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Fifteen year old, advice?


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#1 brandonanderson

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Posted 24 September 2005 - 09:25 AM

Have any advice for someone who wants to be a filmmaker when they grow up.

Being a sophmore I am already thinking I only have three years left. I am not tyring to grow up too fast at all. I just love film and I can't see my future without doing something in part.

So what do you recommend I start doing now?


And also how do you get a shot with a background that is blurred usually with a clear closeup of a character. It usually goes between the background and character.

Was watching Ray last night and noticed I like this idea.

Edited by brandonanderson, 24 September 2005 - 09:30 AM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 September 2005 - 09:38 AM

At this point, I would just keep on making your own little films and enjoy yourself. Take it as far as you can as a hobby, learn all you can, and THEN see where your talents lie and what area of filmmaking you should persue professionally.

Telephoto (long focal length) lenses, wide apertures (small f/stop numbers like f/2.0, etc.) will help you reduce the background focus, but shooting on larger target area formats (whether bigger CCD's or larger negatives) make it easier.
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#3 brandonanderson

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Posted 24 September 2005 - 12:20 PM

I'm taking Photography in school right now. Will that help a little?
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#4 Dimitrios Koukas

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Posted 24 September 2005 - 01:50 PM

I'm taking Photography in school right now. Will that help a little?

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Yes, this will help a lot for a start.
It's a way of starting to know about aeshtetics and the image, about framming a subject and lighting or technical principles, that u can use in the cinematography later on.

For me ,if cinema is the Alphabet then the letter A is photography.

Dimitrios Koukas
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#5 Mike Lary

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Posted 24 September 2005 - 03:12 PM

I agree with Dimitrios. Learn as much as you can about photography. Learn how to use the manual exposure and manual focus features on a still camera, and experiment with different light sources and environments. Don't get too caught up in processing effects with film - the technical side of camera operation will be more applicable to both film and digital movie cameras. A great book you might want to pick up is The Photographer's Handbook. It will answer just about any question you have, from camera/lens operation to more technical stuff about film emulsions and lab processes.

If you plan on being a creative force behind the films you work on, you need to understand how to tell a story well. This skill (contrary to popular belief) doesn't come about just by watching a ton of films. Read and write a lot to develop those skills. Take creative writing classes if your school offers them.

Watch lots of films, good and bad, and watch the commentaries to find out what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish and whether or not it worked. Analysis of other people's films will help you to be more critical of your own work, and might help you to avoid making some of their mistakes.

Like David said, have fun. Balance experimentation with study, so you have fun and learn at the same time.
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#6 Joseph White

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Posted 24 September 2005 - 03:48 PM

Hey all, new to this board/site - thought I'd chime in:

Couldn't agree more with what everyone is suggesting. I'd also reccomend studying art in general, not just limiting yourself to filmmaking and still photography. I went to film school for both my Bachelor's and Master's degrees, and found that the one thing lacking in my general education was an understanding of the original masters of light - painters and sculptors. Painters had the ultimate control of lighting in their work, and sculptors were always conscious of their work's placement within an area's existing light and often adjusted their works accordingly.

A study of art history, even at an admirer's level, helped me not only understand the many ways of crafting light and composition, but more important what I liked and didn't like. The more art and literature I exposed myself too, the more I developed my own tastes and that has played a huge role in my fledgling career as a cinematographer.

best of luck!
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#7 Joshua Provost

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Posted 24 September 2005 - 04:30 PM

Brandon,

Beg, borrow, or steal (OK, maybe not), and get your hands on any video camera you can. That and almost any computer, and you can start shooting and editing your own films. Forget about technical quality, just get the experience. Just keep making films, and studying the films you see, and hone your technique.

If you make ten to fifteen short films between now and graduation, you may end up a better filmmaker than most of the people graduating film school (where they might make a handful of films).

Josh
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#8 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 24 September 2005 - 06:03 PM

There's lots of good advice here. Photographic skills, and an appreciation of art in general will stand you in good stead.

The thing that I think is often overlooked by people coming into the camera department is an ability to edit. By this I don't mean that you should be able to operate Final Cut, or similar (although this may be an advantage) , but that you have an awareness of how shots go together, of how sequences are built etc etc.

not every camera person ends up shooting feature films. The majority shoot documentary, lifestyle, current affairs, corporate, or some other form, where you don't necessarily have the luxury of a storyboard (or a director who knows what they want....) In these situations you have to think on your feet, and know that what you shoot is going to make sense in the cutting room.

even in features, there are directors who leave the coverage to the DP, and so he or she has to be able to think in sequences, not just shots.

If you can find it, Edward Dymtryk's book 'On Film Editing' is an excellent resource for the 'Why's' of editing.

All the best,

Stuart
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#9 Daniel J. Ashley-Smith

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 06:06 AM

Write a short, basic script, get some friends round, shoot it, edit it, and then review it to see what was good and what was bad. What worked well, and what not to do again e.t.c.

But make the film yourself, i.e. don't hire an editor. By doing most of it yourself, you will learn about the different aspects of film making.
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#10 Stephen Williams

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 06:35 AM

But make the film yourself, i.e. don't hire an editor. By doing most of it yourself, you will learn about the different aspects of film making.

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Hi,

That workflow explains why so many short films are unwatchable!

Stephen
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#11 Dimitrios Koukas

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 09:38 AM

Hi,

That workflow explains why so many short films are unwatchable!

Stephen

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U definitely got a point here m8.
:D :D
Stephen is right, let the young man there learn photography first, and then he will see what he will do with his life!
Write, shoot, edit, party, drinks and chicks later.
Dimitrios Koukas
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 10:03 AM

Hi,

That workflow explains why so many short films are unwatchable!

Stephen

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But he's right -- editing is one of the most important things a cinematographer needs to learn actually!
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#13 Stephen Williams

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 10:15 AM

But he's right -- editing is one of the most important things a cinematographer needs to learn actually!

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David,

With all due respect I think one can learn more about editing working with a good editor first.

Stephen
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#14 Dimitrios Koukas

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 10:21 AM

But he's right -- editing is one of the most important things a cinematographer needs to learn actually!

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David,
You are right too it's just that Brandon asked how to start and what.
So I am considering that everything has a start, Photography is a good start, If he finds it too confusing or very technical ,or out of his field than he should try editing or directing.
Or after he masters photography. That's why in many ways I prefer the ''Cinematographer'' title. For me a cinematographer has to know all the parts and how's of a production.
And I am not saying that a Director doesn't have to know about photography either!
It is just I believed many people here started spamming him with everything, I believe one little step at a time would be more creative and less confusing.
I was a boom-op in my early yrs and also many other things, like producer, director writer and so on, but only for my experience and development.
Never ever, have entittled myself with the Director or producer title,even that I knew how.As most of us.

I am a D.o.P. And I like it!
Dimitrios Koukas
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#15 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 10:24 AM

David,

With all due respect I think one can learn more about editing working with a good editor first.

Stephen

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I don't understand what's so wrong about a beginner doing their own editing. I mean, why not hire a DP as well instead of shooting it yourself? You shoot your own stuff to learn about cinematography but you shouldn't cut your own stuff to learn about editing??? I don't get the logic here.

I spent the first ten years of my filmmaking experience shooting & cutting my own stuff and it was very educational. Sure, an experienced editor can teach you things just like an experienced DP can teach you things, but I don't understand why on the one hand, a beginner should learn by picking up a camera and shooting, but on the other hand, they SHOULDN'T also learn by editing that same footage, but wait for an experienced editor to take it over and do it. Doesn't make sense to me. Cinematography can be self-taught by a teenager but editing can't? He's fifteen years old and he's supposed to hire a professional editor to cut his amateur footage rather than attempt to cut it himself??? Excuse me, but that's nonsense. I learned cinematography by shooting Super-8 and cutting it on a little splicer and projecting it. Someone else could learn today by shooting and then cutting it with some simple software.

And if a person is unable to learn how to edit at the same time they are learning photography, then they can't be very bright. After all, post is what our images go THROUGH to get to some end product, so just learning how to use a camera is half the process of cinematography. Otherwise, all a student would be doing is shooting a lot of tests, not learning the storytelling aspects of cinematography.

Editing is not something a cinematographer starts to understand later in his career. It's an essential art of filmmaking and needs to be understood from the start, otherwise you're just a photographer and you start to think that all a cinematographer has to do is create great images. More than half of the discussions between a DP and director on a feature film set don't concern lighting & composition, they concern editing.

Sure, a lot of student films would be better if they hired a professional editor. And a professional DP. And production designer, etc. In fact, replace the director while you're at it... I mean, why not eliminate the student altogether? Then the short would be a LOT better.
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#16 Dimitrios Koukas

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 10:43 AM

I don't understand what's so wrong about a beginner doing their own editing.

More than half of the discussions between a DP and director on a feature film set don't concern lighting & composition, they concern editing.

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David I have to agree again with you, but from my side of view I just believed that Stephen was trying to protect Brandon from not getting too confused about everything.
Noone said that he DOESN'T have to learn editing. And by the way, he is taking still photography class at the moment.
Later means in three months for a young one.
That's all.
Dimitrios Koukas
I hope it will make some sense now?
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#17 Stephen Williams

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 10:47 AM

I don't understand what's so wrong about a beginner doing their own editing.  I mean, why not hire a DP as well instead of shooting it yourself?  You shoot your own stuff to learn about cinematography but you shouldn't cut your own stuff to learn about editing??? I don't get the logic here.

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Hi,

If Daniel wants to work in TV news or make wedding videos then it would be a perfect path to follow.
If he wants to go forward and make films I believe he need's to involve other people.

Stephen
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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 11:02 AM

So a teenager shouldn't attempt to learn editing without first hiring a professional editor to teach them? They should just ignore that important aspect of filmmaking until later?

We're talking about a BEGINNER here. Everyone has to start somewhere. Pick-up a camera and shoot with it. Take the footage and cut it. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece from the beginning. It just has to be a path to learning.

I learned as a teenager by reading about Hitchcock, Leni Refiesenstal, Soviet directors, D.W. Griffith, etc. and creating edited sequences in Super-8, learning about intercutting of parallel action for suspense, for example, or learning how to create a montage sequence to show time passage, or how to edit an action scene. 25 years later I'm STILL applying those lessons I learned on film sets.

I don't understand why a young person can read about Toland or Storaro or Willis, watch great cinematography in movies, and begin to practice by imitating these examples of lighting and composition... but cannot do the same thing by reading about great editing, watching great editing in movies, and going out and practicing by cutting sequences together like those. Why can editing knowledge only be passed on from some professional but cinematography can be self-taught? So someone who even attempts to learn the fundamentals of editing on their own will become a hack but someone who learns cinematography on their own won't?

Bottom line, if you want to become a complete filmmaker or even a good cinematographer, LEARN EDITING. Learn it from books, learn it by watching movies, learn it from doing it yourself, learn it by talking to professionals, learn it through apprenticeship & mentorship, I don't care, but take the time to learn it, at least on a conceptual level (a DP doesn't necessarily have to know to use an AVID.)
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#19 Dimitrios Koukas

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 11:20 AM

I am playing at home with an AVID xpressDV and I use premiere too.
Yes I have done some editing while I was learning about cinema on a moviola (I am still learning about cinema),and now I am editing some funny movies with my dog, but when someone wants to edit something and asks me, I am forwarding him to an editor.
Beeing humble for a start is a good approach too, for a young one.

Dimitrios Koukas
funny posting here are we competing who will post first?

Very interesting scene.Reality sometimes beat the most talented scriptwriter.
Three DP's posting with smile on their faces, till the forum pages go to 100 maybe?
Check the time our posts are separating from eachother!
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#20 Stephen Williams

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 11:20 AM

We're talking about a BEGINNER here. 

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David,

My apologies

Stephen
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