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choosing your DP


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#1 Ger Leonard

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 06:38 AM

I am in the process of choosing a DP for my debut feature film.
I am the writer/director. My script is a contemporary urban drama containing minimal dialogue. I am looking for a DP with a creative eye for visual storytelling, with a instinct for brave, economical choices that serve the story/overall vision of the piece. The film will be shot in Ireland.
I have a strong sense of the visual style but as I have limited experience on set I need a close, skilled, open, patient and stimulating collaborator to facilitate a creative working environment and help translate my/our agreed vision onto celluloid
I have arranged a meeting with a potential DP for next weekend.. I admire his work greatly and he is passionate about the script. (and he is within our price range)
These 3 points are obviously key criteria in choosing a DP to work with.

IN YOUR EXPERIENCE WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE THE MOST INSTRUCTIVE SIGNS OF A POTENTIALLY FRUITFULL WORKING RELATIONSHIP?
And also what have you found to be signs of A POTENTIALLY UNHEALTHY ONE?

All anecdotes and words of wisdom are welcome.
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#2 Tim J Durham

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 07:28 AM

I am looking for a DP with a creative eye for visual storytelling, with a instinct for brave, economical choices that serve the story/overall vision of the piece. The film will be shot in Ireland.

I have a strong sense of the visual style but as I have limited experience on set I need a close, skilled, open, patient and stimulating collaborator to facilitate a creative working environment and help translate my/our agreed vision onto celluloid.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Allright..all-RIGHT! I'll do it. Just give me a little time to find somebody to cover me for the
Kornbladt wedding and then I gotta tell Gus...:
cedric.jpg

You want tact, call a tactician. You want a ass nailed, you come see Gus Petch.


...that I won't be available for a few weeks.
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#3 John Thomas

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 02:59 PM

I am looking for a DP with a creative eye for visual storytelling, with a instinct for brave, economical choices that serve the story/overall vision of the piece.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Ask your potential cinematographers what "brave, economical choices" they might make for the overall success of the film. Then ask yourself the same question.

Many of those choices will be made on the fly while you are shooting. Try to find someone who's willing to keep in step with you. An actor's contribution may change the whole feeling of a scene for you, should that effect the photography? The sun at the end of the day may not supply the long shadows we had hoped for in prep, will that effect the way the scene plays?

It's give and take hopefully for a common goal. Make a good decision 24 times a second and you'll both be O.K.

Regards,

JT
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#4 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 07:45 PM

I think you should say exactly what you said here - that you need someone willing to stay in step with you and be a collaborator. Be open with that - that's sincere and a strong thing to do. A good DP will work with you in that symbiotic manner, without "taking over the shoot". Inexperience is not the same as not having a vision.

Some DP's can perhaps sometimes take over if they're very experienced (this is why I'm not always sure the old DP - young director combo always is the best pairing), simply because the already have working relationships with most people on set and have such experience. That's their little fiefdom and domain and it can perhaps be hard to break into that and change structures and think outside the box. You want experience, but not set in their ways. You want plasticity, not rigidity.
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#5 Tim J Durham

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 09:08 PM

Some DP's can perhaps sometimes take over if they're very experienced (this is why I'm not always sure the old DP - young director combo always is the best pairing), simply because the already have working relationships with most people on set and have such experience. That's their little fiefdom and domain and it can perhaps be hard to break into that and change structures and think outside the box. You want experience, but not set in their ways. You want plasticity, not rigidity.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

This point was made painfully apparent while watching the Bravo show, "Project Greenlight" which is a great show, btw. The DP, (*name deleted*) brow-beat the (first time) director like a rented mule. I suspect some/most of that was at the behest of the show producers for dramatic tension. Still... very passive-aggressive with a strong leaning toward the aggressive. Even I was having anxiety attacks and I was just watching.

Furthermore, the DP knew all the crew so the director was feeling like EVERYBODY was against him. But to his credit, he kept going and I'm looking forward to seeing the film.
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