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#1 Daniel Smith

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 08:15 PM

Hi.

Some time ago I went to an interview for a position as camera operator, which I didn't get.

If there's one thing I remember about the interview, it's that I didn't know what to say or what to ask.

What exactly would you say, and ask at these interviews? I felt like they were trying to test my experience by asking me if I had any questions, and the fact that I could barely come up with many probably showed that I was inexperienced.

Any tips and suggestions appreciated.
Thanks.
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#2 K Borowski

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 08:39 PM

I've never been on a paid movie gig, but, with that in mind, I'd assume they want you to demonstrate technical knowledge as well as hands-on experience. I'd know all about F and T stops, depth of field, focal lengths of lenses, and camera models.

Is this for film or video? I'd say film is more focused on experience than your doing well in an interview, i.e. you'd need to show them a reel. Video jobs they tend to want a reel to, I've tried to get a few of those, but I think that there's more knowledge of operating specific cameras necessary than with film cameras. You'd need to know the different modes and menu options moreso with video than with film because film (obviously) doesn't really have menus at least not on the cameras I can afford to work with.

~Karl
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 08:41 PM

Well, as you get more experienced, then it gets easier to sound experienced during the interview, not that that helps you now...

You need to emphasize the "pluses" -- your creativity, your energy, your intelligence, etc. -- to make up for the lack of experience. And talk about what experience you DO have -- a telling detail or anecdote about a shoot you worked on, how you got a difficult shot, solved a problem, etc. on might tell them that you know what you're doing.

But obviously you should expect it to be harder to get hired at your stage.

Now that I have 30 features worth of experience, one of my goals in a job interview is to not BORE them with too many details and anecdotes ("OK, we got it -- you've worked a lot...") Just ones relevent to the project. It helps to get as much advanced info on the project before the interview to be prepared to tailor your ideas.
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#4 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 09:26 PM

You may want to try talking about other films that you like and why you think they could be a good reference for the one you're interviewing for. If the director has similar sensibilities, it may lead to a fruitful 'interview.'

In my opinion, the more questions that are asked, the worse it ends up. The most successful interviews 've had are the ones that just end up being conversation about their film, films in general, personal stories, etc.
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#5 Max Jacoby

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 03:47 AM

As one bigtime camera operator told me, when he is going for an interview, he is not just being interviewed, he interviews the director as well, so that he can find out, whether he wants to work for this person.
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#6 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 04:58 AM

I had an interview today with a comedy troupe who wants to start making some quality versions of sketches they'd already written and tried to produce using only practicals for lighting and a couple of dinky miniDV cams.

They obviously didn't have much production experience, as they're primarily improv comics and actors. So, I knew right away that I couldn't get too deep into the technical aspects, otherwise I'd lose them and cause some awkward silences. I simply told them I can work fast, make it look good, and let them perform their piece while leaving all the technical stuff for me to worry about. And once I had it established that I could do that for them, I started allowing their ideas to bounce off of me...some of which they really thought were fantastic.

They got a clear idea of what my influences were comedically and visually (I mentioned Terry Gilliam and Coen Bros. for instance). The likes of which I mentioned only after I felt I could apply those types of references to the stories they wanted to tell.

Otherwise, I was myself, I was honest about where some of their stories obviously still needed some development. And I was lucky enough to not offend them ;) (knock on wood)

I'm waiting on a callback, it'd be great to work with them...but I wouldn't be heartbroken if they passed me up. Hell, I'll just move on to the next project.
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#7 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 07:42 AM

I find that it's best to talk about the film that is the reason for the interview.
I feel that too much unrelated banter shows a lack of self confidence.
One thing that seems to reassure people is knowing that I can show up with a whole qualified team:
AC's, grips, electricians.
The DP's job by nature involves a lot of trust and people need to be to be assured of not only your technical ability and aesthetic but also in your ability to captain a team and remain calm under fire.
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#8 Nate Downes

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 07:45 AM

I actually go in with the attitude that I'm interviewing them. Gotten pretty far that way, and makes it look more like I want the piece than someone that's just out to padd their resume.
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#9 Daniel Smith

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 05:12 PM

Ok cool thanks for the advice. B)
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#10 David Bradley

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 09:42 PM

where did you apply?

Been working vt research (ENG) since I was 18 and I didn't get there by going straight for that particular job, sure its point and click work but in the working world being an operator is a little high up the pecking order for people without on the job experience even if your probably better than most the chaps I have worked with!

If your looking to be hired by a production house or company in the UK as staff or to be trained as a free-lancer then your never going to get anywhere by asking to be a camera operator.

At your age, barely younger than myself! no one will take you seriously unless you have proven yourself capable in another, less desirable and possible more entry level position. I work free lance as a floor manager at ITN, on the merit of that I got work with BSKYB, QVC etc As your CV grows you find people are more willing to entertain your enthusiasm for a job you really want to do i.e. camera operating

Be sure to show that you have goals and that your enthusiastic but also be aware that most people couldn't care less about your ambitions. They want you to do a job and if your good at it maybe they will trust you with more (better) responsibilities.

I try to show enthusiasm for the company and their clients, perhaps the theme of the work you will be doing i.e. when interviewing for BSKYB the lady in Human resources doesn't know her focal length from her aperture but she will get that you love sport if you know alot about it and your enthusiastic about it. That said if you pass an interview you usually trail someone for a time who ultimately decides if your worth the trouble.

A quick note on formats. If you have been working on DV and the company your interviewing for are shooting 16mm then don't rant on and on about you digital prowess... I did that and it was one of those, "don't call us, we'll call you" gigs. Do your homework on the company and pawn to their egos as if you love they're product.
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#11 G McMahon

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 12:23 PM

Do your homework on the company and pawn to their egos as if you love they're product.


Thanks, that?s good advice.

To piggy back on this forum (if no replies I will start my own thread). I am armed with a new reel (doesn't contain my last five projects, but I can't keep waiting), new covers printed, business cards, I am looking to branch out more within the corporate realm, low to medium budget commercials and corporates.

Do I cold call companies and set up interviews to show my reel? It has been suggested to me to call up and arrange to have a coffee and leave my reel with them so they don?t have to watch in my presence. Is that a better idea?

Should I discuss the benefits of working with me? Do I discuss that I am better in a contrived shooting style then that of an ENG nature. Do I discuss specifics that I will only work for this rate, or not without this equipment or crew?

Two technical concerns.

1). Some of my footage, especially the earlier stuff, suffers from compression and generation loss. I now know how to help this for future footage, but is this giving a bad impression? Or will they be sharp enough to look beyond that at my compositions, etc?
2). I am also concerned that my reel might not play on some DVD players or computers. Is there a way around it?

Thanks all,
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#12 Paul Maibaum ASC

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 12:42 PM

As far as reels go, only show your best work, make no excuses and avoid rationalizing.
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