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Making the Decision

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#1 Dillon S. Green

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Posted 20 August 2015 - 09:53 AM

I’d like to start by saying hey and thank you for taking the time to read my post. I’m a long time reader and lover of this site and figured it was a good time to ask for some advice. I am a recent graduate who moved out to the Atlanta area within the last year. My intentions were to work in an area where I could comfortably start as a Digital Utility and move forward as I learned more, however it seems to have come to my attention that a lot of the camera crews here seem to be being brought over from wherever the Cinematographer is from. In most of my cases has been from LA. It’s come to the decision making point of if I will end up chasing the camera path or if I will work my way through the electric path where the work seems more plentiful. 

 

I would like to take this time to ask the forum member and Cinematographers their opinion on a decision such as this, and for any advice that my push towards the right direction. Thank you for everything.


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 August 2015 - 11:35 AM

I did a feature in Atlanta in February and the only person I brought from L.A. was an operator who could do Steadicam as well.  On my previous pilot shoot in Atlanta the whole camera crew was local.  So I think there is plenty of work there for camera people.


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#3 Dillon S. Green

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Posted 20 August 2015 - 09:07 PM

Thank you for your insight. It has been something that I had seen on some of the shoots that I had gotten on to. I figured it would be better safe than sorry when it came to jumping on to the union path. It is definitely pleasant to hear that locals are being an option. 


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#4 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 02:51 PM

I think a lot of people think camera is the most important thing, so they always wanna work in the camera department. However, I personally think lighting/gaffing is the most important thing. Interfacing with cinematographers in that way, is a lot better then assembling and disassembling a camera or loading mags/cards. Most cinematographers work with their own AC's, so becoming a 1st assistant camera can be very challenging. However, if you're a good gaffer and stay locally, you'll meet tuns of cinematographers, you'll learn how each one of them works and there will be enough down time for you to watch how they work from a distance, picking up on tricks of the trade. Learning the camera is actually easy, learning how to properly light? That's VERY difficult, that's where the cinematographer makes their money. 

 

Sure, this road does require "breakthrough" work done outside of paid union film sets. You would need to get hired as a cinematographer on a small film outside of your normal work. However, you'd have a skill set that most AC's don't have and be paid well for it. Honestly, I look back on my friends who choose that path and I'm jealous because they're constantly working and a lot of my AC friends are barely able to find work because cinematographers tend to stick with the same AC's. 

 

Just my .02 cents. ;)


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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 05:10 PM

I did the lighting track-- for better or worse, for what it's worth. I find most of my friends who are ACs and trying to DoP lack, rather strongly, in the ability to actually light a scene. Of course I lack in my own ways on cameras, though I find that much less important.

In the end there is no "right" or "wrong," there is only that which you choose. Whatever it is, you'll have to stick to. it is a long and hard road. I can't even begin to tell you the level of sacrifice and mistakes I've made in my time- and I am of course in no way remarkable as a DoP in the least, though I do tend to get hired and somehow things work out to make this my only job.


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