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career adivice and help taking my first step


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#1 Orash Rahnema

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 11:56 AM

I have been following this group for sometimes trying to figure out things by myself but I wanted to ask you a question now, I hope you can help me out with few doubts that i have.

First of all I will intruduce my self, my name is Orash and I have been a visual fx artist for the last 10 years, I am manly specialized in lighting, I have always been in love with the language of light and infact, parallel to my main job, I have always done heaps of photography, learing how to light both with artificial and natural light.

I am now seriosly thinking of taking a big break from the vfx industry and try to make my move into the “real” world as my final goal is to become a dop/cinematographer as most of you I believe.

In order to do that I was thinking to become a gaffer, reading other discussion on this group and talking to few people what always came out is a bit of confusion on which path to follow, camera department or electric, this one is one of my doubt, I like lights so i thought that would suits me best the elctric department even if I am not a professional electrician, I thought that if i learn how to light big things like a set where acctor needs to move and interact then the camera side would be "easier" to learn since anyway always there will be a camera operator with assistent.

Is this something you would suggest as a path?

I am currently living and working in London, if you were in my position and wanted to do what i had in mind, how would you make your move to become a gaffer or at least to put a foot into a filmset world, who would you contact or talk with?

Thank you a lot for your time, I really appreciate!
Orash
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#2 Stuart Page

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 10:39 AM

I thought that if i learn how to light big things like a set where acctor needs to move and interact then the camera side would be "easier" to learn since anyway always there will be a camera operator with assistent.

Is this something you would suggest as a path?
Orash


Excellent question I think. Despite the DOP job being primarily in charge of "photography" I think the lighting and filters are really where it's at.
Cameras will always change whether digital or film, but the look is really more controlled by lighting, colour temp, filters, reflectors, etc...
I did pro lighting for 7 years or so, I learnt heaps about the myriad of units available to create certain effects and looks and feels...
By comparison I'd say that camera dept is more about focus, data or film management, operating, pushing the on off button.
OK hit me all you disagreers. But it's true.
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#3 Paul Brenno

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 11:02 AM

hello, I would say learn as much about lighting as you can, read books on lighting, then go shoot stills or video, that way you understand how lighting works in both film and digital video....I think, from what I remembered about the British system, DoP's there are more about Lighting then camera....they are mostly referred too as " Lighting Cameramen "....they spend most of their time lighting the set, while the operator works with the Director of shots/composition/blocking, etc....I would study the backgrounds of the great British DP's; Roger, Deakins, Geoffrey Unsworth to Phil Meheux to David Tattersall.....

I'm a DP/Cinematographer mainly working in video production, but worked my way up thru VHS to Mini-DV, BetaSP, DVCAM to P2 and currently SxS cards, from TV stations to video production companies....I have never been in a union, but most here in America who are in Hollywood or any major city are unions....in unions you work from the ground up, getting your 30 days in to qualify I think, where-as independents just work freelance or fulltime for a company.....if you have any opp's to intern with a DP, DO IT !!!....London Film School or any talent agency can direct you to any DP who can be kind enough to meet with you....
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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 12:50 PM

In the UK electricians tend to be qualified, although some do move over to the camera department most don't. To get on those productions with the large lighting rigs you would need to start building up a career starting as an electrician on the lighting crew before becoming a gaffer.

I'd check out the Skillset web site and see what courses or options are available for people wanting to make a change in direction. The NFTS run short courses and quite a few of the full time students have been working in the industry for a number of years before going.

Most of those British DPs started out as camera assistants, not as DPs, then worked their way up.
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#5 Orash Rahnema

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 04:08 AM

Thanks to all of you for the replies, so i guess i wasn't too much off thinking on the electrician path to get into.
I will check the skillset website and the courses around london, one question tho, to get in the elctric department is matter of talking to the production or the production calls services and they bring lights and techicians so I should find who are this servicies and talk to them to work on set?
thanks,
Orash
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