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I need some advice on high school.


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#1 Trynda Adair

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 09:04 PM

Ok, well I'm still in high school and I want to be a cinematographer when I graduate, but i'm not sure if i am taking the right courses. Right now I am majoring with Visual Communications. (sorry about the spelling) So I'm taking photography, graphic arts, and advertising arts. :unsure: Am I doing the right things???
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#2 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 01:26 AM

For high school, that's pretty much all you can do because that's about all they offer. I would also get involved with the drama department as a tech. You will learn a bit about lighting and lighting design as well as gels. There will be differences between heatrical lighting and movie lighting but it will still be helpful at this stage.

I would also offer to film or video tape every single performance. Play with the camera on manual settings and read. You'll learn a lot about focus, depth of field, f stops, composition, editing, how the light effects a scene and the actors in it, ect. Get your our little movie camera, 16mm non-reflex Bell and Howell 240 or something similar (because they're cheap, REAL cheap under a hundred buck sometimes under 50 with shipping and you'll HAVE to learn how to set your lenses with a light meter and measuring tape because you can't see directly through the camera lens, you look through a viewfinder that's at this side of the camera in what's called a parallax view......look it up.) then save up your pennies and go out and shoot some stuff on your own. (You also have to be careful because film is not re-usable like video tape so you have to check everything and make sure it's right before you shoot or you will be waisting your money. Best training there is!) Sam Fuller's first camera was a Filmo. Steve Spielberg's what his dad's super 8.

What I would also highly recommend is that you do a LOT of studying on your own. Read every book you can find and visit as many film making forums as you can. If you plan to be a cinematographer, you're doing what you can in high school, however, IF you're planning on becoming a film maker, you may also want to look at taking creative writing and drama classes to learn a little about story structure and plot. There a lot of stuff here in this forum. search and read it. Ask a lot of questions that's how you learn. Also this is a professional forum, you have to use your real name as per the rules like we all do.
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#3 Andrew Koch

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 01:59 AM

I would recommend getting a 35mm SLR film camera (not digital) and shoot black and white reversal film (AKA "Slide Film). Get a lightmeter and learn how to use it with your camera. Write down all of your exposure info when you take each shot (F-Stop, Lens, Shutter Speed, distance to subject, contrast ratio, etc...) Get these developed and view them in a slide projector (I'm sure you could use one at school). This will help you get better at exposure, because B&W Slide film has very little room for error, so mistakes will be obvious and you will learn from them. If you have a zoom lens, take a picture of a person on a wide lens with the camera close enough to make it a close up. Zoom in half way and back the camera up until have the same shot size as before. Zoom all the way in and back the camera further until you have the same shot size again. All three photos will have the same shot sizes but you will see how different focal lengths either compress space or expand it. Go to the "Books" Link at the top of the page and check out some of the books on there. I think a good starting point might be Cinematography by Kris Malkiewicz and M. David Mullen, ASC. Blaine Brown's Cinematography book is pretty good too.

Try to watch a lot of movies, from all different countries and eras. One of my pet peeves with SOME of the young filmmakers out there is that their knowledge of movies only dates back 20, maybe thirty years. Look at films from all the way back as well as the new stuff. If I were a teacher, I would give out this homework assignment early on. Pick 3 cinematographers whose work you admire. One from the earlier days (Like the 40s or earlier), One from the 60s and 70s, and one from the last 30 years or so. Find out what they shot. Describe what you like about the cinematography in these movies.

Ask lots of questions. Also, be resourceful in finding answers. You're already on the right track by posting on this forum, just make sure you go to "my controls" up top and change your screenname to your First and Last name.
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Metropolis Post

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