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Moving up in position.


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#1 Dan Collins

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Posted 23 June 2016 - 12:08 PM

Over the last 5 years years I've been cam op'ing on low budget docu-reality shows and Ac/utility on higher end reality. I've been pushing to operate on the bigger projects but have been met with reluctance. It's tough changing how people view you. I have a lot of camera and lighting experience and have even occasionally had to teach the people I assist how to light an interview. I've paid my dues, gotten plenty of experience and am ready to make a name for myself. My question is about how to make the jump successfully.

I know I have the technical skills down. Selling myself as an DP/operator is what I need to work on. Many people are reluctant to give advice to those moving up for fear of competition or whatever. Is there anyone on here willing to share their experiences and give advice?
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#2 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 23 June 2016 - 01:12 PM

To be honest with you, I've been getting somewhat paranoid of that as well. I frequently meet people that approach me for advice because I'm the only one in their circle who knows certain things, then they proceed to get budgets and pay everyone (less qualified) but the guy who gave them the answers to their roadblocks.

 

I'm way better at preventing that letdown than I was a couple years ago, it's all about reading people well enough to see if they're legitimately grateful for your help.


Edited by Macks Fiiod, 23 June 2016 - 01:13 PM.

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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 June 2016 - 01:32 PM

I have never hesitated to offer advice, it just keeps things simple rather than trying to judge the person asking and wondering what's in it for me. I learned through the generosity of others, people who took the time to write things down, get interviewed, etc. so why should I keep what I've learned to myself?

Career advice, however, is the hardest to give because people forge their own unique paths to success, few stories resemble each other, it's generally a chance job that leads to another... The only thing you are in control of is your own skill level, meaning you have to be ready when the opportunity presents itself. But as for how to create opportunity, that has never been my strong suit. My attitude early on was just to work for everyone, anywhere, paid or not, figuring I was increasing my chances of getting noticed, making a good contact, and getting experience in the meanwhile.

Because of typecasting, at some point you realize that credits are not cross-transferable... People don't hire DP's based on their operator or AC credits, horror movies sometimes don't even hire DP's with credits in other genres, so given that you will be typecast, at some point you should concentrate on what you'd rather get known for. Some people would say that my early reels were too dark & moody, but I figured that I was OK if typecast as someone who likes mood.
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#4 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 23 June 2016 - 01:38 PM

It depends on what type of work you're trying to step up to. Making a leap from operating on reality shows to lighting narrative is going to be tricky, as there are different skills involved. I'm not saying you don't have those skills, but you need to be able to demonstrate them, and if all you have is reality shows on your reel then convincing people to take a chance on you can be tricky.

 

Eventually, it's going to come down to a combination of hard work and luck. I had been shooting documentaries and low budget music videos for a few years when a director I knew asked me to operate on a low budget feature. A chance meeting on that set with another director got me in with a big network TV show. From that point on, no-one cared what I had been shooting before.


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#5 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 23 June 2016 - 06:30 PM

This is a tricky subject. Essentially what it comes down to how to rebrand yourself. I've asked the same question to all of the DPs I used to work for as an AC and have gotten all kinds of answers, but most of them agree that you just need to go out and shoot as much as possible, even for free. Build your reel, advertise, pimp your work on social media, network and actively search out new clients. You're pretty much starting over, but with the skills and contacts you have now it should be easier than when you first started.

Don't be afraid to say no to work that doesn't reflect your brand. If you continue to AC on the side, producers and DPs will still think of you as an AC. Save your money now, the first few years can be a rough transition financially. Decide what kind of work you want to shoot, and plan where you want to live accordingly.
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#6 Richard Boddington

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Posted 23 June 2016 - 07:16 PM

Anyone need a director for a kids and animal movie?  Anyone? Hello?

 

R,


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#7 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 23 June 2016 - 09:06 PM

Anyone need a director for a kids and animal movie?  Anyone? Hello?

 

R,

I do but we'd both go to jail afterwards.


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#8 Jay Young

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Posted 24 June 2016 - 09:47 AM

Anyone need a director for a kids and animal movie?  Anyone? Hello?

 

R,

 

I need a producer (viz. $$) for a kids PSA, if that helps.


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#9 Dan Collins

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Posted 24 June 2016 - 11:32 AM

Thank you to all who gave genuine advice. While I get Richard's example he was attempting to make about begging anyone for work, it missed the point. I already have work with plenty of little productions. This post was about how change the way people view me with the big network shows I also work on.

I appreciate the advice of having my skills ready for when the opportunity presents itself where I can show them what I can do. I'll stay persistent and keep working to show what I can do.

Edited by Dan Collins, 24 June 2016 - 11:33 AM.

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