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Daan Werdefroy

How do you become a cinematographer?

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How to become a Cinematographer in 5 steps..

 

1. Get lots of books and read them..

2. Get a light meter and use it..

3. Get a camera and shoot LOTS of footage..

4. Pray that people like your footage enough to ask you to shoot more (and hopefully pay you)..

5. Spend the rest of your life asking and analyzing with the intent of learning something new..

 

Success is a by product of your diligence and dedication.. anyone can do it.. doing it well.. that IS the hard part..

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Becoming a DP is a bit like becoming a drummer in a band - you just say you are one. It's as easy as that. Making a living at it is of course a complete different ballgame. That's when all the stuff has to come together. We've talked about this a million times, but just being good at lighting doesn't make a career. In fact, you can be pretty bad at it and still have one.

 

You need people skills.

Savvy production skills.

Charm.

Speed.

Talent.

If you look good, that doesn't hurt.

Luck.

Loyal directors that bring you along when they get a break.

Network.

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Becoming a DP is a bit like becoming a drummer in a band - you just say you are one. It's as easy as that. Making a living at it is of course a complete different ballgame. That's when all the stuff has to come together. We've talked about this a million times, but just being good at lighting doesn't make a career. In fact, you can be pretty bad at it and still have one.

 

You need people skills.

Savvy production skills.

Charm.

Speed.

Talent.

If you look good, that doesn't hurt.

Luck.

Loyal directors that bring you along when they get a break.

Network.

 

Ah, you beat me to it. I was going to say that to be a DP, you just have to call yourself one. Of course, you do mention the thing one might find useful to be a working DP or a successful DP.;)

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I agree with Adam and I find the drummer analogy interesting. I think that great gaffers, camera operators and 1st AC's have saved quite a few mediocre cinematographers. No one can save a mediocre drummer other than the drummer themselves.

Shaky camera can masquerade as art easier than a poor sense of rhythm can.

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Educate your eye in every possible way: draw, light, shoot stills, shoot motion with anything handy, watch good AND bad movies, go to art museums. It's not easy to learn to translate what you see in nature to what it's going to look like on a flat screen. The eye has a way of concentrating on one object at a time, film and video see everything at once. All the artistic movie making tools are basically to serve the task of tricking film and video into looking like what the eye thinks it sees. That's not an easy task which is why it takes years of practice and working to get anywhere near good at it. All the great painters weren't made in a day either, they all spent years learning their craft and evolving their style.

 

(PS: All the advice about work ethic, networking, etc. in this thread is also very good. You've got advice in this thread from Cinematographers who are successfully making a career out of their profession - heed it).

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