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Picking best Cenematograher for the project


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#1 JP Dela cruz

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 01:11 AM

Picking best Cenematograher for the project
How do you guys pick your DP?
If some of them have similar experiences and suit for the project but still have to pick only one then what should I ask them to find right one?

Anyone can share me tips how you pick your DP?
What do you ask when you conduct an interview?
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#2 Nicholas Jenkins

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 01:47 AM

First and foremost... REELS REELS REELS!!!! Look at their reels and see what they're capable of. If you're shooting on film, make sure they know how to shoot on film, etc...

But by and large. Make sure it's someone you can work creatively with. The worst situation you can get into is to find a DP who can great compelling images, but has no regard for your own creative senses. There should be a meeting of the minds to agree on look, feel, tempo, etc... and even though you can (and should) have healthy disagreements from time to time, there should still be a general, and professional, agreement about how the picture will look.

Since I've spent most of my time being a DP for projects, when I'm directing, I tend to look for people that have been AC's for me that know how I work and already have a functioning work routine with me.

If I were going out into the great unknown and just trying to find the best DP for the job, I would look at reels first. Then have meetings with my top three to discuss previous projects and to discuss what I want done, visually, with the current project.

I tend to think that lots of questions is a good thing. And not just technical ones. Everything boils down to story. A good DP will typically talk about characters and story arc so they can get a good idea of what kind of story they're trying to tell and how best to visually represent that story on screen.

That isn't to say you shouldn't talk shop and your DP shouldn't know what kind of lens/camera/dolly he's got available/experience with. By all means, talk about cameras and how different lenses will help along the story in crucial scenes. I just tend to get a little wary of people that come in and start telling me all about all of the different tech specs for every single piece of equipment they own... it feels like their head is in the wrong place. And those conversations can happen during production meetings as well.

Overall, make sure that your DP is capable of making the film you want to make (i.e. look at his/her reels) and make sure they are capable of talking about cinematography in terms of story.

whew... there's my two cents :D
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#3 JP Dela cruz

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 04:17 AM

Thanks Nicholas for sharing your insight
My problem is all of DOPs? reels are SUPER. And all fit in my project. And I only need one of them
I guess I have to find out their personality and decide one who can be congenial with me
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#4 Nicholas Jenkins

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 02:49 PM

Exactly correct. Who do you think will work best WITH you. If their reels look great, then don't stress over it. You have some meetings and figure out which one you'll have the best working relationship with. Problems can sometimes arise when you have someone with a FANTASTIC reel that is a real a-hole in person. Then you get conflicted and the decisions become more difficult. But it sounds like you have a good pool of people from which to choose. :)
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#5 Matthew Buick

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 03:00 PM

I just tend to get a little wary of people that come in and start telling me all about all of the different tech specs for every single piece of equipment they own



Oops! I do that...a lot. :D

Anyway JP, make sure the DP you are considering has as much passion for the story as you do. If he/she doesn't believe in the storyline and in you they may not perform as well.

It will differ between each person, (naturally). :D
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#6 Oliver Ojeil

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 03:09 PM

I am in the same spot as you are. I have been looking at DP reels for the past 2 days, mostly from France and Italy as the agency requested a foreign DP. What I first look at is whether the DP has shot on 35mm or not since the commercials am doing will be shot on this format. In my case, these guys are top notch so they all have 35mm experience and dozens of commercials on their reels. The next thing I look at besides technical quality is story telling abilities. I also look at whether the DP has a previous experience with my subject being. If you're shooting a commercial about a food product for example, you'd better pick a DP who has done food commercials in the past and have a reel solely on food.
It also falls under one's own aesthetic. You might love a certain DP's work and end up working with him when his experience might be much less than another seasoned one with less liking to your aesthetic.
Good luck!

Edited by Oliver S, 11 March 2007 - 03:11 PM.

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#7 JP Dela cruz

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 07:56 PM

I choose one now! and we are going to shoot a project soon
Thank you for your good advice guys
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#8 Josell Ramos

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 07:13 PM

The relationship between DP, director and production designer are the nuts-n-bolts of the film. They have to come together as one. If a link is off, the film could fall into jeopardy, as in pissing off the producers or the gods above and diminishing the rhythm of the crew.

ON hiring a DP, my take is to break it down to your top two or three then take them out for a scene, prep. With this op, you could see how he works and how ALIGNED he is to your creative vision. Ask your self questions: does he start improvising without at least consulting with you, does he get himself out of holes and come out looking nice? is the final look the take?

I once had a DP with a great reel but when it came down to shooting, the guy became thunder. he practically changed the shot list, over-rode my creative vision, and missed 2 crucial shots.

I say when you pick one, have long coffee times, talk about as much as you can and if he doesn't have some kind of track record, test him in a real situation, as mentioned above, that day will save you lost sleep and $$$$.
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#9 Lance Flores

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 07:41 PM

The relationship between DP, director and production designer are the nuts-n-bolts of the film. They have to come together as one. If a link is off, the film could fall into jeopardy, as in pissing off the producers or the gods above and diminishing the rhythm of the crew.

ON hiring a DP, my take is to break it down to your top two or three then take them out for a scene, prep. With this op, you could see how he works and how ALIGNED he is to your creative vision. Ask your self questions: does he start improvising without at least consulting with you, does he get himself out of holes and come out looking nice? is the final look the take?

I once had a DP with a great reel but when it came down to shooting, the guy became thunder. he practically changed the shot list, over-rode my creative vision, and missed 2 crucial shots.

I say when you pick one, have long coffee times, talk about as much as you can and if he doesn't have some kind of track record, test him in a real situation, as mentioned above, that day will save you lost sleep and $$$$.


After the technical and creative skills are to your needs it's personality and trust. If doesn't work the qualifications don't matter. It will be a nightmare . . . just goes for any project collaborative creativity. Take them through a few scenes and see how well they listen. When they describe their interpretative method of shooting the scene see how well you listen. Its always best to look at their finished work and talk with others who've worked with them. Always good to observe from a distance, like an after hours gathering with others or place like this. Nothing like sitting back with your mouth shut and watching others being candid. I try to get recommendations and opinions from others who will be candid as well.
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#10 George Lekovic

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Posted 09 July 2007 - 05:59 PM

Picking best Cenematograher for the project
How do you guys pick your DP?
If some of them have similar experiences and suit for the project but still have to pick only one then what should I ask them to find right one?

Anyone can share me tips how you pick your DP?
What do you ask when you conduct an interview?


I would like to add that if your project is a feature film, you want to find somebody with feature film experience, somebody who can give you constant output throughout the whole shoot (sometimes several weeks or months).

I like to say that that it is not your best shot that will get you hired again, but your worst shot. A bad set-up can do more damage to a project than a great set-up can improve upon.

These are just few thoughts, and this presumes that you have seen the reels, found the one that suits the mood, feel comfortable communicating with the person, etc...
Consistency is something that comes with experience. A lot of young DPs will go after that one great shot.

Good luck.
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#11 Jaime Toruno

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Posted 10 July 2007 - 06:44 AM

Pick the one who owns the camera...lol :lol:
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#12 Chris Keth

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 02:38 PM

Pick the one who owns the camera...lol :lol:


Terrible idea, in many cases. I've met a lot of people who dumped a ton of money on equipment because they are shitty DPs.

If someone has their own package, cool. I wouldn't advertise a job like that, though.
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#13 Eric Moers

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 04:39 PM

It's interesting to watch a DP's reel. Although they may give some idea of the images captured by that DP, to me reels are nothing more than music videos. Some scenes in a reel may look awful and be lit horribly, but perhaps in the context of the entire film, that scene HAD to look a certain way. Also, the way some reels are cut and musically scored, doesn't always work in the context of the actual film. I personally do not like judging too much on reels, and would rather meet with the people to see if a DP and myself can connect, professionally and personally. Meet with as many people as you can, if not for the learning experience. Talk with them about technical aspects of the film, narrative elements, sound, everything. Express your vision, and see if they pick up on the creativity and have some unique ideas of their own. Another interesting thing I like doing with DP's I meet and interview with, is to discuss other films. We talk sometimes for hours just about older films, styles, what we like, what he hates and I love, or the other way around; sometimes you can get an idea of what stimulates them. Just some food for thought. Best of luck!
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Visual Products

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Gamma Ray Digital Inc

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