. Others were not so great focus pullers but really had a handle on prepping the equipment. So as part of my 'on-the-job' education, one of the aspects I (eventually) adopted was the idea of the 'less is more' approch to the amount of stuff in the kit bag. I'm lucky I have a well equipped camera truck. It carries all the tools & 'crap' & it stays in the truck NOT on set.

Angelo Sartore

1st. AC


I think Angelo was right in that 'Less is More', But it is Evidently your own choice in what tools you have, no one will criticise you for not having a a particular "toy" in your bag.

I feel that there is a comfort zone in knowing that you can perform any task thrown at you because you have a particular item to complete it with but as your experience grows I am sure that you will find your kit will shrink as you become more confident.

Lets face it starting out is basically like starting a new 'Normal' job and you want to impress.

But I am sure everybody will agree (theyÕre lying if they don't) that it is more important to be a nice person who is patient and professional. And most importantly have fun.

Stu Drayton

Sydney, Australia

>It's been very interesting watching this post & reading what some assistant carry as >part of their 'on-set' kit.

I agree. A few things I try to work within are 'comfort' items if you will. Non necessarily vital to the job, but unmentioned so far, and used often by me to keep me working in not-so-perfect conditions.

1. Multiple pairs of comfortable shoes. As a rule, I never wear the same pair of shoes on consecutive days. I find hiking boots and running shoes to be the best for most situations. Having a pair that you could wear in/out of water would be a decent idea as well.

2. Rain gear and a hat. Good rain gear, the whole suit, and a wide brimmed hat to keep the sun off you. (I imagine the Ausies on the list know what I mean)

3. First aid Kit. Include the basics like bandages and ointments, but don't leave out the insect repellant and sunscreen.

As for equipment, you can really go hog wild with all sorts of stuff. I know I have stuff I never use but still carry on most jobs. Every once in a great while the opportunity may arrise to save the day in the 'tragic hour' with your own battery block after the rental house blocks have died out on the remote horse farm, but is it really worth carrying around that extra 30 lbs.? At any rate, here's a few items I carry that don't necessarily see too much action, but seem to be an asset when needed.

1. Shower caps. Really cheap and readily available practically anywhere you can buy shampoo. I use it over the matte box when the camera is standing buy to keep debris out of the matte box, filters, and lens. A lot easier and quicker to remove than a space blanket if you need to move fast.

2. Eye patch. Comes in handy for the DP/Op when in very bright exteriors and it gets hard to keep their eye squinted shut. Also very cheap and available at most pharmacies.

3. Buckey Pad. These are great little travel neck pillows filled with buckwheat husks; shaped like a horseshoe. They make a very comfortable shoulder pad for lots of hand-held shooting.

4. Knee pads. Cheap-O construction foam knee pads available from most hardware and home-improvement stores are a real gem when you've got to kneel for any length of time on a hard surface.

Christopher Ratledge

I use shower caps as well. Except the crew kept stealing the clear ones. Now I use a bright yellow one than hasnt gone missing in two years.

I also have a 4'X 4' piece of black cloth which I use on small jobs and industrials. Throw it over the camera to remove reflections,it blocks unwanted light from windows, and it makes a good back drop for shooting the odd product shot.

Michael Curwood

Sydney, Australia

Back when I was an A.C., I filled in fr the first who had a job conflict on an "Onyx" Video - Throw yer guns in the air.

It was drizzly, so I had the clear shower cap on the mattebox, so the D.P. Jim Fealy could keep an idea of the frame. The Non translucent ones really bother some Operators looking into the eyepiece and seeing black. So playback starts, and I'm about to pull away the shower cap (conditioner cap actually, thinner and cheaper, less durable - cleaner), when he says "Leave it on leave it on". He liked the look. I have never been more mortified by such an out of focus looking shot. Ughh the shifting planes of focus that thing created. He promised me he'd do one without the cap, but it never happened.

Steven Gladstone

Cinematographer - Gladstone Films

Better off Broadcast (B.O.B.)


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