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Is a Cinematographer's success measured by owning less camera equipment?


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#1 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 23 April 2006 - 09:14 PM

As a director of photography moves up the pay scale food chain, do they own less or more camera equipment?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 April 2006 - 09:43 PM

As a director of photography moves up the pay scale food chain, do they own less or more camera equipment?


Sort of depends on the DP and the way he likes to work. As he moves up, he can afford to buy more equipment but there may be no need to. On the other hand, some (non-Panavision) DP's prefer to use their own cameras. I find that commercial shooters are more likely to invest in a camera than feature shooters.
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#3 Shawn Murphy

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Posted 23 April 2006 - 10:04 PM

If you ever get a chance to watch "Tell Them Who You Are", about Haskell Wexler's relationship with his son (shot by his son), there's two scenes that show a lot of the equipment he apparently acquired over a long career, but being the beginner that I am I can only guess that his amount of equipment was the exception.
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#4 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 23 April 2006 - 10:28 PM

If you ever get a chance to watch "Tell Them Who You Are", about Haskell Wexler's relationship with his son (shot by his son), there's two scenes that show a lot of the equipment he apparently acquired over a long career, but being the beginner that I am I can only guess that his amount of equipment was the exception.


I'v always assumed that they had a video rental company called Wexler Video, is that correct?
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#5 Shawn Murphy

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Posted 23 April 2006 - 10:40 PM

I've always assumed that they had a video rental company called Wexler Video, is that correct?





I don't think they're related (at least not directly), if you go to the Wexler Video website you can see the founder is Bob Wexler and if I'm not mistaken their primary emphasis is in video, not film.



Plus in the film, which if you haven't seen it I highly recommend, Haskell is shown discussing the eventual sale of most of his gear.
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#6 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 24 April 2006 - 03:07 AM

I find that commercial shooters are more likely to invest in a camera than feature shooters.

Do they do all the maintenance work themselves, or do they charge their clients to have the equipment serviced elsewhere?
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#7 Stephen Williams

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Posted 24 April 2006 - 03:41 AM

Do they do all the maintenance work themselves, or do they charge their clients to have the equipment serviced elsewhere?


Hi,

They charge normal rental charges per day/week/month so it is up to the camera owner to pay for maintenance, as a normal rental company would.

Stephen
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#8 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 24 April 2006 - 05:43 AM

I think DP's who own their own gear probably do more low budget independent style of features. Once a DP elevates to higher budgeted filmmaking perhaps it makes more sense to use a rental house.
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#9 timHealy

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Posted 24 April 2006 - 08:34 AM

I know Michael Ballhaus owns his own gear (Arri) and his own dolly (Panther). But he is the exception rather than the rule. Though I wonder if he got a Deutschland Discount? If I ran Arri, I would do everything I could for Germany's most famous sons and cinematographer.

Best

Tim
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#10 Chris Fernando

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Posted 24 April 2006 - 09:48 AM

I'v always assumed that they had a video rental company called Wexler Video, is that correct?



No relation (as stated during the end credits). Just caught up with it this weekend, best doc I've seen in a while.

You have to watch the "Special Features" section where he actually shows his father the completed work and his reaction to it (and his son's reaction to his reaction). Really brought the whole experience to a full circle (for me at least).

As far as his equipment, based on the amount, organization and the "storage space" where he kept everything (along with everything in it) it seems like he rents out that equipment, probably not to just anyone and everyone, though. Kinda wished he would have talked more about it, as his son asked him to do.
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#11 Stephen Williams

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Posted 24 April 2006 - 01:55 PM

I know Michael Ballhaus owns his own gear (Arri) and his own dolly (Panther). But he is the exception rather than the rule. Though I wonder if he got a Deutschland Discount? If I ran Arri, I would do everything I could for Germany's most famous sons and cinematographer.

Best

Tim


Hi,

I heard it was free! After all he did those endorsements for Arri. I actually bought some kit he was selling on Ebay!

Stephen
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#12 Logan Schneider

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Posted 24 April 2006 - 02:04 PM

Ballhaus owns two full Arricam packages. I seriously doubt that they were free. I seem to remember his ebay equipment listings talking about him selling his 535 so that he could upgrade to Arricams.

It has become much harder to own equipment and make your money back for top dps. The cameras are so expensive, and then the lenses and accessories keep changing. Many who enjoyed owning cameras now just rent becuase of the huge prices. These include Deakins, Fauer, and many others.

Bill Bennet did just upgrade to a 435 extreme with a full set of ultra primes, but there's not many who can make that sort of money back. He had to build a vault for insurance reasons.
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#13 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 24 April 2006 - 03:57 PM

Oliver Stapleton, BSC, owns his own set of S4's and a couple of Moviecam's. Rob Draper, ACS, owns a set of Arri's and so forth. So they do exist, but they're not very common.

I used to own an old rickety Konvas, but I never could bring it out on a job or make it work for me - it was just to old. I wouldn't mind owning a BL4s once they come down a little bit in price, though. Not for rental, just as a nice B-camera that only I have access to. Might get one at some point down the road.
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#14 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 24 April 2006 - 06:14 PM

It seems to me that if one owns their own camera, they at least need to own several back-up camera components as well and periodically make sure the back up components work on the A cameras as well, or own two complete camera packages, so one always has a back up.

But lets say one camera is down, one would still have to rent a back up camera from a rental house. Even if one owns their own camera equipment they still need a solid relationship with a camera rental house so they can have priority access to tons of gear/accessories they probably don't own.

I suppose the less often one rents from a camera rental house the less priority the rental house gives them when doling out rental packages.
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