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I want to become Cinematographer...


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#1 Keia John

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Posted 23 January 2014 - 06:50 AM

I'm a current film student, that wants to be a great Cinematographer. My issue is I'm clueless when it comes to filming something. I want to know, what are some of the things I need to know before film... Let's say a short film. I have a Canon T4i and I want to start shooting movies, but don't quite know what I should look for in Pre Production. Help!!!
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 23 January 2014 - 07:32 AM

That's an incredibly broad question and not really something that can be answered on a forum. So, what I suggest you do is look around Amazon and find a book or two which will take you through the basics. From a cinematography point of view you might want to look at Cinematography by Kris Malkiewicz and David Mullen (who posts here), but you also seem to be concerned about general production management. That's a good concern to have, as many small or independent shoots are poorly-organised, but I don't know what to recommend by way of reading material. I found one called Running the Show on Amazon that might suit with a quick google search.

 

Let us know how you get on.

 

Best,

 

Phil


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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 23 January 2014 - 12:22 PM

Well; you have a camera, and I assume a lens. And you have some drive. You're also not in a major production area (this is possibly a good thing less competition, more people thinking making a film is "cool"  as opposed to a hassle).

What I would suggest is looking for people in your area who also love filmmaking-- use social media. You want to be the DoP and that's great, I am sure you can find someone who wants to be a director, talk with them, and shoot some things. Yes, you will make mistakes. It won't work well, but you're gonna learn things.

 

Also read. Get American Cinematographer, and pick up all the books on cinematography you can. Come back to forums and ask questions on specific things when you get into them ect and you'll be on your way. It'll take a long long time, though-- many many hours on sets.


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#4 Kahleem Poole

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 07:00 PM

Couldn't agree with Adrian more, pick up some issues of AC magazine. It's an invaluable resource.

A few things to take into account though:

 

1. The technical things you can absorb constantly. From tutorial videos, to getting to assist on larger sets. Learning Cinematography on a technical level can be learned fairly quickly. So research, research, research and make yourself stronger in that way.

 

2. This is the part where none of us can help you: what is your vision and how do you train your eye ARTISTICALLY? Are you fond of soft light, or hard pools like Alton? Are you more of an empty space photographer or do you enjoy dirtying up the frame to make things interesting in a different way? How do you communicate with a Director who is bossy vs a Director who is very laid back? What about actor's who may be really finicky about their skin against certain types of lighting?

 

It'll take years to find your way creatively, but the more honest you are with yourself and the more risks you take, the more you'll learn as a photographer. And, THAT is when you'll more than likely understand when you are a Cinematographer or not. Unlike #1, this is a never-ending form of self discovery.


Edited by Kahleem Poole, 24 January 2014 - 07:02 PM.

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#5 Keia John

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 02:22 AM

Thank you guys for the replies, I know practice makes perfect...and nothing happens overnight. I've read some of the AC magazines, a bit pricy but worth it.
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#6 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 03:00 PM

Pre-production on a film as a DP involves assisting with assembling a crew, equipment package, tech scouting locations, breaking down the screenplay into a shooting script by shotlisting and storyboarding with the director. Among other duties.  I'm sure there's a wikipedia page out there and more info in books but those are the first things that come to mind.

 

 Possibly the best thing you can do to "prep" is to have already planned out the entire shoot with the director and A.D. before you show up to photograph it.  Know every camera placement, how you're going to light it and then schedule the day accordingly so you know how long to spend on each shot.  Cause once you get going, there's rarely any time to think about it.  You end up playing a game of beat the clock almost always so if you've done all the work ahead of time, you can relax and enjoy the production process a lot more.


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#7 John Miguel King

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Posted 14 February 2014 - 07:27 AM

Spend a couple of years as a camera trainee in the real productions then make your next move. If these jobs don't happen on a daily basis where you live, then stop living there and move where they happen. Search for trainee schemes in the union and guilds. Ask, chase and beg assistants to train you.

There's only so much you can learn on your own. The industry's been going for a century, that's where knowledge and a path towards your goal exist.

Don't give up! It's the best thing ever when after years of struggling to pay the bills one day you find yourself driving your relatively new car to a set staffed with friends, and that day you're blowing some $hit up... or filming some emotion. You might not be the DP that day, but you'll be part of the team. :D :D


Edited by John Miguel King, 14 February 2014 - 07:31 AM.

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#8 Kieran Scannell

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Posted 14 February 2014 - 05:17 PM

Watch films loads and loads of films! Then try and emulate what you saw and liked. Love what you do no matter how small you think it is. Steal from the best! Ask if you don't know and shoot as much as you can. And then hope something happens for you!

And also what everyone else wrote!


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