2nd AC

2nd Assistant Camera

aka: second assistant camera, 2nd AC, or clapper loader

The 2nd assistant camera is in charge of the clapper board and slating the beginning of each take. You can find them in the camera department working under DOP and alongside the 1st assistant camera. It’s a great mid-level role for anyone interested in cameras and tech.

Do you think you have what it takes to become a 2nd AC? Keep reading to learn more about this job role, including duties, education, career route, salary, and how to find work.

What is a 2nd Assistant Camera?

The main job of the 2nd assistant director is to work the clapper board. The clapper board has information to help the editor including the scene, roll, and take. Plus, the noise the clapper board makes when it claps down helps the editor sync the sound recording.

Other duties the 2nd AC has on set are to support the 1st assistant camera with tasks such as setting up the camera and placing marks for focus. They also maintain and organize the equipment, taking orders from the director of photography.

Job Description

To begin, the 2nd AC are freelancers who work in the camera department. They can work on various film projects, from online videos to major movies. Depending on the film size, they might start work in pre-production to assist the DOP with equipment.

When shooting the film, the 2nd assistant camera starts work early, unloading camera equipment. Then they watch the rehearsal and help the DOP and camera operator set up equipment. In addition, they assist the 1st AC to markup actor’s positions for focus.

The main job of the 2nd AC is to slate the camera shot. They note the scene and the take on the clapper board and stand in front of the camera before the shot. When the camera is rolling, the 2nd AC calls out the scene and take number before clapping the board.

At the end of each shooting day, they help pack up equipment, charge batteries, and check inventory. In addition, they label the hard drives or film stock for the editors and dispatch them with notes. It’s worth noting that the 2nd AC works long days, at least 12 hours.

Pre-production Duties

First, the 2nd assistant camera will help the director of photography plan equipment. They might also help to hire equipment and check equipment before the shoot. If the camera department has training, the 2nd AC will guide them through their duties.

  • Hire camera equipment
  • Test camera equipment
  • Work with the camera department

Production Duties

During filming, the 2nd AC is always on set, working close to the camera. They start their day by unloading camera equipment and helping to set up the camera. Next, they watch the blocking and assist the 1st AC to mark the shot. When the camera rolls, they call the shot and take technical notes for the editor. Lastly, the 2nd AC helps to pack up equipment.

  • Unload and set up the camera
  • Watch blocking, assist 1st AC
  • Slate the start of every shot
  • Clean and pack up equipment

Education and Skills

The 2nd assistant camera doesn’t need a degree or higher education. However, you can learn the basics of working in the camera department by attending a film school or workshops. Many camera assistants start out as production assistants or camera trainees.

As a camera assistant, you should have a passion for cameras and cinema. You should also understand a variety of equipment and feel comfortable setting up cameras. Other skills include staying organized and making clear tech notes for editors.

In addition, the 2nd assistant camera needs to work as part of a team. They take orders from the director of photography and give orders to the camera trainees. The job also requires you to work under pressure and with heavy, expensive equipment.

Key 1st AC Skills:

  • Knowledge of equipment
  • Organisational skills
  • Work under pressure
  • Work as part of a team
  • Stamina and strength

2nd AC Career Route

The traditional route to this role is to start as a camera trainee. You might be able to find a trainee role with a major studio or film company. It’s typical to start at the bottom of the camera department and work up toward the next ranking role.

Another route is to work at a camera rental house because the role requires extensive knowledge about camera equipment. It is crucial to note that the second assistant camera position requires full know-how of the job and is not an entry-level role.

Many 2nd ACs aim to become a camera operator or a focus puller. It’s also possible to work towards the DOP job role after many years of experience as a camera assistant. Keep in mind that the DOP job role requires both knowledge of camera and lighting equipment. 


The 2nd AC is a below-the-line film crew job role. As such, you will have a daily rate, which will depend on the film’s overall budget. You must negotiate with the producer before starting work on your salary and any extras such as overtime pay and covering expenses.

Another factor determining your salary is whether or not you are part of a film union. If you work in America, being part of a union is integral to getting paid fairly. There are also camera guilds and unions which can help you understand how much to charge per project.

The IATSE recommends that 1st assistant camera has a going rate of $410 for budgets of $1 million and over. Of course, you can change this depending on your experience.

Finding Work

At the start of your career, you can find entry-level jobs on film job sites. Other ways to find work are to look on the career pages of local film companies, join Facebook groups, and assist with low-budget films. It’s typical to begin your career as a PA or camera trainee.

Finding work in the film industry relies heavily on networking and making contacts. After a few years of initial experience, you will find work from recommendations. It’s also typical for a producer and director of photography to work with the same people on multiple projects.

Wrapping Up

To sum up, the 2nd AC job role works under the 1st AC and DOP. It’s a highly technical role that requires you to work with a team of creative people. If you love cameras and filmmaking, this could be an exciting role with lots of potential for career progress.

As with all crew roles, it helps to have a positive attitude. It’s your job to support other people’s visions. So, you must respect the hierarchy and be ready to help when the moment comes. We hope this guide has helped you learn more about this role and if it is for you.

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