The camera department are jerks. They’re rude, arrogant, self-centered, and self-important.
Now, realize that I used to be a loader and a 2nd AC, and I was no exception. I’m speaking from the inside, here.
In the camera department, we always sit by ourselves at lunch; we don’t mingle with the rest of the crew. We don’t chat or joke or goof around with the rest of the guys. We’re our own little autonomous unit.
I used to think it was because of the pressure the we’re under. There’s not much down time. When we’re rolling, we’re obviously busy with framing and focusing and all that fun stuff. In between takes, we’re moving the camera or laying marks or whatever.
Actors and script supervisors are busy mostly during the take. Grips and electrics do most of their work before the shot. Hair and make up, well, I’m not really sure when they work.
The pressure is particularly acute on the loader. It’s not hard to redo a take if an actor flubs a line, or a dimmer operator misses a lighting cue, but if the loader either loads or cans a roll of film incorrectly, that’s hours of work down the drain.
My AC used to hold up a roll of exposed film and tell me, “This is gold. This is the whole reason we’re here.”
Well, sorta. The actual reason we’re here is for the editor to take that film and cut it together into a coherent story told in pictures.
But still, point taken. You write the script, build the set, stage the scene, light the actors, all so we can point a camera at it and show it to an audience.
So, I always believed the egotism and arrogance of the camera department comes from the fact that they’re the end of the production process. But a friend of mine (an electrician, of course) has another theory.
Camera department is the only department who doesn’t have to help anyone else. Grips have to provide shade and place lensers; electrics supply stingers and work lights; the whole point of craft services is to help the rest of the crew (more on them another day); hell, even the hair stylists will cut a crew member’s hair for cheap or free.
But not camera. They do their own thing all day long, ignoring everyone else, setting their cases on the furniture (which pisses off art department to no end), yelling at people to clear the way for their cart. No wonder everyone dislikes them.
Of course, the actors don’t help anyone, either, but they’re like children. You’re happy if they manage to get from their trailer to stage without getting lost or distracted by a butterfly.