Well, according to Gedion First of Media Film Service it takes being a runner for at least a year, the successful completion of the Camera Assistants Course, hosted by Media Film Service under tuition of Robert Wilson, and training under an experienced camera assistant for at least a month.

This needs to be backed by the following attributes: being a quick learner and thinker, a team player, the ability to understand the hierarchy on set, the ability to assist efficiently at gear checks, being willing to do research on camera equipment, zero ego, being confident, helpful, reliable and trustworthy, no substance abuse and being well mannered. And all of these contribute to having what is perhaps the most important of all: a good reputation in the industry.

First recently presented at a Camera Assistants Course programme, which has been running for 14 years. "There is no equal to this course - everything from lens theory to film loading practical is covered. There is also an intensive digital camera theory and practical section to the course and, most importantly, the students get taught by highly experienced individuals with the aid of top filming equipment."

Explaining the role that Media Film Service is playing in the development of camera assistants and the film industry, First says that MFS hosts the camera assistants' course, provides free technical advice and assistance to the industry, offers internships to students after an intense interview and evaluation process, supports local films where and if possible, has a 50% discount structure for film students, has the latest filming equipment available for the local industry as well as a huge brain's trust at its disposal.

He believes that the training of Camera Assistants by MFS is in line with the industry's preparedness ahead of the 2010 soccer showcase.

First says training for camera assistants is very important as the base discipline and knowledge gets laid, contributing to future successful individuals. According to him, approximately 65% of all successful film assistants in South Africa have been touched by the course at some time or another.

Commenting on the standards of the country's camera crews and how they fare against international teams, First believes South African film industry standards are extremely high.  "Our super professional film crews rate among the top three crews in the world."

On the gender ratio in the courses and workshops MFS has conducted so far, he says the ratio is about 60% male and 40% female, with females being the top students in the last 2 years, including the top student of all time, Ana Alves, who achieved 98% in 2008.

"I think the above figures reflect more of a life style choice rather than an issue in the industry.

He concludes by commenting that perhaps the most vital aspect of a successful film crew member is the ability to have solutions in an instant when facing challenges.