How to find work as someone starting out as a steadicam operator

Getting your first job as anything is going to be quite difficult. Being a Steadicam operator can be a very daunting task. It is a huge responsibility and to be hired you must be seen as being up to the task.

Assuming that you have your own Steadicam and the basic skills to run it, here are a few things you can do to help make yourself more employable.

First, have you attended any Steadicam workshops? These are run by Tiffen around the world and are an excellent introduction to the world of Steadicam. If you haven't been on a course, consider one. If you have - make sure to list it on your CV!

Next, you're really going to need a reel. Find a friend or a rental house where you can get some basic camera equipment (top tip - 2/3" broadcast cameras are cheap as chips to rent, are great quality and have very deep depth of field, meaning you may be able to get away without a remote focus if you don't have one!). Design a few shots, with a range of difficulties, making sure they all look a bit different!

Grab yourself a book, such as the Steadicam Operator's Handbook, look at the different types of shots and operating described. Make sure to go through all of them - mixing regular with tricky stuff.

Make these into a little reel. Hopefully, you'll be able to start getting work, although it may be unpaid or poorly paid. Take the jobs anyway, especially if you are just starting out. Use this to get your first few credits and a few recommendations.

In addition to this, are you a regular camera operator too? Larger productions will hire in a dedicated Steadicam operator, but productions with less money may be inclined to hire one operator for everything. If you have regular operating credits - this can only help. Generally, I would advise against showing irrelevant credits but these certainly aren't that!

When doing these things, it may seem silly, but make sure to get plenty of photographs of yourself. Pictures of yourself operating cameras - especially unusual or interesting (film!) ones will always go down well.

Once you've done this, you should be on your way to getting decently paid work as a Steadicam operator!

Most importantly, always be honest about yourself, your ability level and the equipment you can provide. Don't over-sell yourself, it will only end badly.

Many larger productions may only employ people with higher-end equipment. If this is the case, it is almost certainly going to be worth either investing in better kit or getting friendly with a rental house that has a Steadicam kit. Get hands-on time with the bigger kit, so you are ready for when "the call" comes through.

Are you doing lots of interviews and not getting the jobs? Don't be afraid to ask. I am very happy to give feedback on people when interviewing, it takes a lot of guts just to ask. Generally, people will be very honest about this. It might just be bad luck, but usually, there will be a reason if you're constantly being turned down for jobs.

Other things not unique to being a Steadicam op are just as important - be polite, courteous and punctual! There are many other people out there doing the same job, don't give people a reason to go and hire them.

Hopefully, this will give you a little leg-up on how to get your first work as a Steadicam Op. There is a huge community of operators as well as general filmmakers out there. Go ask the professionals if you can shadow them, or offer your services to productions you think could benefit from it. Good luck!