Unit Videographer

  • Unit Videographer

The unit videographer (also known as EPK cameraperson, or video camera operator) is hired to record behind-the-scenes and “making of” footage for films and television shows for use in electronic press kits and/or DVD extras. While the first unit production crew is filming the movie or show, the unit videographer and a small team are following their every move, and capturing interviews.


Duties

EPK crews are small and travel light, typically consisting of a producer, sound mixer, and unit videographer. When hired for an assignment, the production’s unit publicist will provide the EPK crew with a shooting script and daily call sheets, which detail the scenes to be filmed that day and the cast and crew expected on set. Based on that information, the EPK crew will arrange sit-down interviews and identify which key segments should be recorded. While on set, the unit videographer will communicate with the first unit assistant directors to select areas to record takes of scenes where his or her presence will not interfere with filming or distract the cast. The videographer looks to capture the scene as it happens, recording both the actors on set and the crew behind the camera. This person also records candid footage that includes preparation of takes and activities like the cast in the hair and makeup trailer.

On set, the videographer does not have the benefit of setting his or her own lighting, but must rely on whatever lighting is available so as not to interfere with regular production. Lenses are changed on the fly, and there is usually only one chance to get the shot. Sit-down interviews afford the videographer more control over lighting conditions, and he or she will be responsible for setting up any necessary electric and grip equipment to accommodate those sessions. Throughout the course of EPK production, the unit videographer is responsible for maintaining his or her camera and lighting equipment, and will participate in meetings to review dailies with the EPK producer and sound mixer.

Skills & Education

A college degree in film and television production or broadcast journalism is recommended for a career as a unit videographer. This person must be proficient in the use of multiple formats of digital video cameras, grip equipment, and lighting instruments. Understanding the techniques of photography, three-point lighting, and color theory is also necessary. The unit videographer may not be required to edit EPK footage, but it is helpful to be comfortable using non-linear editing tools like Final Cut and Avid.

What to Expect

The unit videographer may work as a freelance cameraperson who specializes in EPKs or may be employed full-time at a small studio that produces EPK content for major Hollywood projects. These technicians are usually highly experienced camera operators who have previously worked in film and television production, broadcast journalism, or sports television. To find a job in this segment of entertainment production, you must put together a demo reel (usually no more than 10 minutes of material) that exemplifies your skills as a videographer and displays your best work. Most unit videographers own their camera and lighting gear, and may receive a small rental fee in addition to their regular rate. Before you’ve accumulated a lengthy list of credits, you’ll have to hustle to find work. Cultivating professional relationships and networking is your best conduit to a gig. However, even tested veterans with a portfolio of recognizable work have to compete fiercely for each new project.

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