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Senior in Highschool very passionate!


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#1 Christopher Morgan

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Posted 02 December 2010 - 11:30 PM

I am a senior in high school and i can honestly say that film is my passion. I know that i share this passion with everyone else on this website, but its difficult to see how easily talent can be missed because of grades and SAT scores.

what College is right for me?

I have been filming for over three years and in that time span i have made two short films, two documentaries and multiple school projects etc.

I am very thorough when it comes to camera technology and hands on use.

recently I emailed DP Shane Hurlbut (Terminator 3, Semi Pro, We Are Marshall, Drumline etc) about his intensive DSLR course in L.A.
at first i sent a short message, letting him know that I was still in High school etc, but am heavily invested in film/cinematography.

the reply was short as they were looking for those who have at least 5 years of set experience etc but he still asked for a description of what i know and can bring to the table.

this is a copy of the email: (this is the easiest way for me to let you guys know how passionate i am when it comes to visual storytelling)


I understand the specific audience your husband and his elite team are targeting and I know that I may not fit that criteria. I will do my best to persuade you and your husband because I know that I have the knowledge to work at a fast pace, with more experienced people.



You said that you are targeting clients that are on an intermediate level in terms of knowledge and have work/set experience. 



I visit Shane's website and blog daily, along with Phillip Blooms, Stu Maschwitz Prolost, dvxuser, cinematography.com, CheesyCam etc. I love how passionate Shane is with the HDSLR'S and for someone like me, or anyone who works with minimal budget for that matter, its inspiring to see an experienced ASC using them on large and small budget shoots. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that The Last Three Minutes, The Cabbie and his recent blog posts regarding the making of Case Tractor, also his appearance in the Zacuto shootout etc are absolutely magnificent!

But I'm not writing this email to tell you how brilliant your husband is, I'm writing this email to explain my passion for visual storytelling.



GEAR:
I purchased a good old Canon HV20 three years ago. I shot my first documentary with it, and a couple other sporadic videos with friends.
With it, I purchased a RodeVideoMic and lens hood. It was great, but I've moved on since then...

Three years later, I've used the HV20 bigger brother, the XH-A1 and the Panasonic HVX200....and I’ve touched a RED haha.


I purchase a GH-1 a year and a half ago, sold it and now I own the new T2i. With it I have the crappy 18-55mm kit lens, and a few manual Nikon primes. (50mm f1.4 and 24mm f2.0) I use three 8GB Sandisk class 4 cards, I have a battery attachment and cheap matte box that fits 4x4 lens filters. I own a ND 0.8 and a GND 0.7.



Audio is basic:

Can’t afford the zoom h4n, so I use my fathers Edirol R-09 (lacks XLR inputs) with an Audio Technica directional boom mic attached to a diy boom pole.
Sync the audio in FCP...

Tripod is basic, just a Manfrotto with a 701 fluid head.

I made a 12ft jib with counter balance, utilizing my tripod and a lazy susan. It has tilting abilities, but is very basic.


I also made a DIY dolly that runs on pvc pipes. Pretty sturdy and smooth!


My friends and I also made a hood mount with a cheap suction cup mount bought off amazon (works great).



I am sitting here writing this email in Greece (shooting sailing videos for an independent sailing co. I bring this up because just a few days ago I made a diy slider for 5 euros and it works great. 

That's all my gear, I could go into more detail but I'm most likely boring you already!



FILM MAKING KNOWLEDGE:


I know all about the 180degree rule (in both composition and shutter speed) rule of thirds, horizon lines, composition, wide, mid, close-ups, pov, over the shoulder etc.



I can use a light meter, read a histogram, waveform, expose correctly, know whether to under expose to hold highlights etc.

I know about aperture, dof, shutter speed, compression, ISO, noise, grain, resolution, dynamic range etc. I could go into very very specific detail but for the sake of keeping this email somewhat short, I won’t.



My main problem is lack of pre-production experience, and it's simply because I don't have the resources to plan out my projects. Hence, most of my work is very 'spur of the moment' naturally lit (mostly, but not all).

I spend a good amount of time on Dvxuser as well. It’s nice to get constructive criticism from experienced filmmakers, as every bit of input counts!

I have been on a couple of sets, the show Trauma (bad) and also the largest budget Korean film ever, Tsunami! It was nice to see how everyone worked, the atmosphere was great and it was good fun!


Here's one of my replies to a comment on a thread I started regarding my newest short film (still in post-production, missing beginning etc)


I don't expect you to read the whole post, but I explain my lighting disasters in the excerpt below.

"Now for all the technical stuff!
basically this project was a technical disaster!!


AUDIO:


For audio during the morning scene we used the zoom h4n (a friends) and an old Sony boom mic! unfortunately when I synced the takes, one take had a super loud buzzing, not only that but the boom mic chord was hitting the boom pole....
a couple of the lines sarah says, are dubbed and i added an equalizer to try to match them with the original good audio...so for that morning scene I had half the audio working!
I would have cut the morning scene completely differently if the audio was working, but with the combination of continuity errors and such, i did my best haha!

For the rest of the short, we used an audio technica boom mic attached to my edirol r-09. This came from the hospital scene, where we had major audio problems as my other group member didn't mic the actors close enough causing us to pump the gain in post....

all other audio, atmosphere, footsteps etc was found off freesound.org>
le="font-style: italic;"> 


VIDEO:
this unfortunately was also a complete mess. I used my trusty t2i throughout (except for the bus scene which was a friends 7d). It was great!
I kept my shutter at 50, used some nds to expose etc. 


lenses used: kit lens, nikon 50mm f1.4, sigma 30mm f1.4, canon ef 10-22mm f3.5-4.5. (all my friends lenses except for the kit and nikon)


most of the short was naturally lit.


the letter writing scene of the dolly in was a fun one. I used my diy dolly and our school supplied us with two, not three Lowel 250watt hair lights...poop...
I did my best hiding them etc, but they just don't output enough

 for the hospital, i used the two lowels again, one was on the right side of the curtain, out of frame.This exposed the main actors face and acted as a hair light (its formal use) but created harsh shadows etc. The other light was setup to the left of the camera, near the wall to expose the main actors friend. This also created shadows etc (btw i used a blue gel in front of that lowel to change the color temp to 3200k blah blah blah.

But all in all its still sucked!, I had nothing to put in the blank white walls and the shadows were really distracting.

when he picks up the letter, that scene was also a huge pain! For some reason, the apartment we used to shoot, was the only one without an overhead light. I was working with literally NO LIGHT! i had to bump up the ISO to a cringing 3200....

but whatever, I’m only in high school anyways haha! Some softboxes and or coollights/kino's would have been great, and some higher wattage hard lights, maybe a couple 750watt etc.



ACTORS:

The actors were friends/classmates...not really actors obviously. I used them because they looked mature etc.
The director, Dylan Redford (yes he is a Redford) is a really good friend of mine and we share a similar passion…




so you have an Idea of what work I have done, here's a link to my vimeo page:

I feel like all my work thus far does NOT show my full potential. Almost all my work has been done in a very short time frame, using the most minimal equipment available, so being on set and working with people that know what they are doing, would be absolutely wonderful.



HDSLR KNOWLEDGE:
I am an utter wonk when it comes to knowing EVERYTHING about the Canon dslr's and their video functions.



I know about their flaws or cons:


Cons:

line skipping

pixel binding

moire

lack of (real) resolution

compression artifacts (h.264)
4:2:0 color space

how well they hold up in post

crop factor 1.6 (7D and T2i)

form factor

lack of professional audio capabilities

focusing issues
 hdmi out (t2i + 5D)
over-heating issues



Pros:


cheap

DOF because of their s35 sized sensors (5D full frame etc)

simple to use

broad dynamic range around 11stops

the way they handle highlight
creates soft look

picture style's (neutral setting)

PL mount for cinema lenses (maybe most important)
etc etc



I know that a guy that goes by the name of tester13 hacked the Panasonic gh-1, which now exceeds the visual capabilities of the canons. With 422 color space, a 100mbps mpeg and 40mbps AVCHD setting, the GH-1 is sharper and holds more detail now, then the canons. And it also has matched their dynamic range, which was a large improvement from when it first came out.

I could go on for hours but i feel like a conversation over the phone might pan out better.




and recent magic lantern firmware updates canon 5D codec to (max 76mbps)

Sincerely,



Chris Morgan





shortly after sending this email, I got a response telling me that I can attend the intensive course and Shane was also willing to give me a 40% discount for the course!



that gives you guys the gist of things hopefully!



basically, i feel as though i am a talented and dedicated filmmaker, but my resources are limited due to the fact that my GPA is 3.3 and my SATs fall right on the 50% percentile!

whats a good film school for me?


I've applied to Chapman, LMU, Cal State North ridge, Columbia Chicago and SF State!

given that i will most likely be denied from both Chapman and LMU, what should be my next choice?

here are my videos too:

Edited by Christopher Morgan, 02 December 2010 - 11:32 PM.

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#2 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 01:10 AM

Of course mine is just one opinion, but after reading through your qualifications and experience, I wouldn't recommend that you concentrate on film school at all. This isn't to say that you shouldn't go to a University and get a higher education and degree. You should. A University isn't meant to be a trade school and it sounds as if you already have a really wonderful start on your DP career. Unless you go to a school that has a very specific concentration for Director's of Photography, then it is doubtful that a formal school will help you any more than you are already doing on your own (for far less cost, presumably).

What should you go to school to study if not film specifically? There is more to being a great DP than just knowing the technical aspects of the job. Those you are learning on your own very well, or so it seems. The logistics of "directing" a crew in collaboration with a Director and other departments will come as you make movies (more on that in a second). But the ART and craft of what you do comes from expanding your education into subjects like Art Appreciation, Art History, Literature, and History. Also by pursuing a higher education you'll learn valuable communication skills which are VITAL to the job of a Cameraman as well as skills like time-management and logistics and budgeting.

Is this to say that you DON'T take any film classes at all? Not in the least. Ideally, you'll find a school that has a strong film program in which you can take classes in film appreciation and production. What I am suggesting is the you don't immerse yourself in "fiimschool" because that degree won't help you get a job at all. Everything else you do will help you begin and maintain a viable career. If you study those non-film subjects in addition to minoring in film production/appreciation, you'll find that your work will be much stronger as you'll be working with a broader background in the arts and will be able to draw on many different disciplines instead of only being able to copy previous movies if you only studied film.
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#3 Matt Smith

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 02:04 AM

You have some really great work, but I wouldn't go as far as to say you should skips out on film school. If anything it will expose you to a concentrated filmmaking environment along with equipment access and a strong peer network. The one other thing I've noticed is that you seem to know the HDSLR system very well, which is great especially in low budget filmmaking, but a school with allow you to learn the merits not only of film (obviously an important medium to know ;) but also high end digital cinema systems like the RED.

Visit the facilities of all the schools you applied too, talk with some professors. For the schools you get accepted to, choose the one you feel most comfortable with. And then when you go use your expertise to get your reputation established and begin to build on it.
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#4 Robert Costello

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 10:23 AM

i think your images are good and often the work is more of a sell than the gpa/sat, etc-
those thing often lead to very little in life--

"Art Appreciation, Art History, Literature, and History." etc,etc
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#5 Tom Jensen

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 11:36 AM

LA City College has a pretty good film school, you can go at night and it is inexpensive. What you need is to get on a set and see what the pros do. Plenty of PA jobs if you look. For 17 your work is better than a lot of newbies but you need more experience and an education whether it's film school or on set. The beauty of the set is that you can get paid. Good luck.
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#6 Michael Kubaszak

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 12:37 PM

They make nd's in .08??
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#7 Christopher Morgan

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 01:51 PM

They make nd's in .08??


you read wrong.
i said .8

Edited by Christopher Morgan, 03 December 2010 - 01:52 PM.

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#8 Christopher Morgan

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 01:55 PM

Of course mine is just one opinion, but after reading through your qualifications and experience, I wouldn't recommend that you concentrate on film school at all. This isn't to say that you shouldn't go to a University and get a higher education and degree. You should. A University isn't meant to be a trade school and it sounds as if you already have a really wonderful start on your DP career. Unless you go to a school that has a very specific concentration for Director's of Photography, then it is doubtful that a formal school will help you any more than you are already doing on your own (for far less cost, presumably).

What should you go to school to study if not film specifically? There is more to being a great DP than just knowing the technical aspects of the job. Those you are learning on your own very well, or so it seems. The logistics of "directing" a crew in collaboration with a Director and other departments will come as you make movies (more on that in a second). But the ART and craft of what you do comes from expanding your education into subjects like Art Appreciation, Art History, Literature, and History. Also by pursuing a higher education you'll learn valuable communication skills which are VITAL to the job of a Cameraman as well as skills like time-management and logistics and budgeting.

Is this to say that you DON'T take any film classes at all? Not in the least. Ideally, you'll find a school that has a strong film program in which you can take classes in film appreciation and production. What I am suggesting is the you don't immerse yourself in "fiimschool" because that degree won't help you get a job at all. Everything else you do will help you begin and maintain a viable career. If you study those non-film subjects in addition to minoring in film production/appreciation, you'll find that your work will be much stronger as you'll be working with a broader background in the arts and will be able to draw on many different disciplines instead of only being able to copy previous movies if you only studied film.



thank you for your extensive reply Brian Dzyak!

A wider background in the arts sounds great! If i could expand my range of knowledge, that should help quite a bit!
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#9 Jed Shepherd

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 09:23 AM



GEAR:
I purchased a good old Canon HV20 three years ago. I shot my first documentary with it, and a couple other sporadic videos with friends.
With it, I purchased a RodeVideoMic and lens hood. It was great, but I've moved on since then...

Three years later, I've used the HV20 bigger brother, the XH-A1 and the Panasonic HVX200....and I’ve touched a RED haha.


I purchase a GH-1 a year and a half ago, sold it and now I own the new T2i. With it I have the crappy 18-55mm kit lens, and a few manual Nikon primes. (50mm f1.4 and 24mm f2.0) I use three 8GB Sandisk class 4 cards, I have a battery attachment and cheap matte box that fits 4x4 lens filters. I own a ND 0.8 and a GND 0.7.




He didnt read wrong. Haha. Im bored. Good work getting him to accept you though. So many things require you have years of experience. Bit hard to get it when you need experience to get into the experience.
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#10 Christopher Morgan

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 12:53 AM

He didnt read wrong. Haha. Im bored. Good work getting him to accept you though. So many things require you have years of experience. Bit hard to get it when you need experience to get into the experience.


wait now im confused....
is there a difference between 0.8 and .8?
here it says 0.8? below
http://www.bhphotovi...Density_ND.html

If i am wrong please indulge haha

Edited by Christopher Morgan, 05 December 2010 - 12:54 AM.

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#11 Jed Shepherd

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 07:06 AM

wait now im confused....
is there a difference between 0.8 and .8?
here it says 0.8? below
http://www.bhphotovi...Density_ND.html

If i am wrong please indulge haha

Lol i was tired and misread what you wrote. Sorry for the confusion
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#12 Michael Kubaszak

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 10:37 AM

actually it was a typo. i did mean 0.8 which does not exist in cinema quality filters. i'm guessing it's a video filter.
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#13 Austin Serr

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 02:56 PM

0.8 and .8 are the same thing. Notice that the decimal is in the same exact place on both. ".8" is just "0.8" with the "0" taken away. In other words, when you decide to write out ".8", you're just making a decision to leave out the "0" at the beginning. I'm just guessing most manufacturers of NDs decide to leave out the "0" because it isn't needed. However, this doesn't mean "0.8" is the wrong way to say it.

Edited by Austin Serr, 05 December 2010 - 02:59 PM.

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#14 Christopher Morgan

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 08:59 PM

actually it was a typo. i did mean 0.8 which does not exist in cinema quality filters. i'm guessing it's a video filter.


so cinema quality filters are referred to without the 0 in front and 'lesser' filters do have the 0?

on page 457 of "Lighting for TV and Film"
they refer to the ND types with a 0 in front.
http://www.amazon.co...ader_024051582X

Is there something I am missing?

all in all the decimal is in the same place so it does not matter either way...right...

Edited by Christopher Morgan, 05 December 2010 - 09:00 PM.

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#15 Michael Kubaszak

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 09:31 PM

so cinema quality filters are referred to without the 0 in front and 'lesser' filters do have the 0?

on page 457 of "Lighting for TV and Film"
they refer to the ND types with a 0 in front.
http://www.amazon.co...ader_024051582X

Is there something I am missing?

all in all the decimal is in the same place so it does not matter either way...right...


Standard cinema-style ND comes in .3 .6 .9 1.2 etc. In .3 increments. It is technically ND 0.3. Some AC's and DP's will just say ND3 ND.3 or N 3 for brevity. ND 0.8 is not a standard.
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#16 Christopher Morgan

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Posted 06 December 2010 - 12:00 PM

Standard cinema-style ND comes in .3 .6 .9 1.2 etc. In .3 increments. It is technically ND 0.3. Some AC's and DP's will just say ND3 ND.3 or N 3 for brevity. ND 0.8 is not a standard.


thanks for the clarification!
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