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What do your parents and friends think about your decision to become a cinematographer?


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#1 Ronald Carrion

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 02:25 AM

My father wanted me to be a MD (he used to sell furniture for laboratories and hospitals). My mother wants me to get married and to work with my brother in his construction business (I don't even have a girlfriend nor I am interested in one). I just like to grab my camera and shoot. People, places. I like to test different cameras in different low light conditions. Decide what lens would be better or more suitable for a particular scene. To read "Days of a camera" by Almendros, while watching Days of Heaven. To watch any movie photographed by Coutard, James Wong Howe or Storaro.
See, when I talk to friend of my family about this, they look at me in a very peculiar way. Like when someone is trying to get a reasonable answer out of Sara Palin. Finally, they ask me what do I do for a living. I tell them that I bus tables. I run food as well. My boss is supportive. The manager is nice with me. I do a good job. All of that plus that I am saving to buy my Sony PMWf3. They just say: "Oh..., well... good luck".
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#2 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 10:23 AM

Well, most parents don't really understand those of us who want to do this sort of thing for a living. Most parents grew up at a time when THE THING to do was go to college or go through the military, then get married, pop out two or three kids, get a mortgage, load up the 401K, then retire living happily ever after.

A freelance life in the professional film industry isn't anything like that for most people and it's difficult for "traditional" parents (or anyone else) to understand. But not much has changed as I'm sure that parent's of circus performers likely went through the same concern for the welfare of their children.

What's really important is what YOU want. It's YOUR life and YOUR decision. With that, of course, comes the responsibility. If you succeed, then you can be proud of your accomplishments in the face of almost impossible odds. If you fail, then at least you know you tried. But if you never even try out of fear or because of pressure from parents, then what did you live your seventy-ish years of life for? Nobody knows why we're here. We're born without an instruction book so everybody just makes it up as they go. The best any of us can guess is that everyone deserves the opportunity to pursue happiness and if being a "filmmaker" is what inspires you, then NO ONE has the right to tell you not to. They have their own life to live in misery in they choose to not follow their own dreams and passions. Parents want the best for their children and that shouldn't automatically mean a "stable job" with a retirement plan and marriage. What's "best" for some kids is off that "boring" "traditional" track. It's not that you CAN'T have marriage and a mortgage and a retirement plan if you work in the movie business. In fact, you SHOULD think about financial safety, but that shouldn't be the primary goal. Follow your passion, be excellent at what you do and that financial success usually follows.
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#3 Brian Rose

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 12:59 PM

My career choice has been deeply problematic when it comes to family. I've got some who still treat me as though I'm unemployed, asking what I'm doing NOW, as if I'm a drifter. I've grown to understand why, in British society, it's considered impolite to ask what one does, because it can be unpleasant. I try to be patient, but blew up once at a distant relative at a reunion who ask, upon hearing what I do, "So, do you have a job? Do you work?" Her tone was what put me off, like I was some dilettante. I said, "Yes I WORK" and ended it at that. She got the point. When I would tell family friends about my work, they'd usually quip, "Oh, are you going to be the next Steven Spielberg or Ken Burns?" "Don't forget us when you're famous." It's all so damn condescending and mocking, and belies the fact that I'm not in it for fame, riches or to be like Burns or Spielberg. I want to be ME, and to DO SOMETHING in this world, and I feel my calling is the cinema, and so now I'm trying to carve out my niche.

My Mom has grown used to what I do, but I don't think she's ever really accepted it, and if I told her today that I was giving up the life for a fulltime job in medical billing (which I did as a summer job once), she'd be thrilled I'm sure. She means well, but I seriously wonder if she has any faith that I can make it.

For example, I just completed work on transferring some tapes to DVD, for the family of my brother-in-law. My parents went to visit him and my sister, so I gave them the DVDs, tape originals and invoices to deliver (to save on shipping). Well, this morning I get a call and she says there is a mistake on the invoice. I'd made a last minute change, and forgot to adjust the final total. It was only a matter of two dollars or so.

The problem is, that invoice was in a separate envelope, and it was clearly labeled. So WHY was my mom looking at it? It was none of her business. That was between me and my client. Yes, she found a mistake, but why did she look in the first place???? This disturbed me greatly. I honestly don't think she'll believe I can make it short of winning an Academy Award or a National Emmy, and even then, she'll want to know if I get money, or if it will lead to a job.

Fortunately, I have my Dad. He's someone I almost feel I don't deserve. He's never pressured me to do something unless he really had a reason for it, and when he has, he has turned out to be absolutely right to do so. But 99 percent of the time, he has complete faith in me, and respects the decision I make, even if it might not be the decision HE'D make. When I was laid off from my first job for a production company, and at my absolute lowest and most dire, he told me not to give up. My Mom, by comparison, suggested I go back to school, and pursue something else.

I work now to prove my Mom wrong and my Dad right.
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#4 Richard Boddington

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 01:58 PM

Ken Burns?"


They knew who Ken Burns was? :blink:

I'm lucky that my mother has always been a 100% supporter. Even as an actress and driver for all of my Super 8 films I made as a teen.

If I said I was quitting this nut bar business tomorrow she would be the first to talk me out of it.

R,
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#5 John Sprung

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 08:16 PM

But not much has changed as I'm sure that parent's of circus performers likely went through the same concern for the welfare of their children.


That may be why there's a lot of second and third generation folks both in movies and the circus.... ;-)





-- J.S.
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#6 K Borowski

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 12:14 PM

Here's the thing a lot of young filmmakers don't get: It is still WORK. You have to work, hard, in any field you go into unless you're a savant or a prodigy. Everyone can scrounge the 10% of inspiration.

The 90% the perspiration part, is where people make it or they don't. An art of any kind is subjective. Therefore talent matters less, and the business matters more. That may sound harsh, but learn your industry.


There's a difference between admiring films and working in filmmaking, a HUGE one :D
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