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First job as DOP


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#1 peter orland

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 04:18 AM

I have been given the opportunity to DOP my first low budget feature (as opposed to camera operator) and already the stress has started to set in. I have operated on numerous shorts, and three low budget features under the supervision of more experienced DOP?s, but this will be my first time at the helm. I have been given a small, but probably adequate budget, to rent the equipment (digital video budget only), and even though I feel that I know quite a bit, now that I am responsible for the total look of the project I am starting to S^&* myself. The production start date is mid March so I have plenty of time to get organized, so that?s not the problem.

The problem is?

I?m not quite sure what the problem is but, I just want to do a good job and not let anyone down, and I?m not sure whether I?m ready yet, but I said I was to the producer and director so there you go.

Anyway I have a few specific questions, but right now I can?t think of one of them as I was just informed that I got the gig less than an hour ago.

Thanks for listening.
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#2 Shawn Murphy

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 05:10 AM

Well, I am by far one of the least experienced on these boards (as far as hands on experience goes), however, I can offer a few observations from my first DP gig, which occurred last weekend and I was asked to step in the night before the first day of shooting (having never read the script, seen a shot list, location, or storyboard). So perhaps you already know all of what I'm going to say, but I'll throw it out there anyway:


In my ideal/utopian world these are some of the things I would have liked to have previous to my first shoot:

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare (and then prepare some more). Hopefully there will be plenty of pre-production time to meet with the crew and Director so you can review things like:

THE SCRIPT

LOCATIONS

STORYBOARDS

SHOT LISTS and SETUPS


QUESTION: Will you be doing lighting or will there be a dedicated and experienced grip/gaff crew? If so, then hopefully you can plan your setups and lighting in advance with them and the Director. If not, then it will probably be you and the Director reviewing the storyboards (if they don't exist maybe you can offer to create them with the Director). Another big question I would have (as I'm very new), is if you have to do all the lighting, how knowledgeable are you about addressing the various lighting conditions and challenges: mixed lights, color correcting, diffusing, continuity, and changing setups as little as possible but also getting the coverage needed (this was a big issue I ran into as the Director didn't really have all the coverage planned out in advance and I believe the Editor is going to have a hard time piecing together the project I shot, and I did try to get a lot of shots I thought were necessary, but again keep in mind that in my scenario I didn't even know the script or any of the shots prior to walking on to the first location)

QUESTION: Is the camera one that you are well acquainted with?


My feeling is that if you're aware of what you do know and have a decent awareness of what you don't know, then you can plan accordingly and perhaps tap the knowledge of those who may know a bit more (like you're doping here I guess, once you post some questions). A lot of this is just thinking ahead and planning.


Well, I'm sure I'm missing a lot and maybe even assumed too much, but hopefully one of the veterans will chime in and help us both as I'm preparing for my next gig in two weeks, though on this one I?ll only be doing lighting and 2nd camera/assist.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 12:49 PM

The more you prepare, the less scared you will be because the true scope of the work becomes clear, and often it is less daunting then what it seemed in the script. You realize that you're only lighting this area or that direction etc., not 360 degrees.
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#4 Greg Gross

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 03:51 PM

Do not make a full time job out of creating beautiful story boards. Because if you are not
careful you'll be living for just story boards. Leadership will come into play and you will
have to lead men. One of the most important aspects of leadership is trusting your men/girls
to get the job done. You simply cannot do the entire job yourself. You will need to delegate
and trust and believe it or not it does get better.

Greg Gross
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