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John Thomas

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About John Thomas

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  • Occupation
    Cinematographer
  • Location
    Akron, Ohio USA

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  1. We put this GoPro package together for a TV show earlier this year. Everything is like new. Includes Grip equipment, tons of accessories, and an iPad mini for the GoPro App. We spent $3000, someone is going to get a great deal... http://www.ebay.com/itm/GoPro-Hero4-Black-CHDHX-401-3-Camera-Bundle-with-Tons-of-Extras-/171940633709?ssPageName=ADME:L:LCA:US:1123
  2. My first paying job as a DP was for $50/day flat. The 16mm film was feature length, with a good script, so I wanted to do it. The producer/director agreed to pay me a flat amount, on the back end, if his film made any money. My previous DP experience was on student films, working for free. I had been working in the industry as an electrician for ten years, so I had some contacts and a little money in the bank. I got a few of my friends to help crew and work for the very low wages. A lighting rental house, who knew me, gave me a small tungsten package for $500 flat. I called in some favors because I felt like this was an opportunity for me. The producer/director was taking a big chance with his own money. His passion energized me to help. My first electric job was working for free too. I met a Gaffer who owned some equipment and a truck. He was obviously in need of help so I cared for his equipment in exchange for experience on the set. Experience on the set, led to other jobs with real pay checks. Obviously we can't work for free for long, but most employers just want someone who's willing to work hard, arrives to work early, is capable of learning, and is able to keep their mouth shut. ;-) Some jobs we do for the $, others are for the love, or experience. I guess success comes when you can join the two. Good Luck, JT
  3. I got a MFA from NYU which was good for me at the time. School got me out of Ohio and into NYC. After $chool, I started working as a PA. Working on student films did give me some experience but this experience can be had without paying tuition. If you're in the city, just start working IMHO Good Luck, JT
  4. I've made more than a few regrettable financial mistakes with regards to equipment myself. I had a van with cable and a well balanced tungsten package. Sure I could rent it out and do some basic jobs but inevitably a camera person or gaffer would want 6 inkys and I only had 4. Then there was the problem of finding and sub renting gear... I found I was trying to run a small business more than I was learning lighting. Buy a few small lights used that you can plug in the wall. When you have a "one man band" gig they will come in handy. You can practice by doing some set-ups in your house and photograph your results. Best training of all: get on a set, work for free if you have to, learn by doing
  5. If Mr Deakins is preping or shooting another film, I'm sure his Lab would make an accommodation so that he can sit with the timer at night or on the weekend and give his notes. In the film printer days, cinematographers were limited to color and density corrections that effected the entire frame and could be changed only at the points where editors had made cuts. Today in digital suite, we can change any frame or any part of the frame that we have the time, money, and inclination to screw around with. It's photo/chemical - printer lights to the 100,000,000 power. If you're not in the digital suite for every shot, a well meaning colorist, producer, or director might be.
  6. On all my film jobs, the producer looked at his crappy NTSC 12inch monitor and trusted me to light the scene AND make a contribution visually AND make the "day". Today, the producer/director looks over my shoulder (as soon as the camera turns on) and says: "Looks great, let's shoot". They are convinced that lighting is not necessary anymore.
  7. Black theatrical par cans are super lights. They are cheap to rent and hide in the woods well. You can do a lot of damage with them when used as back edge lights. ("the angle of reflection is equal to the angle of incidence." ) Consider the 500watt versions as you can run 10 or more of them on a 6500w portable generator. Rent extra bulbs so that you can turn a wide flood into a very narrow spot when you need to. With a couple variacs and a few sheets of blue gel you can get some contrast of color. I think that 2k scrims will spring clip on the front if you need to knock the light down. Good luck
  8. George, You have a great plan. Work hard, make a few dollars, do what you love in your free time. Sometimes owning a camera can help you shoot, but buy a used, modest camera suitable for entry level jobs. Work hard, take chances on those small jobs and you'll put together a reel for the future. Avoid all the "after work" distractions and you'll do OK. Good Luck!
  9. If you live in a major production city, I would try to work on as many productions as possible and save my money. If you live in Akron, Ohio you may want to consider a school in NYC or LA. I did the film school route and that got me to NYC which was 1/2 the battle. The rest is starting at the bottom and working hard which I did after film school (but I was much poorer). A few friendships made at film school and on the set have helped me enormously over the years. Having a network of friends who are struggling together is worth a lot more than a degree from some film school. Living in a city where there is a lot of work is also key. Good Luck
  10. When my corporation buys some Tiffen filters for a job I'm working on, the corporation uses pre-taxed dollars so I save 30% there compared to dollars from my own pocket. When the corporation pays me my monthly salary the corporation can also send up to 40% of my salary to my retirement plan where it grows tax-deferred. (up to a $40,000 annual cap) Extra paperwork, quarterly Fed and State taxes, can be a pain. Good luck
  11. Please name some films that were entirely scanned at 4K. I'm not looking for "effects" films. Thanks
  12. When I was in film school, my camera professor would shoot a locked off shot in a controlled situation and send 100' (35mm) to each of the five labs in NYC at that time. I was amazed how different those dailies looked. We would project the prints and the negative. I was involved in these tests for three years and 2 labs in town seemed to be the consistent "winners". A couple labs seemed inconsistent, which I thought it was a function of changing chemistry less often or they were out of sync with our tests. The most expensive lab was not always the best. Good luck, JT
  13. I'm doing my second HD job and the first with a DIT tent. I'm accustom to sitting with the Director, script super, and producer. This is not really possible on the job I'm on now. Because of our speed, I'm needed in the tent. I feel like I'm out of the creative loop because of this. When the tent's next to the lo-def village it's not too bad, but most locations and some studio sets prohibit that. No matter how much I run around I can't be in two places at once. Has anyone had a similar experience?
  14. check out this site for variac info: http://www.variac.com/staco_Variable_Transformer_Map.htm They are available at rental houses...
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