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monetary question


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#1 Dave Plake

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Posted 26 January 2006 - 12:33 PM

My friend assists a very famous photographer and gains so much knowledge by doing so. I am an aspiring DP who would love to assist a DP but it seems that such a situation is much more rare than in the still photo world. Does an apprentice/mentor/assistant relationship exist? AC's are assisting a DP in some capacity, but are not really in on how he is lighting a scene other than the fcat that when they have a spare moment they can take note of his decision making.

Any thoughts?
Dave
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#2 Alexandre Lucena

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Posted 26 January 2006 - 01:32 PM

Many times in the past I would visit sets and offer help for free, move c stands and apple boxes.
I would first make friends with the gaffer or best boy. I would stay quiet on the set. I was never asked
to leave. Many times I was offered meals. There is no better place to learn than being on a set. Not
only from the technical point but also from a professional relations point of view.
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#3 Micah Fernandez

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 01:23 AM

I am an aspiring DP who would love to assist a DP but it seems that such a situation is much more rare than in the still photo world. Does an apprentice/mentor/assistant relationship exist?

In the early days of filmmaking, an apprenticeship was the ONLY way one could learn the trade. I believe that tradition still continues until today, though less emphasis is placed on it because of the existence of film schools. All of the professional DPs I have had the pleasure of meeting have been extremely generous with their knowledge and experience, even those from this very message board. At my disposal, a phone call or a text message away, are two of my country's most sought after commercial directors slash feature film DPs, as well as the most fantastic camera crew who don't mind taking a few minutes off their time off to help out some kid who wishes to follow in their footsteps. Just two days ago, a very experienced and seasoned gaffer came on set where I was DPing (all by my lonesome, I might add) and just gave me that much-needed second wind to finish the shoot with my sanity intact. With him around, things got accomplished much faster. And though I am pretty secure in my knowledge of the nature of light (at least the basics of it), he unselfishly explained better ways to execute my ideas with the limited equipment we had (a single 1k, 4 500w tungsten halogen garden lights). End result: images that I EXACTLY had in mind were produced, and a boatload of new tricks up my sleeve. At the end of the day, the director-producer was about to hand him an honorarium, to which he politely declined saying, "It's alright, as long as it's you guys." (In the end, he accepted the pay because we wouldn't let him get away without some form of thanks)

You could say that connections are everything. They help, but you also have to invest in your relationships with the people. That way, they will suffer any questions or requests you have for them. Get as close as you can to the people, and they will give you access to their mind.
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#4 Brian Wells

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 04:54 PM

How much money do DP's make?

At least in the states, it is not uncommon for a DP shooting commercials on film to make $1500 a day + kit rental.

AC's are assisting a DP in some capacity, but are not really in on how he is lighting a scene other than the fcat that when they have a spare moment they can take note of his decision making.

The Chief Lighting Technician (aka Gaffer) is the DP's right hand man, but it is definitely not an entry level position...
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#5 Stephen Williams

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 05:05 PM

At least in the states, it is not uncommon for a DP shooting commercials on film to make $1500 a day + kit rental.


Hi,

In the UK most DP's charge £1052 for a commercial, per day in Europe 1500 Euro is common. Oscar winning DP's can charge many times that!
I often have charged far less on low budget commercial, but only if I liked the idear and can try something new.

Stephen
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#6 timHealy

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 06:20 PM

It seems to me one cannot compare a film shoot to a stills shoot in terms of organization. A stills photographer could be the photographer/director/producer/production manager all in one armed with an army of assistants.

A film production generally is much more highly organized and people have specialized jobs.

So it is highly unlikely that a DP would take a novice under his wing and teach one things he has not talked through with his camera assistants, electricians, and grips.

Having said that, if you find you may take a cinematography class being taught by a working DP or you find someone interested in teaching, they may be inclined to review your work on past projects, current works in progress, or perhaps you get a PA type job drawing lighting plots, being the loader on a non union film or something.

I know Michael Balhaus is involved in film education and invites a few students (one or two at a time) to spend time on a set to observe, but how in depth he talks with them I do not know.

But the film business if famous for proving naysayers wrong. So keep plugging away.

Good luck

Tim
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#7 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 07:09 PM

At least in the states, it is not uncommon for a DP shooting commercials on film to make $1500 a day + kit rental.

I don't want to be argumentative, but that # is pretty low. It's not uncommon for a commercial DP to make $5000.00/day. There are some highly sought after DP's that make double that and more, although that is less common.
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#8 Brian Wells

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 07:26 PM

I don't want to be argumentative, but that # is pretty low. It's not uncommon for a commercial DP to make $5000.00/day. There are some highly sought after DP's that make double that and more, although that is less common.

Hi Brad,

I guess I was thinking more along the lines of regional S16 than national 35mm. Still, if there is hope of earning that much money as a DP, then I had better get my act together...

Thanks for the info,

Brian Wells
VIDEO camera operator, Indiana
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 08:38 PM

Feature-wise, it's not unusual to be offered DP union scale (minimum) for anything under 10 mil. and above 1 mil., which is around $3400/week, but that's for 8-hour days. With time and a half above 8 hours, it's closer to $4000/week, even more if the days are really long.
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#10 Alex Ellerman

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 08:57 PM

tag on that question... since you're travelling for a lot of shoots... what's included? room, board, travel, anything else? for $1-10 million pic like you mentioned.
thank you.
ae
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 10:51 PM

On location, you get travel, housing, rental car, and a per diem.
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#12 Mike Rizos

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 12:08 AM

Hi,
I have a related question. On a feature film when a DP is hired for several weeks, how are payments made?
Does the DP get a down payment? When is his job considered complete?
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 12:44 AM

Most movies pay DP's as employees (not as independent contractors) through a payroll company, so you turn in time sheets (also necessary for documenting hours for union health & pension benefits) and get paid weekly, taxes are taken out, etc.

Per diem is paid out in cash of course.
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#14 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 02:34 PM

Great Info guys.
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Gamma Ray Digital Inc

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