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Clapper Loader

A clapper loader, second assistant camera (2nd AC) or simply loader, is part of a film crew, whose main functions are that of operating the clapperboard (slate) at the beginning of each take, loading the raw film stock into camera magazines, marking the actors as necessary, and maintaining all records and paperwork for the camera department. The name "clapper loader" tends to be used in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, while second assistant camera tends to be favored in the United States, but the job is essentially the same whichever title is used. The specific responsibilities and division of labor within the department will almost always vary depending on the circumstances of the shoot.


The clapper loader typically has a very high responsibility level on any given set, because they are more or less the only person on set who directly and physically oversees the state of the undeveloped negative. The loader is the only person who actually handles the negative between the manufacturer and the laboratory, and thus can easily render an entire day's work useless if the film is handled improperly. Additionally, the loader usually is in charge of keeping all records with regard to the film stock from when it is received until when it is sent out to the lab; if this information is poorly communicated or missing, this too can destroy an expensive shoot. Furthermore, the loader usually has much else to do in addition to these tasks.


A full description of the job duties includes the following (although different shoots may often not always require all of these):

Generally assisting the rest of the camera crew (focus puller, camera operator, director of photography)
Utilizing the camera trainee, film loader, and/or camera runner if one has been brought onto the production
Keeping inventory of all equipment, film, and expendables
Requesting film stock as needed
Securing the equipment
Checking loading materials and spaces to prevent light leaks
Cleaning and keeping clean the magazines and the loading environment
Organizing and cleaning the equipment space
Maintaining and cleaning the equipment
Loading and unloading of film stock from and to the magazines
Labeling of equipment, boxes, magazines, and storage spaces
Marking actors and props
Marking and operating the clapperboard properly
Keeping meticulous and accurate camera notes
Writing negative report sheets in detail
Interfacing with continuity in order to note which takes to print
Charging of batteries for camera and accessories
Preparation of film to be sent to the lab
Keeping records of time, per Diems, and expenses for the entire camera crew
Liaising regularly with production, rental houses, editing, laboratories, and unions
Recordkeeping of all camera-related paperwork, including negative reports, daily stock reports, film inventory reports, lab orders, rental contracts, and expendable orders
Ensuring that all instructions from the director of photography are passed along properly to labs and post houses
Relaying reports from the lab about the rushes to the director of photography
And last but not least, keeping the camera crew well supplied with coffee, tea, water, or whatever other refreshments may be on hand

On top of all of that, it is expected that a decent assistant will be able to anticipate a good part of those demands before they become demands.

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