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When does one call themselves a DoP?


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#1 Adam White

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 12:56 PM

Please dont bite! I know other newbies who have voiced similar opinions.

I have recently finished my second feature and have caused a few raised eyebrows when I asked to be credited as "lighting/cameraman". My reasoning is that the shoot was almost documentry in its speed and, though most scenes were lit and the director very happy with results, I didnt get to control the image as much as I could. The first feature was practicaly a home movie and I asked for simply "camera".

I have been lucky to work with come very experienced crews and I have always found it strange when I've then helped out on student shorts only to be ordered around by a "DoP" who has problems working his own lightmeter! Contrast this with many of the experienced individuals who happily advise in the forums and. . . well, it does seem rather odd.

So when do you give yourself the title of DoP? When you are incharge? When you graduate to the right format or budget? When you feel you have made the necessary input into a films look? I KNOW ITS PERSONAL CHOICE but, as a newbie, I have always wanted to ask.

many thanks for reading
Adam
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#2 Hal Smith

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 09:29 AM

Please dont bite! I know other newbies who have voiced similar opinions.

I have recently finished my second feature and have caused a few raised eyebrows when I asked to be credited as "lighting/cameraman". My reasoning is that the shoot was almost documentry in its speed and, though most scenes were lit and the director very happy with results, I didnt get to control the image as much as I could. The first feature was practicaly a home movie and I asked for simply "camera".

I have been lucky to work with come very experienced crews and I have always found it strange when I've then helped out on student shorts only to be ordered around by a "DoP" who has problems working his own lightmeter! Contrast this with many of the experienced individuals who happily advise in the forums and. . . well, it does seem rather odd.

So when do you give yourself the title of DoP? When you are incharge? When you graduate to the right format or budget? When you feel you have made the necessary input into a films look? I KNOW ITS PERSONAL CHOICE but, as a newbie, I have always wanted to ask.

many thanks for reading
Adam

I'm probably not much more experienced at shooting film and/or video than you are. When I shoot film or video, I'm the DP. I'm the guy behind the camera and ultimately what the pictures look like is up to me. I know how to listen to a Director and collaborate with them on their vision. I can read a light meter (or make damn sure my AC can), set up lighting, direct and manage crew, know how to operate my equipment, and I understand the film and video technologies I work with. I'm also am pretty decent photographer, I have some sense of how to translate what my eye sees and brain imagines into a flat picture on a screen. I also am a good teacher, if you're working with me and don't have a bunch of experience (but are teachable) I'll take the time to show you what you need to know.

Am I Dion Beebe or David Mullen? Hell no. They've got hundreds if not thousands of hours behind cameras and work in environments that I've only seen pictures of. I don't have the length, richness, and variety of experience the guys with the ASC and BSC initials after their names have - and in truth I may not have one-tenth of their native talent. There's a whole herd of Cinematographers who are also every bit as good as the guys and gals with the initials, they just haven't been working on the right sets and locations to get those credentials. We're all DP's, we're just not all equal in talent, ability, knowledge, and/or experience.
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#3 Adam White

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 10:07 AM

Thanks Hal, its good to hear someone elses opinion on it.

Adam
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#4 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 12:01 PM

If someone is going to place you in charge of the visuals and everything associated with the camera, you are the DoP.

Just because you shot something that was semi documentary doesn't take that away. Is anyone raising an eyebrow when the director asks for his credit? THe same argument could be made...what's he directing if it's all real?


Personally it took me many years before I was comfortable telling people what I did. It wasn't until I was working full time as a DP when I could confidently say "I'm a DP."
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#5 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 12:47 PM

Personally it took me many years before I was comfortable telling people what I did. It wasn't until I was working full time as a DP when I could confidently say "I'm a DP."


I'll second that. I never really felt comfortable with it until other people started to refer to me as a DP.
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#6 Josh Bass

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 01:12 PM

Can't it be project specific?

"I'm mostly a PA/First AC, but I DP'd a short for a friend. I'm DPing a low budget feature this summer."

I would say unless you do it regularly, and as your main source of income, to just generally say "I'm a DP" would be inaccurate, wouldn't you?

If you play guitar as a hobby, maybe have an occasional paid gig, but make your living, for the most part, as an accountant, if some asks you "so what do you do?" you wouldn't say "I'm a guitarist," would you? That's my logic.
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#7 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 12:03 PM

I asked to be credited as "lighting/cameraman".


Thats really refreshing to hear that. When i was writing out the credits on a student short once I got some funny looks when I wrote 'lighting/cameraman' instead of DP.
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#8 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 02:20 PM

If you are responsible for the key photographic and lighting decisions on your production, you can certainly claim to be the "Director of Photography" in that production's credits.

However, when putting together a resume/CV, or presuming to speak with authority on a user group, you should always qualify the title "Directory of Photography" with "of what...?"

I certainly was "Director of Photography" of some films I made for a filmmaking course in college, and for my own home movies. But I would never pass myself off as a DOP in a professional sense.

IMHO, claiming the term professionally means you have a demonstrated record of artisanship and technical proficiency, and a body of work you are proud to show. Recognition of that work with awards, and/or invitation to join a guild, union, or other professional organization probably elevates you to using the term professionally.
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#9 Mario C. Jackson

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 03:59 PM

To me you are a Dp when you believe it in your heart. I am no Gordon Willis or Mauro Fiore but one day I will grow to be of that caliber. You have to always be shooting something on film, video, or whatever. Believe it in your heart and act accordingly. This is when you become whatever you set to be in life.
Hope this Helps
Mario Concepcion Jackson
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#10 Phil Soheili

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Posted 04 April 2006 - 02:34 AM

That's easy to answer!
Think the other way round:
If lighting and expose had been bad and images were out of focus or simple framing was booring, who would have taken the blame? You? Then you were the DoPh.
Easy, huh?
Kind regs,
BelM.
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#11 Matthew Parnell

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Posted 04 April 2006 - 09:24 AM

I am all but a filmmaker who takes pride acting as and in being credited with the title of 'director of photography' on projects, but that does not give me the right to call myself a director of photography or cinematographer. The title of Cinematographer or Director of Photography says that you professionally act and are recognized on a consistent and professional basis in that role.

The point is, is that there is a distinct difference between being the director of photography on a project, and calling yourself a director of photography in a professional sense.

A lot of people get confused because the names of roles on a film set are identical to the name given to the profession of people who do that role for a living. That?s why I have no problem with being credited as 'Cinematographer', or being referred to as 'The Director of Photography of Such-and-Such' because that is the role i played on that project, it describes what I did, not who I am.

That?s my take on it anyway, Is this wrong?
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#12 Josh Bass

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Posted 04 April 2006 - 09:50 AM

I think that's fine. That's how I roll. Also acceptable, if you do it with any regularity, and quite "cute" --"occasional DP." You must list your host of other jobs whenever you say this, however--"Well I'm an occasional DP, but I also run teleprompter, sell used meat door to door, and make amateur porn. Where I also DP. In a very different way."

Edited by Josh Bass, 04 April 2006 - 09:50 AM.

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#13 Adam White

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 01:01 PM

believe me, Ive heard all sorts of comments on this and while I do see the argument for taking a certain title when you asume responsibility for the appearance of a piece, it comes down to personal choice (and maybe your own assesment of your development) as to what you ask for in a title.

of course Josh has now ensured that another, very different situation pops into my head when I discuss this matter in the future. :-)


with the project nearing the end, I will add a set report soon so that you guys can see what the fuss was all about.

once again, thanks for the feedback

Adam
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#14 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 02:00 PM

I am still in school, and I am trying to let people know that I am a cinematographer (not a gaffer, to peoples dismay), and I am trying to shoot as much as possible.

I am shooting this 22nd & 23rd of this month and I am pretty involved with pre-production, as far as lighting, color palette, DI, make up and wardrobe. I've convinced the directors to go much more colorful, and they liked that idea. I picked out 7218 for them, because of the need of nicely saturated colors. I picked out fashion ads out of "W" "V" and a few others, to show the directors examples of what would look nice. I've even consulted with David Mullen, and will keep speaking with him up until shoot date.

I think I am on the road to becoming a DP, but I am trying to learn, and master ever facet that is involved with the job.

Being good at reading and interpreting and confining storyboards is an art in itself.

I am not going to ask for DP credit on this shoot, I am going to ask for Cinematography.

I'm young, but I am advanced. I'm not cocky; I ask for help and advice. I want the best product for everyone involved, but I don't have the years of experience it takes to truly direct a huge photographich responsibility, without becoming a robotic camera man.

Good luck to all.
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#15 Roberflowers

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 03:56 PM

When you start doing it on a regular basis then I believe you can call yourself that. But it will probably be cemented in you when you get that first paycheck for all your hard work as a Director of Photography. I think could be the same for other disciplines as well. You are a director when you direct a movie, a writer when you write...Of course the term professional means that you make your living in those occupations. That is when you have "made it" I think that is what we all aspire to achieve.
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#16 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 04:35 PM

I'm a camera operator, but sometimes I shoot. I've shot commercials, shorts, corporates, and even a feature, but I wouldn't call myself a DP because it's not how I make my living most of the time.
It's nice to think that once you've actually been paid to shoot something that you are a "professional" DP, but it's not really the truth. It takes a long time to build up a client base and to get steady work, and I think until you're at the point where you're making a living shooting you aren't a DP. Sure, you've worked as a DP, but you aren't a full time professional yet. It's a minor distinction that doesn't really matter that much, but it's easy to see through the people who say they are but really aren't. And the folks who try to make themselves look better by stretching the truth lose the respect of those around them who can spot their inexperience from a mile away.
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#17 Rich Steel

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Posted 23 April 2006 - 04:19 PM

This thread reminds me of a story a spark once told me. Commenting on how one DOP he had to work with was fresh out of school and literary dropped in at he deep end (by his choice). The spark knew the guy bit way too much off to chew and as such the spark coined the phrase "Clapper Lighter"........

Needless to say the Clapper Lighter now has several listing in the usual UK publications. From being a First AC, Steadicam Op, Jib Op, all the way to being a DOP(e). How can anyone take these kinds of people seriously?

I think Mr Pytlak summed up my own thoughts rather eloquently in his last paragraph.......Nuff Said.

Rich

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