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Becoming a DP


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#1 Kyle Sather

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 11:36 AM

What part of film production should you get into if you eventually want to be a professional DP in the future? What should you know best?
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#2 Alex Hall

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 12:03 PM

What part of film production should you get into if you eventually want to be a professional DP in the future? What should you know best?


Here is a good topic to look over to answer some of your questions, http://www.cinematog...showtopic=27205
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#3 Marc Shap

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 02:22 PM

What part of film production should you get into if you eventually want to be a professional DP in the future? What should you know best?



You should start out being a DP, your gonna be on low budget productions, but thats how your gonna really learn. The other way would be to come up through lighting or camera, seems most guys come up through electric/gaffing.
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#4 John Holland

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 02:50 PM

Start out as being a Dp and that how the learn .I think that is what you said sorry. WRONG if you want to call yourself a DP its a bit boring but it does help to know what you are doing because after the Director you are the most important person on the set and you cant say err , i learning .
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#5 John Brawley

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 04:27 PM

What part of film production should you get into if you eventually want to be a professional DP in the future? What should you know best?



"Cinematography" means writing with light. Light is your first tool. Start in the electric's department.

jb
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#6 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 05:30 PM

I would buy or borrow a camera and get good at making pretty pictures. There are always bigger and better toys and more and more people to help so learn the basics....principles...and go from there. Also, meeting people and being cool with them is important. So is learning about how others have made pretty pictures so you can rip them off!

Good luck!
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#7 Jesus Sifuentes

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 07:07 PM

start off by doing still 35mm & digital photography. that is a must. you will start getting a sense of your unique perspective of viewing the world. learning the elements of lighting/light is another must.
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#8 Alexander Disenhof

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 07:35 PM

"I would buy or borrow a camera and get good at making pretty pictures."

Making "pretty pictures" isn't usually the job of a cinematographer though. The cinematographer's job is to tell a story through images, sometimes this means making those images UGLY. I would learn all you can about light and composition, and then work on the technical things. Thats what I'm trying at least!

Edited by Alexander Disenhof, 12 February 2008 - 07:37 PM.

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#9 anchorlessfilms

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 12:40 AM

Dive in, make your own films, fu** up even.

I'm always learning. Always.

Read. Read. Read. Read. Read.
Work. Work. Work. Work. Work.

Offer to work under people for free or little pay. Do odd jobs and always pay attention to your surroundings and the techniques that are used.

Edited by Ryan Nethery, 14 February 2008 - 12:41 AM.

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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 01:23 AM

And never be afraid to admit your own shortcomings or ask for help!
You spend a lot of your time, at least I have spent a lot of my time proving myself. Once you prove yourself, not only to others but most importantly, perhaps, to yourself, you can really start to make striking piece; at least as far as my .02 is concerned!


(also never flirt with the producers daughter. . .. :blink: )
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#11 Ricardo Diaz

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 02:17 AM

Before you learn how to light and compose, learn how to tell stories through images. More than anything learn how to tell a story. At the end of the day you are a filmmaker telling stories. If you understand your story and its characters then the lighting and compositions become intuitive. Oh and watch some Storarro it helps in understanding this concept.
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#12 Serge Teulon

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 10:18 AM

The term "DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY" is exactly what it says on the tin.
You are the expert on photography.

Yes, go and take photographs, explore, experience, read, watch as much as you can. Get tech references on films and then watch them. Pause it in a shot and really study what you are seeing.
Ask yourself, what was the DP trying to achieve?

In the meantime whilst you are 'studying', get on set and work the different roles in the camera dept, earn your stripes!! It will not only teach you about the timing and flow of a crew on set but it will also show you what you are naturally good at and need working on.

Hope this helps and good luck!

S
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#13 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 03:25 PM

"I would buy or borrow a camera and get good at making pretty pictures."

Making "pretty pictures" isn't usually the job of a cinematographer though. The cinematographer's job is to tell a story through images, sometimes this means making those images UGLY. I would learn all you can about light and composition, and then work on the technical things. Thats what I'm trying at least!


Duh. Being able to read between the lines is also a valuable skill! :blink:
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#14 Alexander Nikishin

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 03:48 AM

There isn't a "best route" to becoming a Cinematographer IMO.

I personally started out as a Camera Op. and fell into Cinematography from there.

As a Cinematographer, you need to know how to compose shot's well, and light like the devil, or jesus depending on the project.

You should also understand how the lighting and composition used will effect the story and which combination will tell that story best.

Edited by Alexander Nikishin, 26 February 2008 - 03:49 AM.

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#15 Erik Anschicks

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 01:12 AM

I'm still trying to answer your question myself...

If you're looking for a more traditional learn-the-craft type idea, I say go to the electric dept. When you're the one physically setting up and accomplishing the DP's lighting schemes, you'll learn a heck of a lot if you pay attention and always think about WHY (in a photographic sense) you are setting up what you are. Learn the tools of the trade and how to attack certain situations that you will find yourself in at a later time that may seem intimidating. You'll also be a lot more confident when you walk into a location on the scout and get a pretty accurate idea of what you are going to need, and the more you know about the lighting instuments, the more creative you can be.

Also, to be frank, I've found that DP's who have come from the electric dept. tend to get more respect from the crew, simply because they speak that language. As a crewmember, I have, sadly enough, worked with more than a few DP's who were pretty much clueless when it came to the best use of the lighting instruments and the gaffer basically became the DP.
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#16 Paul Maibaum ASC

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 11:04 AM

A distinct advantage to working one?s way up through the camera department with the position of camera operator being the jumping off point to becoming a Director of Photography is that one has the opportunity to work closely with the director and actors in addition to being the eyes of the Director of Photography.
As a Director of Photography one is frequently called upon to ?help? the director with blocking, screen direction and camera movement. The Director of Photography relies in varying degrees upon his/her camera operator to contribute to this effort. As the camera operator it behooves one to be ?right there? when such decisions are made because the camera operator is the one who executes these decisions. There is also the trickle down of this information, from camera operator and then to the 1st assistant who must be aware of where the camera is relative to the actors at all times. It is there that one learns not only the ?where? the ?what? and the ?how?, but more importantly, one needs to know the ?why? in order to effectively move up the ladder.
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#17 Diana Matos

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 10:27 PM

Work and study. That applies to us all.

But how is the road to becoming a DoP different for a woman cinematographer?
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#18 Ram Shani

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 01:51 AM

IF YOU WANT TO SHOOT SHOOT DON'T TALLK :)

i come from lighting i was lighting director for TV shows then i left the studio to become gaffer then i went to film school to become a DP but still learning every day.

i found this form back at 1999 and all the members here were my best teachers and still are
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#19 Gus Sacks

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 12:30 AM

I think most have said it already: Work. Get out there and see how good filmmakers produce good films. Doesn't necessarily mean you have to be the DP in that sitation; it's actually better to be able to sit back and take notes (I've ACd for some really good DPs, and know a lot of ACs who work with me that have learned a lot from other DPs they work for...). It's asking questions, reading every single thing about everything concerning lighting and cameras, optics... shop talk. Until you don't have to think about why you'd rate 5218 at 320 with an 85 on, you need to hit the books.

Shoot stock tests on short ends. I have a Bolex I shoot tests on for projects just so I know I'm going in with the right ideas - not very expensive at all, especially if the production's up for picking up the tab. Pick up a copy of Kodak's Look Manager System... learn what filters and post-processes could do to imagery.

Watching films, traveling (very important), and just generally taking in what's going on around you in life is important. The way sunlight falls in your window at different times of day is as much education as a seminar. Or a class with Larry, for that matter, hah...

Yes, starting out you'll do a lot of free jobs, but sooner or later (took me about 9 months of actively shooting while assisting and teching for money) you'll see the day rates start coming in.

I guess, my point in total is to just keep busy. I've never met a lazy DP. At least a good one.
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#20 Sam Kim

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 06:07 PM

all excellent advice. my two cents is just be a constant learner, know your end goal, and before you realize it, while you're on the journey you'll be a dp before you even realize you are. see the light.
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