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Studio Contract Dop'S


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#1 John Holland

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 12:16 PM

I was wondering about the wages of Studio contract Cinematographers say from mid 40's to mid 60's  Leon Shamroy ASC worked at Fox for this period and shot most of their big movies .There are others at different  studios Russ Metty at Universal others at MGM ,Warners etc . Just would like to know what these people earned back then . Anyone know ?
 


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#2 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 12:18 PM

Could you just get the rates of today and run them through an inflation calculator?


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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 07:36 PM

Problem with that is that (1) you can't assume that salaries today were the same as they were 60 years ago or more adjusted for inflation, and (2) even I don't know what the top salaries today are for the biggest feature cinematographers.  Even back then, it was a bit impolite to discuss salaries.  So you'd have to find an actual quote by a working cinematographer back then as to what they got paid, and I suspect most of the top cinematographers would not have discussed their rates with anyone.  But I could be wrong.  Many of them mentioned what they got paid when they started out sweeping floors as an 18 year old in the camera department in the 1920's in a sort of nostalgic "I made 5 cents an hour sweeping the floor in the MGM camera department" sort of anecdotal way but rarely mentioned what they made at the height of their careers.


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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 07:52 PM

https://books.google... salary&f=false

 

For example, here Shamroy says he made 18 dollars a week developing film at Fox when he started out, but no mention of his salary after that.


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#5 Dan Hasson

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 03:51 AM

I saw an article on Gregg Toland recently on American Cinematographer. It talks about how much he was earning at certain points in his career. Article here

But David's point is right. I can't think many top cinematographers would discuss it, or many on here maybe...

You find even asking people (who do not necessarily work in this industry) like to discuss how much they earn. 


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#6 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 04:21 AM

I saw an article on Gregg Toland recently on American Cinematographer. It talks about how much he was earning at certain points in his career. Article here

But David's point is right. I can't think many top cinematographers would discuss it, or many on here maybe...

You find even asking people (who do not necessarily work in this industry) like to discuss how much they earn. 

 

Thanks for the link Dan, a very interesting piece.

It says Toland's first contract as a Studio DoP was for $13,000/year in 1929, which equates to about $186,000/year in today's dollar (according to the CPI inflation calculator). I'm sure his salaries only went up from there.


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#7 KH Martin

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Posted Today, 06:15 AM

Can't remember where I read it, but back in the 70s remember a mag indicating that Conrad Hall made 5K/week as DP on BUTCH CASSIDY. Might have been Super8Filmaker magazine, they actually had a lot of surprising and excellent info beyond just the low-budget how-to aspect (which in itself was wonderful.)

 

I don't know that the inflation calculator is accurate for filmmaking, as when you look at how budgets jump up, it isn't a linear progression. It seems there's a huge jump in the late 70s/early 80s (average budget seemed to triple, and that was without counting in the 30/40 mil monstrosities like BLUES BROS and LEGAL EAGLES), and then it seemed like that happened again in the last 20 years, when productions were supposedly saving money using CGI instead of motion control miniatures.


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