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Hello All, Advice please.


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#1 Thomas Kretschmer

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 02:23 PM

Hello all the good people of this forum.

Having reached my thirties and bored to tears with my job, life etc

I'm seeking a drastic career change, as a long time lover of the arts and film in particular cinematography i hoped that i would be able to receive some advice from all you people.

So if anybody could answer the following it would be very much appreciated.

Is there a generally accepted, well trodden path to becoming a cinematogrpher?
What do you think of the chances of someone entering the field at this late stage with no relevant qualifications?
Do the people who do it love it?

I think thats it for now but probably have lots more questions.

Any replies would be greatly appreciated.

Thankyou in advance.

Regards

Thomas Kretschmer
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#2 Nate Downes

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 02:49 PM

Is there a generally accepted, well trodden path to becoming a cinematogrpher?

No, ask 100 Cinematographers and you'll get 110 answers. That being said, the main ways to become one is to work hard and be helpful.

What do you think of the chances of someone entering the field at this late stage with no relevant qualifications?

Do you have a functioning eye? Can you talk and explain yourself to others? That's a good start. The rest you can learn.

Do the people who do it love it?

Wouldn't do anything else in the world.
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#3 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 02:52 PM

Thomas,

I'm no authority on Cinematography but I am a guy who decided to get into filmmaking older than normal (mid 20s) and I'll tell you...if you desire strongly to get into it, you need to do it. Don't listen to people who tell you that you have to start young or have to go to film school, or any of that. Those things are all good in their own right but all that is really required to start is to have a passion for filmmaking that you just can't suppress no matter how hard you try. That's what I felt and I even tried to force myself into "doing something more realistic." I have managed retail/restaurants, taught college, and even designed software but I still couldn't quench my desire to make films. So I decided to really disappoint my family and pursue this career as a Director. I have nothing I have done that is worthy of getting me an IMDB page, but I feel I am successful...why? Because I LOVE what I'm doing. I could care less if I don't make money. I have talked to many people on this board and others. Some are inspiring to me because they would be doing this very thing even if they didn't make crap. Others I feel are just in it for money and prestige, which is fine, but I don't think that alone would be rewarding enough for me. If this is really what you want to do, and you're doing it for the right reason, then pursue it...you will feel successful once you get on your first project.

Good Luck to you.

PS- As far as becoming a Cinematographer, you have a great resource in this site...you can learn everything you could in film school and more by listening to some of the greats here like David Mullen, Brian Dyzak, Stephen Williams, etc and by going out and shooting and learning hands-on.
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#4 Bruce Greene

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 04:36 PM

Hello all the good people of this forum.

Having reached my thirties and bored to tears with my job, life etc

I'm seeking a drastic career change, as a long time lover of the arts and film in particular cinematography i hoped that i would be able to receive some advice from all you people.

So if anybody could answer the following it would be very much appreciated.

Is there a generally accepted, well trodden path to becoming a cinematogrpher?
What do you think of the chances of someone entering the field at this late stage with no relevant qualifications?
Do the people who do it love it?

I think thats it for now but probably have lots more questions.

Any replies would be greatly appreciated.

Thankyou in advance.

Regards

Thomas Kretschmer


Hi Thomas,

Anything is possible. It will be however very difficult, even if you were 20 years old. There is no easy way unless you have a lot of money to produce your own films and hire yourself :)

I don't know if my story is typical, but I started when I was 23 years old, went to a film school for a year (AFI) and worked for free until I learned enough skills that someone would pay me for work. That took about a year or so and then I was working as a 2nd assistant camera person. Even then, it took me about 2 years before I started to make enough money in the movies to support myself. I grew tired of camera assistant rather quickly and a friend suggested that we invest (then new specialty) in a Steadicam together. There were so few Steadicam operators at the time that I was able to establish a Steadicam career with very little experience. After 20 years of operating, I'm now a director of photography and have married and raised a family with my income from the film business.

So I guess my advice is that if you really want to do this then you must have the attitude that nothing can stop you and that you will be prepared to make little or no money for a prolonged period (possibly years). In that time you will learn the skills that will make you valuable to filmmakers and hopefully meet people who will remember your great work attitude and skills and then you're on your way. I have heard more than one established cinematographer give the advice that to become a cinematographer, you should find a wife with a good job to support you for about a decade.

Do the people who do it love it? I guess I'll put it this way: A long time ago :) I packed my things and drove across the country to LA to follow the same dream as you have. I figured, that I'm young, and will start at the bottom of any profession I choose. Why not try filmmaking? I can start at the bottom of filmmaking just as easily as the bottom of any business.

This long journey has taken me to where I am now, sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Kiev, Ukraine having just completed my biggest adventure, working as Director of Photography on a Russian theatrical feature filmed in Georgia (the country, not the state) and having the unique experience of being the only non Russian on the cast or crew. So yes, I really love it and I can't think of any other occupation that would have provided this kind of adventure and my new friends from the other side of the globe. Pretty cool I think, but it's a long journey for me and it's not like just applying for a job at a company. It's more like running away to join the circus.

Best of luck to you!
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Technodolly

Visual Products

Glidecam

Willys Widgets

Tai Audio

Metropolis Post

rebotnix Technologies

Abel Cine

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Wooden Camera

Rig Wheels Passport

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Paralinx LLC

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Opal

CineLab