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cinematographer vs producer


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#1 kieran james simpson

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 05:23 PM

Hi there,

I would like fellow cinematographers advice on this matter..it is a bit political but bear with me please!


I was originally the camera operator on a feature film but have now agreed to be the dp.

In my original interview which was with the producer, it was mentioned to me that there will be opinions shared throughout the crew as to the how the film looks, feels etc..
This immediately didn't feel massively right to me but i went with it. Since this time the producer has given some suggestions on lighting, some film references and visuals in private conversation.

I know what is expected of a dp's role - I would loosely describe it as "to achieve the desired look and feel of the film in line with the directors vision."

When confirmed as dop i felt this needed to be politely addressed because it was confusing me!

I spoke with the director and I mentioned the case of too many opinions - I said especially when it comes to being the dop i need to be only answerable and take suggestions from him, to which he agreed. I mentioned the producers input and the director said not to listen to it "because that person is the producer".

Anyway, after this conversation the prodcuer then started to give me more suggestions...I spoke to the person and calmly said I cant work as a dop by taking opinions from the producer or other people as I need to satisfy the directors intent
- I also mentioned what the director has said to me - to not listen to the producer!

Needless to say this didn't seem to be taken that well and i have a feeling that they went back to the director to confront them about saying that as dop I should not listen to the producer.

...Question is

Did I do the right thing?
Should a dp take creative suggestion from a producer?

thanks,

o

Edited by kieran james simpson, 24 August 2012 - 05:27 PM.

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#2 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 06:18 PM

I have shot 4 features that were color timed according to the Producer's wishes. I was not even present at the grading sessions, and neither were the Directors.

You may not like listening to the producer, but you have to pretend to, because ultimately they have the final say in the movie looks, and they are the ones who (hopefully) will hire you again.
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#3 kieran james simpson

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 06:31 PM

My last 4 features were color timed according to the Producer's wishes. I was not even present at the grading sessions, and neither were the Directors.

You may not like listening to the producer, but you have to pretend to, because ultimately they have the final say in the movie looks, and they are the ones who (hopefully) will hire you again.


thanks for the quick reply - just three quick questions if you have time


1. So was the director wrong to say i shouldnt listen to the producer?
2. are you basically saying i should take on board both the director and producers wishes?
3. what if their opinions clash/ the director wants one thing and the producer another?
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#4 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 06:46 PM

My last 4 features were color timed according to the Producer's wishes. I was not even present at the grading sessions, and neither were the Directors.


Is this a common practice in independent projects? It seems highly unprofessional to not have the DP or the director present during a timing session.
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#5 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 07:16 PM

thanks for the quick reply - just three quick questions if you have time


1. So was the director wrong to say i shouldnt listen to the producer?
2. are you basically saying i should take on board both the director and producers wishes?
3. what if their opinions clash/ the director wants one thing and the producer another?


Directors always say 'don't listen to him'. Producers are not necessarily wrong just because they are producers. The trick is to find a way of incorporating what they want into the vision that you and the director have. If you can't do that then you have to stand up and explain that you can't follow two masters, and let the Director and Producer sort it out amongst themselves. The last thing you want is be thought of as having gone behind either of their backs.
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#6 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 07:23 PM

Is this a common practice in independent projects? It seems highly unprofessional to not have the DP or the director present during a timing session.


Those films were all made for the same company, who keep all their post work in-house. The official reason why I can't attend is that the colorist works from home, but I suspect the real reason is that they don't want me there in case I slow the process down by making suggestions. I'm pretty sure that what I regard as communicating my visual intent, they regard as unnecessary interference.
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#7 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 10:30 PM

Start with what you want to avoid. You want to avoid having different people come up to you and give their opinion one on one.

Think of it as a pyramid. You are on top of the DP pyramid, but you do answer to probably two people equally, the director and the person who is trying to keep the production on schedule and on budget. Anyone else should be going through those two people unless it is a very simple tweak or something they noticed that maybe nobody else did (like something is halfway in the shot, or something is sticking out of someone's head, or a suggestion that saves time, etc).

So if there are two people you answer two, see if you want to have discussions as three people, not just you and one or the other. After that, anyone else should go through those two people with the exceptions mentioned above.
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#8 kieran james simpson

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 04:17 AM

Start with what you want to avoid. You want to avoid having different people come up to you and give their opinion one on one.

Think of it as a pyramid. You are on top of the DP pyramid, but you do answer to probably two people equally, the director and the person who is trying to keep the production on schedule and on budget. Anyone else should be going through those two people unless it is a very simple tweak or something they noticed that maybe nobody else did (like something is halfway in the shot, or something is sticking out of someone's head, or a suggestion that saves time, etc).

So if there are two people you answer two, see if you want to have discussions as three people, not just you and one or the other. After that, anyone else should go through those two people with the exceptions mentioned above.


this is well put, thanks
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