Looking for a change
Posted 26 February 2009 - 01:15 PM
Posted 26 February 2009 - 05:43 PM
Hello all, I am new to this site. Just to give you a little bit of background on me, I currently work in the TV news industry as a photojournalist for the past 7 years. I have worked at 3 stations and am currently a chief photographer in a top 50 market. Won several awards, including Photo of the year and several Emmy nominations. I am looking for a new challenge and am interested in Cinematography. I have a love of storytelling that I have developed over the years and want to expand my horizons further. I know this business, much like the TV business, is all about contacts. I am looking for any advice on what I can expect on a transition into film. Also, I live in Memphis and if anybody knows of any projects going on, I would love to check them out.
Sounds like my story. I've worked in news for years, freelance and DoP on films. I can say being on set is a lot more fun than doing a Cluster F. presser day in and day out.
Expect longer hours, expect to work harder to find work, expect not to get paid that much, expect to have to string for news and freelance to make by. Like you said build those conects to the film industry.
I would say though that you might be ahead of the game, depending on how you attack your job as a photog. Some photogs are journalists more than photographers, and some visa versa. I was always the photographer more than a photojournalist. meaning I couldn't care less what the soundbites were, or the writting of the script, that I left in reporters hands. To me it was about getting the shots that told the same or parallel story without words. If thats you then camera movement and light will be your best asset. If your the former, then story and charecter will be your strong suite (and of course you know how to support that with the lens)
I think years of 8 hour days shooting news will give you a good sense of the lens and how light works. You may or may not have put it all together yet. Are you a photog who endlessly repeats the montra 'zoom with your feet?' if so then try something new, because in film the shot size and focal lengths often have nothing to do with each other. You can do a close up on a wide lens and wide shot on a tight lens, just depends how you want the image to render. But I figure if your leaning towards film you've likely already shot a short or two, and have been trying new stuff all the time with your news job. I spent a half decade selfishly and unabashedly using the news to experiment. If you shoot every interview the same way then try something crazy. Seriously. You aren't doing it right if your ND doesn't come to you every now and then asking what the hell you were thinking with an interview or shot.
Pay very close attention to the manutia of the light in a room and how it works with your image. Got a toplight? Turn it off, cut the chord. Force yourself to walk into a room and find the light. If you can look at a window, and know how light is hitting the room and where the good light is, you will be much better off when you must tell your gaffer and key grip how to recreate that light. Also forget everything you may have learned at an NPPA workshop. Often in tv shadows and contrast are frowned uppon. In film contrast is everything. Forget the two omnis at 45% with tough spun, forget the reporter sandwich. Look at images with good lighting, figure out what you like about them and learn how to create an image with seperation and light. By now you will likely have a good sense of how you like to compose a shot, so just go with instinct on that.
You may have done/are doing any or all of those things, but thats what helped me. When I was making news I was really thinking if this were a no budget short film, how would i shoot it. Work in news with that attitude (hey your CP, whos gonna question you) and you will get the chops up.
Then shoot a bunch of short films and no budget projects to get your reel and contacts up.