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Leveling up as a DP


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#1 Kyle Kearns

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 11:02 PM

Ive seen Matt Workmans video about leveling up as a DP on YouTube...but Im curious for those of you that are working with medium - large crews. How did you come up from being just a guy with a camera or a one man band?

Edited by Kyle Kearns, 19 July 2018 - 11:04 PM.

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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 12:26 AM

Met producers who had larger budgets and fought for the crew and tools you need. Respect for Matt, buy I haven't really found many of his videos to line up to actually working in the industry.


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#3 David Peterson

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 01:31 AM

I haven't really found many of his videos to line up to actually working in the industry.


How have you found reality to be different?
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 03:05 AM

My only observation (as someone who doesn't really shoot much anymore) is that everyone thinks the way they did it is the way everyone does it, and they all have a different idea. It is almost impossible to give meaningful careers advice in an industry where advancement is so heavily luck-based.


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#5 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 03:15 AM

My only observation (as someone who doesn't really shoot much anymore) is that everyone thinks the way they did it is the way everyone does it, and they all have a different idea. It is almost impossible to give meaningful careers advice in an industry where advancement is so heavily luck-based.

 

 

haha yes I was going to post this (but thought twice about it) but since you have bought it up.. there are 3 main factors.. see list below

 

1 Luck

2 Luck

3 Luck..

 

There is no video.. how to.. how did you do it.. if you stay in this industry it will happen or it wont.. right place right time.. I think any camera bod actually making a real living had that moment .. from the lowest corp.doc types like myself.. to the big time Oscar people..


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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 04:02 AM

Careful Robin, I think you may have worked with a few big names in your time!


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#7 David Peterson

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 06:02 AM

 

1 Luck

2 Luck

3 Luck..

Yes, but you make your own luck!


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#8 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 09:52 AM

 

1 Luck

2 Luck

3 Luck..

 

There is no video.. how to.. how did you do it.. if you stay in this industry it will happen or it wont.. right place right time.. I think any camera bod actually making a real living had that moment .. from the lowest corp.doc types like myself.. to the big time Oscar people..


I would counter that with a slight amendment (based on my experiences so far, and the tales I've been told by far mightier cinematographers than myself).

1. Hustle
2. Luck
3. Specificity


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#9 David Peterson

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 10:36 AM

What kind of specificity do you recommend?
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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 11:21 AM

How have you found reality to be different?

I dunno; just haven't really felt it to be accurate,he seems to come out of the whole buy you way in school of thought which, eh, I dunno. And also I wonder how much of his content is designed just to sell the whole cinema-4d degisner thing. Which, I dunno, II wish we could just share knowledge more readily.


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#11 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 07:51 PM

Well  yes you can persevere .. hustle,of course try to make the odds better.. etc.. but breaks as I have seen others and for myself ..were totally by chance.. Ive known people who were real networking /hustllers who got no where.. Im not saying you dont need the skill to back it up.. but you do need that lucky break.. mine was just hanging around a film crew I saw in a town hall in London..I didn't know anyone on the crew.. I talked with the AC.. the AD got pissed off with me and said I would have to be an extra if I wanted to hang around.. which I did !.. next week the AC called me to be a loader.. and that opened up everything..


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#12 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 07:56 PM

Careful Robin, I think you may have worked with a few big names in your time!

 

 

I have a few back in the day.. and I know their stories.. and there was always one random chance thing that went their way that got them started .. they had the skill already of course.. but needed the break .. I assisted others who were also very very good Dop.s. who just didn't get that break..


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#13 Axel Rothe

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 04:42 AM

If there was one take away I have after listenting to countless origin stories of cinematographers, is that there is no story that is the same. This is an industry of connections, meaning that whatever director you meet, will take you down a specific yet undefined path. Some people meet a couple of  guys, do music videos and five years later they are shooting high end studio commercials. Others zig zag and make their break with a side project. Or they work as staff somewhere and go freelance having gathered some connections.

 

It's true that luck is a big part, but it's up to you to create as many opportunities as possible for luck to strike.

 

My only advice is: "Nobody is waiting for you" and "The friends of bad people, are always equal or worse." Don't waste time with people that you don't enjoy working with. It's never worth it.


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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 05:50 AM

Don't waste time with people that you don't enjoy working with. It's never worth it.

 

That I will second.


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#15 aapo lettinen

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 09:57 AM

Ive seen Matt Workmans video about leveling up as a DP on YouTube...but Im curious for those of you that are working with medium - large crews. How did you come up from being just a guy with a camera or a one man band?

 

the normal way would be to work with the right people, especially directors, who will eventually bring you bigger and bigger projects when the advance on their career. 

knowing producers and other people like line producers and production managers might be also handy espceially for looking for second unit, b-camera etc. work.

 

the right people may not necessarily be the ones you start your career with. you will have to give up many projects and opportunities to advance to the direction you want. 

 

film schools are important for a dp to get the good director contacts when they are just starting their career and are more willing to work with a new guy on their projects. when they are used to work with you they will hopefully get you to the bigger/paid projects with them if/when they get commercial works and later web/tv-series/features.


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#16 aapo lettinen

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 10:41 AM

the right people may not necessarily be the ones you start your career with. you will have to give up many projects and opportunities to advance to the direction you want. 

I am not a pro full-time DP though, mostly working on post production and editing dept. at the moment...

 

Some years ago I shot lots of small low-budget indie films for various beginning directors and some of them were trying to always make the next no-budget hit which would be picked up by distributors and make millions in ticket sales. always trying to make the next Blair Witch Project type of success for couple of thousand euros max. I never got far with those projects, neither did the directors...

Eventually I went another route... had to leave the indie director-producers behind and take real paid film industry work which happened to be post production related. assistant editor and DIT work, making of editing and so on.

Now trying to slowly advance back to a DP position as well (at the moment I mostly shoot making of docs and similar stuff) which may still take years. the benefit is that now I know lots of working pro film industry people and it will be easier to do some bigger projects when it is the right time. the only disadvantage is that people are now used to know me as a super-technical post-prod guy and not a DP  -_-

 

Nowadays I'm concentrating on learning specialities like underwater cinematography, steadicam, drone work, etc. and shooting a music video project or a short art film every now and then.

I wish I had concentrated more on the quality of work I made from the very beginning and not flooding my schedule with every type of project I could get my hands on. would have been much faster to advance to bigger projects later on I think.

now I have to take the "specialities" route like concentrating on the underwater cinematography and steadicam learning and only take projects which help me to advance on those special fields and ditch the rest. And doing the post prod work as a full time job at the same time.

 

------

What I'm trying to say is, you really have to choose carefully the projects you are working on and to plan forward what you are willing to archive and where you'll want to be in couple of years or 10 years in the future. planning the route carefully and taking the best projects and finding the best people to get you there. you'll have to say NO more often than YES and maybe do some other work to get stable income so that you don't have to take every project offered, only the best ones.

The route is different for every person and is also partially based on pure luck like others said... you have to be able to recognize the great opportunities immediately and ditch the bad ones to save your energy on the really important stuff. You may have to give up one-man-band projects for a while except for documentary stuff, etc. The right path for you is changing constantly and the best you can do is to know where you'll want to be in the end and to take the best looking choices on the way and adapting as needed.

 

If you enjoy working on small crew indie projects you may have very challenging times ahead :mellow:


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#17 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 03:38 PM

Okay, not cinematography, but advice from my professor at uni in the arts industry: rule 1, never ever be late. rule 2, you are always replaceable. And someone else said "there will always be someone better and worse than you for the job." So maintain very high standards in basic reliability, never have tickets on yourself, and you should get noticed (and remembered). Directing is extremely high stress at times so if you can make life easier for the director that should help your 'luck'.


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