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where to gain experience around film cameras at a young age?


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#1 grahamstanly

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 10:36 PM

hey all I am in my last year of High school and I have been shooting video and HDV for about 3 years now. I plan on going to film school and becoming an Ac and someday a Dp. but I would like to start getting use to the jobs of an Ac where can I get real experience with film cameras. I have never been around them but I own my own cannon xh-a1, and I have used many video cameras. So i am comfortable in that feild but how can I learn to load, and pull focus on film cameras. I doubt at my age anyone would trust me on set so what should I do just keep shooting Hd and wait till college?

thanks
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#2 adam berk

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 11:07 PM

One of the things I learned very quickly when I started film school was that since I had an extremely strong background in video and also still photography, learning the technicals involved with motion picture film shooting was like nothing. You've got the film, the motor, the gate, pressure plate, and lens. If you're lucky, you may have an adjustable shutter which allows you to do the same thing as adjusting the "shutter speed" on your video camera.

There's really not much to get the hang of in terms of the physical workings of your basic motion picture camera, and even better is that once you learn one, you can pretty much jump into any camera and find your way around.

Maybe treat yourself to a bolex, and a meter. Make every possible mistake you can think of on the first roll or two, that way you'll have a good chance of never making them again in the future when it counts ;)
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#3 John Carreon

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Posted 19 February 2007 - 12:21 AM

I would recommend getting a job at a rental house, if you have any in the area. You can get your hands on all sorts of camera equipment and meet a lot of learned people.

I think being so young you'll meet some nice people, camera assistants and whatnot...and if you kiss a little ass maybe they'll let you tag along on a couple shoots...there is no better way to learn then by being on a few professional shoots to learn the ropes.
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#4 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 19 February 2007 - 03:41 AM

+1 on the rental house thing. I did a summer at Ceco in New York when I was in High School in the lighting department.
If there are any studios you might try to get an internship.
I think your age might be an advantage. Lots of what for you will probably be old timers get a kick out of young, enthusiastic people that are looking to get in the business.
If you get in-work hard as hell. This is knowledge and relationships that might serve you well later.
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#5 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 19 February 2007 - 04:04 AM

I would recommend getting a job at a rental house...


Hell, it doesn't even have to be a "job". If they have an intern program, take it! I'm interning at Film Arts in San Francisco, and I have free access to equipment. I wouldn't be getting any of my current projects done with out it.

So, if you can get a paying job where you're handling the equipment on a daily basis, even better. But consider an internship somewhere as well.
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#6 Keneu Luca

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Posted 19 February 2007 - 07:44 AM

Many people usually recommend buying a cheap super 8 camera to begin learning film.

I think buying a cheap 16mm is a better way to go. With super 8 you dont have to thread the film into the camera, but with 16mm you do...and that will give you more respect for the film. Plus, you gotta learn threading and loading film eventually anyway.

There are plenty of cheap spring wound 16mm cameras on ebay.

And yeah, if you can find a working light meter in your budget, buy it, and learn how to use it.

Again, with super 8, most of the cameras have built-in light meters which might make you lazy. Built-in light meters are the consumer equivalent of auto-focus and auto-exposure.

If you're familiar with loading film and how to use a meter in relation to exposing film with your camera, you're on your way.

I stress loading the film because, in my observations, this is one of the things that intimidates many people who are used to shooting video.

Edited by Keneu Luca, 19 February 2007 - 07:46 AM.

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#7 grahamstanly

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Posted 19 February 2007 - 01:27 PM

I have access to a lot of programs around here because I live right by hollywood, LA ect. So I will check out the nearest rental house and mabey see if I can intern around here. Also as for buying a cheap super 16 do you mean like a k3 because if you do then I could probably do that. My problem is I probably cant afford to pay for the film and all that.
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#8 Anna Baltl

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 02:37 PM

I think your age might be an advantage. Lots of what for you will probably be old timers get a kick out of young, enthusiastic people that are looking to get in the business.


absolutely agree on this one. so dont hesitate to ask and get started some where, anywhere.

i dont know about the situation in the states but in europe there are plenty of student and independent shoots on film that usually take any help they can get. for what i saw this is a good chance to get to work with often highly skilled people (of course you can have bad luck too). thats where i got started as a PA (i was 20 back then) on my first day on the set i did not even know what a DoP actually was but soon found out that i wanted to be nowhere else but near all the miraculous equipment and the people who knew what to do with it. after gaining experience in the lighting dept and occational hands on dolly and crane, various experiences in other departments i am a trainee to camera now. even without kissing ass i found an AC who is willing to pass his knowledge on to me. he says that that is what years back gave him the chance to learn the craft he enjoys so much and he sees it as his duty to pass this on to the next generation and as mine to do so when i am there where he is now.

as far as buying a camera goes... starting out as an ac, even in training, is expensive enough. there are all kinds of tools and books you will want to have and need at some point. and learning how to load one particular camera is a matter of a rather short time compared to the matter of learning how to use light. plus chances that you are gonna be using a camera (at work) that you can afford now are pretty low. instead i would suggest to get familiar with a good old analog SLR and a light meter. for what i think, coming to understand about light takes at least as long as learning about the technical aspects of film making. i like to collect so called "light sketches" meaning whenever i find a situation in daily life that has beautiful light i take a picture and make sure that i understand where it came from and why i like it so much. (of course its hard to find time to consequently do this). having to add that my roots in photography are leading me to cinematography.

and one last thing, get foot on a set as soon as possible, there it will really show wheather this is what you want to be your life like or not. and last thing number two, get as many different experiences as possible meaning differet departments, shows, rental houses ... this will not only help you to get there where you want but also give you a wider understanding of what film making means.
all the above is just one of the many different approaches to learning about cinematography make sure you find the right one for yourself.

my two yen
good luck with it!
anna
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