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10,000 Hours of Practice


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#1 Alex Flowers

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 09:32 AM

There was a study featured in the book Outliers (by Malcom Gladwell), conducted by the neurologist Danny Levitin who states that in any field the amount of hours practice needed to achieve an expert mastery is always somewhere around 10,000 hours.

This roughly works out to 8 hours a day for four years. My question is how could you effectively practice filmmaking daily and for eight hours. It's not as simple as say picking up a violin and going through the different scales and techniques and practicing compositions.

Filmmaking has so many aspects and is generally not something you can sit at home and practice.
In what ways could I go about daily improving my abilities in film?
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#2 Simon Wyss

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 11:58 AM

Why not start by visiting a cinema — alone, with friends — discuss what you’ve seen. Read a book like The Animation Book by Kit Laybourne (can you hear labour?). ISBN 0-517-88602-2

Purchase a little Double-Eight camera and two rolls of film, make a movie about your feet. Move!

Start learning to project with a projectionist. Start to write, to light, whatever that has to do with the kind of joy you want to have. Enjoy every hour of work you can spend in this fantastic field. Become a collector (not a transistor, haha) of the bits and bites (not bytes) of filmmaking. Some get harassed by the shutter bug, I got stuck as a glowworm in the darkroom. Rubber gloves, you know.
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#3 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 02:19 PM

Yes, that's why it helps if you're working for people who do a lot of good quality productions, so that you not only do those hours but are always learning.

You have to learn from where ever you can and keep pushing yourself out of any comfort zones. Video is a lot cheaper than even 8mm film and film making also includes writing.
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#4 Tom Jensen

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 02:54 PM

This roughly works out to 8 hours a day for four years. My question is how could you effectively practice filmmaking daily and for eight hours.


There is no such thing as an 8 hour day in film so theoretically, you can master it in two years. <_<
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 03:27 PM

There is no such thing as an 8 hour day in film so theoretically, you can master it in two years. <_<


Half the time is waiting so you're back up to 4. ;)
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#6 Rajavel Olhiveeran

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 09:57 AM

Give it What it takes........
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#7 Austin Serr

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 10:21 PM

Yeah, I don't think you actually have to be hands-on for it to be considered "experience". You're going to need plenty of time on-set to learn from mistakes and really get to know equipment but if you consistently have cinematography on your mind you'll just get better and better at it. Keep in mind that while there are guidelines, there's no right or wrong way to do it; as long as you're passionate about it and always open to new ideas/techniques, you'll get to be where you want to be, which is what's most important. Figure out what your style/voice is and work to expand on it.

To make sure you're always "thinking" about cinematography, I'd recommend taking a DSLR with you wherever you go and constantly try to think photographically in whatever surroundings you happen to be in. Look at the lighting in whatever area you're in and try to think about what you like about or what you'd do to enhance the light. Look at the architecture/geometry of your surroundings and try to think of interesting ways to place a camera as if it was a location you got for a film.

Also, if you're a student (like me), try to work on as many student projects as possible. Even if you think it's going to turn out to be a terrible film, do it anyways. It's always great to know that upon seeing the finished product, your cinematography overall helped the film become halfway decent. It's very liberating and it helps to keep you passionate all while providing a worthwhile experience that you can only learn from.

Edited by Austin Serr, 12 November 2010 - 10:22 PM.

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#8 Richard Rock

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 03:35 PM

"You have to learn from where ever you can and keep pushing yourself out of any comfort zones. Video is a lot cheaper than even 8mm film and film making also includes writing."


This is exactly why I took the plunge and bought some high end super 8mm cameras recently. I felt that I've learned all I could from the digital medium (perhaps save for 10,000 hours of actual hands-on time, although I'm probably halfway there) and decided to learn about working with film by starting from scratch. I've worked on indie movies being shot on 16mm, S16, 35mm, etc., but never in the camera department, which to me does make a difference. My goal is to be a DP/cam op who can work on any format.

I've read that shooting on film, especially with a camera with no video tap, will make you better at lighting scenes because you will learn to get it right the first time, not by fiddling, checking the monitor, fiddling, checking the monitor, and so on. This to me seems like quite the learning experience and although it's going to be way more expensive, I'm really looking forward to it.
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#9 Saba Mazloum

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 04:15 AM

This would be pretty easy for me to achieve , due to working in china's industry, we work min 15 hours per day.. max 48.. haha..
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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 09:34 AM

Yes, but it' quite easy to stay awake on shoots in Shanghai, all you need is someone to bring in that Stinky Tofu from Qibao and the whole crew will perk up from the smell! ;)
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#11 Mark McCann

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Posted 06 February 2011 - 08:05 PM

PI dont think to become an expert cinematographer you have to have 10,000 hours in the field exactly, as well as the field work i think evene noticing and appreciated lighting whether it be in films or whether it be a sunset then that adds to your "expertise". I quote "expertise" as i think thats an ambiguous term, i can view someone as an amateur and someelse can view them as an expert and vice versa.
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#12 Ian Blewitt

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 03:32 PM

I've learned the most outside of being on set by watching movies and television. Do yourself a favor and get Netflix and a way to stream it HD to your TV (AppleTV is what I use which is 720P, but there are more like Slingbox or even Xbox360/PS3.) I have learned more about composition and lighting by watching the "Experts" than any book could have taught me.
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