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Advice on moving to L.A.


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#1 igus mikler

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Posted 24 July 2006 - 10:15 AM

Hi!
I am thinking of relocating from Boston to L.A in cupple months, But have no idea about how the work situation looks like down there. I am a cinematographer that graduated in March from a filmschool in Poland. I would like the experience that L.A has to offer. I am interested in camera operating, gaffing, grip, AC, still photography. but where does one go? where does one look? and does one have to be in the union?
In MA they have central booking- where one pays a fee and they call you up if there are any jobs in the area.- they are intouch with all the production companies. Is there someting similar in L.A? How does one join the union? I am hoping for some names.

Thanks.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 July 2006 - 10:30 AM

I am a cinematographer that graduated in March from a filmschool in Poland.


Unfortunately it's a slow process because it involves making contacts. You'll be doing non-union work for a while, probably a mix of stuff (shorts, features, video work). It takes a number of years to meet the requirements to join the union. I worked for ten years in Los Angeles as a DP before I joined, although camera assistants and operators often join earlier.
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#3 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 24 July 2006 - 11:16 AM

Hi!
I am thinking of relocating from Boston to L.A in cupple months, But have no idea about how the work situation looks like down there. I am a cinematographer that graduated in March from a filmschool in Poland. I would like the experience that L.A has to offer. I am interested in camera operating, gaffing, grip, AC, still photography. but where does one go? where does one look? and does one have to be in the union?
In MA they have central booking- where one pays a fee and they call you up if there are any jobs in the area.- they are intouch with all the production companies. Is there someting similar in L.A? How does one join the union? I am hoping for some names.

Thanks.



Ditto what David said. He may or may not remember, but I worked as an AC for him a number of years ago as I was working my way into a viable career.

Some people "luck out" and hook up right away with the right people who can take their career in the right direction with enough money to do more than just survive. Others work their way up slowly by doing low budget jobs with a lot of time off in between them. The important thing to keep in mind is that everyone is different and you really shouldn't compare your own progress with someone else's. All you can do is figure out what it is you really want to do and create opportunities for yourself that take you in that direction. Just be prepared for whatever life brings you. You have to enjoy the journey just in case you never reach your goal. There are a lot of less than qualified crewmembers who are working regularly and a lot of very qualified and talented people who just never quite get the right opportunities. It really can go either way.

As mentioned, it's all about connections and networking here in LA. To get the best (highest paying) work, you'll probably want to join IATSE Local 600. Go to http://www.cameraguild.com for contact information and they'll let you know what you need to do to join.

I am writing a book right now that promises to answer all the questions you have and more, but unfortuately it isn't available just yet. If you go to my website listed below or on my MySpace page, you can fill out your contact information and I'll see what else I can do to help.

Good luck!
Brian
www.whatireallywanttodo.com
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 July 2006 - 01:40 PM

He may or may not remember, but I worked as an AC for him a number of years ago as I was working my way into a viable career.


Of course I remember you (hard to forget a last name like "Dzyak"...) That was my first feature, "River Bottom", and we all worked for deferment (i.e. for free) in San Bernardino in the summer heat of 1992. You were the 2nd AC and Bruce (forgot the last name) was the 1st AC. Bruce sort of got out of AC'ing as I recall.

I tend to remember technical things better than names though -- I remember it was 35mm UltraCams from Leonetti with Canon lenses, Agfa XTS400 and XT100 stocks, Film Services Lab (now out of business.) We went through four UltraCams before Panavision took pity and donated a GII to finish the show on -- for free! The Landers (Big Bear area) Earthquake hit at sunrise while we were finishing a scene under a train bridge; we saw flashes on the horizon from transformers blowing-up.

It brings up the whole issue of whether you should work for free or for deferment -- for me, it was a good choice, got me my first feature credit just one year after film school. Don't know if it was worth it for you though. I also once shot a 3-day short for free that led to two feature jobs through the producer.
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#5 timHealy

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Posted 24 July 2006 - 02:15 PM

I live and work mostly in NY and work in LA a few weeks a year, but all of my college friends and friends who work in film that have all moved to LA are working all the time and most on better projects than they would get in NY. That all means they make more money as well. Some had jobs or interviews lined up before they went out and others hit the pavement and took some time. But the bottom line is there is so much more work in LA (or originates from LA) that you will probably do fine.

There is a joke that says if you have no vowels in your name, you succeed as a big time cinematographer! java script:emoticon(':)',%20'smid_3')

Best

Tim

Edited by heel_e, 24 July 2006 - 02:18 PM.

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#6 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 02:07 AM

You want advice about moving to LA, here it is....Ready? Get a pen and write this down, I'll wait.....OK, got one?....Good, here goes. Bring LOTS AND LOTS AND LOOOOTS of money. That pretty much covers it. :D
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Visual Products

Willys Widgets

Glidecam

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

FJS International, LLC

CineTape

Paralinx LLC

The Slider

Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Tai Audio

Ritter Battery

rebotnix Technologies

Wooden Camera

Abel Cine

Metropolis Post

CineLab

Aerial Filmworks

Opal