Jump to content


Photo

Would you ever hire a DOP based on their showreel?


  • Please log in to reply
37 replies to this topic

#1 Maxim Ford

Maxim Ford
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 117 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 13 December 2013 - 06:50 PM

The skills of a DOP are :

 

to light and film consistently from the beginning to the end of a film.

 

To be able to match interiors and exteriors

 

Work with the director to make shots and scenes for editing

 

To capture the performance of the actors

 

To work as well on a Monday morning as a Friday night.

 

etc.....

 

Showreels fail to show these strengths or weaknesses.....

 

 

A wise director would only hire a DOP after watching their whole films, so why have showreels?

 

 

 

 

 

 


  • 0

#2 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5482 posts
  • Director

Posted 13 December 2013 - 07:23 PM

A wise director would only hire a DOP after watching their whole films, so why have showreels?

 

For once on this forum I will agree with you to a certain extent, I am not a fan of show reels either.  I have said this many times.  The big problem is that a bunch of shots cut to thumping music does not show me what the DOP can do.

 

I would much rather see 4-5 completed scenes from beginning to end.  In fact I would insist on it.

 

Now most working directors reach a point in their career where they only work with 2-3 DOPs, and they don't look at new work from "up and coming" artists.  So when a movie is green-lit the director calls one of his DOP friends and just gives him the start date, he doesn't say, "send me your latest reel."

 

This is partly why it is so difficult for new DOPs to break into the film industry.

 

R,


  • 0

#3 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 13 December 2013 - 07:54 PM

If a director is looking at a dozen potential DP's, a show reel is the fastest way to pare down the list (that, and the resume).  Once it is down to one or two DP's, many directors look at longer sections of their work or entire movies, or skim through the movie.

 

It's mainly a time management issue.  Directors often don't have time in prep to be watching dozens of entire movies in order to find a DP, they'll wait until they have to make the final decision, and then yes, hopefully they make the decision based on the interview, testimonials & references, the resume, samples of work including demo reels, and some whole works, etc.  Most would not make a decision based solely on a reel unless the job was fairly small & short and the stakes were low.

 

If you have a varied style from job to job, the problem with not having a reel is what if the director only looks at one of your movies and doesn't like the movie nor the look, when another one of your movies that he didn't watch has exactly the look he wanted?


  • 4

#4 Keith Walters

Keith Walters
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2219 posts
  • Other
  • Sydney Australia

Posted 14 December 2013 - 08:46 AM

It's not just the actual cinematography itself, it's the type of production someone has entrusted you to shoot on that is probably more to the point. That's why an email with some in-line stills (NOT Attachments) is more likely to get somebody's attention than a collection of copybook clips with a doof-doof soundtrack. Of course if the only person who has entrusted you is you, you may need to get a little more creative....

 

And contrary to popular belief, your showreel doesn't have to be cinema or broadcast quality, at least in  the first instance.

Your best bet is to put some reasonable quality stills (no more than about 400 pixels wide) in the body of the email text, and  attach a lower res version of your showreel to the email (.wmv will be fine and will work on any computer). Then, also  include a link to a full-resolution version on Vimeo or similar. DO NOT attempt to attach huge video files to emails unless they specifically ask you to.

 

I know this will be unbelievably hard for you to believe, but not all producers have high-end unlimited bandwidth internet access, and the quickest way to piss them off is to send them huge email files.

 

Giving some acknowledgement to the sender that you understand how little time he or she has for looking at stuff like this, will go a lot further that a lot of waffle about how you admire and respect their work and so on. Remember, they're looking for employees, not a fan club.


  • 0

#5 Adam Frisch FSF

Adam Frisch FSF
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2009 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, USA

Posted 14 December 2013 - 10:54 AM

In my experience this is (perhaps crassly) what's most important on a falling scale:

 

1. Your success and how "big" you are. You have to understand that it's not just show business in front of the camera, it's behind the camera as well. Ad agencies/clients/financiers want to be able to say on Monday over coffee with their partners that they were working with Roger Deakins or an Oscar winning DP. Coolness by association. I know for a fact, because I had it from his agent himself, that commercial clients will wait or work around Emmanuel Lubezki's schedule. When he's off a feature film all he needs to do is call up his agent and say "I have 2 months off, can you book some commercials?" and they book as many or as few as he wants. But understand that this only happens at the very top level. No client or ad agency will wait for us lesser DP's.

 

2. Recommendations and reputation. Directors will base hiring on sometimes unresearched recommendations from other directors or producers. Sometimes they might ask around about you, or someone else mentions you to them, or your name has a buzz at that moment. This is very common and once you have been vetted by their peers, they'll hire you based on that and not the particulars on your reel. It is very, very common that if you do a successful or good ad at a certain production company (and you and the director get along), you will pick up other work from other directors at that production company. They talk about DP's all the time.

 

3. Reel/CV. And here we have different tiers. Obviously a bigger reel (notice I didn't say better), with more things they recognise or have seen, with known actors/stars, stand a better chance than the ever so nicely shot thing they don't know about or haven't heard of. They need the stamp of approval of familiarity, or success, to be able feel confident in your skills. It's the sad truth that a beautiful reel on its own will not get necessarily get you more work. However, it will get you those first jobs that then can help build your reel.

 

Being a DP is great. But it's a long hard way to make it in to a successful career. It's just like life - it's not going to be fair, it's not going to be equal. I've had focus pullers that used to work for me and assistants that used to load my camera truck (at 4am in the morning) who today are shooting big Hollywood features and are much more successful than I am. Some of them got an easy ride and found success very quick by being at the right spot at the right time. That's OK, you just have to stop comparing yourself to others and not feel intimidated by the fact that it's not always fair. It doesn't mean you're a worse DP or have lesser skills. That's very important to remember.


  • 13

#6 Stephen Murphy

Stephen Murphy
  • Guests

Posted 14 December 2013 - 11:43 AM

Brilliant post Adam - absolutely nailed it.
  • 1

#7 Kieran Scannell

Kieran Scannell
  • Sustaining Members
  • 339 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Netherlands/Ireland

Posted 14 December 2013 - 02:03 PM

Brilliant post Adam - absolutely nailed it.


Second that! That kind of sums up my working expereience.
  • 0

#8 Kieran Scannell

Kieran Scannell
  • Sustaining Members
  • 339 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Netherlands/Ireland

Posted 14 December 2013 - 04:58 PM

In fact that post should be sent to every film school in the world! 


  • 0

#9 Maxim Ford

Maxim Ford
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 117 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 14 December 2013 - 05:54 PM

The  one missing factor is the knowledge and qualification for the job.

 

It is a reflection of the state of the industry that its hiring practices are anarchistic.

 

 

If the same was true of the aviation or medical professions would anyone fly or go into hospital?


  • 0

#10 Mark Dunn

Mark Dunn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2429 posts
  • Other
  • London

Posted 14 December 2013 - 06:06 PM

Who decides that? You?

Negligence by a DoP can't kill anyone.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 14 December 2013 - 06:08 PM.

  • 0

#11 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 14 December 2013 - 07:03 PM

Anachronistic? In what way is a resume, references, job interview, and samples of work not an indication of experience and knowledge? Do you think there should be exams? Who would conduct them?You'd have to have someone as knowledgable as a DP to conduct them. What method are you proposing that would be more informative than a resume, job interview, references and testimonials, and samples of actual work? Do you want the equivalent of a bar exam and a board of certification?
  • 0

#12 Keith Walters

Keith Walters
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2219 posts
  • Other
  • Sydney Australia

Posted 14 December 2013 - 07:22 PM

Do you think there should be exams? Who would conduct them?You'd have to have someone as knowledgable as a DP to conduct them. What method are you proposing that would be more informative than a resume, job interview, references and testimonials, and samples of actual work? Do you want the equivalent of a bar exam and a board of certification?

 

 

And this is another sad old same ol' same ol': The sort of people who invariably wind up running the show, are the very people who haven't got a hope in hell of getting a real job in the real world. This is exactly why the USSR generally used to produce such execrable movies....

 

 

Anachronistic?

He did actually say "Anarchic"

Although I can understand your confusion; most of Maxim's notions are pretty anachronistic :lol:


  • 0

#13 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5482 posts
  • Director

Posted 14 December 2013 - 09:20 PM

Anachronistic? In what way is a resume, references, job interview, and samples of work not an indication of experience and knowledge? Do you think there should be exams? Who would conduct them?You'd have to have someone as knowledgable as a DP to conduct them. What method are you proposing that would be more informative than a resume, job interview, references and testimonials, and samples of actual work? Do you want the equivalent of a bar exam and a board of certification?

 

David, I fear you've been sucked into the Maxim Ford vortex like the rest of us.

 

R,


  • 1

#14 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 15 December 2013 - 12:17 AM

Oh, "anarchic"… well, that describes most of the popular arts industries… sort of inevitable when you combine art and commerce!  ;)

 

Honestly, there are limits to how efficient, precise, or accurate you can make the process of art making. You're not trying to get a space craft to land on Mars after all.


  • 1

#15 Bruce Greene

Bruce Greene
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 493 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 15 December 2013 - 04:21 AM

The reality is that many of the people who hire us are not so sure what good cinatgraphy is. Their expertise lies elsewhere.

So they try to get a sense of what others think. References become really important. And sometimes, "buzz".

And sometimes it comes down to how much money the films you've shot have made.

As for the reel, familiarity of the cast and projects are probably most important selling points, but...you never know.
  • 0

#16 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11944 posts
  • Other

Posted 15 December 2013 - 04:43 AM

For what it's worth, Bruce, at least you live in a place where quality counts for something.

 

Watched a trailer for a major new TV series last night and was counting all the different skintones out loud. And I'm not even talking about day and night scenes. Aurgh.

 

P


  • 0

#17 Adam Frisch FSF

Adam Frisch FSF
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2009 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, USA

Posted 19 December 2013 - 05:49 AM

There's that famous story when George Lucas had all his directing buddies over to watch a rough cut of Star Wars. This was before he'd finished any of the effects, so in place of the spaceship battles that he hadn't shot yet, he'd cut in WWII footage of Spitfires and Messerschmitts in grainy B/W. DePalma was there, Scorsese was there, Spielberg was there, Coppola was there, Zemeckis, Milius etc. When it was finished they all tore in to him telling him how much it sucked, how it's gonna bomb and how nobody would go see it.

 

All except one.

 

"He's gonna make billions" Spielberg said. He was the only one who could see through that and imagine the final product.

 

Sensmoral? Very few people, even professionals who are supposed to be able to, can "imagine" or see things that aren't finished. That's why you never should show people stuff that isn't cut, colour graded, or where post and audio isn't in place. Presentation is everything and you only get that first time to make an impression.
 

What has this got to do with reels? Well, it means just what Bruce was mentioning. The ones that are hiring us have no idea what good cinematography is - they go by an impression or a feeling that lines up with their personal taste. It's your job to make that first impression count and be palatable. This business is literally run on a succession of gut feelings. There is no system, plan or matrix you can hit.


  • 0

#18 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5482 posts
  • Director

Posted 19 December 2013 - 11:41 AM

The ones that are hiring us have no idea what good cinematography is 

 

Well....I'm not sure about that.  Just because someone is a "director" or "producer" doesn't mean they have no concept of what constitutes good cinematography.  I would say that the vast bulk of working directors know good cinematography when they see it.  Now if you told me that distributors, and the general public at large had no real concept of what "good" cinematography is, that is something I could accept.

 

You are quite correct about this:

"This business is literally run on a succession of gut feelings. There is no system, plan or matrix you can hit."

 

There is of course no way to "quantify" good acting or good writing, it is 100% a matter of personal taste.  There are some people out there that gave Star Wars a 1 star on IMDB, Star Wars!!!

 

R,


  • 0

#19 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11944 posts
  • Other

Posted 19 December 2013 - 01:02 PM

Well, yes, but then Star Wars is... well. It's frankly not even that good as a popcorn movie, to be honest. I never understood the mania for it. The visual effects are spectacular for their time but trivial today, the writing is deeply, deeply mediocre, and the performances are so-so at best. I don't really get Star Wars, and I speak as someone who often enjoys science fiction. I don't hate it, I just don't see any particular genius in it more than I see in something like the recent Resident Evil series.

 

As to photography, I agree wholeheartedly that quality is a matter of opinion. I remember once an episode of Lost which was being presented as high quality work but which had magenta foliage and cyan skin. I thought it looked laughably bad, like a student film that had been badly shot and someone had decided to get arty with it in After Effects - but everyone seemed to think it was great. There's a huge amount of kool-aid drunk on this sort of issue. It was a major television series, at the height of its powers, and the fact that it looked both quite hideously ugly as well as appearing technically broken and wrong was being overlooked on that basis alone. There isn't even really a level of something being really grotesquely incompetent at which people will always object - talk it up enough and it seems people will accept, literally, absolutely anything whatsoever.

 

This is one reason I'm deeply suspicious of rockstar colour grading people - honestly, you can justify more or less anything, and I fear that in terms of both DPs and colorists, actual ability takes a poor seventeenth place behind being ingratiating and wearing nice shoes.

 

Kerpow! Keira is canary yellow!

 

domino-mobile-wallpaper.jpg


  • 0

#20 Stuart Brereton

Stuart Brereton
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3073 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 19 December 2013 - 01:29 PM

I think you have a point Phil, but Domino is probably not the best example to use, as the look of that film was a carefully considered decision, and was arrived at by lighting choices and photochemical processes, rather than something bolted on later in post.


  • 1


Glidecam

Tai Audio

rebotnix Technologies

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Willys Widgets

Paralinx LLC

Broadcast Solutions Inc

FJS International, LLC

CineTape

CineLab

Technodolly

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Metropolis Post

Ritter Battery

Opal

Abel Cine

Aerial Filmworks

The Slider

Rig Wheels Passport

Wooden Camera

Visual Products

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

CineTape

The Slider

Technodolly

FJS International, LLC

Rig Wheels Passport

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Paralinx LLC

CineLab

Tai Audio

Opal

Metropolis Post

Glidecam

Ritter Battery

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Abel Cine

Willys Widgets

Wooden Camera

Visual Products

rebotnix Technologies