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A DP's salary in Hollywood


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#1 J Costantini

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Posted 11 August 2005 - 02:07 AM

Hi.
I'm just curious... I have no clue about that and would like to ask you...
Do you have an idea of how much does a DP get to shoot a feature film in Hollywood??
Let's say suppose he or she is from ASC and the budget is between 20 and 60 million dollars.

Thanks
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#2 Matt Irwin

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Posted 11 August 2005 - 02:44 AM

Salary varies from person to person. I've heard $1000/week to 10,000/week to much more/week.
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#3 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 11 August 2005 - 02:01 PM

15k/week is about average, so I've been told by their agents.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 August 2005 - 06:50 PM

15k/week is about average, so I've been told by their agents.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


That would be nice...

Most films in the 3 to 10 million range pay close to scale, around $4000/wk for a DP, more with a lot of overtime.
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#5 drew_town

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Posted 11 August 2005 - 10:06 PM

I don't presume a DP ends up working every week of the year; so on average what does that translate into an annual salary?
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#6 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 11 August 2005 - 10:41 PM

That would be nice...

Most films in the 3 to 10 million range pay close to scale, around $4000/wk for a DP, more with a lot of overtime.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



I'm referring to the $50mil+ range.

3-6 months of work at least, including prep. You do the math.

Edited by Eric Steelberg, 11 August 2005 - 10:42 PM.

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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 August 2005 - 11:28 PM

I work about half the year, sometimes 7 months total.

This year it looks like I will have shot two features, both nearly three months of my time. A few scattered days here and there for other stuff.
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#8 J Costantini

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 02:37 AM

wow
a dp may get 15K/week while a star (who is lit by him) may get up to 15 million per projetc...
the dp's salary is good, I can say... perfect for a very nice lifestyle, specially because the dollar is very worthful... but is it fair?
are the DPs considered to be "under the line" ?

Edited by nillo, 12 August 2005 - 02:41 AM.

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#9 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 10:22 AM

That's just the way it is...stars=box office. Though I have met a couple of guys who swear people go to see their work (egomaniacs). So form I business standpoint I suppose it's fair. But what is fair? I don't believe that word is in the Hollywood dictionary.

Most DPs I know in that category do have a nice lifestyle, BUT they are so busy they don't have time to enjoy it. That's why, unfortunately, DPs tend to have trouble staying married.

DPs are below the line though there are some producers and especially agents that think it's "between the lines."
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#10 Richard Boddington

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 10:33 AM

People don't go and see movies because it was shot by _______(fill blank).

Out side of the film industy no one knows any DPs or what they even do. Try explaining the DP position to a non-film person they'll say, "oh the camera man!"

When was the last time you heard VO in a movie trailer say, "from director of photography Dave Wilson comes....." People in the audience will say, "who the heck is that?"

It's sad that Pauly Shore is more famous than our great DOPs, but that's the truth. Even sadder is that Pauly Shore was paid more than any of the DPs who shot the stupid films he was in.

Of course I've never seen Pauly Shore in a movie, that's just what my friends say. :D

R,
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#11 Marty Hamrick

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 02:00 PM

I don't begrudge the actors for what they make,but I do think the salaries are waaaaay out of proportion.


I don't know about the feature film biz as much as I do the TV news biz,but I can tell you that even though the salaries are just as lopsided,the corporate heads look to save money on talent too.As the economy goes further south,they start to look from the top down (while protecting their own big salaries of course).I know some top anchors on the downhill side of their careers settling for smaller salaries simply because it's harder for them to have a bargaining chip as they get older.

I look at the figures and shake my head.It can't keep going on like this at some point it seems the well will run dry and the companies say enough is enough.The higher salaries have to translate to higher ticket prices,higher cable and sattlelite and DVD/VCR and pay per view prices.The average consumer who is working a regular job will eventually reach a point where they say enough is enough too.

Something has to give somewhere.Isn't that a movie title?

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#12 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 05:39 PM

Here's the bottom line:

1. It takes about a decade to get anyplace as a DP where you even can afford to eat anything but instant noodles - my first job was in 1995 on a little freebie short as an AC - and I'm STILL on them from time to time...

2. ...after that follows at least 10 years of getting by OK, but still being rejected for virtually every job by the agency/director/record label etc for not being "hot" enough (this happens all the time, trust me). So you end up paying the rent by doing crap that might pay alright, but doesn't get you anywhere or challenge you....

3. ...this will continue all the way through your career until you win an Oscar or shoot a tentpole blockbuster in Hollywood for the right director.

The sad fact is that there's always a DP that's better and hotter than you that everyone wants to work with - this is a rule of law. By the time you finally by some freak occurence manage to become that "hot" DP that can actually get all the jobs, then you're either over the hill and pushing 50, or you're just about to die.

So, yeah, I think I earn my money. Divided by the time I've spent doing this in hours, I've probably earned less than a wino. I'm not bitter about it at all - quite the opposite. It's been my pleasure and I wouldn't change it for the world - it's just that I used to hear myself say that DP's earned far to much money when I was starting out. Today I think we don't earn enough, frankly.
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#13 J Costantini

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 04:29 AM

Thanks. The discussion was much better and much more important than what I expected.

Hey

See the American Cinematographer issue of this August. It brings an interview with the Brazilian DP Affonso Beato, ASC ABC about "Dark Water" among others.

Edited by nillo, 13 August 2005 - 04:32 AM.

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#14 Richard Boddington

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 09:45 AM

"See the American Cinematographer issue of this August. It brings an interview with the Brazilian DP Affonso Beato, ASC ABC about "Dark Water" among others."

You raise another good point here. There was a time in Hollywood when having an "ethnic" sounding name was a huge disadvantage, now it's the opposite.

If you're a DOP and your name is Fred Smith, good luck finding work if Affonso Beato is applying for the same position.

Fred Smith needs to become Francois Charbois. Think about it, having an exotic sounding name is going to make producers think you're a "hot" new talent import. They hear Fred Smith and they think, "boring."

R,
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#15 Max Jacoby

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 11:51 AM

perfect for a very nice lifestyle, specially because the dollar is very worthful...


Which dollar would that be? Certainly not the American one.
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