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advice for switching from 2nd AC to Cinematographer?

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Morning from Italy. I'm about to finish my eighth year as a second assistant camera. I have had some experience as first assistant camera but I don't particularly like that role. I find myself faced with a Hamlet-like doubt. Whether to start building my network of contacts here in Italy where I am considering the cons of the place (industry that aims to make the film for the budget instead of making the budget for the film) or whether to try some cinematography courses abroad and restart from 0.

If you have any advice it would be invaluable to me. Thanks in advance

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  • 4 weeks later...

Not sure this is new advice but I'd really try shooting some stuff and building up a small portfolio of work you can show to directors. Some practical advice is to take what you like and copy it... "steal like an artist" as they say. If you're into short films, look at some short films, study what they're doing, what's working and not working and implement into your own stuff. If you like commercials, well do that. Essentially have a database of stuff you can reference for later projects. It also helps to build up a network of friends who are wanting to direct and collaborating with them, that way you aren't necessarily reaching up, but you are both working on the same level and growing together. 

Next best option is to start telling people that you want to camera op. that puts you directly in line with becoming a DP. If you're turning down AC gigs because it's not what you want to do but have little experience DP'ing it's going to be difficult for anyone to trust in your abilities. Just time, patience and perseverance. 

Disclaimer, it's going to take a while so be kind to yourself in the journey. There's a lot of DPs who didn't get their "break" till they were deep into their careers so hopefully you don't feel behind in your career. I'm certainly no where near where I want to be but trying to keep my head down and continue walking the path. 

You got this dude! Good luck

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