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So much to learn, so overwhelming!


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 10:24 AM

I just started film school this fall (SIU Carbondale, Graduate) and I am amazed at how much I don't know. Editing on a steenbeck, sound mixing, knowing all the different lights available and how to use them. Upto now, I've been self taught, buying my own 16mm stuff, experimenting, reading. It's taken me a good distance, but not as far as I need to go. Man, it feels overwhelming. Have some of you had to deal with this? Being confronted with knowing that there is so much in the field of cinematography that you're not familiar with. I mean, how do I start? Where?
Brian
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#2 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 10:58 AM

Start by talking to other people and making connections. Get a chance to play with your school's equipment as much as you can. Do they have students working at their equipment checkout? Because if you work there, you could learn a lot about the gear and anybody coming in to check it out will see you there a lot, realize that you're learning your stuff, and then maybe they'll ask you to work on their projects. (Plus, you'd be making a little money!) Think about what you want to learn and maybe for a few weeks, concentrate on the lights. Then next week, cameras. You have to break it down into smaller pieces and recognize the fact that you've got years to do it...it ain't going anywhere, so take your time!

Most people learn things in ways that aren't necessarily linear; in other words, they don't necessarily progress from A to B. They learn enough about what A does that they could probably figure out B, then somebody hands them the rest of the parts and they put it together. (or maybe they don't, at first!) Don't worry about this, just run with it. Do you want to be an AC? An op? A DP? Focus in on what you want and tell people that that's what you are. When I was in school, I got really into ACing so I would tell people, "If you need an AC for your project, I would love to help out." Most people were more into the creative side of things and didn't want to deal with the gear or with loading the mags or scrolling through camera menus, so it worked in my favor. If you have a tough time with editing but you're good with grip equipment, make friends with someone who loves editing but needs a grip for their project.

Also, pick your professors' brains. It will make them feel good to know that there are students out there so eager to learn from them, and they can help you out too. When I was in school, I wasn't officially part of the film program so I couldnt' take the higher level classes, but I was still interested in them, so once in a while I would ask to sit in on a class or participate in a class shoot. In the span of about two years, I learned all the school's equipment, worked on a lot of projects, and made a lot of friends and connections. It was a really great experience. This is your time to play around, get familiar, and don't be afraid to make mistakes, because you will learn from your mistakes too.
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#3 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 11:01 AM

Just wait till your done with school and on set. You'll have the same feeling all over again.

Just do your best and try to make connections and spend some time on sets when you can.
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#4 J. Michael Whalen

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 11:16 AM

All good advice, but the fact that there IS so much to learn is why I love cinematography. I doubt if you ever stop learning. Just realize that even those who you look up to were once in your position.
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#5 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 11:47 AM

I just started film school this fall (SIU Carbondale, Graduate) and I am amazed at how much I don't know. Editing on a steenbeck, sound mixing, knowing all the different lights available and how to use them. Upto now, I've been self taught, buying my own 16mm stuff, experimenting, reading. It's taken me a good distance, but not as far as I need to go. Man, it feels overwhelming. Have some of you had to deal with this? Being confronted with knowing that there is so much in the field of cinematography that you're not familiar with. I mean, how do I start? Where?
Brian



Most of us just jump in and start, not even knowing what questions we should be asking. Unfortunately, most filmschools concentrate on theory and the way things should work while neglecting to teach the way the industry does work. It's great that you're recognizing some of that so soon and coming to places like this to learn more. I'm sure most of us out here would have benefited greatly had we had access to internet resources like this while we were first starting out.

(Here comes the plug for my own book :) ) For a variety of reasons, I've written a book that helps to bridge that gap between filmschool theory and what the reality of life in the film industry is really like. Filmschool can be helpful and if you already know what you want to do, I'd also recommend some fantastic books already on the market, like Doug Hart's Camera Assistant's Manual. But I invite you to take a look at my own at www.whatireallywanttodo.com. It's everything else you should know about getting and having a real career in the business.

In the meantime, keep studying, asking questions, and experimenting. One day we might be working for you!
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#6 Brian Rose

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 12:20 PM

All the theory certainly is a drawback to film school. But, I'm meeting good people, have access to great equipment, and best of all, they're paying ME to go. So, I'll leave with a few films under my belt, and no debt to show for it.
Brian
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#7 timHealy

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 01:01 PM

I just started film school this fall (SIU Carbondale, Graduate) and I am amazed at how much I don't know. Editing on a steenbeck, sound mixing, knowing all the different lights available and how to use them. Upto now, I've been self taught, buying my own 16mm stuff, experimenting, reading. It's taken me a good distance, but not as far as I need to go. Man, it feels overwhelming. Have some of you had to deal with this? Being confronted with knowing that there is so much in the field of cinematography that you're not familiar with. I mean, how do I start? Where?
Brian


I wouldn't be too concerned and enjoy the time you have at school. Film schools are trying to teach an overview of filmmaking so you become a jack of all trades and an expert at none. Use the opportunity of school to experiment and see what you enjoy the most.

Once you finish school get whatever professional experience you can, but do try and focus on what you enjoy the most and head in that professional direction. It takes years and sometimes a lifetime form some to be proficient at their craft. Just keeping soaking up the experience what ever and wherever you are.

If you do what you love after school you'll never have to "work".

best

Tim
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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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Metropolis Post

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Abel Cine

Visual Products

Aerial Filmworks

rebotnix Technologies

CineTape

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

Paralinx LLC

Technodolly

The Slider

FJS International, LLC

Willys Widgets

Glidecam

Opal