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Cinematography and school


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#1 Andy Jaro

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 08:37 PM

Do you absolutely need to go to film school in in order to become a cinematographer? Is it possible to do it the hard way and work up from PA?


I say this because the decision is soon coming. I know a lot about the art and have always been a hands-on learner. I could learn so much more in a week on a movie set then in a semester of school. I've taken in interest in it since I was about 13. I've read many many books, shot many shorts, bought much gear. I thoroughly understand the concepts and have applied them for my own projects. Obviously I'm just a lowly student, though. I love it all so much, it's just I hate the school environment. Everything in society tells you "Go to college or you'll end up homeless." And I don't want either. How did you guys get started?

Thanks!

Edited by Andy Jaro, 05 January 2009 - 08:41 PM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 09:05 PM

If you're only 18, going to college and getting a bachelor's degree isn't such a bad thing in general, not only for expanding your knowledge in a wide range of areas (which will make you a more well-rounded citizen and artist) but it can help with applying for certain jobs over the years, especially if the film industry career doesn't pan out.

No, it's not essential for becoming a cinematographer, though my career advanced at first because of industry connections I formed at film school. It's a useful intermediate stage, especially if you are a film student in a production friendly city.

I went to film school when I was 26, as a Master's Degree student, and got out at 29. But I had been shooting my own stuff since I was 15 and already knew a lot about shooting at 26 a decade later, so film school wasn't so much about me learning about filmmaking as it was a time for me to figure out just how to enter the professional world. I felt a little bit lost before that, even though I had actually shot some minor stuff for pay before film school.

In general, though, I'm not so keen on 18 year olds becoming professional filmmakers without some life experience and academic background behind them, and some maturity, but I'm sure some 18 year olds here will disagree... ;)

The appeal of college isn't so much about film training, it's about learning in general -- about literature, anthropology, history, languages, sciences, whatever. That stuff will enrich the rest of your life, both while you are making films and definitely when you are not making films. I have an English Lit BA degree from UCLA which I cherish very much, perhaps more than my Masters in film.
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#3 Marcus Joseph

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 06:38 PM

If you're only 18, going to college and getting a bachelor's degree isn't such a bad thing in general, not only for expanding your knowledge in a wide range of areas (which will make you a more well-rounded citizen and artist) but it can help with applying for certain jobs over the years, especially if the film industry career doesn't pan out.

No, it's not essential for becoming a cinematographer, though my career advanced at first because of industry connections I formed at film school. It's a useful intermediate stage, especially if you are a film student in a production friendly city.

I went to film school when I was 26, as a Master's Degree student, and got out at 29. But I had been shooting my own stuff since I was 15 and already knew a lot about shooting at 26 a decade later, so film school wasn't so much about me learning about filmmaking as it was a time for me to figure out just how to enter the professional world. I felt a little bit lost before that, even though I had actually shot some minor stuff for pay before film school.

In general, though, I'm not so keen on 18 year olds becoming professional filmmakers without some life experience and academic background behind them, and some maturity, but I'm sure some 18 year olds here will disagree... ;)

The appeal of college isn't so much about film training, it's about learning in general -- about literature, anthropology, history, languages, sciences, whatever. That stuff will enrich the rest of your life, both while you are making films and definitely when you are not making films. I have an English Lit BA degree from UCLA which I cherish very much, perhaps more than my Masters in film.

That conjures up some pretty fair points, David.

I recently watched some of your work and liked it very much so, it appealed to me, and if you say that your career began from connections you made at film school, then that seems like a logical choice to go by. I have a similar concern like Andy to whether or not I should attend a film school (which, if going to some of the best that would likely graduate successful students would mean travelling a fair way and paying quite a bit) to work as a DP or working my way up in the biz. I guess I have a bit more time to make such a decision though.

But a curious question, when you began working on studio bigger budgeted films, how did you score such jobs?

Thanks!
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The Slider

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Wooden Camera