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Blog on why you don't always need a DP on a feature


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#1 Karel Bata

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 03:20 AM

"It sometimes seems the art of 'painting with light' requires membership of a secret circle in which few ever devulge their secrets. Or so I thought after working with several different Directors of Photography who seemed disinclined to describe in simple or practical terms how they light a scene. But I later discovered that it looks far more complex than it is.

"Because we could not afford to have a DoP on set for the whole of production we only employed one for key shoot dates, and for other sections of the shoot, the assistant director and myself lit everything ourselves."


http://bit.ly/noDPhere

:lol:

Any one feel like posting a response in there..?
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#2 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 04:19 AM

Any one feel like posting a response in there..?


Why bother? :-)
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#3 Garion Grant

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 07:25 AM

Why bother? :-)


I agree with you steven.
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#4 Freya Black

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 11:09 AM

O.M.G. and I thought I was really embarressed about Tiger Aspects "The Deep".

Another winning moment for the UK's cottage industry.

Talk about getting high on your own supply!!!

I feel so bad for Anna Carrington, the D.P. on that film who on the occasions I have had to meet her, seemed really nice. That seems to be bourne out by the fact she apparently worked for free on about half the shooting days. No good deed goes unpunished eh! :(

How nasty can you get! :(

love

Freya
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#5 Freya Black

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 11:19 AM

"ND (Neutral density -good for blocking
sunlight coming in through windows)"


Hot money saving tip! Don't spend your scarce budget on expensive ND gels, just use curtains! It's a little known fact but if you can track down some really thick blackout style curtains, they can block the light even better than ND gels! Check out your nearest charity shop for old curtains or try experimenting with what you have around the house!

If the curtains still aren't blocking all the light, try getting some thick cardboard from old cardboard boxes from the supermarket. Tape it flat to the windows behined your curtains and voila!

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 12 August 2010 - 11:20 AM.

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#6 John Holland

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 11:30 AM

Freya Anna is very nice but a DoP i have my doubts i am not being nasty just the hard horrible world we try to work in.
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#7 Freya Black

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 12:23 PM

Freya Anna is very nice but a DoP i have my doubts i am not being nasty just the hard horrible world we try to work in.


I'm aware she might not have loads of experience in that position but she was the DoP on that film and it seems kind of mean and off to diminish her contribution in the way that was done.

Also everyone has to start somewhere and given the state of things in the UK it's hard for people to get any real experience.

I know this is a contentious thing, a bit like when people call themselves artists but personally I'm inclined to see these things as job titles. Just as plumber and joiner are job titles. Whether you are a good plumber or a good joiner is another matter of course. I think these things come with experience tho.

Lastly I've not seen any of Anna's work, but one of the things that I love about the state of cinematography in the UK is it doesn't take much to approach the standard of work you see on the television here. Personally I revel as I watch it sink to my level. ;) As these things continue apace, you have to reasses what the term DoP means over here anymore? Does it mean the same thing as it does in Hollywood?

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#8 John Holland

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 12:57 PM

Dop is a term i dont use i have always stuck to Lighting Cameraman . It suits qhat we do in this country .
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#9 Freya Black

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 01:16 PM

Dop is a term i dont use i have always stuck to Lighting Cameraman . It suits qhat we do in this country .


Well lighting cameraMAN wouldn't fit Anna too well! ;)

Actually I think even that title will become out of step. Things are shifting heavily in the UK and I expect the future to bring more big changes. In some respects we are ahead of the curve presently.

In a short time I expect we will need to think of a new title altogether.

Of course there is an obvious problem however when you want to do some work for someone who is trying to indulge their fantasy of being a Hollywood filmmaker or something.

love

Freya
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#10 John Holland

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 01:37 PM

Ok Freya. Person then ? Cinematographer then suits me .
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#11 Karel Bata

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 01:41 PM

OMG! What nasty can of worms have I opened here..?
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#12 Freya Black

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 01:46 PM

Ok Freya. Person then ? Cinematographer then suits me .


Hate sticking person in those situations! Too many sylables and seems like a codge (which it is of course but all the same!) It's the coke vs pepsi thing.

But thats not why I was meaning we would need a new term anyway, more to do with shifts taking place in the moving image sector here!

You are right tho, cinematographer=great term. :)

Still think people will need a term for something less cinematic in nature. Perhaps just "camera". I guess people will work it out as the shifts come into play.

love

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#13 Freya Black

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 01:53 PM

OMG! What nasty can of worms have I opened here..?


Not yr fault, just the way it is! It has it's funny side too if you gets tickled by the ridiculous! :)

Anyway me and John have long since moved on to what label we are going to give people in the future which I think is a more interesting subject! :)

I like thinking about the future!

love

Freya
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#14 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 02:54 PM

I think the new word should be "awesome," as in "Oh Adrian, well he was the Awesome on that film."

anyone care to 2nd.

In terms of the whole posting... well... sometimes you don't get a special DoP... because you're broke (and sometimes I've had to be a director) these things happen.. but to think that some folks would use a DoP for part of their movie and then shoot on their own, hoping it'll cut well.. well.. i suppose we'll have to see.
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#15 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 03:15 PM

Well lighting cameraMAN wouldn't fit Anna too well! ;)

Actually I think even that title will become out of step. Things are shifting heavily in the UK and I expect the future to bring more big changes. In some respects we are ahead of the curve presently.

In a short time I expect we will need to think of a new title altogether.

Of course there is an obvious problem however when you want to do some work for someone who is trying to indulge their fantasy of being a Hollywood filmmaker or something.

love

Freya




I'm reading this with interest because in the past week I changed my description to "other". I wanted to put "cinematographer" but that option isn't available.

Yes, there have been many call sheets on which I'm listed as Director of Photography. I have thought for a long time however that, as much as I like
that title, it has the potential to take away somewhat from the credit due to the director.

If you consider that a spectrum of directors has some who are extremely skilled in motion picture photography at one end and at the other end those
who have never used a camera, with a mixture in between, then there will be times when the DP is indeed the director of photography and other
times when that term is simply inaccurate.

Most DPs probably know more about motion picture photography than do the directors for whom they work. Sometimes you'll work for a director who
is a former DP, perhaps one who even has more experience. What is meant however by the word "director" in this title? Is it consistent from film to film?

I have read many descriptions of the DP job that describe him/her as choosing the composition of shots, what focal lengths are used,
lighting, any of the things for which we are typically responsible. Often that is because we are hired because we can offer those
choices as options to the film director as a way to best achieve making that film. I think though that there is a trend to portray the DP
position as one that has a certain autonomy, as if it has or should have a certain veto power over "dumb" directors who aren't savvy enough
to okay a wise DP's recommendations.

Sometimes that would be nice wouldn't it? Doesn't everybody have an experience in which everything about a film would have been better
if not for the self-sabotaging director? Sometimes a DP will serve the story with beautiful, unobtrusive framing and lighting and camerawork
that serves the story best while being far less showy than might have been tempting for the DP, and the director will apply a filter in post or
something that, by most people's accounts, does a disservice to the movie? That's the way that the business works but it is frustrating when a DP, working
for a hack director, does the right thing and that stuff happens. You hear DPs who wonder if they should have been less ethical and just have shot
something that would have been great for the reel although maybe not for that film but might not have been trashed either.

There have been some discussions in other threads on here about the rights of DPs. Some people think that a DP should have certain rights
to protect the work that was done, the "my name is on it" argument. It is a drag when somebody takes your beautiful work and does awful things
to it but the director of photography is not the director of the film (unless of course he or she is doing both jobs.) If the director of photography
really were the director of photography, then many production/storytellng choices would be made differently,

I like the term cinematographer for me. I am not suggesting that anybody who goes by DP should change that for themselves. It is a generally good description
and for many it may be entirely accurate. It is certainly an industry term that most people understand right away and an essential one in the way
that work is done now.

In addition to that spectrum of directors that I offered, there certainly is a similar spectrum of DPs. There are some who came up through
the camera department, some who were grip/electric, some who were still photographers first, some who do great camerawork but are
not as adept at lighting. You know how productions will put an experienced DP with a first time director? There certainly are times when
an experienced gaffer will be hired to work with a hotshot DP, one who is good in many ways and will do a good job, but is going to need
the greater lighting skills of that gaffer to keep from falling short.

DP is a term that is employed by a lot of extremely different people. It's kind of like how there are black belts in Karate who have been
in martial arts for twenty years and are big, strong and fast and there are ten year old kids who earn a black belt at a school that gives black belts
to ten year olds who can satisfy certain exams.

I like the term "lighting camera...". It is kind of tough to use until some language solution evolves that works
for everybody as far as the "man/woman" part of it. I do know somebody who adopted the lighting cameraman
description twenty years ago and has been extremely successful with it but there is a difference between how he
employs it here and how I understand it to be used in the UK.

Let me ask if you are a DP and sometime direct a film but you aren't shooting it. Maybe you'd like to DP it but
it's a big show and to get it done on a certain schedule you have to delegate much of that work. You would
likely have strong opinions about how you are going to combine your DP skills into the storytelling tools you
use a director. You may be open to suggestions from the DP you've hired, in same way that you like as a DP to
be valued for your approach to shooting, Your entire experience is going into how you design and direct this
film. Do you think that you, as the person who is directing these aspects of the film, are ultimately the director
of photography also or does that describe the person you've hired to lead the camera and lighting departments
and to help you implement your cinematic storytelling goals?
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#16 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 09:53 AM

I think the new word should be "awesome," as in "Oh Adrian, well he was the Awesome on that film."

anyone care to 2nd.


I like it Adrian... you can be an Awesome, but only on the condition that henceforth we humble camera techs are known as Magnificent Bastards, as in "Yeah, the Awesome was fooling around and dropped the camera in the creek, but luckily our Magnificent Bastard had it dried out and running by next day." :D
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#17 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 09:57 AM

Fine by me Dom, since the Camera crew normally are magnificent bastards anyway.
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#18 Anna Carrington

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 10:01 AM

I will be issuing a statement about the Ambleton Delight blog in due course, but please note in the meantime that I usually refer to myself as a "Cinematographer." This is because most of the work I do, I Light and Camera Operate myself. I feel that "Director of Photography" is a better term for working with a separate Camera Operator. On feature film "Ambleton Delight" the Camera Operator was Roger Marshall, who did an excellent job. I studied Cinematography at Surrey Institute of Art and Design and graduated in 2002 but I did not feel that I could come out of University and call myself a "Cinematographer" or a "DOP" so I started working as a Clapper Loader. It was a DOP who then wanted me to work as his Focus Puller and re-trained me as a Focus Puller. I then worked as a Focus Puller for years before being offered the opportunity to re-train in Cinematography on The Technical Change Scheme run by WFTV where I was mentored by Henry Braham BSC during the making of The Golden Compass in 2006. I have recently been noticing that "Cinematographer" is not a term that gets used all of the time (even on Cinematography.com there is no drop-down option for "Cinematographer") and therefore I use the term DOP instead. I am currently in the process of re-doing my website and have been thinking about key words, can anybody advise me as to whether or not using the term "Cinematographer" rather than "Director Of Photography" might be detrimental to my website traffic?

Anna Carrington
Cinematographer
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mail@annacarrington.co.uk
www.annacarrington.co.uk
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#19 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 10:16 AM

Why not just use both of the terms for your website? It's just a meta tag up top for keywords, so you can put in whatever you'd like.

My own feeling, for record, on the cinematographer/dop term is such:

DoP is a job title, Cinematographer is a term of honor, says me, something that must be bestowed on you by another cinematographer. Hence, I fight like mad to make sure my credit reads director of photography until and if I am ever called a cinematographer by someone; well must more experienced than myself (or i get into one of those fun societies as unlikely as that often looks). That's my 2p on the notion. Also I feel cinematographer is more specific to shooting on film -v- video, but that's just me again.
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#20 Karel Bata

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 11:17 AM

That sounds about right.

The term DP now seems to be used by anyone holding a camera, and has (alas!) become almost as meaningless as 'cameraman' - which used to mean something specific too.

Anna, don't sweat it. He's made a huge public gaff, and is now getting his head chewed off. He'll learn from it. We all do people favours, like you did, and sometimes we don't get the gratitude or acknowledgement we deserve. It's no reflection on you, and nobody sees it as such. ;)
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