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Working abroad as a cinematographer


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#1 Martynas Kundrotas

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 01:36 AM

Hello,
 
i'm a filmmaker and have been making non narrative shorts for quite some time now. I'm happy with what i do and am enjoying it, but i understood that i need to learn much more about the craft to perfect it. Also, i'm being realistic and know that films like that won't be popular, so i need to earn a living from something else. I hope you'll be able to help me make a decision.
 
I would like to learn cinematography abroad and eventually work as a DP in that country. I'm living in a small country where the film industry is almost non existent. It's getting better now, but still the amount of films released per year is way too few to matter. There are a few DP's i'd love to intern for, but still that would only get me work over here and i don't really want that. I worked as an event photographer for 5 years and later started making my own films. So i only have experience shooting my own work, i have never been on a professional set, or had to light anything artificially.
 
So here's what i'd like to know:
  1. What are good countries for filmmakers? Preferably in Europe.
  2. How realistic is it to get a job in the film industry as a foreigner?
  3. Would workshops be enough to get me started? Unfortunately i can't afford to go to film school, neither money nor time wise. Unless it's a short course, max 1 year.
  4. Have any of you been in a similar situation? How hard was it for you? How long did it take?
I hope you can give me some tips. 
 
Here is a sample of my work if you're interested:
 
Martynas

 


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#2 Jan Tore Soerensen

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Posted 20 February 2016 - 04:28 PM

I think working as a DP is too narrow of a job for beginners. Nor do I think looking for a country where filmmaking is huge, is smart. 

 

I work out of a little place in Norway, with good connections to other cities. Pretty much noone does filmmaking here. There are a FEW companies doing it, but they are usually too expensive for the smaller businesses. Now, I had a benefit of having experience from sales, which is a huge factor when selling your product to companies. Just being comfortable picking up the phone and cold-calling. 

 

Is there room for me to hire DP, Sound assistance, AC and myself directing at a $500-2000 budget? Definitely not, so I am usually doing this with me and sometimes 1-2 people helping out with different stuff.

 

My plan for now, is to do this and build a brand name. Starting in the city where i live, and expanding into other cities in Norway. This allows me to grow as a filmmaker, slowly invest in equipment and after a while, hopefully hire another person to do projects with me. 

 

Keep in mind, to do this, I quit a full-time job as a sales manager and scrapped my living expenses to a bare minimum. It's so worth it though, as I get to work with something I am passionate about!


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#3 Jon Kline

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Posted 24 February 2016 - 10:46 AM

Don't judge your potential in any career based on the number of people currently working in the field.

 

You should be looking at where the future is going, and your level of skill, passion and dedication relative to the other people in the field. It doesn't matter if there are only three working DPs in your country. If you're creating top-tier work, telling compelling stories, marketing yourself, and making connections, you can be one of them.

 

The most valuable thing you can get from film school is a network. I wouldn't spend money on a certificate or yearlong program. Use your money to get a nice tripod, or a light kit, or make a short film. Meet people, volunteer, and Google everything. There are SO MANY tutorials online and so many people willing to answer your questions as you go. There is no magic that happens inside a university, other than combining resources, knowledge, and time.


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#4 Jan Tore Soerensen

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Posted 24 February 2016 - 01:11 PM

Don't judge your potential in any career based on the number of people currently working in the field.

 

You should be looking at where the future is going, and your level of skill, passion and dedication relative to the other people in the field. It doesn't matter if there are only three working DPs in your country. If you're creating top-tier work, telling compelling stories, marketing yourself, and making connections, you can be one of them.

 

The most valuable thing you can get from film school is a network. I wouldn't spend money on a certificate or yearlong program. Use your money to get a nice tripod, or a light kit, or make a short film. Meet people, volunteer, and Google everything. There are SO MANY tutorials online and so many people willing to answer your questions as you go. There is no magic that happens inside a university, other than combining resources, knowledge, and time.

Exactly. There is nothing wrong with going to school, but with the time and money spent on that, one could actually achieve quite a bit in the field, if one is actually ready for that.

 

As for your previous lines; that makes a whole lot of sense!


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#5 Martynas Kundrotas

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Posted 25 February 2016 - 03:28 AM

Hello,

 

thanks for your replies. I think you do have a point with starting locally. I'll try to contact some of the DPs i like and see what comes out of this. Thanks again for helping me out here.


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#6 aapo lettinen

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Posted 25 February 2016 - 07:26 AM

connections are usually more important than film education (the main purpose for film schools I think is to get you proper connections which will lead to work) . 

Connecting with the local DPs is a great start. they may get you some type of department work so you can get started and give you advices how to proceed. you have to get yourself into professional sets to learn from people who are more experienced than you.

in the beginning,  take whichever job they offer to get you into the set to see how they are working, especially if they pay something for it, and then you can little by little get to the camera or lighting departments when you gain experience and they know you better.

for example, when I was in tv/doc school, I was working ONE DAY as a grip in a commercial shoot and learned more about lighting than in TWO MONTHS in the school...

 

working abroad is not a problem as long as you are skilled enough and speak the language relatively well. English may be enough depending on the crew and production. 

 

film school helps a lot IF you build your connections and career at the same time like mad. some people make the mistake thinking that it is enough to get a degree from great film school and then you will have career just like that. 

actually it's more like double or triple the work: you have to get the film degree and at the same time do all the productions you can to build your career like when starting out of nothing without school.

the school is only to get you into the basics and get you more connections.

it is also for artistic projects which would not be possible to do outside of school environment which offers free equipment and support.


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#7 Jan Tore Soerensen

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Posted 25 February 2016 - 11:46 AM

I think experience, connections, and in film, a portfolio, trumps pretty much everything.


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