The crew of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” finished its work in Rochester last Thursday, wrapping a 10-day shoot that captured onlookers’ imaginations with car chases and gunfights and brought residents from all over Monroe County downtown to see the action first-hand.
Though the film’s fleet of NYPD cruisers and yellow taxi cabs left last week, the experience of working on the set will stick with one Rochester Institute of Technology student for years to come.
Loren Azlein, a fourth-year film and animation student in RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, worked as a camera production assistant on set throughout the shoot. She got the opportunity after taking a production assistant workshop at the Rochester/Finger Lakes Film and Video Office and found out she had been selected only three days before shooting began.
“Working on this production has definitely cemented the fact that this is what I want to do with my life,” Azlein said in an interview during her lunch break on the last day of shooting. “I definitely want to be on location on production sets working alongside the camera crew. I don’t know entirely what position I want to be in yet, but I definitely know this is where I want to be in my future."
Q: How did you feel when you first heard you landed the job?
A: I was more than excited. I was actually with my parents. They were up in Rochester because I had my last senior game, and we were at dinner. I got the email on my phone because I was constantly checking it, and I was like “I got the job!” They started screaming, so they were real excited for me too.
Q: What’s your role on the set?
A: They call me the runner. I’m working directly with the camera crew. I take the film from the camera loader and bring it directly to the camera, then back and forth from that. I make sure all the batteries are charged and distribute them to all the different cameras. We have at some times seven film cameras all running at once and three digital cameras, so I have to run batteries and mags [camera magazines] between all of those, which is a little exhausting.
Sometimes I get the slate ready, which means I have to find out what the scene number is and write all the information directly on the slate. I get a bunch of camera accessories that are needed, like I’ll bring somebody a lens or a different type of cable or filter. I go back and forth between the camera truck to the set and get everybody what they need, with the occasional coffee run too.
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Q: What’s a typical day like for you and the crew?
A: I get here anywhere between 5:30 and 7:30 in the morning. That’s usually our call time. We have about eight camera carts, and cameras go on most of those. I have to make sure each one has extra batteries and an extra mag for the camera so that when one runs out of film it gets loaded on and is ready to go right away. I pretty much just do what people need from me, running back and forth from place to place all day.
I have a [pedometer] which counts your steps, and the other day it said I went 38,000 steps, which is equivalent to 17 miles, so I’m doing a lot and a lot of walking.
W: What is the atmosphere on set like?
A: It’s really laid back — more so than I thought. Everyone’s been really great and really nice and supportive knowing that I’ve never been on a professional film set before. I know what I’m doing, but not in the professional setting. I get to learn how a feature film is run.
It’s a little different for this particular shoot, because this is the second unit stunt crew. We’re just crashing cars and shooting a chase scene, so the setting is a little interesting because there are so many cameras going at once in so many different locations that there’s a lot of people on the crew I need to attend to.
W: What have you found most challenging about the experience?
A: The most challenging part is trying to make everybody happy. I’m one of two camera PAs, and there are approximately 15 to 20 different camera people in our department. I’m all over the place. When I get orders to do something, there’s always three other people that need something at the same time, so it’s challenging trying to get everything straight and clear. It’s kind of hard to be in four places at once. When I go get coffee sometimes I miss people, and I have to go get like 15 coffees at once. I’ve only gotten orders wrong one or two times and I feel really bad, so it’s challenging to have to report to so many people’s needs.
W: What has surprised you most about the job?
A: It surprised me how the atmosphere is friendly. I was kind of expecting it to be a little daunting, with people looking down on me and splitting me in different directions and yelling at me to do this, do that, but that’s not how it’s been. It’s been very nice.
I think the most unexpected thing I’ve found was that all of these people that I’m working with are top camera department people, and they were more than happy to take me in and show me how to do their thing and were more than helpful in trying to make sure that I know what I’m doing in my future, because I’m graduating from college in a week and a couple days. This has kind of roped me into the industry and it’s going to hopefully help me with what I’m going to do in the near future.
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W: Do you have any plans for the near future?
A: I’m still figuring it out, but my lease runs out at the end of this month so I need to find someplace to move. They’re all telling me to move to New York City because that’s where all the jobs are now, so I think that’s where I’m headed.
Q: How do you think it’ll feel to see your name in the credits when “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” hits theaters next May?
A: I’m not entirely sure if it’s in the credits or not. I think it is, but I’m not sure. If it is, I’m making everybody watch this movie with me, just so they can see the credits. They’re all going to have to stay and watch the credits just so they see my name.