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Aspiring Writer/Director/Cinematographer


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#1 mike succardi

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 02:22 PM

Hello everyone! I am new to this site but have spent some time reading through the forums and I can tell there are many knowledgeable people here. I must admit, I have no camera experience whatsoever. I write all the time but in terms of directing or dp work I have no experience at all. I'm confident in my vision and truly believe I can do great things in those aforementioned fields but first I have to learn the technical aspects of being a director and a dp of course. I have been saving up to take a course but I was wondering if there are any tutorials online? Or books? My main interest is learning how to operate a 35mm camera and how to shoot on film rather than digital. Any help/suggestions will be greatly appreciated!
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#2 Matthew Padraic Barr

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 03:06 PM

For an introductory book on the technical aspects of directing, I'd recommend "Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics" By Michael Rabiger. It's very thorough and will give you an idea of the basic processes of directing a film. After that, I'd recommend Sidney Lumet's book "Making Movies." That's a great book. For directing actors, a really good introductory book is "Directing Actors: Creating Memerable Performances for Film and Television" by Judith Weston.

As for cinematography, these two books are a great introduction: "Cinematography: Theory and Practice, 2nd Edition Image Making for Cinematographers and Directors" by Blain Brown and "Cinematography: Third Edition" by Kris Malkiewicz and M. David Mullen.

After an introduction, these books will give you a better understanding of the practical considerations cinematographers make as well as the more complex processes and techniques: Film Lighting by Kris Malkiewicz, Reflections: Twenty-One Cinematographers at Work by Benjamin Bergery (one of my favorites),  The Art of the Cinematographer: A Survey and Interviews with Five Masters By Leonard Maltin, New Cinematographers by Alex Ballinger, Every Frame a Rembrandt: Art and Practice of Cinematography by Andrew Laszlo, ASC.

These are only the books that I can personally attest to. You can look at the American Society of Cinematographers website for more; there's a section on their website entitled "The DP's Bookshelf." 


Edited by Matthew Padraic Barr, 09 July 2015 - 03:07 PM.

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#3 joshua gallegos

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 07:15 PM

Cinematography is extremely difficult to do, and I wouldn't recommend doing both the directing and cinematography on your own. I've learned a valuable lesson, as I've unsuccessfully attempted this twice . Time and money are necessary resources in order to film something that is worth putting on camera, and you must have time to think- rushing on any project will burn you out very quickly. The fun part about making films is the creativity that is involved, and when you film with no resources that are vital to the storytelling, you end up with a jumbled mess. Instead of learning about cinematography, I would recommend learning a little more about fund raising. Since you want to write-direct-shoot, I can only surmise that you're doing it out of desperation. Film is a collaborative medium, you need a crew of passionate people that want to make the best film they can, it's no fun when you have 10 things to do at once. 


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#4 mike succardi

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 07:32 PM

I want full creative control over the project and I don't want to be in a position where I may clash wits with another creative person. I know it will be difficult, but I am very determined. My scripts are my passion and I want to give them the best treatment possible. I am hoping that people who care about the subject matter of my planned debut will help me crowdfund and bring my script to the screen. If that doesn't work I'll have to work harder.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 08:03 PM

So you only plan on hiring un-creative people? Un-creative actors?

You shouldn't be afraid of hiring people that may be more talented than you in some aspect or another. You're still going to get a lot of credit anyway as the director.

That's fine if you want to be a director who can shoot too, there have been a number of them, particularly in the commercial world. It's just that it will take some time to be proficient with a 35mm movie camera, and it's expensive. I spent ten years shooting Super-8 film before I tackled 16mm and then 35mm. Not that it takes ten years but it also takes more than a few months if you have no background in film at all.

It's just a bit contradictory to say that you don't want to collaborate with a cinematographer because you don't want any opposing ideas brought into the mix but then to say you want to give your project "the best treatment possible", implying that having you do your own photography will ensure that it will look the best it possibly can, that for some reason, hiring an experienced cinematographer can only lead to a worse-looking project. That doesn't make a lot of sense.

I can understand a director doing their own cinematography because they already have a passion for photography, ala Kubrick, George Stevens, Nicholas Roeg (though all ended up hiring cinematographers), but you didn't say you come from a photography background so how do you know you have a passion for it?

But since you are at the start of your journey, I guess you'll find out one way or another, so the best of luck!

My suggestion is to first learn the mechanics of exposure by using a film still camera (or even a digital still camera in manual mode) and then try a very short, short project in 16mm (just rent or borrow a camera for one weekend).
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#6 joshua gallegos

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 08:07 PM

I want full creative control over the project and I don't want to be in a position where I may clash wits with another creative person. I know it will be difficult, but I am very determined. My scripts are my passion and I want to give them the best treatment possible. I am hoping that people who care about the subject matter of my planned debut will help me crowdfund and bring my script to the screen. If that doesn't work I'll have to work harder.

 

I firmly believe a lot of the creativity comes from discussing things with your fellow collaborators. I used to feel the same way, but through trial and error, I realized film is solely a collaborative medium, and there is no other way to do it. Cinematography requires many years of experience before you become proficient. Look at every cinematographer's filmography, and somewhere around the middle (3-4 years) is where their unique artistic vision begins to flourish. All the technical stuff becomes second nature to them over time, so from that point forward their artistry blossoms. So, if you do begin doing your own cinematography, expect to make quite a few mistakes in the beginning. 


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#7 mike succardi

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 08:39 PM

Haha I didn't mean to come off as arrogant or harsh in my words but I think that's how you may have taken it. It has nothing to do with credit. My stories are very personal to me and I really feel the best way to bring these stories to life visually is on my own. Of course I hope to work with creative actors but I would hope the actors respect my material and my vision also.
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#8 mike succardi

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 08:45 PM

I truly don't know or understand how difficult it is. I am completely a beginner. I have been interested in photography and film my whole life I just never really explored the opportunity to take part of it. I always focused on my writing. Recently my fascination for cinematography and photography have peaked. I am determined to learn and start practicing. I truly believe in my vision.
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#9 Justin Hayward

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 08:51 PM

Through about 15 years of trial and error, I've learned (the hard way) that my "vision" might not be as good as I think it is.  Once I realized that, many creative doors opened.  Of course I still have a battle plan with every job, but my execution is open to many other creative minds that I hire.  I shot a job on Tuesday that was about 90 percent art direction, and the art director performed beautifully.  I got the credit as the director, but she deserves the glory.


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#10 Justin Hayward

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 08:57 PM

The DP and gaffer did a fantastic job too in case they walk across this... ;)


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#11 joshua gallegos

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 11:42 PM

I truly don't know or understand how difficult it is. I am completely a beginner. I have been interested in photography and film my whole life I just never really explored the opportunity to take part of it. I always focused on my writing. Recently my fascination for cinematography and photography have peaked. I am determined to learn and start practicing. I truly believe in my vision.

 

Well, don't be discouraged. I just think everyone is trying to admonish you that cinematography requires a lot of hard work and a lifetime to learn. At some point you will have to choose if you would rather shoot films or write and direct them. It's rare for someone to direct and shoot their own films, Even when Jack Cardiff who was a master cinematographer, made the transition to director had other DPs shoot his films. Wally Pfister who made his directorial debut didn't shoot his own film. The only filmmaker I can think of is Reed Morano who shot and directed Meadowland, but she spent her entire life shooting films before making her directorial debut. Concentrate on one thing and get very good at it. As for me, I have chosen to stick with writing, as I've been doing it for six years, and most writers hit their prime in their 30s, so I've still got years to perfect my craft. 


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