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Gerry Mendoza

Member Since 03 Oct 2006
Offline Last Active Jul 16 2008 03:42 PM
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Posts I've Made

In Topic: Problems with Producer & Co.

15 October 2006 - 08:56 PM

I have only been a DP for a few years, but I wanted your advice on this:

I just recently completed a Music Video for a production company and the process was hell. Up to now, on all of my jobs, the camera package lighting package and camera crew was the responsibility of the Gaffer and myself. We would get everything together, as well as crew and submit it to the producer based on the needs of the shoot for budget approval.

In this case however, the producer & director felt that THEY should oversee the equipment as well as our crew. This was an extremely stressful situation. They called the rental houses, and had the equipment picked up with no one from our crew present.. They also handled all communication and hiring of the crew.. This was also stressful because they tried to beat everyone down on rate and I keep my crew at one rate or don't ask them on the set. They are all reasonable and there's no reason to pay them less.

I have always been taught that I oversee the tools and crew I am responsible for on set. They believe that that they do.. Speaking with the exec yesterday I told him I have a different definitaion of my job than he does and he came back with "Well this is how it's done in LA"... I do not agree but I want to make sure I am not off base here. Any feedback from the seasoned pros would be helpful.

To make matters worse, the director is my best friend, and this issue has seriously damaged our working relationship.. I hope I am not off base here.

Jay A. Kelley


Jay,

I could really feel for you. From my experience, Music Video world is very director's realm. I worked on hundreds of them as a gaffer/camera assistant and eventually DP. I even produced my early music videos and I've directed music videos by default. The director gets what he/she wants. It didn't matter whether it was a low budget or a big budget it usually felt the same of too many shots and not enough time. But as the DP you still have to deliver.
As for the producer if he's inhouse and not an owner of the company then he/she answers to the exec producer. Micromanagers are like bullies; that stems from insecurity not strength. Yes margins can be tight on music videos but you eventually work with the same people over and over again because of mutual trust and respect. If the music video is a broadcast deal or if it's label a producer knows that margin. So what's the problem you get deals on the film, the lab, the gear, location and even actors. But having problems with the budget; slash the crews rate. Then make them wait for the cheque for over 30 days coz they're floating the next job. Why not just take a couple more grand and pay your crew. Those people end up on my blacklist. It's a huge business but a small circle no matter what city or country everyone hears and knows of everyone. Do you really want to be attached to that.
The director hopefully storyboards, shot list and preps. Instead of shooting with an insane ratio and shooting with every lens you've got.
You're the DP. Why are they micromanaging you? Where's the respect.
An actor friend once said that "No" is a very sexy word because you might not get the job today but when they call you again they know what you're worth and and what it'll take for you to get the job done.
As for your director friend you might not be working together in ten years. You might not even be friends anymore then. That's just the way it is. But you'll vibe with other people. I'm all about that combination of chemistry between the person and the artist and how they click with you.
If this producer is low balling you now do you think this will ever change with this guy.
What happens when they start doing bigger budget shoots are they going to gun for you because you're their DP or are they going to hire someone more seasoned than you.
Get your reel, bio, resume and press kit out there and start shopping around. It might take a while but your crew will love you for it if you get gigs with people who are respectful of what you're doing.
If people respect you they'll at least at the minimum make an effort to help you do the best job you can.
There's nothing more wonderful than to be paid well for doing something you love. Especially if you had a great sense of accomplishment from the experience. And have fun. Get the job done efficiently, quickly and safely but have fun.
You're the DP the author of the psyche of the film.
Best of luck out there

In Topic: Cinematography books

12 October 2006 - 09:05 PM

If you have the money, buy everything that seems relevant.

Also in MHO. I think you would probably learn more about lighting and operating by doing just that; lighting and operating. ACing helps alot but it's probably better to do it yourself rather than watch others do it while you load mags.


I had four years of corporate video experience. I wrote, produced edited and shot on the old D30s. I started all over again and worked in the lighting department and I learned a lot from some great and very patient gaffers. I understand budget + concept = executable concept. That includes the DOP. If you don't get your day because you're spending hours moving three lights. The movie won't get completed. Simultaneously, I started camera assisting. I operated for an award winning french cinematographers who came up the ranks in the camera department. He operated for the top three cinematographers in France in the late 50's.

Not to say that other dops weren't successful in "just doing that" but i've seen them struggle as they were learning. Sure about a decade later their filmography and body work have grown as their reputation. I just can't agree with this. Yes there is only so much you can learn as a crew member at some point you have to start exposing that negative. My set experience rounded out what I didn't learn in film school and the aspiring directors that I met on set gave me my shot at cinematography. My imdb credentials does not reflect my true filmography. Where a person can best learn and progress cannot be defined so black and white there are gray/grey areas and it varies from person to person.
Looking back, I'm glad I worked on those big budget movies because I was able to utilize those tricks in my early jobs when I didn't have toys or the experience.
On my first music video. I loaded the mags. I did the live tie in to power the set. I showed my very green crew how to assemble the jib arm. I'm not saying I'm god. But I can make a very precise equipment list, make deals for the rentals and my crew and I have a great time on set and we can move efficiently because I've done their jobs in the camera, lighting and grip department.
When you're working with award winning veterans you are on the best film school in the world. And I also went to film school.






If you have the money, buy everything that seems relevant.

Also in MHO. I think you would probably learn more about lighting and operating by doing just that; lighting and operating. ACing helps alot but it's probably better to do it yourself rather than watch others do it while you load mags.


I had four years of corporate video experience. I wrote, produced edited and shot on the old D30s. I started all over again and worked in the lighting department and I learned a lot from some great and very patient gaffers. I understand budget + concept = executable concept. That includes the DOP. If you don't get your day because you're spending hours moving three lights. The movie won't get completed. Simultaneously, I started camera assisting. I operated for an award winning french cinematographers who came up the ranks in the camera department. He operated for perhaps the top three cinematographers in France in the late 50's.

Not to say that other dops weren't successful in "just doing that" but i've seen them struggle as they were learning. Sure about a decade later their filmography and body work have grown as their reputation. I just can't agree with this negativity with on set experience. Yes there is only so much you can learn as a crew member at some point you have to start exposing that negative. My set experience rounded out what I didn't learn in film school and the aspiring directors that I met on set gave me my shot at cinematography. My imdb credentials does not reflect my true filmography. Where a person can best learn and progress cannot be defined so black and white there are gray/grey areas and it varies from person to person.
Looking back, I'm glad I worked on those big budget movies because I was able to utilize those tricks in my early jobs when I didn't have the toys or the experience.
On my first music video. I loaded the mags. I did the live tie in to power the set. I showed my very green crew how to assemble the jib arm. I'm not saying I'm god. But I can make a very precise equipment list, make deals for the rentals and my crew and I have a great time on set and we can move efficiently because I've done their jobs in the camera, lighting and grip department and I know their challenges.
Politely is a given. Respect is earned.
When you're working with award winning veterans you are on the best film school in the world. And I also went to film school.

In Topic: Annie Hall

09 October 2006 - 10:53 PM

I don't know what Semler used on that one, but until lately when he discovered the Panavision Genesis digital camera, he was fond of using 500T stock for entire movies (he even did some features entirely on the Kodak 800T stock when it was available.) So my guess would be 5218 Kodak Vision-2 500T for that film.


Thanks I'll add that to my list
Gerry

In Topic: Annie Hall

05 October 2006 - 08:35 PM

The movie was made during a transition period when Kodak was switching over from 5254 to 5247, both 100 ASA tungsten-balanced stocks. The Series 600 version of 5247 came out in August 1976 and obsoleted 5254 finally after a two-year overlap. "Annie Hall" was released in the spring of 1977 but was probably shot a year before that so I suspect it was shot on 5254, not 5247.


Dear Mr David Mullen ASC,
I've read some of your replies in the past and I've always been amazed by your answers. I think I read about you once on Fuji's Exposure or Kodak's InCamera. My alternative readings to AC. Anyways thank you so much.
Since I'm at the topic of film stock I was wondering if you knew what Mr Dean Semler used for the "The Longest Yard". I contacted his old agent she was kind enough to forward my question. But she informed me that Mr Semler was no longer with them.
Warmest Regards,
Gerry Mendoza

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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Visual Products

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Paralinx LLC

Glidecam

Metropolis Post

The Slider

CineLab

Ritter Battery

Technodolly

Tai Audio

Aerial Filmworks

FJS International, LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc