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#1 Jamie Michael Korn

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 12:24 PM

Good evening,

I am a 22 year old aspiring DP wanting to take his education in Cinematography onto the next level. Currently I am working within the camera department on low budget features, shorts and music videos and trying when I can to land small jobs in the electrical department alongside working as DOP on my own projects and have been for just over a year now.

I want to pair my growing industry knowledge with practical knowledge in cinematography and was wondering what steps I should take in order to prepare myself for film school.

I'd also love some direction of which film schools to look at and whether the film school I go to will determine my style or whether film school is there to let your own style breed. Two of my favorite films are De battre mon coeur s'est arrĂȘtĂ© and Rosetta, does this mean I should seriously think about studying abroad in France in order to have a better chance of emulating and elaborating on the cinematography style I am most interested in in my future career?

I know this is all subjective but if anyone can apply any experience or knowledge to these questions I'd be more than thankful.

All the best.

Jamie
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 12:26 PM

If you're working in the industry as is, there probably is no better form of education. The theory behind film you can grab from the numerous books on the subject, but nothing beats the real "in the trenches" knowledge you'll get actually working (and getting paid!) in your field.
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#3 Brian Rose

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 01:10 PM

I gotta agree. Having been through filmschool myself, in your case it'd be a step backwards. You're in a position a thousand film school grads would kill for right now, and going to school would have the effect of yanking you out of that position, take you out of the loop for potentially years, and for what reason? So you can fight and scrounge up the kind of gigs you've already got under your belt.

Supplement what you know by watching as many films as you can, and take advantage of the supplements. I learned more about filmmaking through the Criterion DVD series and their copious extras than I did in three years of school. Also read books on photography and art. Ansel Adams two volumes on cameras and film are must haves. Anyone who seriously aspires to be a cinematographer (in my opinion) ought to be familiar with painting, especially Northern Renaissance and Impressionist, since both dealt heavily with principles of color, light and shadow.

Give this a try, save your money, and see if, in a year from now, you still want to go to film school, and then reevaluate.

Good Luck!
BR
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 01:21 PM

Gotta say I too did the film school grind but I was working low-level PA/Grip/Gaff stuff when I went, and it did take me out of the loop for a few years. And even now I'm only partially "in the loop," but that's the economy's fault atm :/ keep shooting!
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#5 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 02:00 PM

Gotta say I too did the film school grind but I was working low-level PA/Grip/Gaff stuff when I went, and it did take me out of the loop for a few years. And even now I'm only partially "in the loop," but that's the economy's fault atm :/ keep shooting!


Speaking as a current Media Arts grad student, I can tell you that the classes I am taking are truly enlightening. Since I produce my own shorts on my own time, though, I have no desire to enter the industry. So I am happy where I am right now. However, I have learned a lot on my own, too. Mostly through watching films and reading numerous books.

I agree that you should stick with whats putting food on the table. I see many of my fellow students deluding themselves into thinking they are going to have an easy time of it, freelancing. Once they graduate, reality hits. As Brian mentioned, many other film students would kill to be in your shoes (especially at your age.)

Stay where you are. Read books, watch films and take an occasional continuing ed class.
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#6 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 02:28 PM

The only film school that I know that people already working in the industry seem to attend is the National Film & TV School. They usually want to use this as a means to move over from an area in which they've been working (eg Docs) into another, say TV drama. The school has connections in the industry and I assume this is the reason. Certainly. any graduation films I've seen has cinematography matching a industry standard, although perhaps some other aspects on some these productions (eg the scripts) less so. Sometimes trying for the showreel by so many people also seemed to be affecting balance of the film.

Director wise, you could who was aiming at commercials and who was aiming at TV drama.
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#7 Brian Rose

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 02:38 PM

And there are lots of great workshops, the ones in Maine being especially popular. So instead of devoting potentially years to the pursuit of a degree in film, you might consider taking a few classes so you could continue your ties in the industry.

BR
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#8 Jeremy Hunt

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 03:52 PM

Hey Jamie

This might sound a bit creepy, but i checked your facebook, and i beleive you know Colin Pick? I lived with him for a year at UCA farnham, small world eh!

I believe you have probably worked with people like Sam Care? Dan Stafford-CLark? definetley Damien Pawle? It seems that if you want to be a young DP, you need to go to the NFTS, all the young DPs i have met seem to have gone through there. Otherwise its 15 years as a camera assistant! And i have the same exact question as you, and the resluting answer from these people seems to be that keep on going to sets and try and shoot your own stuff when you can, its the only way of learning.

Other than that going to film school is like paying to make films, with people who may or may not be very good. Not the best way of learning, although ive heard LCC is very good!

-Jeremy
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#9 Jamie Michael Korn

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 06:37 AM

Hi guys,

So far, thanks for all the advice it's really helpful. I must add however that I have already been through a BA in Media Production, I'm not talking about going through a degree course when I talk about film school, but putting my sights on an MA or equivalent in Cinematography, going somewhere that has a dedicated schooling in the art form that I have so much passion for.

I'm really wanting to hone in on a skill I'm slowly learning and teaching myself. I also have qualifications in Photography (A2 (UK)) so I am already a student of stills photography and have always been interested in painting as an art form from being in GCSE art class in Secondary school.

With this new knowledge (sorry I didn't put it in my first post) does this change anything? All I want is the best footing into becoming a great DP, if that means paying a lot of money to work my little touche off for a year, then somehow I'll find a way to pay the fee's, even emigrate, EVEN learn a new language, if it means I can push myself one step further to feed off the most information as possible I'm really up for it.

Or does this info not change anything? Am I in the best place at the moment? Feeding from knowledge passed from young and experienced DOP's I'm working with, climbing up the camera department, learning about every camera as well as pinning my hopes on the work that I get is good enough to learn about every rule in cinematography I may or may not choose to break.

Once again guys, thank you very much for your replies. I really appreciate it.

All the best.

Jamie

P.S. This is the standard of work I am producing at the moment. I'm not needing a critique and I'm trying my best to show it in the most diplomatic way without looking like a 'work dropper' but hopefully it might help you guys understand where I am and how much i need to learn.

http://www.youtube.c...anShortManFilms

Edited by Jamie Michael Korn, 31 August 2010 - 06:40 AM.

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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 08:56 AM

Doesn't change a thing says me. You're working and that's where you'll learn a lot. I would also go almost so far as saying the first rule of cinematography is that there are no rules; just suggestions.
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#11 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 05:45 PM

Doesn't change a thing says me. You're working and that's where you'll learn a lot. I would also go almost so far as saying the first rule of cinematography is that there are no rules; just suggestions.



Jamie,

It sounds to me like you are interested in exploring other media in addition to cinematography. I have always had my hand in filmmaking, still photography, web design, etc. Now, I want to learn to paint after seeing an exhibit at MOMA by Matisse...LOL.

Anyway, I'm a graduate teaching assistant so, naturally, I'm all for education. I think you have plenty of time to learn whatever you want. But for right now, I would co-ordinate your education around your work schedule. Like I said, it's what's putting food on the table/paying the rent, etc.

But check out some of the Media Arts programs that are out there. There are a lot of good ones out there which offer BFAs or MFAs in various disciplines.

Good luck.

-Bill

P.S. Nice reel.
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