Camera supervisors are responsible for the entire camera department on multi-camera shoots. Multi-camera shoots involve several camera operators filming the same material at the same time but from different angles. They take place in studios or on large outside broadcasts.
Before filming begins, camera supervisors meet the producer and director to establish their requirements and attend any site visits or technical planning meetings and rehearsals. They consider how many people will be on screen and in what location, and therefore what equipment and crew will be needed. This could include specialist kit and skills, such as those of a jib operator (skilled at working with a camera attached to the end of a very long arm) or a Steadicam operator (who attaches the camera to equipment strapped to their body to achieve long, fluid camera movements).
Camera supervisors work within a budget to provide the best technical service for the production with the resources available. They often suggest and hire camera operators they work with regularly or have worked with before.
During filming, camera supervisors liaise constantly with the director, communicating his or her vision to their crew and ensuring they are all performing their allocated tasks. They are responsible for the whole camera department and it’s their responsibility to raise any concerns relating to the health and safety of the crew.
Camera supervisors manage the team of camera operators, grips and assistants required on a production. They work closely with the director and their services are often requested by directors or producers after establishing a good working relationship on previous productions. They may also form long-lasting collaborations with certain companies and broadcasters. They have regular contact with production management regarding equipment hire, scheduling and contracts. Camera supervisors can be on the staff of a studio or broadcaster, but can also be freelance.
Camera supervisors lead the camera crew on a multi-camera production and understand all the different roles as they will have worked in most before becoming the boss. This often involves working as a camera assistant and then a camera operator. The Guild of British Camera Technicians runs a trainee scheme. It may also be possible to get into this role by working through the lighting department: you could start in more junior roles such as being a spark or a lighting console operator.
At school or college:
You can take A-levels or Highers in a combination of subjects that includes art, art and design, graphic communication and photography, along with maths and physics.
If you want to go straight into a job or apprenticeship, the following Level 3 vocational qualifications will equip you:
Get an apprenticeship:
Apprenticeships are jobs with training. They’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. Some of the major broadcasters offer apprenticeships. Check out the schemes with ITV.
If you can’t get an apprenticeship with a broadcaster, it might be worth trying to find one outside the TV industry, where you can develop your skills and your craft. You can then move into TV at a later point. In England, there’s a Level 3 apprenticeship for photographic assistant.
Before taking any apprenticeship, check what you’ll be learning with your prospective employer and college, so you can be sure it will give you the skills you want. Go to where can I find an apprenticeship? to learn how to find apprenticeships in your region, or approach companies directly.
Work for an equipment company:
Contact an equipment rental company like Panavision, Provision or ARRI Rentals. Ask if you can become a kit room assistant. That way you will get to learn more about the kit and build up contacts.
Get a degree:
It’s not essential to have a degree in order to become a camera supervisor. There are, however, degree courses that specialise in television production and photography that you might consider. Have a look at ScreenSkills’ list of recommended courses and select one in unscripted TV or search for "camera". We recognise courses with our ScreenSkills Select award where they offer training in the relevant software, dedicated time to building a portfolio and have strong links with the unscripted TV industry.
Get work experience:
Try to get work experience by writing to local production companies and asking if they offer any. Keep an eye out for work experience opportunities at the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, and the PACT Indie Diversity Training Scheme.
Take a short course:
Hone your skills in camera supervising by taking a specialist course. Go to the list of training courses recommended by ScreenSkills to see if there is one about camera or camera work.
Get to know people in the unscripted TV industry by attending events. Meet professionals and ask them questions about their work, while demonstrating interest in and knowledge of the industry. Offer to provide them with your professional contact details and try to stay in touch with them. Go to how to network well to learn how to do this.
Create a LinkedIn profile. See if there are Facebook pages or other social media groups for people making unscripted TV in your area. There might even be groups for runners and trainees. Join them. Create a ScreenSkills profile. There are a lot of crewing agencies that will charge you to be on their books. Sign up to the free ones initially. Wales Screen, Northern Ireland Screen and other areas offer free crew databases. Find a film office near you and get connected. If you do sign up to paid sites, make sure they specialise in the areas in which you’re interested.
Search for jobs:
Research unscripted TV production companies that you’d like to work for and watch the programmes that they make. Regularly check their websites and job listings websites to see if they are advertising for roles. You can also send in a short speculative letter with your CV to the production manager. Register your CV on websites like The Talent Manager, which is used by most broadcasters and independent production companies when looking for staff. StartinTV offers tips on creating your CV and attending interviews, as well as some advice for your first day working in TV.
Being a director or lighting director in the unscripted TV industry. You might also be interested in being a director of photography in film and TV drama.
Covers genres ranging from period dramas to epic fantasies screened at the cinema, on TV or on streaming sites
Involves making sequences on a computer that can't be created on set, like enormous crowds and fire-breathing dragons
Combines art with programming as well as production, design and testing - the UK’s fastest growing entertainment industry