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director vs cinematographer


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#1 Laetitia

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 11:15 PM

Hi, I am working on a film as a cinematographer but i am having an issue with the director. He is always controling my framing.... "closer, can you get wider, from this angle maybe with this kind of lighting.... Is that is job??? I have already done few films and he told me he loved it, he fully trust me but then again he is over controlling. I have been working only on student project and short films. I would like to have the opinion of someone else.... are all director like that. It did annoyed me when i ask him to give me more space so i can work. From what it told me the job of the cinematographer is to get what he say on the screen... but i m not allow to come out with new ideas... i feel really frustated because i feel like i m here just to set up the light and press the record boutton.

I never went to school, I just start filming movies for my friends. But since he went to school i dont know if that s really how the job work... the way i feel is ... : Shut up and do what i say. What is frustated is that he look more after me than after is actors.... Unfortunatly I dont want to leave the project because i really love it.... but it is driving me crazy.

Please somebody, could you tell me about your experience.

What is my real job... am i wrong... i am just suppose to shoot what the director tell me or am i also part of the creative process...

Thanks for your opinion
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#2 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 11:57 PM

Are the scenes you've already shot cutting together well?

If the answer is yes, then you've been given an upgraded challenge from when you DP'd for your friends.

Now, you have to fulfill someone else's passion and vision and by doing that in a timely manner you prepare yourself for getting paid gigs from now on.

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Are the scenes you've already shot cutting together well? If the answer is no, then a discussion with the director should be next on your list.
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#3 Keneu Luca

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 03:08 AM

I would say that you have to do your best to play nice and be civilized in defending your choices, but in the end if the director still disagrees...well...he/she is the director.

You can walk away learning to never work with this director again. But you can do so either on good terms or bad ones. Remember, your reputation is at stake, which goes both ways - your reputation as either being someone who folds easily, or someone who fights for their artistic choices.

But it doesnt have to be that black and white.

Fight only the battles worth fighting.

Is this film going to go far? Is it going to be remembered? Do you want to work with many of the crew again? How will your decisions affect your future? Do you feel that you are easily replacable in this particular film. Or are you a valuable creative asset for the production? Do you have leverage?

Edited by Keneu, 05 June 2006 - 03:13 AM.

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#4 Rory Hanrahan

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 07:41 AM

Look at the work history of your favorite cinematographers. The changes that their work goes through film after film is not just a case of them deciding to try something new, but a result of working with that particular director. Unfortunately, some directors can be more controlling than others, or can have poor communication/work habits. Hell, some DP's are that way as well. In the end, you are being paid (or have an agreement) to do a job, and must deliver what your client wants, as long as the work they are asking for does not reflect negatively on you (hence the cutting together comments).

I'd rather work with a director that has a strong sense of what they want visually. The worst thing in the world is to show up on set and have the director be passive about the work you're doing, as if its an afterthought.

Kubrick went so far as to operate camera on a number of his films. Would you argue him on that point, if you were skilled/lucky enough to work with him?
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 07:41 AM

Director Alexander Mackendrick once said that directors who obsess over techical problems are usually trying to avoid dealing with human problems, like the actors, which is their primary job. Technology is inherently seductive, he used to say.

But every director is different; if one wants to set the frame exactly, that's something a DP just has to deal with. It can get even harder when a director tries to light the set himself because at that point, I'd be asking the director why he hired me, why he doesn't just shoot the movie himself. But a few directors try and do that job as well; a DP has to accomodate a director's interests.

Once you start shooting regularly with a number of directors, you'll find that on average, most are too busy to deal with cinematography issues and gladly leave the bulk of that to you, only tweaking your work as is their right. It's a collaboration.

Occasionally there are conflicts, which always arises between fellow artists. Someone who worked on "Titanic" was telling me that Cameron would often move lights that Caleb Deschanel would set-up, or order the Gaffer to bring in a Kino for more fill light, and Deschanel would try and move it back, etc. (Cameron was less enamoured of moody high-contrast side-lighting). At some point, when Deschanel tried to move a light back to its original spot, Cameron said something to the effect "don't touch my f---ing lighting!" This was around the time that Deschanel quit.
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#6 Ram Shani

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 12:04 PM

hi

i know its hard but try to put the ego a side and try to listn to him and think reely what is bast for the move and if you think your way is beter then fight for it

from my experiance once you think in this maner things work much beter

alot of the directors i work with talke about how thay fill alone on the set

one of my first and most importent thing form me is to make them trust me


david

didn't russel carpenter asc shot titanic???
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 12:51 PM

didn't russel carpenter asc shot titanic???


Yes, after Deschanel left.
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#8 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 06:12 AM

It really depends if the director knows what he/she is talking about.
Film like any other artistic medium involves alot of interpretation.
There are many ways to skin a cat.
The wise willow bends with the wind.
Make sure it is not your ego that is being hurt.
After all, everyone on a film is trying to make a film that's as good as possible with the resources at hand.
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#9 Matt Pacini

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 06:08 PM

All the criticism here seems to be centered on how qualified the director is to make these decisions, but I'd say it also may depend on how much the DP knows.

This guy admits he's a newbie, so perhaps he's not actually accomplishing what the director asked for to begin with? He may not be getting the look or framing the director wants (or the director may not know how to verbalize his wishes).
In this case, (a low budget film where people are still learning), I would think that maybe asking what's normal in the industry isn't really relevant, because it assumes that all other factors are the same as a big budget film (i.e. everyone being expert in their craft).
Probably the best thing to do is for the DP & director to have a meeting and discuss exactly what is expected of whom, and work out a way that the DP can get general instructions to act on.
Also, adequate preplanning (storyboards, shot lists, etc.) probably would solve all these problems, whereas if it's just being shot without that, I can see how you would get a lot of "oh, never mind, let's move the camera over here" etc.

MP
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