Jump to content


Photo

FILMMAKER AND DOP COLLABORATION


  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 Robert Lachenay

Robert Lachenay
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 106 posts
  • Director

Posted 12 February 2007 - 08:15 PM

I also posted this on the first time filmmakers forum, but....

I'm wondering how experienced DOP's feel about extensive collaboration with a director who isn't as proficient in cinematography knowledge, to create the look that director is looking for. Is it somewhat of a nuisance? Does the lack of extiensive, technical photographic knowledge on the director's part steal from his credibility in your eyes (even though he may be a very capable director)? Or do experienced DOP's like this sort of collaboration and established trusts/freedom?

I guess what I am trying to ask is whether or not working with a director who hasn't worked through film before, but can direct actors well and has a specific, concrete vision of how they would like each shot of their film to look, but doesn't have extiensive, technical photographic knowledge (though isn?t completely inept....knows enough about angles and lenses and film types) because they didn't attend film school, would seem be a nuisance, or could some sort of strong collaboration and trust be met to make it work?

...if that made any sense.
  • 0

#2 Paul Maibaum ASC

Paul Maibaum ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 163 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 12 February 2007 - 08:49 PM

1966 - "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" directed by Mike Nichols, his first film and he's nominated for an Academy Award as Best Director (he wins the next year for "The Graduate") works with Haskell Wexler who wins the Academy Award for black and white cinematography for his work on "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?".
The kind of collaboration you wonder about is quite common, although not always with such great results.
  • 0

#3 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 12 February 2007 - 08:53 PM

Netscape keeps crashing just as I'm about to post my reply...

So I'll keep this short. You need a director to provide visual taste and imagination to a project. You don't necessarily need him to understand technically how this is achieved as long as he trusts you to figure it out and supports your solutions to an agreed-upon visual approach. But it's very hard to work with a director with no visual taste or ideas, because he might leave you hanging out to dry one moment since he's not fully committed to your ideas (not understanding them) or he might make conflicting decisions with other departments that affect your work.
  • 0

#4 Robert Lachenay

Robert Lachenay
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 106 posts
  • Director

Posted 12 February 2007 - 09:04 PM

Netscape keeps crashing just as I'm about to post my reply...

So I'll keep this short. You need a director to provide visual taste and imagination to a project. You don't necessarily need him to understand technically how this is achieved as long as he trusts you to figure it out and supports your solutions to an agreed-upon visual approach. But it's very hard to work with a director with no visual taste or ideas, because he might leave you hanging out to dry one moment since he's not fully committed to your ideas (not understanding them) or he might make conflicting decisions with other departments that affect your work.


But during preproduction...and even in say meetings prior to the film being really concieved...if a director was completely aware of how he wanted it to look, what visual style it would follow, etc....and the two really collaborated on it...

...would you say that it's all good in that sort of scenario? If you develop a trust together, creatively, and collaborate extensively...it'd be all good?

Edited by Robert Lachenay, 12 February 2007 - 09:04 PM.

  • 0

#5 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 12 February 2007 - 09:11 PM

In theory, it's good when a director understands technically what you are going through. In practice, it just depends. A director who understands cinematography could just as easily be constantly second-guessing you and getting distracted from their primary job, directing the actors. So it depends on the personality of the director. I've worked with complete novices and had a wonderful time because they were open and supportive of my ideas and they had a decent visual taste, though undeveloped. I've worked with directors who could shoot, cut, record sound, conform the negative, mix the score, etc. themselves -- and yet have no visual taste whatsoever.

It's mainly about visual taste on everyone's part, especially the director's, an agreed-upon visual game plan, and then a director's trust in the creative team to pull it off and support to give them the tools to do their jobs.

I find that I cannot do my best work without trust on the part of the director (and producer to some extent.) Without their trust and belief in me, I have no recourse but to play it safe and not take chances. And then you end up trying to please them and not yourself, and you become lost.

But, yes, collaboration is the ideal scenario.
  • 0

#6 Daniel Carruthers

Daniel Carruthers
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 334 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Canada

Posted 13 February 2007 - 08:11 PM

most directors Ive worked with have been inexperianced on the technical side.
The last shoot I was on the director thought I lite a scene to dark, and I kept saying Im only half stop under exposed plus I had highlights that where 1 stop over exposed.And he kept saying it was no good.
We had a very crappy monitor on set an old lcd monitor with crushed blacks so the shadows had no detail in them.I didnt rely on that monitor at all. I trusted my light meter.
But unfortunatly the director( Who never left the monitor) kept wanting more light. and I kept saying "no more we have enough any more and its gonna look lit".I told him not to trust that damn monitor and to trust the light meter.eventually I got my way. And when it came to watching the dailies the image looked great.
I have no problem working with inexperianced directors just as long as they trust me.
  • 0

#7 Michael LaVoie

Michael LaVoie
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 719 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 13 February 2007 - 09:45 PM

I've been lucky and haven't had too many directors ask me to flatten out the lighting. I have had producers walk by the monitor and suddenly demand more fill. That's sometimes a hard situation. You have to work extra hard to make sure that you fill in areas without losing your contrast. Sometimes though, an untrained eye giving you commentary can make your scene better. They'll see things in a more generic way which is closer to how the audience will percieve it so I value all opinions, as long as they listen to reason and logic if I disagree.
  • 0

#8 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 13 February 2007 - 09:59 PM

My favorite moments on a shoot come when the director asks me to go further, take more chances -- it's very liberating to be freed from playing things safe.
  • 0

#9 Dror Dayan

Dror Dayan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 29 posts
  • Student
  • Berlin, Germany

Posted 17 February 2007 - 12:11 PM

I just finished shooting my first short film last week, so I´d like to add a newlings point of view to that matter.

We had a very long pre-production, where we really took the time to develop the visual concept of the film. the work with the production-designer was great, she really understood the pictures that I have in my head and did an amazing job. during the pre-production I had some arguments with the director, who made some visual decisions that I didn´t really understand. but I had the impression that we´re coming to the set ready and in sync with each other. like you mentioned, it was also her first "big" film, and she also dosen´t have a lot of technical knowledge (for example, we explained to her one month before the shoot the difference between different lenses, which is ok, I don´t think every director HAS to know the difference between 25mm and 50mm, as long as he understands the idea)

but then on the set everything became terribile. I kept hearing "suggestions" from her like "maybe a 25mm will be better?" or "maybe if you shift your weight from one leg to the other you could creat a smoother movement for the camera". all in all it was like we were working on two different films in the pre-production. all the pictures that I had in my head were gone.

and here comes the most important point, for my opinion, and that is trust. trust and communication. I really don´t think a director must have all the technical knowledge. but if he dosen´t know the difference between lenses, or even if he´s just someone who´s visual abilities are not very creative, he should at least be able to trust the cameraman in designing the look of the movie, based on the input that he/she provides in the pre-production. and be able to communicate his ideas in a way that would be clear for the camerman/woman/DoP/Cinematographer.

and on a personal note: it´s no fun at all to work 6 months on a film, and to end up shooting a totally different one because of communication problems. my most important lesson from my first film: movies are teamwork. and little things that aren´t working on the personal/creative level in the pre-production tend to explode on the set.

but it´s still lots of fun to make those movies... it will not be my last one.

regards,

dror
  • 0

#10 John Thomas

John Thomas
  • Sustaining Members
  • 116 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Akron, Ohio USA

Posted 17 February 2007 - 04:36 PM

My favorite moments on a shoot come when the director asks me to go further, take more chances -- it's very liberating to be freed from playing things safe.

The world needs more courageous producers and directors.
  • 0

#11 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 17 February 2007 - 08:11 PM

The world needs more courageous producers and directors.


Here here, especially on television. . .
  • 0


rebotnix Technologies

Rig Wheels Passport

Visual Products

Wooden Camera

Glidecam

Abel Cine

CineLab

Tai Audio

Aerial Filmworks

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

The Slider

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Paralinx LLC

Willys Widgets

FJS International, LLC

CineTape

Metropolis Post

Ritter Battery

Technodolly

Opal

Opal

Glidecam

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Paralinx LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

FJS International, LLC

Tai Audio

Technodolly

Willys Widgets

Aerial Filmworks

Abel Cine

CineLab

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

Wooden Camera

Metropolis Post

The Slider

Ritter Battery

Visual Products

rebotnix Technologies

CineTape