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CAMERA DEPARTMENT - Job Title: Film Loader

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCareers in Film and TelevisionCAMERA DEPARTMENT - Job Title: Cinematographer Or Director Of Photography (dp), Job Title: Camera Operator, Job Title: Steadicam Operator


Job Overview

The main job of the film loader is to load film into camera magazines in a darkroom. Loaders maintain accurate film inventories and assist the camera crew.

“Essentially,” says film loader/second assistant cameraman Mike Gentile, “my job encompasses just about anything that makes life easier for my camera crew. When I'm not dealing with film issues, I may be found changing filters or lenses, ordering equipment, slating the cameras, setting marks for the talent, maintaining time cards for the camera crew, and even getting their breakfast when they can't step away.

“This is not a desk job. The job can be physically demanding. You'll work 12 to 16 hours a day, sometimes under unpleasant circumstances (rain, snow, smoke, whatever …). Sometimes you may be employed for months on end; sometimes you'll be unemployed for months on end. This is the nature of the beast, and most people in the industry experience this on one level or another.”

Special Skills

“While I always recommend a college education,” say Gentile, “it's not really necessary for most careers in the film industry. In my opinion, the best skills for a career in film are: 1) People skills and networking. You have to know a lot of people in order to work on a regular basis. And, more importantly, they have to like you and your work skills and habits; 2) You have to successfully adapt to an ever-changing, unstable lifestyle.”

Advice for Someone Seeking This Job

“Film school doesn't hurt, but don't get cocky,” says Mike Gentile. “Most people on a film set don't care where you went to school; school doesn't prepare you for working on a film set and the rules of set etiquette (how to properly handle equipment, procedures, etc.). If you can, try to get a job at a camera rental house or at least visit them periodically. You can meet a lot of ACs (assistant cameramen—your future bosses!) there and learn a lot about the equipment.”

What do you like least about your job?

“The lifestyle can frequently be unstable and even problematic … This type of erratic work schedule can also affect your personal relationships, usually in a bad way.”Mike Gentile

What do you love most about your job?

“As goofy as it may seem, one of my greatest rewards has been watching my name scroll by on the big screen of a movie theater. For that moment, all the hard work seems worthwhile.”Mike Gentile

Professional Profile: Mike Gentile, Film Loader, 2nd Camera Assistant

Mike Gentile grew up in Somerville, Massachusetts, and attended Emerson College in Boston, planning to become a television news reporter/anchor. “Once I began taking broadcast journalism courses, I realized that I hated it. Instead, I became a television production major and found my niche.”

Gentile gained experience as a utility crew members for sporting events and spent a semester interning at MTV Networks in Los Angeles. After graduation, he spent a year working in the Boston area as an audiovisual technician.

Returning to Los Angeles, he paid his dues, as they say, over the next two and a half years, working as a runner and production assistant on various productions, such as Nothing to Lose and Batman and Robin.

“Eventually,” Gentile says, “I made some great contacts, people who mentored me and ultimately helped me get into the camera union on the visual effects unit of Contact.” His next break was working on the pyrotechnics unit for Starship Troopers and on the sitcom The Gregory Hines Show.


* “Make as many business contacts as possible. Keep in touch with your contacts, but don't harass them. Sooner or later, someone will give you a chance. Don't make them regret it. Work hard and eventually people will hire you and refer you to other people in the industry.”Mike Gentile

“I was very fortunate. Although it took several years to establish a strong contact base, I am finally enjoying the results of my networking techniques. I have been working as a film loader and second assistant cameraman over the last five years.”

In that time, Gentile has amassed an impressive résumé, working on features such as American Beauty, Eye of the Beholder, and What Women Want; television series Gideon's Crossing and Once and Again; and commercials for Old Navy, Radio Shack, and Taco Bell.

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