Assistant Camera (Focus Pulling and Loading)



This innovative new professional diploma course was launched in 2017 to help equip camera trainees with the skills required for a successful career as 2nd and 1st ACs on both film and television drama.

At the completion of the diploma you’ll have credits on a varied selection of films and will have worked on multiple formats to give you the foundation to build your skills as a 2nd and 1st AC.

The course is structured in way to allow people active in the film and television industry to work at their own rate and build their skills around outside work. It has three modules:

  • Working with Alexa Mini and Wireless Follow Focuses
  • Loading and working with 35mm and Alexa XT and Mini
  • Loading and working with 16mm

You can begin the course at Module 1 and you’ll have two years to complete all three modules and earn your industry recognised diploma.

This course allows you to form relationships with the current MA Cinematographers which often leads to work outside the School upon graduation.

All NFTS students can attend Masterclasses. Recent guests include David Fincher (Fight Club), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave), Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), Ben Wheatley (Free Fire), Rapman (Blue Story), Louis Theroux, Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone), Denis Villeneuve (Bladerunner 2049), Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here), Sam Mendes (1917), Asif Kapadia (Senna), Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir), Russell T Davies (Doctor Who) and Roger Deakins (1917).

The course is classed as part-time (approx. 26 weeks), but is full-time learning throughout each module.

What you will study

This course consists of three modules. You can take up to two years to complete all three modules allowing you the flexibility to fit the course in around your work schedule.

  • Working with Alexa Mini and Wireless Follow Focuses (Jan-Mar) On this module you’ll be working with Alexa Mini cameras and the W4PU Wireless Follow Focus. The course will be taught at both the NFTS, Panavision and Arri and you’ll get the opportunity to be taught by leading tutors in their fields. This module culminates in the production of 8 short 15 minute films where you and your classmates will act as 2nd and 3rd ACs under the guidance of a professional 1st AC.
  • Loading and working with 35mm and Alexa XT and Mini (May-Aug) On this module you learn about the various 35mm cameras from the Panaflex to the Arri Studio and LT cameras. You’ll be taught how to load, the relationship between you and the Lab and the differences in workflow of a digital and 35mm film project. This module culminates in the production of eight 20-30 minute films each with a substantial production budget. Again you and your classmates will act as the 2nd and 3rd AC crews and where suitable we will be looking for people to step up to the role of 1st AC.
  • Loading and working with 16mm (Sept-Oct) This module will be focused entirely on the art of 16mm which has seen a resurgence in recent years. You’ll get to handle cameras ranging from the Arri 416 and SR3s to the Aaton cameras. Again the module will end in the production of 8 short films on 16mm each with medium sized production budget. At this point for those of you who have already done the previous two modules we’ll be looking for as many of you as possible to step up as 1st ACs.

Download course outline (PDF)

Course Leader

Course Leader is award-winning Head of Cinematography Oliver Stapleton (My Beautiful LaundretteThe GriftersShipping News).

Current or Recent Tutors

Recent visiting tutors have included Bob Shipsey (28 Days Later, A Life Less Ordinary, Trainspotting) and Jason Wingrove (Misfits, Hot Fuzz)

Fees and funding options

Fees for this course are as follows:

Home/EU/EEA £6,750

These are the fees for January 2022 intake. Fees for January 2023 will be confirmed in June.

If you would like to pay in advance per module, or to apply for single modules, individual pricing plans can be arranged. Please enquire at

The NFTS does not charge you extra for the cost of productions or materials.

This course is only open to UK applicants and EU/EEA applicants must hold an EU settlement status.

A non-refundable deposit of £500 is required against the cost of your fees on confirmation of your place.

At the NFTS you will get far more time learning directly from tutors, in real production facilities and on real projects, than in the vast majority of film schools or universities. The specialist nature of our courses mean that our students gain the relevant skills and experience they need to go straight into the industry.




Every year, our students work on a number of short films.

Entry requirements

We are looking for people who are enthusiastic, keen to work hard as part of a team and quick to learn. The course is ideally suited for those people already working as Camera Trainees or as 2nd ACs.  

In applying to this course you need to be available to attend the School in January, February (Module 1), from mid-June, July through to mid-August (Module 2) and then September, October (Module 3). The three modules can be completed over a two-year period, and Module 1 must be completed first.

During the three teaching modules students are expected to be at the School five days per week. In periods between each teaching block students should pursue their own professional work to develop their experience. 

If you are not a UK National, you must already be in possession of a UK visa valid for the duration of this course.  We are unable to accept your application if you do not.

If you have any questions, please email

How to apply

Application deadline: 07 Jul 2022

Applicants must complete the online application form and provide a CV of your work in the camera department (no more than two sides of A4).

You can apply online by clicking on BEGIN YOUR APPLICATION below. We are happy to receive applications at any time up until the midnight of the application deadline date.

Begin your application