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Production companies picking your crew


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#1 Albion Hockney

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Posted 25 September 2015 - 12:20 PM

Hey guys, I figure some people have more experience with this then me on here and could weigh in. I'm just getting into the more standard commercial production world. Most jobs in the past there have not been production coordinators and I have handled bringing on most of the crew myself, even if the rate is negotiated by the producer I bring on the guys. I just got a job where before they even booked me they had a Gaffer (with his truck) and crew already on the job... I was a little disappointed by this as I have a group of people I like to work with and know my style and such. Does this happen much, and do you ever fight it?

 

 


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#2 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 25 September 2015 - 02:03 PM

I've been booked on similar jobs with the same situation. Show up first day and you're like... umm, nobody asked me, the bloody DP what kind of lighting he wanted to use. From that day on, you look like a pompous idiot because you have a style and you want the lighting equipment you're use to using to generate that look. 

 

I'd say most of the time I was booked on gigs like that, hired gun... show up, do the job and go home. It's very rare I get to choose my gaffer and even assistant camera. The production company usually brings those on and I'm stuck with whoever is there. 

 

So yea, your situation is pretty normal for me. On bigger shows, you can make your own decisions usually. 


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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 25 September 2015 - 02:18 PM

It happens. Hopefully you can work well together. Normally I've been lucky to be able to do such things. You can fight it all you want, but it won't really make a difference.


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#4 Richard Boddington

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Posted 26 September 2015 - 11:36 PM

 even if the rate is negotiated by the producer I bring on the guys. 

 

Really?  He who pays the bills decides how the money is spent.

 

R,


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#5 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 12:08 AM

When I worked as an assistant .. the DP always was the one to chose his camera crew.. even down to the trainee,s .. maybe thats changed.. but why would a prod co want to piss off their own DP .. as long as the rates are ok with them.. 


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 27 September 2015 - 12:12 AM.

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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 12:38 AM

Supple and demand anymore I would say.


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#7 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 01:16 AM

Sorry don't get your meaning 


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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 01:57 AM

there are far more "Dps" these days than ever before-- with technology democratizing, honestly, the power structures are much eroded. They don't care about pissing off the DoP-- they can always find someone easier to work with.


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#9 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 01:59 AM

there are far more "Dps" these days than ever before-- with technology democratizing, honestly, the power structures are much eroded. They don't care about pissing off the DoP-- they can always find someone easier to work with.


Exactly. Thank god for digital! Now everyone can shoot a "film"!

Now, where did I put my gun... LOL :D
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#10 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 06:48 AM

there are far more "Dps" these days than ever before-- with technology democratizing, honestly, the power structures are much eroded. They don't care about pissing off the DoP-- they can always find someone easier to work with.

 

Ok got it.. but even lower budget stuff.. surely their pick of DP is not done lightly..  and what possible difference can it be to production if the cost is the same.. ?


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#11 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 06:49 AM

Exactly. Thank god for digital! Now everyone can shoot a "film"!

Now, where did I put my gun... LOL :D

 

Careful you might have to shoot yourself.. you shoot with one of the cheapest camera,s around..   :)


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#12 JD Hartman

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 07:35 AM

. I just got a job where before they even booked me they had a Gaffer (with his truck) and crew already on the job...

 

 

Budgetary constraints made the choice of Gaffer with equipment and team (working crew), more important than who was hired as DP


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#13 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 01:05 PM

 

Ok got it.. but even lower budget stuff.. surely their pick of DP is not done lightly..  and what possible difference can it be to production if the cost is the same.. ?

 

Sometimes it is. I am sorry to say that while it is wonderful when DoPs are respected as creatives-- often we are button pushers in the eyes of some productions who care more about the bottom line.


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#14 Richard Boddington

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 06:01 PM

 

Sometimes it is. I am sorry to say that while it is wonderful when DoPs are respected as creatives-- often we are button pushers in the eyes of some productions who care more about the bottom line.

 

And don't you forget that Adrian! I can get a trained chimp to do your job!!  :D

 

R,


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#15 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 06:56 PM

 
And don't you forget that Adrian! I can get a trained chimp to do your job!!  :D
 
R,

Do you have a picture of that one Richard? ;)
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#16 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 07:22 PM

 

And don't you forget that Adrian! I can get a trained chimp to do your job!!  :D

 

R,

 and you could pay peanuts :)


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#17 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 08:17 PM

Hiring is always the producer's call, a cinematographer can only recommend.  However, if a producer is entrusting the cinematography to someone, it would be odd to ignore the cinematographer's opinions on things that affect the cinematography -- like the crew that gets hired.  Assembling the camera, grip, and electric crew (or at least the keys) is a normal part of a cinematographer's job duties.  

 

On the other hand, there are always financial and logistical considerations that will come into play that may take some of that decision-making out of the cinematographer's hands, depending on the budget and the nature of the production.  I did some low-budget features where the gaffer normally worked with that producer (no matter who the cinematographer was) because he had a deal on electric gear, and I've done a few shows where the producer wanted me to hire a particular key grip because of the deal on their truck package.  It happens.  Of course, generally the producer isn't going to push someone incompetent on me because that will only hurt the producer's bottom line in the end.

 

I remember once having to hire a family friend of the producer's on a show and I struggled with the skill level of that person until a few weeks later the same producer asked me why I hadn't replaced that guy!


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#18 Richard Boddington

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 09:43 AM

Do you have a picture of that one Richard? ;)

 

Yes I do!  This is Bongo, one of the finest chimp DOPs from the 30s and 40s.  He shot more than 50 features for MGM before retiring in 1978.  He was nominated 5 times for the best cinematography Oscar, lost every time to a human DOP.  Claiming primate discrimination he left the industry in a huff.

 

R,

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#19 Richard Boddington

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 09:49 AM

Hiring is always the producer's call, a cinematographer can only recommend. 

 

I'm fine with a DOP bringing the crew to the table.  What I can't usually go along with is the DOP insisting that a certain 1st or 2nd AC be used who is miles away and needs to be flown in, etc.  Maybe on the big shows they don't care, probably they don't.

 

What makes me laugh more and more these days are camera dept people with agents.  Some 1st AC thinks I'm going to begin negotiations with their agent?  Again, maybe it's standard on 150 million dollar movies where money is thrown down the toilet like there is no tomorrow.

 

R,


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#20 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 10:41 AM

All that's important is that people take responsibility for these sorts of decisions.

 

Whoever decides on something - whether that's hiring someone, taking a particular technical approach, or choosing a piece of equipment - is responsible for that decision and should be the one to suffer the consequences if there's a problem.

 

Obviously, this never actually happens.

 

P


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