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Advice on Advancement

Andrew J. Fann

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Hi, everybody.


I'm currently working as a creative services producer, but I want to get into working on larger productions. I'm currently kind of between the levels of lighting cameraman and cinematographer. Can anyone give me advice on how to get some more experience on a larger set or more training with cinema cameras? I'm open to any advanced training programs, shadowing, or assistant jobs. I already know that I'll need to move to an area with more production, but any other advice on the subject is greatly appreciated.


Thanks in advance.

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You can work as a set tech while you quietly build up a reel that showcases the type of shooting you want to do. You don't need big expensive cameras to do that anymore. Just know the current trends and looks of the productions you want to end up on and fill your reel with that type of material. Shooting specs, events, shorts, fashion, whatever it is.


While working as a set tech on productions keep your eyes open and observe all the setiquette and protocol and know everyones job and duties. This will help you feel comfortable when you eventually land a job on one of those sets as a DP. Good luck!

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I've been thinking about making a post like this for a while, but have been hesitant. I also work in the creative services department of a local television station. When I started two years ago I thought this job would be a stepping stone, but it quickly became clear that it's a dead end unless I want to be a manager in 10 years.


Because of how things are run around here I basically only get to do pretty run and gun style shoots for local businesses. We barely have any gear available (I've brought my own color chart, C-Stands and so forth on a shoot before and my bosses seemed to not really know what they were). It's quite seldom that I get to utilize the skills I've worked so hard to improve through practice at home and reading this forum over the years.


When I've tried to get my foot in the door, it feels like the prospect of landing even the smallest of positions on larger productions is almost impossible. I've learned not to have too big of expectations, but I don't even know where to start other than the general advice of moving to a bigger town and trying to meet people once there. I don't mean to hijack the thread for my own purposes, but I imagine you're feeling pretty similarly, and I doubt we're the only ones in this position.

Edited by Brett Allbritton
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To a certain extend you do eventually have to make the jump, naked, and afraid, into the big ocean of LA or New York. Once there you're opened to a VAST amount of projects, generally with bad pay or no pay, looking for people who can work a camera (and work without a C Stand on occasion). Many of the people you meet on these type of jobs will be the ones working up with you and slowly your network leads you to bigger work, which of course has it's own set-back.

The truth is, if you want to do it, you have to DO IT. It's not so much about "advanced training classes" or things like that as much as it is someone had worked with you and knows you and can recommend you (or fight for you) to get on the next one. It should be noted, this all takes a lot of luck and hard work and talent of some kind. And I don't think you'll really find a vast majority of people in film as DoPs who ever really feel as though they've "made it" or are secure in their job. So bear that in mind it's quite nomadic in a way.

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Yeah, Brett, I know how you feel. I didn't realize how many local television stations were working in the past and using even less than bare-bones equipment. I also thought that this was going to be a stepping stone to something better, but there are people here who have been working like this for about a decade. I've interviewed with some larger stations in bigger cities, and some had cinema style cameras and lighting/grip gear, but not all. As handy as it has been, the DSLR revolution seems to have really hurt creative services departments. They got used to being able to save money in that department, but now that things are shifting back towards larger cameras, they don't want to spend the money. I feel my work is starting to suffer, and I don't want to get stuck in this rut, so I need to be brave and make a change.


Thanks, Michael and Adrian, for your feedback. I really appreciate it. I'm thinking that I might do the ASC masterclass in LA, and then hang around for a bit after and see what I can get into.

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