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Cinematographer collaboration


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#1 Dotse Stein

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 02:31 PM

Hello guys.

 

I've been writing and shooting personal videos here and there, but have decided to venture into the short film and eventually feature medium. Since my budget is minuscule, I constrained myself to shooting digital. As of late, I've created a production company to better address my business needs. My question regards how I can go about bringing a cinematographer on board, like an in house one, since most are freelancers.


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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 02:59 PM

Hi Dotse

 

It'd help if we knew where you were.

 

P


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#3 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 03:20 PM

In-house as in "full-time"?


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#4 Dotse Stein

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 03:31 PM

Thanks for the quick replies, guys. I should have mentioned it early that I live in New York City. My apologies. When I said, in house, I meant as part of the production team and professional image of the group. Many indie companies seem to have this, but since I have never worked with a cinematographer before, I'm not sure how to proceed. Thanks for your input.


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#5 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 04:23 PM

Not really sure how having a staff cinematographer would work as its not something I hear of that often.  Usually, they come in on a project-by-project basis.


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#6 Dotse Stein

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 02:11 AM

Point noted. Thanks


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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 09:28 AM

Well I would say most Cinematographers are free lance, as you note. However, what you can do is just find a DoP you like working with and work out a Right of First Refusal. Meaning they're you're go to, and they have the right of first refusal for any projects you may have. This doesn't prevent them from going off to do other things, but it does mean they will really like working with you.

My friend Noah, who is a good guy seems to always be pitching me as part of his projects which is flattering, but i'm not in house.

 

The other option would be making a DoP a partner in some way, having them invest in the company, either in terms of their equipment of money or whatever. But I think the first step is for you to find a DoP you like to work with.


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#8 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 10:42 AM

I never heard of the "Right of First Refusal."  Very interesting.  Does that apply to other talent as well at times?


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#9 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 10:47 AM

I'm sure it could.

 

Here is a quick outline:

 

http://en.wikipedia....f_first_refusal

 

You could structure it in such a way that your "cinematographer" has a Right of First Refusal for you, and gives you a Right of First Offer in return, which would just mean before s/he takes a gig they gotta make sure you're not going to use them on those days (good faith negotiations) and that when you do get a job, they're the first one you'd call.

 

of course, if you have a good working relationship built on trust and respect, the contractual law becomes pretty moot.


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#10 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 10:51 AM

Thanks, Adrian!  As always, you are chock full of useful information!


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#11 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 10:53 AM

My pleasure Bill. Now if only I could convert it to profit more readily ;)


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#12 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 10:55 AM

Yeah, I knew you would say something like that...lol


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#13 Dotse Stein

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 11:42 AM

Interesting. Thanks Adrian. I'll look into it.
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#14 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 12:06 PM

My pleasure Bill. Now if only I could convert it to profit more readily ;)

The Adrian I know and love isn't chasing profit anyway. He prefers to do interesting things and get praise for it ;)


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#15 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 02:14 PM

I think it's fairly normal to have a group of regular collaborators like that, isn't it?


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#16 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 02:16 PM

I dunno. I think a lot of that is dying as people look more for a "DP" with this or that camera as opposed to someone with a particular visual style or knowledge. Sad state of affairs. And yes, Matt, normally don't care for profit, 'cept when I need to pay rent


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#17 Dotse Stein

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 03:57 PM

Good thing you mentioned the "DP with this or that camera" issue. I personally believe every artist has his or her point of strength and for me, it's  fiction with a gloomy touch, so collaborating with a DP who's specialty is setting up stage for romantic scenes or westerns, would sensibly hinder the work. Nevertheless a DP with camera and lightning tool is always a plus. :D


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#18 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 04:08 PM

Although we all want to spend as little as possible, it is very liberating to have your own gear (camera, lighting, some cases even sound gear!) so you know that one way or another, that film is being made. Sure, we all hope things go off without a hitch but if you have your own gear, you can always work something out in a pinch. If you gotta have the PA hold the boom pole or if you have to try your hand at a few camera op moves to finish up...doesn't that beat being left with an incomplete project?


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#19 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 04:44 PM

Unless you're start up company is actually on retainer with a few clients to provide actual regular work and that's already been established under contract, don't give any freelancers the impression you'll be calling them frequently.  I have discount day rates for frequent flyers and I'm not on staff anywhere.  That's how it goes for most of us.  I just know it's super annoying to hear "We have a ton of work" and then never get a call from them only to check in later and find out they closed up shop and were never really a viable entity to begin with.


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#20 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 05:54 PM

I have discount day rates for frequent flyers and I'm not on staff anywhere.  That's how it goes for most of us. 

I understand what the OP is getting at though. As a filmmaker, it is frustrating to be immersed in your project and want everyone to share your enthusiasm (and prep work) but have to deal with crew who work so often on so many different projects that they dont have much time to devote pre-production to you. Sometimes you wish you could just lock them down and get them to focus on you and your project for a bit without interference. Sadly, many crew want the high pay and great working conditions but few are actually worth what they are hoping to acquire.


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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Ritter Battery

Wooden Camera

Rig Wheels Passport

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Willys Widgets

The Slider

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

rebotnix Technologies

FJS International, LLC

Paralinx LLC

Visual Products

Technodolly

Opal

CineTape

Metropolis Post