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#1 Reggie A Brown

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 10:23 PM

Hello all. This website is filled with phenomenal information, a lot more information than what people learn in film school. Shout out to David Mullen ASC, Phil Rhodes, Stuart Brereton, Adrian Sierkowski, Guy Holt, Miguel Angel, and all the other incredible ppl in the film industry that offer valuable input on these forums.

This question may be far fetched, but I won't know an answer unless I ask. Are there any members that are willing to be a personal mentor? Someone that I can personally call, text, email that'll teach me and help me advance throughout my career? Out of all the jobs I've worked I've always had a mentor; now that I'm taking on having a long career as a cinematographer, I'd like to have a mentor (or several) as I work my way through the industry. My goal is to become a camera operator. If anyone out there is willing to be my mentor, please don't hesitate to send me a private message.

I know I may be asking for a lot, but I also believe I'll never catch a fish if I don't ever cast a line. Thanks!

Edited by Reggie A Brown, 17 August 2017 - 10:24 PM.

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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 09:45 AM

I think much of this sort of thing can be addressed by posting here. What you really need to do is find someone local to you and get a more formal apprenticeship going; much of it needs to be hands-on.

 

P


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#3 Reggie A Brown

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 03:28 PM

Hey Phil, thanks for the response. I live in a small town with a population of about 40,000. There's a small percentage of ppl that's interested in video, and an even smaller percentage that's interested in cinema. The ppl I've met that's interested in video are content with making videos for local musicians and businesses, and from the conversations I've had with them they're less knowledgeable than me. The ppl I've met that's interested in cinema have been all talk, no action; even when I invite them on my own shoots. And some of the ppl that have actually shown up to help didn't know what gaf tape was or how to use a c stand. Some of the local university students told me they've learned more from me by being on my set for a few hours than what they've learned in school all together. So that's my dilemma.

I'm interested in making movies for tv, shooting tv shows, and eventually movies that'll get theatrical releases. I plan on moving to a big metropolitan area in the future where I'll be around more like minds, but I'm just looking for guidance now so when I make that leap I'll do it with confidence and hopefully more connections in the industry.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 03:31 PM

Post your questions here and multiple people might benefit from the answers!
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#5 Miguel Angel

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 04:45 AM

Hi! 

 

Being a camera operator is one of the best jobs in the industry.

 

It would be quite difficult to mentor somebody on operating via The Internet because it is all about the feeling of the scene and the perception. 

 

I remember the person who taught me almost everything about operating used to tell me "feel the scene and move accordingly" and at that time I had no idea what that meant, however, a year later I was operating a b-cam for him and there was a moment where something clicked in my brain, everything disappeared but the actors in front of me and I was feeling the scene and moved the camera totally in sync with the characters and when the take finished he came to my side and said: "Now you know what I meant that day" and I got up and hugged him haha.

 

I do think that when you're operating and you're in the actual take you have to forget about everything that is happening around you, just focus on what you see on the viewfinder (that's the reason why I like operating through the viewfinder because you don't have any distractions) and try to be as emphatic as you can so you can react to the movements of the characters even before they know what they are going to do. 

 

And by all means, as David said, post your questions here and we will try to answer them for you and that way more people will benefit from everybody's knowledge! :)

 

Have a lovely day. 


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#6 Frank Barrera

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 12:29 PM

Everyone's path is different. I can only speak of my own. I was in NY for 15 years after graduating from film school.  During that time I learned the basics, had some great experiences and met many wonderful people. I moved to LA 6 years ago and my experience here has overshadowed my time in NY. Being surrounded by people who actually make features for a living has been critical for my education and career advancement. I wish I had moved out here straight out of film school 20 years ago but for personal reasons I was unable. So, I feel like I am playing a bit of catch up but thats ok.

 

The point is that you need to get to NY or LA. You need to surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to be doing. And when you make it out here I'll buy you a cup of coffee.

 

f


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#7 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 12:49 PM

One thing that'll help you is self producing on your own to test your creative chops to combine with the technical guidance down the road. If you don't have the fire to finish volumes of content on your own, someone offering to watch over you won't make a world of difference when just starting out.

 

Many things in film making can be sorted out by simply attempting them. See what you can and can't do, then reach out for help in specifics, not the big picture.


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#8 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 06:09 AM

The point is that you need to get to NY or LA.

 

Only do this if you have something lined up. Both LA and NY have the highest cost of living in the United States. Unless you have family or close friends to stay with, or a good job lined up in advance, you're going to be miserable. While I have never lived in LA, I have visited several times (just 3 weeks ago, in fact) - and the sticker shock will send you scurrying. Home prices alone are 5-6x what you'll find most other places, gas is several dollars more expensive per gallon, etc. 

 

And before you say 'but there is no film industry anywhere other than LA' - note that just several weeks ago I met Brian Miller downtown, 5 minutes from my company office, while shooting his latest movie 'Reprisal' (Brice Willis). About 3 1/2 months ago, I had a little chat and handshake with James Franco and Josh Hartnett while they were getting Coffee in a small restaurant in Hamilton Ohio, where Franco was shooting 'The Long Home'. I even got invented to spend the day on-set, and meet some of the people involved.

 

And more times than not, these companies that are shooting films here are not bringing their entire crew from California - they are going to hire many of the crew from the local roster. 

 

LA might well be the epicenter of the Hollywood studio executive offices, but it's hardly the bustling film production industry it once was - unless you consider the sheer number of student films, short films, and extremely low-budget productions made by people who moved there hoping to get into the Hollywood industry. Most 'real', good-paying, union productions are shot outside of California. Those 35%+ tax rebates without the need for a lottery work wonders.

 

I don't want to turn this into an LA vs. everywhere else argument, but just take heed and think carefully before making a blind move to LA in the hopes that your dreams of success and networking will be showered upon you. Here in Cincinnati, we have an active film community that I regularly network with - everyone from writers to camera operators to gaffers and grips. They exist outside LA.

TL;DR: Look to your LOCAL film community for help and assistance. Unless you live in a small town, a little work will put you in contact people who would be willing to help you learn the ropes. If you have a little money, you could always rent some of this equipment to practice with as well. 


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 20 August 2017 - 06:16 AM.

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#9 Frank Barrera

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 01:00 PM

Reggie's post was about mentorship. I don't see how any one can argue with the concept that if you're looking for mentorship with a focus on feature production that you should seek it anywhere besides NY or LA. Since I have been in LA I have had the enormous luck and pleasure to spend quality time in conversation with some very experienced and accomplished cinematographers, camera operators, gaffers, key grips and 1st ACs who live here. I have even worked along side some of them. Here.

 

As a side note, I am in no way implying that when one gets to LA that the studio doors are going to swing wide open and great success will follow. Far from it. The fact is that if you live here your chances of being a successful DP shooting features is extremely low. If you live somewhere between L.A. and NY your chances almost disappear. Is this a controversial idea?


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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 06:00 PM

No, it is not.
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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 06:12 PM

Oh, and...

Reggie, really do keep posting here. It's all a huge learning process, as I suspect anyone here would attest, and the benefit of a variety of people's opinions is well worth having.

The other thing that I personally think is very worthwhile and usually good fun is shooting your own stuff. It's worth drawing a very clear dividing line between your own stuff that you do for fun and experience, and other people's stuff that you do for money and career. Still, until you start shooting stuff and looking at it and figuring out what you like and don't like about it, and why, it's harder to understand why people do things in certain ways. Don't spend lots of money on it, and don't make it your full time hobby, but I think it's worth doing. You can practically do it with a cellphone, these days.
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#12 Reggie A Brown

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 11:04 PM

You guys rock! Thanks for all the valuable information thus far. I'll definitely continue to post here and read the forums on this site. I'm planning, and arranging to move to Atlanta. I read that AMC recently purchased a studio for $8 million for the walking dead tv show because they want to shoot at least another 20 seasons. And there's a lot of other productions that happening in/and around the Atl area. I'd like to network with some people in that area and if I can get my foot in the door on the walking dead I'd at least have steady work during that production.

I know everyone's path is different, but how do I approach big tv show productions asking to come aboard if I don't have experience? Who do I approach and talk to? How should I began the conversation?
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#13 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 02:56 AM

but how do I approach big tv show productions asking to come aboard if I don't have experience? Who do I approach and talk to? How should I began the conversation?

 

Crew positions for major productions are hired in several ways, depending on the type of project. If it's an out of town production like we get in my neck of the woods, most of the crew will be hired locally. In many cases, they will be sourced from the local film office who usually maintains a production book, which lists everything from local caterers to equipment rental companies and sound stages, and yes - even crew members broken down by their job categories. To get into this book, you need to meet the requirements set forth by that film office. In Indiana (where I use to live and was listed as a PA in the book), you had to have experience doing at least ONE job in your category.  Other states will vary. To see an example my local film offices production book, look here: http://www.filmcinci...crew-cincinnati

 

Atlanta, and Georgia by default, will have a very well setup film office, since a lot of productions shoot there. Your first goal should be to gain the requirements needed to become listed in that production book.

 

For productions that are locally based (meaning the key crew are also local (DP/Director/Production Manager, etc)), a lot of your chances depends on who you know.

 

In any case, no one is going to hire you for a paying production, especially television and feature level, unless you have experience. To gain the experience, you need to figure out what area you want to work in. You then need to start networking with Atlanta-based crew members who do what you want to do. Not only with this gain you friends in the local production industry, but you can usually convince them to help show you the ropes.

 

I managed to network with a lot of local crew members here in Cincinnati. I did this mostly by getting in on a local Facebook group populated with local crew. I also tend to 'inject' myself into the local scene as much as possible. That is really all you can do. As for how to begin conversations and things, just do it like you naturally would. You don't want to approach people with a pushy way. Your first goal is simply to network and meet people, not to push yourself into the industry.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 22 August 2017 - 03:03 AM.

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#14 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 03:16 PM

You guys rock! Thanks for all the valuable information thus far. I'll definitely continue to post here and read the forums on this site. I'm planning, and arranging to move to Atlanta. I read that AMC recently purchased a studio for $8 million for the walking dead tv show because they want to shoot at least another 20 seasons. And there's a lot of other productions that happening in/and around the Atl area. I'd like to network with some people in that area and if I can get my foot in the door on the walking dead I'd at least have steady work during that production.

I know everyone's path is different, but how do I approach big tv show productions asking to come aboard if I don't have experience? Who do I approach and talk to? How should I began the conversation?

There is a high demand for crew for sure.  If you have no experience as a grip/electric or camera tech, and no friends in such departments, you're only real shot is through production as a P.A.   P.A.'s are the folks you see bouncing people off sidewalks and blocking traffic with officers around the set.  Keeping cars and people out of the frame.  

 

They are the entry level P.A.'s   They usually have walkies on their belts and surveillance earbuds.   It's not glamorous but if you're solid and have a good attitude you can move up quick.  Just try to make friends with people in camera and G&E so that if they ever become short staffed or need a dedicated P.A. or if they allow for camera interns they'll turn to you.   Then you work your way on up through the ranks.  May take a while but that's one way.

 

How do you do this?   Next time you see a production near you ask someone with a walkie to direct you to the key P.A.  Then ask if they need additionals.  They'll probably say no but it's worth a shot.


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