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Michael LaVoie

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Michael LaVoie last won the day on November 11 2018

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About Michael LaVoie

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    Cinematographer
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    New York

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  1. The questions you want to ask also depend on the project you're hiring them for. I hate answering ads for a DP position when there's no indication of what the actual job is and whether it's commercial or narrative. Be clear and ask appropriate questions based on that so applicants give you relevant reels and information.
  2. I often correct my own text messages or emails that say i'm "shooting' someone and change it to filming someone before I send them for obvious reasons.
  3. You may have misread my advice which is less about the perception others may form of you and more about what you may be lacking as far as experience that is uniform and expected of you no matter where you're working. Just replace the job title with A.D. or anything else on the crew and you'll find it makes sense. You'd expect your 1st A.C to know how to pull focus under most situations no matter the country they're working in with or without a monitor, with or without a wireless unit. etc. There are variations to approach but also general best practices for each position that cross cultures and countries. One of which is location scouting and daily scheduling. It's by far the best way to avoid falling behind in your days. Visit each location and discuss the breakdown with the director. Then make a lighting plan for yourself so you can give it to the crew. It'll save a ton of time. Especially if they can prelight the next area while you work. Good luck.
  4. There's a danger in accepting any job on a film crew that is a lead role in a department when you've never worked on any set in that capacity for anyone other than yourself. If you're really not qualified to be there, it will be obvious and leaning on the camera operator or gaffer or anyone else is a bad idea. Unless they're a friend who has got your back. Doesn't matter if the position is as the DP, sound recordist, HMU or 1st A.D. When your primary experience is only ever on your own set where you are in charge you're working in a vacuum. You could easily be doing things terribly wrong all the time with nobody around to correct you. So instead of experience, you could be bringing lots of bad habits and dangerous working methods to set and you would never even know. Till the G&E crew starts whispering about you to production. On the other hand, if this short is staffed by 100% newbies then it may be the perfect opportunity for you to learn. Just be aware that a paid DP typically would have years under their belt on multiple crews for different producers and have a good basic knowledge of how a set is safely run and how a shooting schedule, crew and gear package is set up. If you've never been paid to do it before and have never watched a DP work before as a 1st a.c. or operator then you're missing a lot of basic information on set procedure, protocol. By accepting the job, you could be setting yourself up to fail. Or not. If it's all a group of fun friends and low stakes, be safe, be well and have a good time. Just consider these points for the future when a more high stakes position presents itself.
  5. In my experience anyone in film hiring a "lighting director" or designer is basically hiring it because their "DP" has no idea how to light a set and no interest in it. Yes a Gaffer can definitely be creative but they shouldn't be leading the entire look of a show and deciding ratios based on their informed opinion of the script and it's emotional content. If the gaffer is doing that, they're basically a ghost DP on the film getting neither the pay nor the credit. Unfair imho. If you want to be a cinematographer, you need to learn how to light. This doesn't mean learning the how necessarily, which is the electrical side of lighting. That's why you have a gaffer, best, etc. It's learning the why of lighting. Quality and quantity of light and when to adjust both, how much. etc.
  6. You have to use the color tools to get it to look right. You open the waveform and adjust the highlights mids and blacks where you want them and then from there you can start to tweak the color. I usually throw the finishing LUT in an adjustment layer. above it so I can toggle it on and off and know how it'll look finished as I set my exposure. But it's important to get the exposure right with film convert before moving on in the process
  7. Personally, I love Film Convert. If you have a good calibrated monitor and you audition different stocks, you will no doubt see the difference between the various Fuji and Kodak stocks and you can see what is appropriate based on the look you're after. It's a matter of taste and after you try it out and get used to it and cross check with your waveform, you will start to develop an eye and see the differences a bit more. But get a decent monitor or you won't have a good benchmark. What's important is getting the basic signal correction right on that tool so you have a starting point when you want to add finishing LUT's I usually combine film convert with a Vision Color Lut at a low opacity and that combo is a pretty nice look.
  8. There's a lot you can do with practical effects as well on a tight budget. I'd say this video is even more beautiful and it's simpler.
  9. "Before the show" is key. It's usually too late to ask for ideas on the day. There's no time. You should have a plan before arriving. Often the best music videos are ones that have literally nothing to do with the song. And these days you can do so much with VFX later on that you can shoot simple stuff and make it great if you plan ahead.
  10. Last fall I went to a screening of Modern Times in NYC with a live orchestra. The laughter in the hall was unlike anything I've heard during any recent comedies I've seen in theaters. From children to seniors the audience was eating it up. So, I have to say, it's worth it to study film from back in the day. For all sorts of reasons from the cinematography to the editing, writing. Chaplin holds up very well for today's audience. When I was in film school I was always frustrated that we wouldn't study Kieslowski, or The Coen Brothers or David Lynch. Nothing that I loved and was watching currently. Instead we watched Felini, Bergman, Eisenstein etc. Now I wish I could go back and pay more attention to those lectures cause there was a lot to be learned in both technique and theory. However, to answer the question, Big fan of Ellen Kuras, Reed Morano, Bill Pope, Matthew Libatique, Tim Orr, Tom Richmond. Just to name a few.
  11. Ex Machina may be the only film that gives me cause to consider the criticism of Sony cameras more seriously. On the other hand, Annihilation was shot by the same DP and with the same camera but looked much better. So, hard to say.
  12. I don't blame you. I'd never leave the set with the only copy of the footage. I'm saying the laptop would be owned by production and they could put a drive in it so that they can make redundant copies later. Both the primary dump and the secondary copies would happen faster cause the footage is only going to one location in one direction.
  13. Many don't consider the option of loading a laptop with a 4tb SSD and doing transfers directly to the laptops internal drive. It's way faster and easier on everyone especially when you're working remotely away from power sources. The drives have only recently become affordable enough, which may explain why I've never seen anyone other than myself do it. I put a 2Tb drive into a super cheap HP ProBook and use it mostly for transfers. It always blows away a macbook onset in terms of emptying the cards quickly.
  14. How about renting extra cards and doing the offloading at the production office? Probably cheaper than hiring an onset DIT. A lot safer to ingest away from the set. No pressure, no fear of power kickouts or hardware, software, connectivity issues.
  15. Actually the most frequent movie going audience is 25-39. At least according to MPAA stats. People still make content for an older audience. It just doesn't often do well at the box-office and usually has to break even in SVOD or OTT. Wakefield is a good example of a great recent film that underperformed financially. Probably due to it's marketing but it could also be the slower pace of the movie. Changing audience tastes. Hard to say.
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