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#1 Daniel J. Ashley-Smith

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 07:46 PM

I got an e-mail today from some film company, saying that they have seen my "profile" and thought I may be suited to this job.

Using a JVC HD camera, and shooting a comedy I'm pretty confident that this will be a simple shoot, although what I'm really interested in knowing is why the hell ME.

Do these companies sometimes send out e-mails to loads of DP's, no matter who, asking them to come in for interviews?

Thing is if they've seen my profile (I don't know WHAT profile they've seen) and they are truly impressed, then I'll be happy to go to this interview. Although if they've just collected a load of DP's e-mails and sent the same message to everyone, I think I'll be less inclined to go, since as I can see myself just waisting the money for a train fare and my time.

I mean, paid, HD, comedy with a company that's already doing several productions. I'll be laughed at when loads of seriously experienced DP's looking for work run over there for the interview.

I don't know.. what do you guys think?

Do you reckon this is a total load of bull or should I e-mail them back?

Cheers,
Dan.
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#2 Filip Plesha

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 08:02 PM

Maybe the have seen that vignetted picture of your dog or that of yourself holding the gun... :D

sorry, just couldn't resist... :D


seriously, good for you!!

Edited by Filip Plesha, 24 February 2006 - 08:04 PM.

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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 08:20 PM

Hi,

> Do these companies sometimes send out e-mails to loads of DP's, no matter who, asking them to come in for
> interviews?

No, not usually. And as you mention, you don't really have much of a profile yet. So:

Go for it with gusto.

But be extremely cautious.

By "JVC HD camera" they probably mean an HD-100, which is a little indiecam really.

By "film company" they may have got as far as actually buying a limited company off the shelf for £50. Or it could just be two people and some big ideas.

"Paid HD comedy" could mean fifty quid a day with the aforementioned HDV camera and a bunch of film students.

I get emails like this all the time. They're almost always the worst case scenario as outlined above - you'll find yourself sitting in someone's kitchen looking at their Powerbook and HDV camera listening to them talk like they're producing a major show.

Things to do:

- Find out what the pay is.
- If the pay is low, consider asking for perks like clones (not copies - identical digital clones, so they're good) of the camera originals. This avoids your best work being cut out and made unavailable to you.

- Google for information on the company and people, and their previous work.
- Try to find out who else they're working with, and/or ask others about the company.
- Find out if they've already sold the production or who they're considering selling it to.
- Make sure the people and organisations they cite as clients or collaborators have actually heard of them.
- Find out if they're really a limited company or just a few friends.
- Find out what the total production budget is. Coyness on this point is a red flag.
- Look at their previous work and see if it's of a worthwhile standard.
- Ask really awkward questions like "what insurance do you carry" and "when can I expect to receive the contract," and "what hours will we work." Food and accomodation if necessary is also worth an enquiry - locations outside the M25 may justify accomodation if you're shooting long hours.
- Make sure it's not deferred payment. Deferred payment means you will absolutely, definitely never get paid. In this case it may still be worth doing but view it as a freebie.

Sounds distinctly dodgy to me, but you know, I'd probably go for the interview just for the experience of doing it.

Phil
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#4 Mark Allen

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 08:56 PM

I think you should step very carefully and not spend too much energy on it until you have a complete assessment.

There have been a handful of people who have contacted me out of the blue over the years. One of them ended up being a guy who had directed over 30 movies - but what he wanted from me was very well defined and made sense (eventhough his first two emails were a tad confusing) and that was a successful thing. Most of the other people ended up wasting a lot of my time.

So be open, but keep careful tabs on all "opportunities."
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#5 Robert Edge

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 09:24 PM

I got an e-mail today from some film company, saying that they have seen my "profile" and thought I may be suited to this job.

Do you reckon this is a total load of bull or should I e-mail them back?


I'm going to produce a film that will be shot in August.

I would not e-mail a cinematographer to express interest in his or her participation based on a "profile". In fact, I think if I did, anyone who was legitimate would be pretty dismissive. Surely if I'm going to approach a cinematographer, I should be able to explain why by reference to his or her work.

At the same time, I would have no interest in someone who wanted to focus on the issues raised in Phil Rhodes's post. The film that I'm doing is going to be shot in Newfoundland, and then I'm going to shoot a film in the Middle East, probably in part at Wadi Rum, where the desert scenes for Lawrence of Arabia were shot, and I guess, as the guy who is making these films, that I am more interested in talking about a potential cinematographer's approach to photography than I am in focussing on ancillary issues.

I'm looking for a cinematographer, preferably one with enthusiasm for the project, not a bureaucrat.
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#6 Daniel J. Ashley-Smith

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Posted 25 February 2006 - 02:10 PM

Ok thanks for your help guys.

I got a phone call from him today (where the hell he's getting all this info from I do NOT know)
saying if I could come in for a meeting tommorow at 11. I wouldn't have bothered but since as he's based in Lewisham, and it's not too far from me so I'm going for it. (I just have to take the risk of being mugged or shot. anyone who's been to lewisham will probably know what I mean)

I think the thing that attracted him the most was that I worked with Jonathon Bart, an ex-LFS student. (Apparently he knows him)

The annoying thing is I haven't had any work for ages, and recently I've decided to keep film as a hobby. So right when I've decided to drop the lot I actually get an offer.

I'm most likely going to be shooting the same style as I did in RLS, i.e. medium shots and reverse, close-ups e.t.c. a simple but pretty effective way of doing things. (I'm not going to try pulling off amazing shots, that ruin short films because the DP really can't do them)

The most annoying thing I've found with myself and new film jobs, are that because I don't know them, I get seriously un-confident and turn into a bit of a social retard on set. And I think people here know what some of these producers are like, they produce a short film and think they're Steven Spielberg, and they are above you socially (i.e. you are an idiot compared to them)

Today on the phone, I got the expected. When meeting someone on the phone I'm always completely open and as friendly as I can be, THEY on the other hand are more, yessss.... riiiight.... I seeee...

Oh well I'll go to this interview tommorow, put on my hard face, act confident and see what happens.

Cheers again,
Dan.
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#7 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 25 February 2006 - 02:14 PM

Ok thanks for your help guys.

I got a phone call from him today (where the hell he's getting all this info from I do NOT know)
saying if I could come in for a meeting tommorow at 11. I wouldn't have bothered but since as he's based in Lewisham, and it's not too far from me so I'm going for it. (I just have to take the risk of being mugged or shot. anyone who's been to lewisham will probably know what I mean)

I think the thing that attracted him the most was that I worked with Jonathon Bart, an ex-LFS student. (Apparently he knows him)



---Could it be a practical joke?

---Lv
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#8 Filip Plesha

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Posted 25 February 2006 - 02:41 PM

I always read your name somehow as Leaf Valeo..
I must be getting obsessed
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#9 Daniel J. Ashley-Smith

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Posted 25 February 2006 - 03:02 PM

---Could it be a practical joke?

---Lv


It would be a pretty lame joke to be honest (getting me out of bed at 8:30 on a sunday is the worst joke anyone could ever pull, considering that rifle in that picture is not a BB gun)

I googled them, like Phil said and I did find 'something', they're called "OurTime Pictures", I found a credit here: http://uk.castingcallpro.com/u/58983

The great thing is they DO know my age and they're happy with it. I don't have to worry about lying to get in. (Which I have done before, which I hate doing because you can find out my real age in a simple search on google)

"Paid HD comedy" could mean fifty quid a day with the aforementioned HDV camera and a bunch of film students.

Still more than I earn in one day at jessops, and plus I'd rather be shooting a film for money than teaching 90 year olds what a memory card is.

Edited by Daniel J. Ashley-Smith, 25 February 2006 - 03:03 PM.

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#10 Brian Wells

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Posted 25 February 2006 - 03:20 PM

Good for you and good luck, Dan!
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#11 Filip Plesha

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Posted 25 February 2006 - 03:32 PM

teaching 90 year olds what a memory card is


Why disturb them with digital technology, let them die in peace :P
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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 February 2006 - 03:46 PM

Hi,

That site mentions one "feature film" that doesn't list on IMDB, meaning it hasn't been seen anywhere or competed in any selective festivals. Warning, Will Robinson!

As for the rest, I'm not "espousing" any attitude. I'm just saying be informed. For example, you might inquire into who they're after selling the thing to, and find out it's completely open-ended. If they're upfront about that, fine. If on the other hand it turns out that it's completely open ended and they're intending to pay everyone out of the money they think they're going to make, then that's a bad thing. You can ask about catering and they can tell you they're not doing any, in which case you know to bring sandwiches. Fine. No problem. Just know.

Yes, obviously, obviously it's about the photography. Obviously it's about creating the production. Certain clients you wouldn't dream of enquiring because you know they'll have it all sorted. But equally clearly, if it's an unknown, small scale company and you don't yet know them, these discussions need to be had at some point before you're in the field. Having them in the field is generally a sign that something has gone badly wrong.

I find the idea of scorning insurance to be very amateurish. Please be aware that if you fly me to the middle east and I am injured, I will be flying home for treatment at your expense whether you have insurance or not.

Phil
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#13 Daniel Sheehy

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Posted 25 February 2006 - 05:13 PM

... Oh well I'll go to this interview tommorow, put on my hard face, act confident and see what happens.

Cheers again,
Dan.


All the best and let us know how it turns out.
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#14 Robert Edge

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Posted 25 February 2006 - 07:11 PM

Phil,

I made a couple of changes to my comments before you replied in order to express more clearly what I was trying to say and make it more neutral in tone. It was incorrect to suggest that you are espousing a particular attitude.

For the projects that I'm working on, the partners are working for nothing, but I can't imagine suggesting to someone who is not a partner, and who has been retained, to work for anything less than a fair rate payable in the hear and now rather than the hereafter.

As someone who travels a fair amount, I don't go anywhere without emergency medical and evacuation coverage, and I would insist that anyone I'm working with do the same.

As for catering, one of the people involved in these projects is a very high-end chef. We're going to eat rather well :)

That said, my list of issues for a discussion between a producer and a potential cinematographer is different from yours. I want to explain the project and find out whether the cinematographer is interested in principle, whether we are potentially in the same ballpark over money and whether we are likely to work well together. At that point, I'd like the cinematographer to get back to me in a couple of days to confirm interest and lay out some ideas regarding substance and process.

In my case, there are also a couple of specific issues that I would want to pursue. Is the person that I'm talking with comfortable with working in remote places and roughing it a little. How does he or she feel about travelling in the Middle East? Am I talking with someone who will know how to handle military checkpoints and people carrying guns, etc, etc.

When I read your list of issues, and thought about how it would play out if we were talking, my reaction was that I'd feel like it was a cross-examination, with me as the cross-examinee. That's all :)
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#15 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 February 2006 - 07:30 PM

Hi,

I think you got the wrong idea - obviously that isn't a list of questions you'd walk in and machine-gun someone with. Rather, it's a list of things I'd want to be satisfied of somehow, at some point - either by trust, by reading the contract, or by asking, if I wasn't entirely sure of the production company's credentials. None of it is complicated and if it takes more than two percent of discussion time something's wrong.

There are great microbudget producers and crap ones. Unfortunately my concerns are defined by the crap ones.

Phil
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#16 Daniel J. Ashley-Smith

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 08:56 AM

Ok, back from the interview. Turned out ok, said they were very impressed by my work considering my age, although, I asked them what their own background experience was, and they gave me an imdb.com listing.

This is why I feel a bit "in over my head":

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0168515/

&

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0064115/


With films like Gladiator/King Arthur/28 Days Later/Pearl Harbour in their experience, I think they're going to have a good laugh when they get home.

Oh well they still have a few more people to interview, and I may get an operator position.

So thanks for your help, turned out ok, perhaps better than ok if I get the job.

Cheers,
Dan.

Edited by Daniel J. Ashley-Smith, 26 February 2006 - 08:58 AM.

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#17 Jonathan Spear

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 09:19 AM

Hell yeah, man.

B)

Good luck.
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#18 Max Jacoby

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 10:14 AM

So basically you got interviewed by 2 boom operators?

Did you tell them that boom shadow was not going to be a problem? :-)
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#19 Marcel Zyskind

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 10:32 AM

Hi there

Orin Beaton is a great man. I like him very much! I've worked with him several times.

All the best
Marcel

Edited by MarcelZyskind, 26 February 2006 - 10:34 AM.

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