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How many does a year do you shoot


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#1 Albion Hockney

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 07:37 PM

Always curious about this and how it varies among shooters.

I shoot good paying gigs maybe 4-5 days a month on average ... Sometimes I'll get on something that shoots a lot of days.

ill Ac or op a couple other days.

Then every few months something like a short film might come up

I bet last year I totaled about 60 days on set... Hoping it will increase though!

How about you?
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#2 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 08:27 PM

As a full time AC, I was working 15-25 days a month including prep days, but not including pickup and drop off days. Most of those were full rate, a few lower budget, and few freebies. The last three years, I've split shooting and ACing work, and this year most of my days are shooting, just picking a few days operating or ACing for old clients. I'm averaging about 6 good paying shooting days a month including paid scout days, but not including unpaid test shoot days at the rental house (if any), pickup/drop-off days, hours spent on client phone and conference calls, prep time, and paperwork. That's with 3 regular clients as of now.

 

I'm making less than I was as an AC, but much happier with the work and the quality of life. Keeping track of script revisions, crew and equipment lists, managing client relations, and labor/rental invoices on multiple projects has been a little overwhelming at times. I don't know how the super busy DPs handle it. In that aspect, being an AC was much simpler.


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#3 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 01:02 AM

I barely get enough cinematography work to make ends meet. I shot for 7 days on a pilot last year that still hasn't been finished. Did a few promo's and short subject pieces, all of them pay, but most of them I haven't received the money on. It leaves such a bad taste in your mouth when you work hard to produce something quick and the client disappears after the initial down payment. I'd say on average, I work about 2 weeks a month and barely make ends meet. I have a lot in the works, but nobody has signed on the dotted line.

I think the big problem is who you know and honestly, mostly everyone I know is in short-subject, promo/marketing style pieces which are quick shoots and edits.

It's a hard business which is why I diversify and edit/color as well.
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#4 John Miguel King

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 04:26 AM

Over the last three years I did on average 16 - 20 weeks a year as DIT on features, dramas and commercials. Then something like 3 weeks a year as DOP.

It's just impossible (for very good reasons, I think) to start off as DOP and make a living. It's maybe a notch easier for those coming straight off the top films schools. The reason: there are more experienced DOPs around that will deservedly take the well paid jobs.

Honestly, nothing beats learning from the masters. Cinematography is a craft first and foremost. I see no reason why the progression to DP should be any different from that of becoming a master builder. x


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#5 Richard Boddington

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 05:16 AM

I'm only working 5-6 weeks every three years.

 

R,


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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 05:12 PM

I did 137 days as DoP last year, which is about 11 days per month. And they were all paid, though not all paid well.

As for 2015, as of this moment I've been booked for (though not yet shot), 96 days-- most of which started in March. Jan/Feb were dead, but April on towards mid-July is basically all booked up-- so I think Im looking at maybe around 180 days this year on the whole working. Not all of those are paid-- there are a few tech scout days for certain people (5 so far this yr) which I haven't charged for. Some of these days are also ULB, though still above min wage, DoP gigs where I'll take a hit on my rate in order to get better value on screen or better pay for other crew. And about 8 days so far have been Gaffing/Juicing for me as favors to other DoPs I know who are working smaller things.

 

Hopefully it only gets more booked; but who knows. I suppose I'm a work-a-holic. I literally spend about 16 hrs/day working; be it on projects, reading, tracking down work, doing books, etc. I often forget to eat, and I also often forget that I have friends. Eventually I'll feel comfortable enough to take a real vacation-- though truth be told my one production overseas this yr is giving me an extra week in country with free room and board which is saved for "pickups" which we won't need, which I'll be using for mild vacation.


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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 06:07 PM

That's pretty busy, Adrian, considering there are only about 22 working days in a month if you work 5-day weeks -- so 11 days per month means you are working 50% of the year, which for a film worker, isn't bad depending on your salary.

 

I actually try to have gaps between jobs to spend time with my wife, travel, read, do other things.  Sometimes this times out perfectly and other times it can cause a gap between jobs to be even wider.  But I'm not someone who actually wants to shoot all year round without a break.

 

For example, I worked from January to July last year on a TV series, so that was plenty of work, and I took August through October off knowing that I had a feature in November.  But that feature in November pushed in two-week increments all the way until January, so the net result was that I didn't work in the second half of 2014.

 

Now it looks like I'll have shot three features in a row from January to September if all goes according to plan (ha!) which means I'll probably want to take time off in the fall to travel again, but we'll see.

 

A good year would be something like a pilot or feature in the spring and a TV series in the fall, but it rarely works out so neatly -- often a fall TV series will spill past February, causing me to miss out on pilot season, etc.  It's all timing.  You have to look at there trends over a three or four year period because there can be so much variation within a single year in terms of how busy you are.


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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 06:22 PM

I suppose the benefit of no family and no wife or real relationships anymore means I can keep busy. Some of the rates are ok, some of them are abysmal; just depends on what it is. I actually upped my rates this year, so we'll see how that goes. I'm grateful for the work, and always surprised when i get the call; but that's probably my nature. Normally though it's 6 day weeks for me, often with a 7th on something else-- though i don't like doing that too much so, I try to pad a day or two between shows just so i can sleep and shave, but that doesn't always work out.

This year, though does look substantially busy. So here's hoping. Lord knows I need it, not so much so for just the money, but also for my own mental stability and distraction. I seem to be most happy when I'm working, feel most natural I suppose.

And not to get too personal with everyone; but after 7 years being in what was a pretty atrocious relationship full of things unmentionable, it's nice to work hard, just to keep yourself distracted from what would else-wise really drag me down.

 

One of these days, however, I would love to be in your enviable position, David, of being able to enjoy life outside of a craft service table. Though at present, I don't think that's in the stars. There are plenty of other young shooters, better than me, who will undercut and the like-- so I suppose the best thing, aside from being passable, is working harder and longer than the rest. I'm lucky, in a way, that most of the directors, not all, but most, really seem to respect and enjoy my rather off-beat, not what they're used to style as well. But ever little bit helps.


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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 09:08 PM

What Adrian said, with a degree of personal accuracy that would seem alarming I'd it weren't so extraordinarily apposite.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 09:57 PM

The funny thing is that I work about as often as I did 18 years ago, just that back then it was less by choice.


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#11 Chris Warren

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 02:22 AM

I've been keeping track of my days on set (just on set, no scouts/meetings/coloring sessions) the past few years just to track growth. 2011: 75, 2012: 99, 2013: 151, 2014: 141, and this year I'm at 41, all but one day paid. Most of my days are working as a DP (a good chunk the 1 man band), others are filled with Gaffing or Camera Operating. I'm with Adrian on this one as to where the rates are, with most work being ULB or student thesis projects. I just try to stay busy and active, plus keeping the networking alive really helps!


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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 04:41 AM

Again, there are only around 250 business days or so in a year -- if you are working for over 100 of them, that's pretty busy in this industry considering the freelance nature of the job. After all, some of that time in the year is spent looking and interviewing for the next job.


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#13 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 10:30 AM

I know that I'm not on the typical side of these conversations but for 2015 (for example), I started work on January 5th. I'll have one week at home after April 15 and then will start my next picture that will wrap around late November/ early December. Christmas off at home and then begin again around mid January, 2016.  That's fairly the norm for me.  Having said this, I do have some control when I will make time for family and for fun traveling as opposed to work travel, etc. But, when I'm traveling for work, my wife and I always take advantage of where we are and travel for fun while we are there or after we are done with work there.  This year, we wrap our movie in Dubai, UAE (she will be there) and we may stop in Europe for a week or two prior to coming home for Christmas. We shall see how screwed up our plans become with constant changes in our schedule!  :rolleyes:

 

G


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#14 Miguel Angel

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 11:06 AM

When I was a 2nd AC in Spain I worked usually 8 or 9 months per year. 

2 movies per year (around 24 weeks) and then 1 second unit (4 weeks) and the rest, commercials. 

There was one year where we spent 6 months working on a commercial around the world! and we had time to make 1 movie and 1 second unit! :D

 

As I have started from the scratch in Ireland since last September, I worked 4 - 5 days per month, so around 20 days in 4 months until December.

However, I have to take into account the little documentary I made in Egypt (unpaid), that was 17 days.

Also the short - film I shot in April which was 7 days, so let's say around 40 days. 17 of them as a DOP (without being paid)

 

2015 is being much better, I wrapped a movie as 2nd AC in March (4 weeks), I am working as a 2nd AC all next week on reshoots for another one (Sing Street) and then I have nothing, hopefully Vikings Season IV will give me some dailies as they are filming from April to December (and maybe until March next year!!)

 

On the DOP side I am booked for the short - film I've been talking about in middle May for 4 days plus scoutings and tech tests (unpaid), I am booked for another short - film in middle June for 4 days plus scoutings (paid) and I am booked for a teaser trailer (paid) for 3 days at the end of June :) 

I shot the camera tests for the short - film  back in January, that was 1 day (unpaid) and I spent 4 days in Spain shooting a short - film and a little spec commercial with a friend (unpaid)

 

That makes 16 days as a DOP in 3 months :'( 

 

I wish I could work 11 months out of 12 per year, I also think I am a workaholic but when I am on set I don't feel as if I were working, I consider being on set my holidays! and although I love travelling, work brings me everywhere and when I am not working I am trying to learn more and more by shooting small things like tabletop or faces or just by following my cat around the house with the redone! :D

 

Mr, Irwin, if ye come to either Ireland or Spain, let me know! I will give ye a tour!!! I promise I won't show you the Guinness factory! and I might give you my CV just in case you need an intern back in the States ha! :) 

 

Have a good day!


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#15 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 11:26 AM

 

Mr, Irwin, if ye come to either Ireland or Spain, let me know! I will give ye a tour!!! I promise I won't show you the Guinness factory! and I might give you my CV just in case you need an intern back in the States ha! :)

 

Have a good day!

Senior Angel,

Do you know a DOP named Luis de Santiago in Spain? He shoots commercials and some features.  He is a very close and dear friend of mine for over 30 years!  And I'll take you up on the Guinness Factory!  Cheers!  :blink:  


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#16 Miguel Angel

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 06:26 AM

Mr. Irwin! 

I am afraid I don't know him but if he works in Spain I'm sure my friends know him. 

 

When I was working in Spain I was mainly working on American co - productions and commercials from overseas (we call them "services" in Spain), in fact, I have worked with just 1 Spanish DOP in all my working life! (sad as it is!)

 

If you were in the Canary Islands shooting F&F6 chances are that you met some of my friends there! (FX and Stunts) :) 

 

Looking forward to showing ye around! :) 


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#17 Albion Hockney

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 09:55 AM

Interesting to hear everyone on this. Adrian that is amazing you go out so much!


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#18 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 09:57 AM

In my ideal world Albion; I'd work 345 days a year. In my ideal world.


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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 10:11 AM

Not me, I always have a writing project to tackle on my free time plus I want to travel more, and I want to spend more time with my wife, my dog, my parents, my friends, etc. One of my dogs passed away last month just three days after I returned from being away for two months on a shoot; I feel guilty for missing that time with her. There are other things in life than work.
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#20 Mark Dunn

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 11:10 AM

Maybe 245. Not 3.


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