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Pilot Cinematography


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#1 Bruce Southerland

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 11:09 PM

When & why did the practice of a Cinematographer shooting only the pilot of a television series come about?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 11:46 PM

When & why did the practice of a Cinematographer shooting only the pilot of a television series come about?


There is no "practice" of only letting the cinematographer shoot the pilot. For example I shot the pilot to CBS's "The Good Wife" and was offered the series once it got picked-up, but I did not feel like working away from home for six months.

The thing is that not every pilot is picked-up, and there are a number of months between the time the pilot is shot and when the series starts shooting, during which the DP of the pilot may have taken other work. He's not going to hold off on taking work on the hopes that the pilot is picked up for series.

Now sometimes the network wants to change the look of the show between the pilot and the series and changes the DP as part of that decision.

Sometimes the DP is offered the series and turns it down, for various reasons. The DP of the pilot for "United States of Tara" turned down the series, which is why I was interviewed for it. Some DP's prefer just doing pilots where they can set the look of the show, rather than the series where they become the slave to maintaining the look of the show.

Sometimes when the look of the pilot was very extreme, and the same DP shoots the series, within a few episodes, the networks want to tone down the look and make it more conventional, and the original DP decides to move on rather than make the change.

So there are lots of reasons why the DP of the pilot may not be the DP of the series, not to mention that the pilot is sometimes shot in an entirely different city than the series, which may affect whether the DP does both.
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#3 John Sprung

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 01:21 AM

Pilots have a bigger budget and longer schedule than an episode of the series in many cases. In the past, it was common to hire a big name feature DP for a pilot, knowing full well that the series budget wasn't big enough to keep him.





-- J.S.
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#4 Bruce Southerland

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 06:26 PM

When & why did the practice of a Cinematographer shooting only the pilot of a television series come about?

Thanks Much!
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Rig Wheels Passport

Aerial Filmworks

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