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$3000 for a Lighting Workshop, or ....


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#1 Brenton Lee

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Posted 07 May 2016 - 03:23 PM

If you have a few minutes, I'd like some thoughts or advice from people who may have once been in my shoes ...

 

I'm currenly enrolled to do the Camera Assistant and Camera Operator workshops at Maine Media in July, and have a chance to do another week in the Film Lighting workshop but that would be about another $3000 out of my savings (to cover tution and accom, which I can afford, but it's really stretching it).

 

If money weren't as issue, I'd sign up for it in a flash but I feel like there is so many lighting tutorials and resources that perhaps I'd be better off sinking the $3000 into buying/renting lighting kits and mostly teaching myself as I go .... or would the money be better spent doing the workshop and gaining formal training?

 

I know the obvious answer is "it depends what your goal is?" ....

 

I'm only just starting out in the wide world of cinematography. I'm not 100% sure what my end goal is, maybe its to be a DP somewhere down the track, but for now I want to build up a good solid technical skill set. I feel like understanding the camera aspect is the core of what I want to do for a while so I'm trying to start as a camera assistant / operator and expand from there.

 

I'd love to have a broad enough skill set I could take on any role in making short films, and collaborate/fit into multiple roles on larger projects. Thats why I'd love to learn about the technical aspects of lighting whilst learning about camera operation.

 

Thoughts? Formal training or DIY? I live in Australia and Portland, Oregon so decent training opportunities seems to be getting rarer.

 

Thanks for you time if you've read this far!

 


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#2 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 07 May 2016 - 05:44 PM

Good question and it's a tough answer.

Hands on education is good, but only if it's for a long period of time. An example of this would be mentoring with someone for one or two films. Get some real hands on experience over an entire shoot, plus learn those ever important personal tricks that everyone has.

Sure, if you don't know anything about lighting, it would be great to take a basic starter class and get up to speed. However, there is a lot to lighting, far more then can be taught in a classroom setting. Learning the mechanics of lighting is easy, it's an Amazon order away. Learning enough to be valuable on a film set, that's the next step.

Unlike cinematography, which can be studied though trial and error on your own, without a crew... gaffing really requires being on a show, being forced to come up with innovative solutions to problems. You need to learn how to be directed and come up with a proper solution. I don't think buying a light kit would do you any good, without the experiences I listed above.

You may not be able to achieve your goal living outside of the film industry. It's really a "trade" job and as a consequence, if you really wanna get thrown into the mix, you may have to live in a media rich city first and perhaps find work as a best boy. You'd need SOME education first, but not much. The only real catch is that most gaffers have a full crew already, but if you work hard, you can probably find work. That's the real trick to all of this, getting booked on jobs and learning your trade through repetition.

Hope that makes sense.
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#3 Brenton Lee

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Posted 07 May 2016 - 06:05 PM

Yeah I totally get you. 

 

I guess my initial goal is getting enough basic skills to be more of an asset than a pain in the ass when I do start hassling people to let me come work with them. So in that sense, it makes sense to put in the money and time learning some skills?

 

Anyway, the vibe I get is that it's equal parts persistence, skills and dedication to make it in the job. So as long as I'm always working on one of those aspects I figure I can't go too wrong. 


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#4 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 07 May 2016 - 06:09 PM

Yes, if you already have a game plan that puts you onto a real film set, then it's good to get some basic hands on experience first. Whether that's a $3000 class or not... thats up to you. I'm certain a book about lighting and working for free on some student films, would probably deliver the same experience, without the expense. You won't get paid for your work, but that's kind how you get started anyway.
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