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How often does a cinematographer travel?


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#1 Philz

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 12:46 PM

Hello,

I am curious how often cinematographers travel specific to motion films? Would it be too hard with a family? Thanks.
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#2 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 01:06 PM

Everyone's experience will be different. Some travel a lot consistently while others not so much. Mostly, the travel is dependent on the people you know who hire you and if the projects require travel. So while there are likely extremes, the likely summary is that there is travel at times and none at others.

That said, adding in "obligations" where you live, be they family, pets, friends, etc. may influence someone's decisions regarding whether or not he/she wishes to travel and for how long they are willing to be gone. Some crew are okay with leaving "home" for months on end. Some don't want to ever travel. Some crew are able to fly their families/spouses/significant others to the location for the duration or for visits. Some go away for days, weeks, or months without being able to go back for visits or having visits from spouses/kids/family from home.

Speaking of that, sometimes it is BETTER to be on location than to work at home. Why? Because when you're on location, you're typically being paid per diem and working long hours and that extra sixth day. You're also being driven to and from work by Transpo. When you're at home, you have to drive yourself to and from work (your gas) often times when very tired, and you're still working the long hours with variable call and wrap times so you won't see your family anyway. And when you do, you're too tired to really do anything with them.

The decision to go somewhere can be made because of pure necessity... you just can't afford NOT to take a well-paying job even though it will be someplace else. If the wife/kids are okay with it, then you go. Or if they're not, then you turn it down and try to find something close to home. Being away doesn't have to mean out of touch. The internet, phones, webcams, real mail are ways that all travelers stay in the lives of those who care about them.


This is one of the major issues that most books, websites, and film schools fail to discuss. Filmmaking is fun and is an art, but it is also a LIFESTYLE choice. Choosing life in the industry can mean not having steady work and it can mean having so much work that you don't see your family at all even when you're home (not on location). Learning how to frame a shot, how to light a set, and make a movie is of course important, but knowing how LIFE will be is equally important as it can and will effect the kind of opportunities you agree to or turn away. Those decisions in turn will affect the kind of career you have and the job you ultimately get, the projects you get to put on your resume, and the money you have in your bank account.

It's all about priorities. Is family more important to you than working on a movie that will mean being away from that family for six months? Can you put off having a family/spouse until your career is established? Could you walk away from the career if it is negatively affecting your family and obligations at home? Can you balance the two? Everyone has different answers to those questions and only you can decide what is right for you and the kind of life you want to pursue.
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#3 Stephen Williams

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 01:14 PM

Hello,

I am curious how often cinematographers travel specific to motion films? Would it be too hard with a family? Thanks.


Hi,

At times I travel non stop, 10 planes in 6 days is my busiest week this year. It's the hours you work when busy could be hard on a family.

Stephen
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#4 Philz

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 01:24 PM

Thank you for that detailed response! It helped me plenty.
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#5 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 02:17 PM

I forgot to add mine! :)

I used to travel as an AC a lot... a month on location then back to LA for the studio work. Then it was a lot of local LA work when features left and episodics took over.

In my Video/marketing/corporate career, I tend to travel a little more. At the end of 2006, I spent two solid months traveling across Europe. Came back to LA for about three weeks or so, then spent about six weeks in the Middle East. Got back to LA for a month or so then spent three solid months in Prague on a feature. Got back from that and was in Chicago for a week or so. Had a couple months in LA after that then went to China for a couple of weeks at the end of last year. Spent the holidays in LA then was in Washington DC for a couple of weeks in January on a feature. After that, it has mostly been all in town with just a couple of quick trips here and there.

It's just random. I'm constantly asked by friends and family when my next trip will be and I always have to tell them that I usually don't know until just before it happens.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 02:29 PM

"redshock", please go to My Controls and edit your Display Name to a real first and last name, as per the forum rules stated at the top when you registered to use this site. Thanks.
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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 02:29 PM

So far I havn't traveled much; but I'm a very small fish I realize. However, this Yr, I'll be in Rome end of this week for 3 days, then Munich for 1 day in November, and then Senegal in January for 2 weeks.
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#8 Mike Simpson

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 08:15 PM

Ive spent about 2 months in a different country 3 times this year. Been crazy for traveling; I feel like I'm gone more than I'm home. I imagine I would feel pretty guilty or at least bad if I had a family.
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#9 Brendan Fish

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 11:36 AM

Ive spent about 2 months in a different country 3 times this year. Been crazy for traveling; I feel like I'm gone more than I'm home. I imagine I would feel pretty guilty or at least bad if I had a family.


Hi, this is actually my first post. So here go's

I have to agrea with Mike, if you are young with no major family commitments, like me, then its far easier to say yes to those jobs that will take you away from home for weeks or months at a time. So far this year i have spent 4 months in Europe, then back to South Africa for a month then it was travelling for a month into Africa.

Sometimes its great to get away from home because its an oppertunity to see the world, and its places of the world that most people never get to see, and that you would most likely never see yourself and still get paid to be there.

Thanks
Brendan
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#10 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 02:25 PM

Depending on where you are in your career and what type of projects one shoots, it can be a lot of travel. For myself, where it's probably split 50/50 between commercials and music videos, it's pretty much travel for most of the commercials.

Lots of European productions shoot either in eastern Europe, South Africa or Argentina or Chile in the winter months. Or USA. I've shot at least 3 jobs in Los Angeles this year. I travel abroad anywhere from 1-3 times a month. So unless you have a partner who understands this business, it can be hard. But at least on commercials, you're not gone that long.
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Visual Products

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Rig Wheels Passport

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