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Advice on becoming a DP

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#1 Tim Ford

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Posted 14 June 2016 - 10:36 PM

any DPs out there with some useful tips?? Anything you wish you would have known when starting out as a DP?


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#2 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 12:54 AM

Get a real job, take that money and make stuff for fun on your own. :)
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#3 aapo lettinen

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 01:21 AM

Get a real job, take that money and make stuff for fun on your own. :)

 

that's a good advice  :lol:   I also recommend that the 'real job' is somehow related to film/media industry so you can make good contacts at the same time. though it has the disadvantage that people may learn to know you only as an AC or Editor or Best Boy etc. without knowing that you can actually also DP and it may be difficult to change that later


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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 03:09 AM

I suspect "AC or Editor or Best Boy" doesm't fit in the real job description either. It's not unusual for DPs to start out as an AC, it actually was and continues to be a starting point within the industry before moving up into higher grades in the camera department. It's a good way of seeing how other DPs do things, while getting paid.


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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 06:33 AM

I recommend working in the Electric department to become a DoP; up to gaffer, and then  making the switch.

Or just do it. Build up your reel, make connections, .. . . than profit  (the ellipses left in because the jump to make profit is a pain and you need to really just persevere. )


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#6 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 06:40 AM

In the UK the electricial department uses suitably qualified electricians, so you do need to check on the Australian regulations.


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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 06:46 AM

I'm not sure what qualifications they're required to have. They're often a bit slapdash.

 

P


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#8 Alexandros Angelopoulos Apostolos

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 06:57 AM

This is the first time I hear of that career path, Adrian.  :blink: Electrician to DP? Really?


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#9 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 07:11 AM

Advice on being a DP, go to a film school like NYU  or something local to you that's comparable and take every class on producing, business and entertainment law they have.  Learn all about film financing, development, acquisitions etc.  If you can finance, and executive produce films, you can literally hire yourself to do any job on set you want.   You can also help people who don't have their funding but are maybe sitting on a great script.   I've been hired many times to DP movies that never happened cause they never got their funding together.  


Edited by Michael LaVoie, 15 June 2016 - 07:11 AM.

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#10 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 07:18 AM

I'm not sure what qualifications they're required to have. They're often a bit slapdash.

 

P

 

I believe it's a NVQ that says that they know something about power etc, keeps the insuance covered at least, although you may not want to use some of them to rewire your house.


Edited by Brian Drysdale, 15 June 2016 - 07:18 AM.

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#11 Alexandros Angelopoulos Apostolos

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 07:38 AM

Advice on being a DP, go to a film school like NYU  or something local to you that's comparable and take every class on producing, business and entertainment law they have.  Learn all about film financing, development, acquisitions etc.  If you can finance, and executive produce films, you can literally hire yourself to do any job on set you want.   You can also help people who don't have their funding but are maybe sitting on a great script.   I've been hired many times to DP movies that never happened cause they never got their funding together.  

 

Don’t you need to pass some entrance exams to enter a film school? And not just walk in there like that?


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#12 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 08:02 AM

This is the first time I hear of that career path, Adrian.  :blink: Electrician to DP? Really?

 

Really? It's not uncommon at all. Afterall, who knows lighting better than gaffers?


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#13 Alexandros Angelopoulos Apostolos

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 08:16 AM

 

Really? It's not uncommon at all. Afterall, who knows lighting better than gaffers?

 

True, but I never thought they were interested in lighting in that way. More like interested in electrons and currents. :) I mean, it makes total sense; I just never thought they were interested in the artistic side of lighting.


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#14 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 08:42 AM

Good gaffers are interested in a lot of things.


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#15 Miguel Angel

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 08:58 AM

Copying my answer from another thread that you might find interesting: 

 

"There are many gaffers who advanced from that to directors of photography, the latest I can think of is Claudio Miranda (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0592073/) or even Robby Baumgartner (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0062373/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr266)

 

I do think that even though it is important to have a knowledge of lighting and framing, I consider that as a cinematographer you have to really understand how light works in many different setups and a very good way to know that is by working with it.

 

At the end of the day there are so many good camera operators out there that you can hire for them to help you framing but there are not too many good gaffers who have an understanding of light AND arts, which I consider essential if you have to describe a mood to your gaffer and you are unsure as to how to light it. 

 

For example: 

 

If you become a cinematographer through the camera ranks your path will follow something like:

- camera intern

- 2nd AC

- 1st AC

- Camera operator (if you are lucky) / DIT

- Cinematographer

 

Through all that way you will only decide on something when you are a camera operator and if you are a camera operator you will need to know how to block a scene, etc. 

 

Nowadays it is a little bit easier to understand scenes in the camera department because there are monitors everywhere so if you are a camera intern, 2nd AC or 1st AC you will have the fantastic opportunity to see how the blocking is done, how it works for the scene, almost the finished product lit and etc. 

 

If you go through the electrician way:

 

- Electrician

- Best Boy

- Gaffer 

(assuming you do rigging and etc when you are an electrician and a best boy)

 

So, now you want to become a cinematographer and the cinematographer is telling you what light he wants to create an effect, you place the light, you turn it on, you direct it and then you can go to the monitor to see how that light is actually affecting the scene, ain't that amazing? 

 

And you get to discuss with the cinematographer why he / she decided to choose that light for that particular scene. 

 

Again, what Stuart said is true, the path that you have to choose is the one that works for you.

 

Have a good day. "

 

And the thread: 

 

http://www.cinematog...showtopic=69953

 

Have a good day. 


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#16 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 09:02 AM

 

Don’t you need to pass some entrance exams to enter a film school? And not just walk in there like that?

Most film schools have an application process.  Some are very tough to get into.  Others, all you need is a credit card.  So do your homework on the programs, faculty and alumni and choose wisely.  My advice specific to this topic discussion is to actively pursue classes and education in the business and legal aspects of film development and be able to independently produce. It's something most aspiring DP's may not consider but is a very useful skillset when you are faced with the task of shooting underfunded microbudget indies.  Being able to develop a great script and provide a solid budget along with distribution will give one an advantage early in their DP career.


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#17 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 09:41 AM

I think if you have the ability to do that, you won't need to work as a director of photography!

In any case, stuff at that level is invariably self-funded by the director. If there was any real money, it wouldn't be a microbudget production. But given sorry films have no commercial potential whatsoever, I don't understand why anyone would expect funding of any kind.
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#18 Alexandros Angelopoulos Apostolos

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 09:54 AM

Good gaffers are interested in a lot of things.

 

But not necessarily. They could be, but they don’t have to be. “You’re a good gaffer. Thus you must be interested in a lot of things” is kind of a non sequitur.

 

In any case, OK, I got it. Gaffer to DP is not an infrequent occurrence. :) I just thought that in the vast majority of cases it’s cameraman or assistant cameraman, either second or first, to DP.


Edited by Alexandros Angelopoulos Apostolos, 15 June 2016 - 09:54 AM.

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#19 Alexandros Angelopoulos Apostolos

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 09:57 AM

Perhaps it is also true that I might be thinking of the gaffer as someone who is wiring things and making sure everything is safe and taking care of power generators, sockets, and stuff electricians do, and not as someone who designs lighting. Then there’s that UK vs. U.S. difference between what a gaffer does? Or is it the whole of Europe vs. the U.S.? Anyway, I often wondered how much lighting in a film is the work of the gaffer, after hearing they do those things some time ago, and how much the DPs. The answer is probably: It depends.

 

I think it was Robyn R. Probin who was aghast when he saw a gaffer “calling the stops” somewhere.


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#20 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 10:05 AM

I think if you have the ability to do that, you won't need to work as a director of photography!

In any case, stuff at that level is invariably self-funded by the director. If there was any real money, it wouldn't be a microbudget production. But given sorry films have no commercial potential whatsoever, I don't understand why anyone would expect funding of any kind.

I think the assumption is that he "wants to DP".  Not that he needs to.  Reed Morano could have easily booked a DP for Meadowland but she chose to shoot it herself.  Most DP's who enjoy their craft probably want to work as much as they can even if they have the option to book another DP.

 

I've had some really good scripts come my way but I've had to pass cause the funding wasn't there to do the films properly and I had no ability to raise it.  That's my point.  If one can develop a microbudget indie into more than just a self-financed DIY project it would help them as well as the director.  Of course this is not easy and that's where having an education and solid understanding of development would give one an advantage.


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