Introducing Austin J. Lewis
community manager - Atlanta, U.S
In the next interview, we proudly present 1st AC, Austin J. Lewis, based in Atlanta, US. Austin has been working as a 1st AC for 8 years and has done some incredible shots on land, underwater and also in zero gravity. We are pleased that he is joining us as our 3rd community manager in the US.
Austin J. Lewis
- Date of birth: March 4, 1992
- Residence: Atlanta, GA
- Pulling focus since: 2011
- cteam member since: September 2019
- Favorite LCS: cPRO & Preston
- Left/Right handed: Right
- Favorite cameras: Alexa SXT
- Favorite Lenses: Panavision T Series
- Before we start asking any questions, please tell us a little something about yourself.
Hi, my name is Austin, I love cameras and cars. You can often find me on set or at the local car show. The greatest satisfaction in life is making sense of disorder and making use of controlled chaos. So being a camera assistant is the perfect job for me :)
- How did you first learn your skills and what did you do to keep getting better?
I first learned how to pull focus as a grip. That may sound confusing but I promise it will make sense very shortly. I began working in the industry at the age of 17. Then I worked on everything from local artist’s music videos to small commercials and short films. I found a Director of Photography on Google (yes, my career started with a Google search) and I sent him an email. I never got a response. I then sent more emails and annoyed him long enough for him to allow me to shadow him on a shoot. He said I would be working as a grip. I had no idea what a grip was, but I was all the way in! I remember stopping by The Home Depot before heading to set and buying my first tool belt. I looked like a plumber with my oversized crescent wrench and a random assortment of soon to be useless items. The first thing I was taught (after what a sandbag is) was the different sizes of flags. The Best Boy introduced me to the dolly grip. The dolly grip seemed to have the coolest job on set. He measured out every shot and was THE guy to physically make it all happen. I carried his track for the rest of the day. I had found my home. For every shot we measured out the distance; he called out “give me two 8ft sticks of track and a 4ft” I grabbed what I thought was an 8ft piece but it was 10ft. This was the beginning of learning distance, reading actors, camera blocking, pacing, and rigging.
After three years working as a grip I befriend a few ASC cinematographers. They allowed me to do their camera tests, lighting tests, and general work around the shop. On large camera days I would come out and work as a 2nd AC then worked my way to pulling focus.
On large camera days I would come out and work as a 2nd AC then worked my way to pulling focus.
- What was the biggest project you have worked on, or you are most proud of?
- Which wireless lens control systems have you been working with lately?
- There is a subforum on focuspulleratwork, called 10 things… (which can be 10 things you have learned on set or 10 important things in your tool bag etc.)
In 2017 I worked on Venom for Marvel Studios. It was the biggest movie I have worked on to date. It was very challenging especially pulling focus on “imaginary” characters. That was a first for me!
I’m most proud of a movie called "Bodied" and Taylor Swift’s “Delicate” music video. Both were extremely challenging with tight schedules and multiple location moves per day. On Bodied, we had many days where we knocked out 80 setups all with little or no rehearsal at a T1.4. I then was using a prototype wireless follow focus from another company. Let’s just say it wasn’t as reliable as the cmotion platform ;)
I just sold my WCU-4 for the cPRO. I mostly use that and Preston
- Balance all gimbals with a Clear Filter in the matte box
- Use Filter Tags on matte box and body for internal NDs
- Always have three power cables, one that lives on the dolly, the cart, and one that is a backup
- Always have three dovetails, one 18”, one 12” and one 6”
- Always use an anti-reflection filter tray
- Get a Pelican. They float in water, easy to clean, waterproof and no zippers to break. Never use bags on set.
- Tiffen Natural ND is a Godsend
- Find the center of gravity on the camera by placing an iris rod under the dovetail. Build your camera with this in mind for balance. Aim for the film plane.
- Top mount all lens motors
- Build your longest lens first in prep