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Jonathan Bowerbank

Interaction with other cinematographers?

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I recall reading an interview with a DP who described his relationship with other cinematographers in a very interesting way. He said that when he's having coffee or whatever with a DP or group of DP's, he finds it very tough to talk with them about any aspects of how he works or achieves certain shots. It's a competiive field, and he feels at times like he's afraid he's handing out secrets of his craft that he would rather keep to himself.

 

I kind of feel the same way at times. Technically, I can speak with any other aspiring DP about cameras. But I generally find it difficult in sharing or comparing techniques and methods with others. I'm perfectly fine with learning from what others have to offer, but if someone asks a question about specific shots, I really generalize what my setup was. I suppose it's that competitive bug in me.

 

Just curious if I was alone in this sentiment. I give as much as I can and I am quite charitable in sharing...but there are times where I remain a lil' tight lipped :)

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Eh, most times you aren't doing anything that special then you are not giving much away.

 

There are a few tricks I have that I keep to myself, especially in commercial product shot type photography. Other than that, I usually doubt I am giving much away.

 

That said, there are a few things I tell the gaffer I work with to not use with another DP unless it would really be a life saver.

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Hi Jonathan,

 

I believe in sharing what I know with others. But I don't do that regardlessly of the situation. Most people I work with are friends I made while working and we usually send work to each other and vice versa. But a couple of people I worked with would take any technique and say it was their idea and not give you credit. I try to avoid that kind people and if I do meet them I'd never give away anything.

The people who taught me so far in my short career have been very generous in giving away their knowledge. I try my best by doing the same when possible, because I believe that that's the way this business works.

 

Cheers, Dave

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I don't have any secrets to keep. I'll tell anyone anything as to how I shot something because they aren't me and their circumstance won't be the same as mine so they won't get exactly the same results anyway. My value as a cinematographer to a director goes way beyond technique. I learned because other cinematographers have shared their knowledge with me, or to the filmmaking public in general, so I want to repay the favor.

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I learned because other cinematographers have shared their knowledge with me, or to the filmmaking public in general, so I want to repay the favor.

 

Hi David,

that's precisely what I meant, you only put it much more elegantly... ;)

Cheers, Dave

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Hi-

 

I have a very secret technique where I light a shot (or not) until it looks good, then I shoot it. I'm very careful not to share that method with others in case they might steal it and use it themselves.

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Thanks David, that makes perfect sense. Gives me reason to be more and more generous with what little knowledge I have. It'd be nice to be viewed by some as a teacher, so I should definitely work on developing those qualities.

 

If anyone ever asked me how I did something, I'd advise them to ask someone who knew what he was doing...

 

Amen! ha ha

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I'm not a cameraman...but I use to service, overhaul and build them along with the lenses. Every place I went to work at there was an old timer who after he got use to this lanky long haired hippy would take me under his wing. If not for those guys I would have not enjoyed the career that I did. I learned from my father that if it was something I didn't know about to shutup and listen and show respect to those who did.

So I'll tell anybody what I do know if it will help them in some small way.

Edited by chuck colburn

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To relate this to the steadicam world....There are some operators who are very protective of what they do and how they do it, and there are operators who are completely open and eager to help other operators whenever asked. I find that, in general, the best, and biggest, operators are often the most helpful. I think it's because they are the most secure with themselves and their work and aren't worried about competition. I've learned so much from these types of operators, and I try to do the same whenever possible.

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I find that, in general, the best, and biggest, operators are often the most helpful. I think it's because they are the most secure with themselves and their work and aren't worried about competition.

 

Hi-

 

I think you can find that kind of attitude in any creative field. Usually the people who feel like they need to guard some "secret technique" don't really have anything worth stealing (but they want everyone to think that they do!)

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Hi-

 

I have a very secret technique where I light a shot (or not) until it looks good, then I shoot it. I'm very careful not to share that method with others in case they might steal it and use it themselves.

 

Ah, you fool. Now, I have your secret. And, with it, I shall RULE THE WORLD!

 

By the way, the box showed up today. Everything is better than I expected. Thanks loads, Patrick

 

Paul

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There are no secrets to anything; the "trick" you use is very likely used by a hundred other people who either learned it from someone else or figured out some incarnation of it on their own.

 

I can give someone an overhead diagram of my lighting set-ups with detailed notes about the placement of lighting units, measurements of footcandles, lens height, focal length, shooting stop, etc, and what that person shoots versus what I'll shoot will be two different things.

 

We all use the same tools - it's the application (and in turn taste) that makes our work individual.

 

I'll tell anyone anything they want to ask; I also, however, tend to ramble a bit.

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I'll tell anyone anything they want to ask; I also, however, tend to ramble a bit.

 

There's an idea, just spit out information until they submit and decide to learn by osmosis, ha ha

 

thanks Jayson :)

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I don't have any secrets to keep. I'll tell anyone anything as to how I shot something because they aren't me and their circumstance won't be the same as mine so they won't get exactly the same results anyway. My value as a cinematographer to a director goes way beyond technique. I learned because other cinematographers have shared their knowledge with me, or to the filmmaking public in general, so I want to repay the favor.

 

That's the right attitude, David. Tis bad form to hog secrets.

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"How" is one thing, "why" is another. Technique is useless without the theory and approach that goes into it.

 

I probably share too much, but when I try to explain my theory and approach people usually don't seem to get it anyway...

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When I know something that someone else doesn't, I'll happily share info and tricks. Now that I've moved from school into the professional realm and am around so many knowledgeable people, I am thrilled to find those people that value the sharing of information.

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Ron Dexter put it very well on his website, concerning "Experts":

 

Experts

 

There are some experts who guard their infinite knowledge and refuse to teach others their supposed secrets. They are afraid that someone will take their job or afraid that people will discover that they really don't really know all that much. Bluster and aggressiveness can cover for a lack of basic knowledge.

 

Experts with secrets that they are not willing to share are also often not willing to take the challenge to break new ground and find new solutions that will keep them on the cutting edge and ahead of their competition from whom they think they must keep their secrets from.

 

The truly accomplished are those who train and share their knowledge because they know that in teaching they learn more themselves. Good questions fine tune knowledge just in the explaining. When the teacher does not know the answer to a question it sparks a search for the answer and a growth in knowledge.

 

The expert who rests solely on his laurels can be left behind by those eager enough to strive for higher skills and knowledge.

 

The expert that knows it all usually doesn't. He is merely trying to convince himself and others that he does. As the saying goes "A legend in his own mind."

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I truly belive one should be open with everything. You learn a lot from explaining things, and probably the one you're learning know something of value too. Open and friendly competition is not just more fun but better for your self. In the long run you loose nothing from sharing...

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If I had a new secret technique...which I don't. :ph34r: I would keep it a secret until I had done all the pioneering whith that secret technique, then I'd share it.

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I agree for the most part with the above, sharing is good, and cinematography as an art form has a long history of openness and willingness to help a fellow cinematographer.

 

That said, in the commercial business especially, there are certain skills and tricks one develops that can be your bread and butter. Of course a DP has to think of actually using the trick in that situation, but there are some that are very obvious, i.e. tricks with water drops or cars, etc that are very very specific and are used by such few people that it very well could affect my bottom line.

 

All of that said, these are very rare instances, and for the most part I am very open. I have been on here I think since 1998 learning, but also sharing any knowledge I gain on an almost daily basis. Nothing like David Mullen, but my point is that I do believe in a good amount of freedom of information.

 

Kevin Zanit

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