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Can a cinematographer "tell" if the final film will suck?


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#1 Hrishikesh Jha

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 12:52 PM

Have you ever known while filming that the final product won't be as good as the director thinks it'll be?

 

 


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#2 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 01:32 PM

Duh. Then again, when you're working on something that glaringly bad, the director won't have much confidence in it either.


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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 02:11 PM

Yes. You'll find generally the crew are the most experienced ones on set, including DoP. I mean, just think a DoP may do 3 films (features) a year, sometimes 4. A director may do a film ever 4 years. And some directors are very... isolated.. i guess... in mind.

Best you an do is your job as amazingly as you can.


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#4 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 02:33 PM

Sometimes you can tell just from the pre-production stage, and from how organized the director is.  What kind of budget does the production have?  How much of that is going into the camera department, etc.?...

 

As Adrian said, all you can do is your very best, especially if you have a limited amount of tools to work with.


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#5 Justin Hayward

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 02:38 PM

On the flip side, the director should understand the entire crew thinks they're a moron that doesn't deserve the job.  :P


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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 02:43 PM

On the flip side, the director should understand the entire crew thinks they're a moron that doesn't deserve the job.  :P

isn't that everytime? lol


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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 02:46 PM

Yes. This is the state of things most of the time, at least for me. But then I work with a lot of first-time directors. Even if the script has a lot of potential, it takes skill, experience, vision, time, social skills, and money to make it shine.

Occasionally, you'll get actors who are actually right for the part, amazing locations, a fantastic art department, the right crew, equipment, and enough time to pull off the shots. And you might still only get a few great sequences, which is not enough for a good movie. It's quite rare when everything pulls together and just works from beginning to end.

I'm in awe of anyone who can consistently produce emotionally/visually/logically satisfying content at a high level. It's a vanishingly rare talent.
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#8 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 02:53 PM

My biggest frustration is when a director consistently settles for mediocre choices. It tends to work best when we are all pushing each other to do a little better and take chances.
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#9 Justin Hayward

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 03:01 PM

My biggest frustration is when a director consistently settles for mediocre choices. It tends to work best when we are all pushing each other to do a little better and take chances.

 

Your "mediocre" might be somebody else's "subtle".   :P


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#10 Justin Hayward

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 03:05 PM

It's funny, I used to care if the crew thought I knew what I was doing, but I got over it.  


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#11 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 03:13 PM

Have you ever known while filming that the final product won't be as good as the director thinks it'll be?


Yes, it happens to me all the time. It's the reason I stopped working as a cinematographer and moved into writing/directing. I was watching these horrible directors make stuff and I was like, this is ridiculous I can do 10x better.

I'm frustrated because one feature I shot a few years ago, has never been released because the director was too embarrassed by the result. Poor acting, bad directing, shitty script, the point was to make a bad movie for quick money, but it was REALLY bad.
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#12 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 03:14 PM

lol quick money in film!

 

better to start a title-loan company.


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#13 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 03:15 PM

LOL :P
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#14 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 04:04 PM

Your "mediocre" might be somebody else's "subtle".   :P


I'm referring more to specific instances such as, 'eh, Walmart Halloween costumes will work for my period film, right?' type of mentality. And yes, this did happen to me recently...
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#15 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 04:06 PM

comments like that Satsuki; make me with we had a "like" button and an "lol" face, like facebook on here lol.


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#16 Justin Hayward

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 04:28 PM

I'm referring more to specific instances such as, 'eh, Walmart Halloween costumes will work for my period film, right?' type of mentality. And yes, this did happen to me recently...

 

Okay you win  :lol:


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#17 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 09:11 AM

Absolutely you can usually tell by the script. If it's bad, I imagine a better version of the story, then create a playlist of music that evokes those same sorts of themes and have it on my phone.  During the shooting I'll listen to that rather than dialogue and it will keep me focused on what the movie could be rather than what it is.   


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#18 George Ebersole

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 01:16 PM

Anybody with some tech and artistic training can.  Though what defines "suck" has changed over the decades.  These days there's a lot of technical competence with little story telling ability.  Way back when it was sloppy or rushed film making of scripts that were okay to good, but could use a rewrite.

 

Reliance on medium focal lengths, masters, little coverage, are all elements for quickly shot B-films.  If you're not grabbing cutaways between setups, or if your director doesn't care, then that project isn't worth the hard drive space or stock that was used to shoot it.


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#19 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 01:20 PM

I kinda disagree on your final bit Greg. I don't think that any of that has to do with worth. Sometimes you don't need cut-aways,ometimes you don't need coverage (if anything i'd say lots of coverage is a detriment).


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#20 Freya Black

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 01:57 PM

I'm referring more to specific instances such as, 'eh, Walmart Halloween costumes will work for my period film, right?' type of mentality. And yes, this did happen to me recently...


Gotta say, that sounds interesting! What did you say? "yes that should be fine but you must also set it in space."?
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