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Any Director/DPs?


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#1 Chris Durham

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 11:44 AM

Are there any Directors who also act as DP on their films?

I mean, obviously there are a lot of indie and low-budget guys who do this. Independents have to wear multiple hats out of necessity. But are there any big-time guys who do both either because they enjoy it or they want that level of control?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 11:49 AM

Not many. For years, the main example was Peter Hyams, probably the only Hollywood director who acted as his own DP.

Then Steve Soderberg started doing it.
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#3 Patrick McGowan

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 11:50 AM

Doug Liman, Steven Soderbergh, Robert Rodriguez...

Edited by Patrick McGowan, 18 February 2007 - 11:51 AM.

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#4 Matthew Bennett

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 11:53 AM

Doug Liman, Steven Soderbergh, Robert Rodriguez...


I read that Luc Besson does his own operating...
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#5 Jan Weis

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 11:55 AM

Ive read somewhere that Kubrick spent a lot of time operating the camera iduring Eyes Wide Shut.

/Jan
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 12:00 PM

Directors who operate is another issue -- it's not the same thing as saying that they acted as their own DP.

Besides Hyam, Soderberg, Liman, Rodriquez... anyone else shooting major features who acts as their own DP? It's a pretty short list, like I said.
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#7 Ben Schwartz

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 02:22 PM

Directors who operate is another issue -- it's not the same thing as saying that they acted as their own DP.

Besides Hyam, Soderberg, Liman, Rodriquez... anyone else shooting major features who acts as their own DP? It's a pretty short list, like I said.


Other examples: Ericson Core (Invincible), Nic Roeg (Walkabout), Ermanno Olmi (Tree of Wooden Clogs), Karpo Godina (Raft of the Medusa), Fassbinder (In A Year of 13 Moons), Sven Nykvist (The Ox), Jack Green (Traveller), Chris Doyle (Away With Words).
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#8 Brendan mk Uegama

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 03:51 PM

Tony Kay directed and shot American History X.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 05:41 PM

I was sort of ignoring one-time only examples, particularly when a cinematographer decides to shoot his own feature that he is directing. I was thinking more of working directors who regular act as their own cinematographers. In the commercial/music video world, it is more common.
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#10 Evan Winter

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 06:10 PM

I'd argue that along with the next generation of filmmakers we'll see many more director/DPs. Especially if future feature directors are culled from the commercial and music video world where massively shrinking budgets confer a natural advantage on a Director/DP.

I direct and DP my work and, while I'll be the first to recognize that Conrad Hall I ain't, it just makes financial sense for me to do it. Plus, I thoroughly enjoy the work and with a few more decades under my belt I may just get to a point where I can impress myself. :)
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 06:36 PM

I work with first-time directors all the time and I see no trend in that direction myself. The majority of people find directing a feature to be all-consuming in their time and energy and are more than happy to bring in someone else to deal with the demands of doing the cinematography.

Plus very few first-time directors come from a camera background -- many more come from a writing background, which makes sense because a screenplay that seems commercial is usually their ticket to being allowed to direct.

Just recently, a well-known cinematographer has asked me to consider shooting a small feature that he will be directing -- which shows you that even a professional cinematographer knows that the pressures of directing a feature are enough to be dealing with. I was also involved with a project to be directed by a professional photographer and commercial director who did not want to be the cinematographer on his own feature.

Many directors who have dabbled in shooting their own small DV projects, getting an opportunity to make a movie with a real budget, basically want their movie to look "professional" and feel relieved to hire a professional cinematographer to make that happen.

Despite changes in technology, I don't see many more director/DP's emerging in the feature world -- it will remain the exception to the rule, especially as many future directors will keep emerging from the world of writing as much as anything else. The issue is not technology, it's time management on the set and priorities, what to focus on, and that won't be affected by whether one shoots digitally or on film.

I've just worked with three television directors recently; one came out of a BBC directors training program years ago, one out of U.K. documentaries, two were former actors (one turned to screenwriting before directing), and one was a former AD. I don't think any of them ever acted as their own cinematographer on anything, not even the former documentarian (I could be wrong on that.)

Feature-wise, I've done thirty so far. I think more than half were screenwriters-turned-directors. A couple had shot their own short films in DV and Super-8, but nothing serious, and it didn't fill them with pretensions to shoot their own features once the opportunity arrived.
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#12 Evan Winter

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 06:58 PM

I'm only suggesting that we'll see more director/DPs in the future than we do now. I don't believe they will ever outnumber separate directors and DPs. But like we noted earlier, there are only 4 - 5 director/DPs we can even think of who work consistently. I reckon this number will be more like 15 - 20 in 10 years.
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#13 Jason M Silverman

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Posted 19 February 2007 - 12:15 PM

I'm only suggesting that we'll see more director/DPs in the future than we do now. I don't believe they will ever outnumber separate directors and DPs. But like we noted earlier, there are only 4 - 5 director/DPs we can even think of who work consistently. I reckon this number will be more like 15 - 20 in 10 years.


Interesting that in the list of people who do both, I don't really see too many whose work I'd be excited about.

That said, I've been toying with the idea of DPing my next film, as it probably will be on super-8. But, if I have the money, I still think I'd rather have a DP. From the little experience I've had, the input of a DP is invaluable to the project, beyond just allowing you to focus on other aspects of the project.

But, I was wondering, would many professional DPs consider a super-8 film worth their time?

jason
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 February 2007 - 12:49 PM

But, I was wondering, would many professional DPs consider a super-8 film worth their time?


Just depends, mainly on how legitimately "professional" they view the production, what it's budget and schedule is, and what the artistic aims were.

A director I know asked me to shoot a Super-8 feature but I was already booked on something else. The budget was around $100,000 so it was a full production with paid crew people, etc. So I mainly acted as a consultant. However, in that last minute, the producers and everyone came to the conclusion to shoot most of the movie in Super-16. That had some super low-light work that was going to require pushing 500T stock by two stops, and I suggested they shoot those shots in Super-16 and cutting them into the Super-8 (and do the whole post in HD) but they decided to shoot more and more of the movie on Super-16 afterall.

Also, this producer is sort of notorious for getting deals on equipment and film stock, etc. (literally, she's never paid for a camera rental in her career - somehow she always gets it donated) and she couldn't get those deals from any of the Super-8 companies in town like Pro8mm and Spectra, but she got deals on Super-16 so she went that way. In the end, I don't know how much Super-8 they shot. We also had problems finding a post house in LA that would transfer Super-8 to HD without charging an arm and a leg.

But I was certainly willing to shoot the project in Super-8 with the right director and budget and script. But if someone said "I'm shooting a feature in Super-8" my response would be similar to when someone says "I'm shooting a feature in DV" -- I'd assume they hardly had any money.
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#15 Tim Carroll

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Posted 19 February 2007 - 01:32 PM

Are there any Directors who also act as DP on their films?


I got to agree whole heartedly with David on this. From my limited (compared to David's and others on this forum) experience directing films, it is an all consuming endeavor. I love photography, having been a professional still photographer for over twenty years, and cinematography, and have been paid to DP other's films. But when I have directed, there is just too much to focus on to do it all well. The film we did that made the festival circuit, I spent quite a deal of pre-production time with the DP we hired, going over exactly what I wanted the look and feel to be, but when we were actually in production, my focus was on the talent, getting the best performance possible, and overseeing the whole ball game, making sure everything that needed to happen creatively, happened. I was more than happy to let the DP handle the lighting, though I would look through the viewfinder before each shot.

Something else I learned from working this way, as opposed to earlier smaller projects where I directed and DP'd. I was able to get a better feel for the actors performances and know when things were not working during each take. Probably because I was not worrying about how the lighting was looking during each take, I had the DP there to worry about that.

Just my 2ยข worth,
-Tim
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#16 John Holland

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Posted 19 February 2007 - 01:43 PM

You are so right Tim , the films that Hyams has lit and directed are mostly really crap , they look good most of the time ,but narrative and actors performances really suffer .
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