Freelance Camera Assistant
Bachelor of Communication Studies in Screen Production
Experiencing the inner workings of a studio show was a highlight of her studies, says Natsuki Arai who came to AUT to study a Bachelor of Communication Studies in Screen Production.
“I loved the TV studio classes and particularly enjoyed operating the camera in these classes as it taught me the basics of good framing, composition and movement in a shot. I chose to study at AUT for its modern facilities and the high-quality equipment available for students wanting to pursue film or videography. I had talked to others who had studied communications and the practical courses AUT offered were appealing to me as I prefer a ‘hands-on’ learning style.”
One of Natsuki’s favourite memories was creating a short film in the final year of her studies.
“The process of getting a story, crew, cast and funding together made me realise that I thoroughly enjoy the filmmaking process. Working on the shoot days and seeing all our hard work come together before our eyes was so satisfying. After the completion of this project, I decided to work in the film industry to experience the same ‘magic’ I saw come together on set for our short film.”
At the heart of the film industry
Since graduating from AUT in December 2016, Natsuki now freelances in the New Zealand film industry, working in the camera department as a second AC or camera assistant.
“My job involves many technical aspects related to the camera. This requires preproduction gear preparation, camera set-up on shoots, slating; changing media, batteries and lenses; and assisting my focus puller and director of photography during the shoot.
“I enjoy the fast-paced environment of being on set and creating something other people will get joy or inspiration from. In the camera department, you get to be at the forefront of all the action, which is a great place to be on set. I also enjoy that every day is completely different. Every job I work on has different crew, gear and varied locations, so it's dynamic, challenging and highly rewarding. Even as a freelancer, there’s a big sense of community in the industry and I’ve made many friends I see on different jobs.”
She constantly draws on the skills she developed during her studies at AUT.
“My communications degree taught me to be organised and constantly think one step ahead. As a camera assistant, I have to find solutions to problems quickly. So, having the experience of creating projects during my time at AUT helped me deal with the overall organisation of how I do my job, and how I can make processes easier for my team.”
Advice for other students
Having now worked in the screen production industry for several years, Natsuki has some great advice for other students.
“Your time is valuable. It’s important to study, but just as important to do what brings you happiness and joy. Personally, I made the most of events at AUT as it was a good way to blow off steam during the stressful exam periods. I also stayed in the AUT student accommodation in my first year, which was a lot of fun as it allowed me to take part in extracurricular activities and gave me easy access to the university facilities.”
Make the most of the academic staff, she adds.
“They’re a wealth of knowledge and can be a good sounding board if you’re curious to know more about an industry you’re thinking of getting into. Ask them as many questions as you can about the areas you’re interested in.”