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DP Workflow - Help


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#1 Antoine Azevedo

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 06:32 AM

Hi everybody.

 

Im freshman in a Film School and I've been offered the chance to be the DP of a real and serious TV episode. I've done several others thing but nothing this serious. I have been given the screenplay and after I read it, Im struggling where to start. I've talked to the director and he asked something close to "Breaking Bad" Cinematography.

 

My question is: Where do I start? Do I create already the shooting list? What do I do?

 

Sorry for my bad english and thanks for Reading and possible answers.

 

Cheers from Lisbon :)


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#2 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 07:02 AM

Make sure you get paid before the shoot starts.. I think you have to ask yourself why they have chosen someone who doesn't know what they doing.. sorry to be blunt.. but sounds like a scam.. 


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#3 Antoine Azevedo

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 07:57 AM

It's a school project, so no one is getting paid. And I haven't said I don't understand nothing. I do, I just simply don't know how to start after I've gotten the script. Thanks


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#4 Dylan Sunshine Saliba

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 08:16 AM

If you know your locations, it can be easier to start the shot list.  Depending on the director (some like to shot list with you, some like YOU to make the shot list) you can go ahead and start roughing in the shot list from the script and the look that the director requested.  For me, I like to use the shot list as a battle plan (no battle has ever gone according to plan).  This will let the AD know roughly what is needed per day in gear, crew and actors.  Then you'll need to make sure that data integrity will be kept throughout the workflow, from cam to delivery.  This is just my personal approach to the situation.  I'm sure there are MUCH more experienced DPs to chime in with better workflows.


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#5 Bruce Greene

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 11:07 AM

I would start by reading the script, at least 5 times. Know it as well as the writer :) You will then know what you need for just about anything.

Then think about what it is that makes "Breaking Bad" so engaging? Is it the lighting? Camera placement? Acting? Setting?

Tell the director what you like about "Breaking Bad" and ask him/her what they like about it.

And go from there. And have fun!
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#6 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 05:01 PM

Hi Antoine,

Here's a recent thread where we discuss what responsibilities a DP has, both in preproduction and during production: http://www.cinematog...291#entry429058.

It's by no means a complete list, but you might find it helpful. Simply put, it's your job to fully understand what visual style the director wants for the project and then figure out how to deliver that with the time and resources that are available to you. So your first step would be to read and understand the script fully, try to imagine how you would make it look, and what if any technical or artistic problems or challenges that approach would present.

(Some DP's say they don't like to do this before they speak to the director in case they have a completely different vision from yours. But I always like to be prepared with an alternative in case the director doesn't have any strong ideas, or has an idea that I don't think works, or is unrealistic. I feel like it's part of my job to be ready with lots of creative options.)

Next, have a meeting with the director and try to figure out what approach they want. If they bring up references like 'Breaking Bad', watch them carefully for visual style: locations, lighting, color palette, lens selection, placement of camera and camera movement, editing. There should be some obvious link between the two projects - maybe your assignment takes place in a run-down suburban house or has a big day exterior scene in a desert like 'BB'? Maybe your story is about a quietly desperate middle-aged man who flips out? What is it about the style or mood of 'BB' that the director wants for your project? If you still can't figure it out, ask them.

Finally, once you feel like you are both on the same page you can start a full breakdown of the script scene-by-scene and figure out where and how to shoot it, what equipment and crew you think you will need, any special props or effects that may be required. You can now start having production meetings with the director, production designer or art director, 1st AD, and other department heads to make sure everyone is on the same page. Pay special attention to locations and sets, since you can't easily change them once they are locked in and will largely determine whether your shooting plan is doable and will look good.

I feel that most of the work of a DP is done in pre-pro, so once you get to the production phase things should be more about executing a plan than improvising solutions. Of course, there are inevitably problems that come up requiring improvisation but you will have a better chance at finding good solutions if you have an overall battle plan. And you will get much better at improvising with experience, so don't feel too bad if you make some blunders. It's all a learning experience.
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#7 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 08:21 PM

Hi Ant..  sorry didnt mean any dis respect.. but your opening line was 

 

"Im freshman in a Film School and I've been offered the chance to be the DP of a real and serious TV episode"

 

This didnt sound like a film school project.. it sounded like.. well.. a TV episode.. .. film school project.. totally different.. good luck with it.. most important.. have fun !


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#8 Dylan Sunshine Saliba

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 10:18 AM

most important.. have fun !

VERY key factor!  because if you're not having fun....what's the friggin point?!?


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#9 Antoine Azevedo

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Posted 09 May 2015 - 06:30 AM

Hey,

 

Thanks everybody for the answer. They were indeed very helpful. 

 

Cheers :)


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