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Looking to get in the "business"

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#1 Jaime Marin III

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Posted 21 October 2015 - 08:16 PM

Hey everyone! Hoping I can get some help here from the community. Obviously, my dream career is to be a cinematographer, for television, advertising you name it. I started my own production company out in Orange County, California and we fortunately have had some pretty nice success and have been in business the past 2 years. However it is not necessarily the route I want to go for. I don't necessarily want to be a business owner or business man, I would much rather be out in the field shooting as much as possible. I tend to travel to LA a lot to work on projects there but as of now I find myself some what lost. I don't necessarily know whom to reach out to or what to reach out to. In a perfect world it would be awesome to get a job at a production company and be a shooter for them and earn a salary. I totally understand that in most instances I will have to start from the bottom and work my way back up and thats totally fine. Anyways can anyone point me in the right direction? Down below I'll leave my reel for you guys to check out. 

 

Thanks everyone. 

 


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#2 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 22 October 2015 - 06:12 AM

Cinematography is really a freelance gig in 99% of productions. It's about finding directors and producers who appreciate your work, and doing a good enough job that they ask you back and tell their friends about you.

Finding a salaried job as one is not going to be any easy thing to do.
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#3 Jaime Marin III

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Posted 22 October 2015 - 12:45 PM

How do you suggest I go about this then? Unfortunately my network of producers and directors is to thin to rely on the same people for consist work. 


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#4 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 22 October 2015 - 07:31 PM

If your network of professional colleagues is limited and you don't have family or friends in the business, you can try to get as much work as possible and grow your network on the strength of hard won connections and grueling entry level gigs and hope you move up.  Results will vary greatly.  You tend to move at the pace that the work does.  So pick your work carefully. 

 

I've heard one producer tell me flat out that he lies at parties and says he's a dentist.  Just to avoid getting pitched.

It makes networking for gigs next to impossible when everyone is on high alert all the time wishing to avoid dealing with people who are hungry for a break. So it's very important to have a mutual 3rd party speaking for you who isn't in the business.  This is why advice tends to boil down to having actual friends speak for you and hoping they have connections.  

 

There are those out there who "casually bump into" people they need to meet at a gym or golf course by doing CIA level homework on those individuals and learning their social circles.  I've just never been able to hurdle that kinda thing.  Far too creepy.  If I found out someone befriended me just to meet someone else or get a gig I think I'd be pretty pissed.  But people who do that tend to operate on a Talented Mr. Ripley sort of level and you never even know they're doing it.  Again, not recommended unless you happen to be a sociopath and are able to perform social surgery at the highest level.

 

You will occasionally have those opportunities without forcing them too.  Best to be confident but also honest and upfront.  If you find yourself meeting someone who can hire you, just know the ball is in their court and don't ever expect anything from them. They will recommend you or book you if your work is solid, they like you and the referral is appropriate.

 

One thing I've noticed is that occupational specialization is preferred for more higher end work and having multiple skillsets is preferred for more lower end work.   So if you're going after DP work for larger high profile union level work, you want to avoid seeming like a "jack of all trades".  Even though in the tech world and their new video market, they're all over that.  Good luck.


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#5 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 23 October 2015 - 10:16 PM

How do you suggest I go about this then? Unfortunately my network of producers and directors is to thin to rely on the same people for consist work. 

 

Well again, by finding directors and producers who appreciate your work, and doing a good enough job that they ask you back and tell their friends about you.

 

It's all networking and hustling... continuously.

 

Sourcing representation can also help. You won't necessarily get a whole lot of work through them, but even just a couple of small jobs can help you tremendously if they're for globally recognisable brands.


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#6 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 27 October 2015 - 07:18 PM

It never stops. You never "arrive" and can coast from there on. Just part of the business, and it's one of the many reasons people get out of it eventually. It's a tough racket and not everyone is cut out for the uncertainty of the life of freelancing. I worked for free for about 10 years before I could actually make a living off of it. What other profession would accept such long unpaid apprenticeships? And even though it's a good living these days, it can end overnight.

 

As you get older, some of the opportunities also disappear. One day the phone will eventually stop ringing. You don't see many 60-70 year old cinematographers working constantly unless they're Oscar winners or very established feature film guys. 60-70 year old commercial or music video DP's? Not so much.


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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 October 2015 - 07:31 PM

I worked for free for about 10 years before I could actually make a living off of it.

 

I would assume that was the point at which you moved to LA?

 

P


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#8 Richard Boddington

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Posted 27 October 2015 - 10:19 PM

It never stops. You never "arrive" and can coast from there on. Just part of the business, and it's one of the many reasons people get out of it eventually. It's a tough racket and not everyone is cut out for the uncertainty of the life of freelancing. I worked for free for about 10 years before I could actually make a living off of it. What other profession would accept such long unpaid apprenticeships? And even though it's a good living these days, it can end overnight.

 

As you get older, some of the opportunities also disappear. One day the phone will eventually stop ringing. You don't see many 60-70 year old cinematographers working constantly unless they're Oscar winners or very established feature film guys. 60-70 year old commercial or music video DP's? Not so much.

 

Have you considered giving inspiring speeches to high school students?  You and Phil would make a great team!  :D 

I agree with everything you say, it's just humorous how difficult and challenging this business is.

 

R,


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#9 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 27 October 2015 - 11:03 PM

Ha! Then again, there's kids who sail right through and at 23 years of age they're already sought after and extremely well paid! So, there's always that! We talentless hacks have to work a little harder at it!! :)


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#10 JD Hartman

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 06:05 AM

As you get older, some of the opportunities also disappear. One day the phone will eventually stop ringing. You don't see many 60-70 year old cinematographers working constantly unless they're Oscar winners or very established feature film guys. 60-70 year old commercial or music video DP's? Not so much.

I'll have to agree with the above.  For some, http://www.imdb.com/...ref_=fn_nm_nm_6, what you do just changes.  Worked with this guy many years ago, he was up in years then.  Very talented, doesn't waste words or time, gets the shots with a minimum of equipment and fuss.


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#11 Richard Boddington

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 09:40 PM

Ha! Then again, there's kids who sail right through and at 23 years of age they're already sought after and extremely well paid! So, there's always that! We talentless hacks have to work a little harder at it!! :)

 

This is a constant "theme" in film, the boy wonder.  Is there any actual evidence of a 23 year old DOP who is hired to shoot major Hollywood features or high commercials for international corporations?

 

Maybe they are out there?  I just don't know of any examples?

 

R,


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#12 Matthew Padraic Barr

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 10:33 PM

This is a constant "theme" in film, the boy wonder.  Is there any actual evidence of a 23 year old DOP who is hired to shoot major Hollywood features or high commercials for international corporations?
 
Maybe they are out there?  I just don't know of any examples?
 
R,


What about the Boy Wonder Brandon Trost?
Im pretty sure he was just 26 when he shot Crank: High Voltage,
which was a 20 million dollar Hollywood action movie.

I am not a fan of that movie at all but it's a good example.
I do like Trost's work with Rob Zombie a lot though.
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 11:38 PM

Exceptions don't prove the rule...

 

Anyway, Adam sums up my feelings exactly.

 

I have this theory that the reason why over time an experienced DP might lose jobs over a younger, less experienced DP is that with time, assuming the work seems similar in quality: the older DP becomes a "known" entity -- all their strengths and weaknesses are out there for all to see, they have a track record that can't be covered up with a glossy reel.  There isn't the mystery and excitement over "discovering" a new hot talent with so much potential and so little track record.  Of course, some productions would rather hire the known over the unknown just to reduce risk and variables so there are still some advantages to being a "veteran".

 

I also think there is simply more and more competition these days, the number of up-and-coming cinematographers seems to be rising exponentially thanks to all the film schools out there.


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#14 Matthew Padraic Barr

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 11:46 PM

Exceptions don't prove the rule...
 
Anyway, Adam sums up my feelings exactly.
 
I have this theory that the reason why over time an experienced DP might lose jobs over a younger, less experienced DP is that with time, assuming the work seems similar in quality: the older DP becomes a "known" entity -- all their strengths and weaknesses are out there for all to see, they have a track record that can't be covered up with a glossy reel.  There isn't the mystery and excitement over "discovering" a new hot talent with so much potential and so little track record.  Of course, some productions would rather hire the known over the unknown just to reduce risk and variables so there are still some advantages to being a "veteran".
 
I also think there is simply more and more competition these days, the number of up-and-coming cinematographers seems to be rising exponentially thanks to all the film schools out there.


Oh no, I didn't mean to imply that it was a common occurrence.
Richard asked if there was any examples. My impression was that
he thought it was a myth, I just remembered Trost as one example.
no doubt it's an extremely rare occurrence.

I shouldn't have chimed in.
Still new to this forum.
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#15 Richard Boddington

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Posted 29 October 2015 - 12:05 AM

I also think there is simply more and more competition these days, the number of up-and-coming cinematographers seems to be rising exponentially thanks to all the film schools out there.

 

Plus, I own an Alexa, therefore, I too am a DOP.

 

R,

 

:D 


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#16 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 29 October 2015 - 01:40 AM


I shouldn't have chimed in.
Still new to this forum.

Always chime in when you have things to add. I didn't know the little tidbit of fact for Crank; and it's nice to hear.


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#17 Matthew Padraic Barr

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Posted 29 October 2015 - 02:29 PM

I appreciate the sentiment, Adrian.

I felt as though I was stepping out of my purview.
Im hardly qualified to comment on getting into the business.

I just got lucky: I was born in the right place.
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#18 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 30 October 2015 - 02:51 AM

I mean there isn't a right way or wrong way. There isn't a magic potion or some black art/skill set that gives you the work. Most of us have struggled for a decade or more, refining our art, meeting the right people, getting screwed constantly and living off no sleep and shitty food, so we can be working on securing the next gig.

I think the more diverse you are as a filmmaker, the better. You've gotta plant your seeds in more then one plot of land and which ever grows fastest, you pick and eat. The plants that grew fast for me were the post production one's. So I spent over a decade sucking those sweet post production plants, instead of my trained profession which is cinematography. The nice thing about post production is that MOST of the jobs are long-term freelance, contract or salary. So you can work on big shows, get your name on credits and have a cush, relatively good paying job, depending on the position.

Production jobs however... that's a whole other world, it's feast or famine. It's all about who you know, what they need and how you can help them. Do you come with a 4k camera and Zeiss cine primes? Can you work 7 days a week, 18hr days for $150/day? Well, you're hired!

It's less about the quality of work today, it's more about how cheap you can shoot it on 4k. That's the new buzz word and if you don't own a 4k cinema camera, lenses, support gear and sometimes audio, you might as well give up and get a desk job. Everyone wants to work you to death for no money, use and abuse the equipment even you can't afford to own and never give you another job again.

So basically, it's frustrating. Digital cinematography has only made things FAR FAR FAR worse. You need to do something over and above everyone else to get constant work. Lots of good IMDB credits. Great demo reel. A substantial boat load of equipment. Great references/movies that people know and most importantly, a rate which is extremely competitive.

Did I mention frustrating? Yea... I did.
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#19 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 30 October 2015 - 08:31 AM

Always chime in when you have things to add. I didn't know the little tidbit of fact for Crank; and it's nice to hear.


Agreed! The more voices contributing the better. Keep chiming in Matthew :)
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#20 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 03 November 2015 - 01:57 PM

New kid in town-syndrome. It happens on all levels of humanity, not just creative arts.

 

This is why some of my fellow DP friends change agents every 5 years, no matter what. Agents get complacent and without them even realizing it, they'll push the new DP they just signed or are excited about over the old hat. I suspect many men and women end long lasting marriages because someone met someone new and exciting, too. Or why we buy a new car every 3 years, although the old one is perfectly fine and paid for.

 

New is exciting. Old is boring. Keeping relevant as you age or within your profession will remain one of life's toughest things to navigate. But if you do love it, you will at least always enjoy yourself. Even if no one else does.  :D


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