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Is it possible to teach myself cinematography or is school really required??


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#1 Eva Gomez

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 01:27 PM

Yeah so I have no idea if this is a good place to become a cinematographer and that question is what brought me here to this website. What I really want to do is Cinematography, which is of course, an astounding visual art that was born out of my passion for photography. It would be great to make money out this hobby as well so I'm not opposed to doing it for "commercial" reasons, but my aim is FILM. Oh, and I'm not rich or anything so it's not like I can go to some prestigious film school.

Can someone offer some advice here? Is it possible to just teach myself Cinematography and still "make it" no matter the city I'm in? Or is it wiser to go where there's a much bigger movie industry?

Any help is greatly appreciated...

Eva
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#2 Artiom Maksimov

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 05:36 AM

Yeah so I have no idea if this is a good place to become a cinematographer and that question is what brought me here to this website. What I really want to do is Cinematography, which is of course, an astounding visual art that was born out of my passion for photography. It would be great to make money out this hobby as well so I'm not opposed to doing it for "commercial" reasons, but my aim is FILM. Oh, and I'm not rich or anything so it's not like I can go to some prestigious film school.

Can someone offer some advice here? Is it possible to just teach myself Cinematography and still "make it" no matter the city I'm in? Or is it wiser to go where there's a much bigger movie industry?

Any help is greatly appreciated...

Eva


Hi Eva,

I will sound probably really banal, but there is nothing impossible. I am finishing this year my BA in Photography and Media arts, all I know (technical skills) I learned by myself, but the university changed the way I think about image, frame and viewer. It is same here, someone really talented can do it by himself, as myself i would recommend to go to university/ film school.
It really matters where, because not all the schools have same contacts, and while you studying you want to make some good contacts and show yourself.
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#3 Matthew Kane

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 12:32 PM

I live in the upper midwest and still fancy myself a cinematographer (I even get paid for it more often than not, although my rent check is usually covered by gaffing music videos, corporates, indie features, etc).

I think cinematography is a practice; the fundamentals are the same wherever you do it--whether or not you move to one of the big hubs (or a satellite like Austin/Shreveport/Santa Fe) is more about your career ambitions (although I've heard Miami does have some opportunities--maybe it's all dried up?). For example, I don't expect to DP a nationally released theatrical film anytime soon, but I feel like I'm doing good work on regional projects, with potential to make work that would not get made in LA; and I'm still young enough to make a change if I need to.

I did go to a fancy (art) school... with mixed results. Learning on the job (as grip, electrician, etc) was very valuable in my working life--especially now (and even in a tiny market like mine) there's so many tools and options at your disposal, it's always nice to get a peek at the hows/whys before you get someone to rent a piece of equipment you only vaguely understand. You can shoot your own stuff while you learn on bigger sets. I've worked with DP's who are also photographers, or started there, and you do get to carry alot of that knowledge over, but be open to the differences between the two mediums. Do you have any experience with film (outside of watching)?

If you can't afford film school, or an extension course, you might still be able to make friends with some film students and get on their sets. And contacts matter--but remember you can connect sideways too. Somewhere in Miami, there is probably somebody saying "I wonder if this is the right place to be a director...". If you have the right team, you'll go far together.

If you feel you're lacking some basic technical background, jobbing at a rental house (or even just asking nicely to practice loading mags) could be a good start. Actually, if you could tell a cardellini from a mafer, alot of film students would probably think you were some kinda wizard.

Anyways--I don't think much of the idea of hopping a plane to LA with no friends/jobs/contacts waiting for you; better to build some experience and make some contacts--you might find a friend of a friend in Miami who can hook you up with work in LA/NY... and then you're off and running.
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Ritter Battery

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Visual Products

Glidecam

Wooden Camera

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Metropolis Post

Willys Widgets

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Rig Wheels Passport

Opal

Paralinx LLC

Tai Audio

CineLab

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Technodolly

The Slider

Broadcast Solutions Inc

FJS International, LLC