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School for cinematography?

School university photography cinematography

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#1 emma louise

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Posted 01 November 2015 - 09:38 PM

I live in Australia where there isn't a lot of film work, so having a film education would make you more employable.
I want to be a cinematographer, but there are no cinematography courses so I thought that if I studied a Photography degree, these skills could be transferable? What do you think?
(I don't want to study an overall film degree because you must be a writer and I am not)!
I've attaches a photo of some of the degree units.
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#2 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 01 November 2015 - 10:05 PM

Hey Emma,

So if there isn't a lot of film work, why would having a film education make you more employable?

I went to film school to be a cinematographer, yet I don't have a "cinematography" degree. I just focused more on cinematography then other people, some of whom wanted to focus on writing, editing or directing. The piece of paper doesn't mean anything in the real world anyway. The only things that matter are your demo reel, IMDB credits and skill set. Cinematography is a trade that requires hands-on experimentation, mentoring and opportunity. Studying photography isn't a bad idea, you'll get the basic understanding of how a camera works and composition, but there is a lot more to cinematography. Film school kinda helps with this because you're taught the basics of cinematography, given actual projects to shoot and cameras to shoot them with. If you're constantly shooting stuff for other students outside of class (which is what I did), then you can build a pretty decent demo reel AND if one of those filmmakers shorts is seen by actual people, it could be good for you as well.
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#3 John E Clark

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 01:10 PM

I live in Australia where there isn't a lot of film work, so having a film education would make you more employable.
I want to be a cinematographer, but there are no cinematography courses so I thought that if I studied a Photography degree, these skills could be transferable? What do you think?
(I don't want to study an overall film degree because you must be a writer and I am not)!
I've attaches a photo of some of the degree units.

 

You should find out what schools in Australia have a film program, then what of those schools have a 'technical' program, which include cinematography, and actual hands on training on a real cinema camera (some folks here would say a real Film camera... but these days most likely one would be learning on a Digital motion picture camera...).

 

Some number of schools in the US have 'film programs'. But what that really means is a lot of class room + writing work, on 'film theory', or 'aesthetics of film', etc. and very little on the practical/technical aspects of getting a film actually produced from start to finish.

 

As for still photography... sure... in terms of framing, and image capture, there is a high degree of cross over. But cinematography also includes elements which still cameras do not deal with... motion... both on the part of the objects in the scene, as well as the camera itself.

 

Then there's lighting... this may be one of the more subtle 'differences'... a still photographer may adjust the exposure settings ranging form 1/8 second... to 1/2000 by the twist of a knob... or use 'strobe' lights in low light conditions... these adjustments are not easily accomplished in a cinema camera... The exposure is set by the frame rate, which sets the minimum of light, etc. So this requires some amount of rethinking how to expose for a give situation.


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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 01:36 PM

If you do not live in a major production centre - and if you are outside the US, or possibly India or China, you don't - then a career in film and TV can be a questionable choice at best.

 

If there is anything else, anything else at all, in the world that will make you happy, go and do it. Committing yourself to film work is overwhelmingly likely to lead to precarious employment, chronically low wages, and a lack of things many consider normal, such as a pension and a mortgage.

 

Beware stories about people who have done spectacularly well. There are always rock stars, in every industry. But the likelihood of that being your situation is tiny, and you should not plan a career based on the idea that you will be so very, very lucky. Inevitably, you won't.

 

Don't worry too much about being good at what you want to do. This sounds like a terrible thing to say, but it's the practical reality. At very low levels, nobody really knows what they're doing, and this is the first work you will get. By the time you've moved up, if you manage to move up, you will have learned the ropes more or less by default. Don't go to film school and don't do classes. Don't do a degree in the subject. Practical experience, illustrated by your name on the credits of lots of productions (even if very small) means far more.

 

And finally, set a time limit. Perseverance is great, but at some point, if something just isn't happening for you, it can be a fool's errand to keep banging your head against a brick wall. Pick a level of income (whether that's a cash value, or the ability to afford certain things, or whatever you like) and a time limit, and if you miss the deadline, sorry, but it's time to find something else to do. Success in film and TV is more 50% based on absolute blind luck, and you could wait for a thousand years and have it not happen. My advice is to find something else that makes you happy, but if you absolutely can't, and if you absolutely insist on trying to work in film, give yourself, say, three years. 

 

Then you will have time to try something else if you fail, without it having a major negative impact on your lifetime's career opportunities.

 

Most importantly of all, if you fail, and you almost certainly will, you will want to have something to fall back on. Ensure an exit route is available as you approach your deadline. Have other work lined up. Because almost certainly, you'll need it.

 

P


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#5 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 03 November 2015 - 11:39 AM

Actually, I'm pretty sure that AFTRS offer a degree in Cinematography.

 

Don't study 'photography', the crossover is minimal. 

 

The industry here is tiny, but there are short films and web series and music videos being made constantly by the independent/student/amateur crowd. It's really quite easy to get on crews for large numbers of projects as a 2nd AC or Lighting Assistant, and start to learn the craft.


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#6 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 03 November 2015 - 03:25 PM

AFTRS produced all those great cinematography master class videos with John Seale, Dean Semler, Denis Lenoir, and other great DPs back in the day. Always wanted to go there after seeing those in my 20s. That's the first graduate school I would be looking at.
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