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Advice on my goals...


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#1 Nate Opgenorth

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 05:59 PM

Ok so I really want to become a cinematographer! I know your probably laughing as thats a big task but I'm willing to work my way up I just have a few questions...I have a family member who lives and breaths film as part of their job and is into it pretty heavy with allot of connections. I am visiting her and am going to be hopefully on a film set doing something...she works with Producers allot and scripts...

She wants to see some of my work but in all honestly I don't really think its THAT good...its pretty difficult to photograph a film without actors and a killer plot and when I do get the chance I never get to REALLY show off the different techniques and all the knowledge I've got from reading..allot of my experience with the different aspects of cinematography are from doing little test videos on random subjects at my house..I'm sorta wondering if I wait to send my stuff tell I finish the short film I'm in pre-production for now or what. I'm a pretty good writer, at least my teachers have told me that but I don't necessarily want to write rather than capture images...

Second, she talked about how allot of indy film makers or even serious film makers are looking for people and how I could get into that, I honestly don't care if I start off loading film (or carrying SSD's/media these days :\ ) or whatever...willing to work my way up and if I only ever become a 1st AC or Camera Operator I think I can be happy with that....What do Directors/DPs/Producers look for in a young person interested in film? When Im interested in a topic I try and master every aspect of it and so I've read allot but I don't want to come off as a know-it-all so I figure I should just listen? I mean I've had conversations with DPs and filmmakers before and they've always been surprised at how much I know for not working in it but my goal isn't to impress anyone its just to get my foot in the door (in stuck in that door for that matter!). Looking for suggestions for all of the above I guess...

Any replies are much appreciated.. thanks.
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 06:56 PM

What do Directors/DPs/Producers look for in a young person interested in film?



Punctuality, politeness, enthusiasm, the fact that these things don't vanish during hour 18, and, of course, spelling.
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#3 Nate Opgenorth

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 09:31 PM

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Punctuality, politeness, enthusiasm, the fact that these things don't vanish during hour 18, and, of course, spelling.

Sorry,my grammar is quite scattered brained...I usually go back and edit my posts after posting, but for some reason its not letting me edit this post and another I posted in another section on the F55....says I don't have permission. Anyways grammar is sort of my downfall, its quite possibly the primary reason I don't write often, that and a rare form of rheumatoid arthritis, thats besides the point however. I certainly don't carry my self in person as I do over the phone and, especially so, in person. If you could give me the benefit of the doubt and assume that I'm on an even playing field with the average Joe I'd appreciate that greatly.
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#4 Nate Opgenorth

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 09:43 PM

Sorry,my grammar is quite scattered brained...I usually go back and edit my posts after posting, but for some reason its not letting me edit this post and another I posted in another section on the F55....says I don't have permission. Anyways grammar is sort of my downfall, its quite possibly the primary reason I don't write often, that and a rare form of rheumatoid arthritis, thats besides the point however. I certainly don't carry my self in online as I do over the phone and, especially so, in person. If you could give me the benefit of the doubt and assume that I'm on an even playing field with the average Joe I'd appreciate that greatly.
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#5 Hyun De Grande

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 05:44 PM

Spending time on set as a second or first AC won't necessarily lead you to become a DP, it will make you a good second or first AC... But, working on a set does make you understand what it's like working in the industry. It gives you insights, you get a closer look at the camera's and how they're used, you can network, and you can watch how DP's approach their vision, etc. So I do highly recommend it!

I have the same goal as you, and I started not too long ago. I also did some interims as a second AC, and I talked to some of the DP's about wanting to become a DP myself one day. What they said all came down to the same thing, which is: "If you want to become a DP, then try and film as many stuff for yourself. Step by step, starting on smaller projects and gradually climbing up. You'll make errors, out of which you'll learn. You'll create a style perhaps, you can experiment.. Because you're not going to learn it by solely looking how others do it. It merely gives you insight."
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#6 Zachary J Esters

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 06:51 AM

Hi Nate!

To elaborate on what Hyun said above, it's all about getting your "hands-on" career going as a cinematographer. Simply put: to start working as a cinematographer, you have to start shooting something. I find it amazing and a GREAT headstart that you started reading... many Kudos to you! Be mindful though, that even though keeping yourself informed is good enough, it is still not as educational as having the camera in your hands and filming with it. Cinematographers are usually hired on a network basis: if they know you, and know and love your work, they'll hire you. It is important that you have something to show for your craft, so get started! What you know and who you know is fairly important, but it's not really about who you know, it's about who knows YOU! Upload everything you film online to let others critique it or, if it is a short film, send it out to a film festival. There are also several video/commercial competitions online that are free to enter, but with large cash prizes, that you could use to get started, just in case you haven't thought of anything to start shooting yet. My favorite site for these is http://www.onlinevideocontests.com . There ARE others that I can name, like mofilm.com, but you can Google and find these easily.

Just get started is all. Start filming. And don't hesitate to work with other directors on their projects.... it's what cinematographers do for a living, after all.

Hope this helps!


Zachary J. Esters
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#7 Zachary J Esters

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 06:55 AM

Another good technique to get started that I heard a fellow camera friend tell someone while working on American Idol: he said to "buy a camera that everyone desires to shoot on, and rent your camera out, but rent yourself out with the camera as the DP for cheaper."

Also, if you haven't yet, add the ASC manual to your reading list. :)
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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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Aerial Filmworks

The Slider

Willys Widgets

Ritter Battery

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Wooden Camera

Rig Wheels Passport

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