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How do you become a cinematographer?


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#1 Daan Werdefroy

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 10:32 AM

Hi, this is my first post, so don't kill me if this is the wrong sub-forum to post this. :ph34r:


I'm currently still in filmschool in Belgium and in the last couple of months I've taken a great intrest in DOP's. To be honest, this is becoming somewhat of a direction my life could evolve into.
Thing is, I honestly don't know how to approach this.

How did you guys ended up being a DOP? Did you studied for this? What kind of jobs did you in order to become a DOP?

Also, did you move from a smaller country to a bigger one (such als UK or US) to be a better filmmaker? Because I don't see a future in Belgium: budget's allways small and originality isn't to big in mainstream here. And well, Indie ,doesn't seem to exist here

Thanks in advance
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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 12:24 PM

Send a PM to a guy named Phil Rhodes, he'll be happy to advise you :D

R,
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 12:39 PM

How did you guys ended up being a DOP? Did you studied for this? What kind of jobs did you in order to become a DOP?


I made my own short films since I was a teenager, went to film school when I was 26, shot everyone else's short films, graduated, started shooting low-budget features as a DP.
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#4 Daniel Carruthers

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 02:14 PM

My story is simular to davids, but Im still waiting for my big break.
Im shooting lots of indies. Im gonna shoot a short today,and I got a indie feature planned for july
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#5 Alexander Joyce

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 02:38 PM

My first camera was a Kelloggs cornflakes box... don't ask :rolleyes:
Always had an interest in photography and shot heaps on my dad's old Pentax. Finally bought me my own Nikon when I was 13 or something. Can't remember. Did arts and crafts all through secondary school, but ended up skipping most of school to do photography cause they kept forcing us to paint.
Started working as an assistant to a stills phtographer who was a good friend of my parents. Whent to a filmschool when I was 19 as I had gradually developed a more keen interest in cinematography. Got some work in the industry as a PA. Got to know some people(note: contacts, contacts, contacts! most important thing ever). Started shooting some music videos. Funded mostly all of them myself just to get stuff on my reel. It pretty much went from there.

I don't think the solution is to move to a bigger country. Now if you say there is NO industry where you are then that might not be a good basis to start out on or then again you might be the first one. However I think there must be something in Belgium... Surely all those chocolate factories and breweries produce some ads ;)
Anyways a big city like London or LA might have lots more work, but you'll also be lost among the hordes of people who thought exactly the same as you.
I went to New Zealand for about a year. Good place. It's small, but they get quite a few american jobs there. Place like that might be what you're looking for if Belgium is no fun.
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#6 Matthew Buick

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 03:27 PM

My story is simular to davids, but Im still waiting for my big break.
Im shooting lots of indies. Im gonna shoot a short today,and I got a indie feature planned for july


That seems to be the way things are working out for me. I've got a few shorts in the pipelines. Hopefullt I may get to film school one day. ;)
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#7 Carlos_Martinez

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Posted 12 May 2007 - 11:08 AM

im in the same boat. I graduate in 1 year, Im also trying to work on as many things as i can. Making connecetions here and there and just busting my ass in school. I think an interest in photography and fine art helps along the aspects for becoming a DP. The artist of old yonder were the first ones to experiment with light and directing it upon their subjects. So it can be a good foundation. (I USED TO HATE MUSEUMS) but now i go when ever i can.


WOO CINEMATOGRAPHY.



SIDE NOTE:

im shooting at a swimming pool today for my broadcast motion graphics class. wish me luck its on a roof top and its about 70 degrees my actress is a trooper :)



carlos
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#8 Matthew Buick

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Posted 12 May 2007 - 11:56 AM

Good luck. ;)
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#9 Matthew Buick

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Posted 12 May 2007 - 12:07 PM

Send a PM to a guy named Phil Rhodes, he'll be happy to advise you :D


Daan Werdefroy. Do NOT talk to Phil Rhodes. He's a depressive maniac who'll do his level best to stop from ever trying to accomplish anything. But apart from that he's a nice guy. ;)
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#10 Claudio Miranda ASC

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Posted 12 May 2007 - 07:36 PM

Some people hate the way I started.
I was an stage manager then electrician, then best boy, then gaffer and DOP. Yesterday I got a David Fincher "Longevity Award". David knew me when I was a stage manager in 1985.
Once a year, I am a speaker at USC and seems that everyone wants to be an "instant DP" or "instant director". I chose a long road or the long road chose me.. mainly because I was not sure I wanted to be a DP. While I was gaffing, my girlfriend at the time (who was a producer) asked me would I mind shooting a job... sure what the @#%. I think she was trying to upgrade her boyfriend in the end.
So as a kid I never made my own movie. I never shot the ants on the ground. I was just a kid. I was happy to be a stage manager. I was happy to be an electrician..........
Now I am a happy DP. Just hope the new girlfriend does not want to upgrade me. I do not want to direct.
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#11 Luke Prendergast

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Posted 12 May 2007 - 09:27 PM

Shoot, shoot, shoot on whatever you have - Super 8, VHS, your cellphone, SLR, webcam. The learning of what makes a frame is something you will only achieve by constantly looking at the world around you through a frame. Small, simple films for yourself will teach you as much as a 'proper' production.
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#12 Matt Workman

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 06:27 PM

Now I am a happy DP. Just hope the new girlfriend does not want to upgrade me. I do not want to direct.


Who says director is an upgrade from DP? <_< :P

My advice (naiive nonsense) is to DP as much as you can on the side but work as an AC/Electric on bigger shows to shadow and learn. This is my plan as of now but it sounds like I should try my hand a being a stage manager. :lol:

Cheers,

Matt :ph34r:
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#13 Xavier Plaza

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 06:49 PM

hi


Well, the first time when i wanna be a dop, first i start to see the things different, i don't mean IT like a cliche, i try to transform my eyes and my mind like a camera, then little by little i learn to see and feel the lights, the changes, the temperatures, intensity, differents ambients, moods in all places, day, night, sunset, sunrise, darkness, hightlights... then when the time pass start to develop a INSTINTC when you play with lights.... Of course you have to try and make all the projects as you can (flight hours like a pilot) well you probably have to make good and bad projects, always use them like a stairs and keep it with the good things...
Probably in any moment you want to move to other country and search a big market like US or UK, personaly i recommend if you wanna make film and shoot a lot maybe India or China (of course language :blink: )... well probably US and UK are more comfortable any way

good luck and welcome


ps: i think you start very good because receive advices from DoP like David Mullen and Claudio Miranda... WOW





In spanish:

Bueno la primera vez que senti interes en ser un dop, empece a ver las cosas distintas, no como un cliche sino trate de transformar lentamente mis ojos en una camara, poco a poco fui sintiendo las distintas temperaturas de colores de las luces, los distintos ambientes de los lugares, claros obscuros y poco a poco desarrollando un instinto de jugar con las luces y ambientes, dia noche, amanecer y atardecer... Porsupuesto trata de hacer y de estar en la mayor cantidad de proyectos (horas de vuelo) logico te toparas con proyectos malos y buenos, pero siempre utilizalos como escalones y saca ventaja de participar en cada uno... Probablemnete en algun momento vas a sentir la necesidad de mudarte a un pais con un amyor mercado como US o UK, la verdad te recomendaria si quieres y tienes las ganas de buscar la experiencia de hacer cine, pues la india o china con muy buenas opciones; aunque probalemnete en US o UK sea mas comodo filmar,

suerte y bienvenido


PS, creo que has empezado con pie derecho, ya hubiera querido yo tener dentro mis primeros consejos a David Mullen y Claudio Miranda... WOW :D
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#14 Richard Boddington

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Posted 15 May 2007 - 08:59 PM

WOW!! Claudio, that is some resume and body of work!! Amazing!!

R,
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#15 Matthew Bennett

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Posted 15 May 2007 - 09:13 PM

Claudio's work is incredible. I always use him as the example for budding DP's to say "this is how good you have to be to get work".
Also in Claudio's 'journey' description he forget to tell us about the part where he became a master of light, color, design and lens. That growth to me is a big part of the artist's story... How about it Claudio??
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#16 Claudio Miranda ASC

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 12:40 AM

Claudio's work is incredible. I always use him as the example for budding DP's to say "this is how good you have to be to get work".
Also in Claudio's 'journey' description he forget to tell us about the part where he became a master of light, color, design and lens. That growth to me is a big part of the artist's story... How about it Claudio??

I did work with some great DP's who were really supportive. They still support me to this day. Savides told me not to be afraid to tear down your original plan if another better one presents itself. What is the best way to tell the story? Wolski taught me to pan lights where they are not supposed to be panned. Sometimes you may find something better than the obvious. These are just a few of many I have learned from these two. In the past, I have worked hard for these two and their directors also saw the work I put in and one of them gave me my big break. After shooting for only 6 months, Fincher asked me to gaff Panic Room with another DP. I said that I was shooting only and shortly afterward he gave me a 6 week Nike spot to shoot. That was an amazing ticket to have. When I 1st started shooting my lighting was a mix of everyone else I worked with. After time I made it my own.

The upgrade mentioned earlier was a joke. I am better suited as a DP than a director.
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#17 Richard Boddington

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 12:50 PM

I would hire you to shoot my next feature Claudio. However since you just shot, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, with a reported budget of 150 million. I some how think you're out of my price range.

I do bring in really good Chinese food for craft though, and pizza is banned! :D

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#18 Xavier Plaza

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 02:35 PM

[quote name='Claudio Miranda' date='May 16 2007, 02:40 AM' post='173170']
Wolski taught me to pan lights where they are not supposed to be panned.








Sorry Claudio i can't understand what do you mean with that..., it is an expression "pan lights" or did you mean literally panning lights... thanks



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#19 Claudio Miranda ASC

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 11:29 PM

you may have a 10K aimed at the subject and you realize the look is boring and average. Sometimes taking that light and panning it off somewhere else... the light may bounce or skip off of something else and produce something more beautiful.


Wolski taught me to pan lights where they are not supposed to be panned.

Sorry Claudio i can't understand what do you mean with that..., it is an expression "pan lights" or did you mean literally panning lights... thanks
Xavier Plaza
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#20 Xavier Plaza

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 11:40 PM

Claudio thank you very much for answer my doubt...

good luck
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