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Kyle Sather

Becoming a DP

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(also never flirt with the producers daughter. . .. :blink: )

 

Hi,

 

Or Douglas Slocombe's daughter ;) if you were young & working in London in the 1980's

 

Stephen

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I'm not particularly sour about DPs; I have neither the ability nor inclination. There are, however, plenty of people in the world who get paid far more than they're worth on this sort of basis. It applies to almost any position that's considered "desirable" in any industry.

 

Politicians do nothing but, by the very nature of their work.

 

P

 

Fair enough.

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Hi,

 

Or Douglas Slocombe's daughter ;) if you were young & working in London in the 1980's

 

Stephen

 

 

I was definitely young in the 80s :huh:

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actually i think philmakes some good points - especially the part about the sucking up, the bootlicking, the schmoozing and the lying...!

 

now if you can do all that, and you have talent on top of it, then you really have it made!

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Please explain the large proportion of highly successful yet largely talentless hacks that flourish.

 

Name some. Because my impression is that you consider just about everyone who's achieved any serious degree of success to be a talentless hack unless their first name is Phil and their last name is Rhodes.

 

Sorry, but bitterness is not an emotion I'm particularly familiar with and it's not one I consider particularly helpful.

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oh dude, lighten up...

 

phil's post is an obviously over-the-top, exaggerated and cynical assessment of some circumstances in our business that don't happen to be particularly pleasant, but that are to some degree realities we must live with... better to joke about it and live to shoot another day, than to be bitter or unrealistic, i think...

 

which goes to the original post of this thread, because in order to succeed, imho, one must ackowledge the politics of filmaking, and learn to sort of shine when one needs to, while at the same time maintaining one's personal and artistic integrity. one must show willingness to give one's heart and soul to a particular project, yet somehow avoid being played for a fool by those who control the purse strings. it can be tricky, at times...

 

soooooo... in the spirit of humor, how can you tell a producer's lying!?

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There are a lot of things that go on by the camera and video village that don't have anything to do with photography. A successful DP needs to know how to deal with these things. I think that they are lessons in negotiation and self-control.

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> oh dude, lighten up...

 

Shh, don't tell him.

 

Since Mr. Most seems determined to make this about me, I'll respond - the guy who shoots Dr Who, whose name I don't know, is a superb example of the talentless hack, or at least is producing talentless, hackish work which even I would be ashamed to demo-reel. One of the reasons that they get away with this is that nobody's willing to say it. I, happily, have nothing left to lose.

 

But in succumbing to ad hominem you're overlooking the fact that I never expected personal success - I have related on this very forum the day when I, as a 15 or 16-year-old, watched some "making of" documentary and thought "Hm, I'd quite like to be doing that." Almost coincident with this thought was "and I have no chance of doing so." The fact that I manage to make a living surprises me anew every month.

 

So yes, I, too, am a talentless hack. But I wouldn't accept a six figure salary to shoot major TV series.

 

P

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Dive in, make your own films, fu** up even.

 

I'm always learning. Always.

 

Read. Read. Read. Read. Read.

Work. Work. Work. Work. Work.

 

Offer to work under people for free or little pay. Do odd jobs and always pay attention to your surroundings and the techniques that are used.

I could not agree more with the following additions:

Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.

Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.

Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.

Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.

Work. Work. Work. Work. Work.Work. Work. Work. Work. Work.Work. Work. Work. Work. Work.Work. Work. Work. Work. Work.

**(obscenity removed)**up.**(obscenity removed)**up.**(obscenity removed)**up.**(obscenity removed)**up.**(obscenity removed)**up.**(obscenity removed)**up.**(obscenity removed)**up.**(obscenity removed)**up.**(obscenity removed)**up.**(obscenity removed)**up.**(obscenity removed)**up.Fuc

kup.**(obscenity removed)**up.**(obscenity removed)**up.**(obscenity removed)**up.**(obscenity removed)**up.**(obscenity removed)**up.**(obscenity removed)**up.

Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Le

arn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.

Best Wishes,

Stephen Goldblat asc

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look at this form many great top DPs from all over the world teach you anything

 

i am amazed to see here great asc members

 

i am shore David is behind this:)

 

since i found this form at 1998-9

 

it was my best school this and the AC magazine

 

even today i spend at list 2 hour a day here

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I could not agree more with the following additions:

Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.

Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.

Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.

Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.

Work. Work. Work. Work. Work.Work. Work. Work. Work. Work.Work. Work. Work. Work. Work.Work. Work. Work. Work. Work.

fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.Fuc

kup.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.

Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Le

arn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.

Best Wishes,

Stephen Goldblat asc

 

Any chance Tim could put this advice as an auto response to anyone that posts with the heading "Becoming a DP?"?

 

Cheers

S

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I could not agree more with the following additions:

Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.

Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.

Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.

Read.Read.Read.Read.Read.

Work. Work. Work. Work. Work.Work. Work. Work. Work. Work.Work. Work. Work. Work. Work.Work. Work. Work. Work. Work.

fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.Fuc

kup.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.fu**up.

Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Le

arn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.Learn.

Best Wishes,

Stephen Goldblat asc

 

 

that is one of the most inspiring things i've read, maybe ever!

 

thanks, stephen.

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I would like to add 3 things:

1) Downscale your lifestyle as much as possible.

All that reading, watching films, learning, networking and working for free, etc. takes time and there is no income.

Be prepared!

2) Look carefully at paintings, photographs, comic books and study the light and composition.

3) Do not neglect developping yourself as a person because a film is about working with lots of different kinds of people often in stressful conditions. Lots of people with technical know-how fail in this business because they lack self-understanding and inter-personal skills. A lot of the DP's role involves psychological, leadership and sometimes it seems exorcism skills.

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To become dp, you must start learning to know the equipments first. And speak the filming language.

So the best thing is to become part of the crew, either lighting or camera department.

To become dp from lighting or camera department, each of them have their own strong field.

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Ok.. its the truth.. I was sworn to secrecy by the film gods... but im spillin it... The real true best way to become a Cinematographer... besides "being" a Cinematographer... *cue trumpets*

 

 

 

Boom Operating

 

 

 

Yup thats it.. name one other crew member on set that needs to know and coordinate all the technical aspects of all departments on set, save, the Cinematographer.. Boom Op..

 

everything related to lighting, camera, grip, sound, wardrobe, hair, makeup, actors, electricity, space, time... a Boom Op needs to know it all just to place that little microphone in the ideal location.. not to mention its on a 15' pole..

 

that and you are working side by side with the Cinematographer watching him light the set and working around it to place your mic and its not awkward to ask questions especially when its just you two on set.. toss in a little friendly knowledgeable lighting banter.. eventually you build repore... you can now pick his/her brain anytime even get their email.. perfect..

 

the downside.. your in everybody's way.. everything that goes wrong is your fault.. nobody cares about sound.. you have to memorize as much dialog as the actors.. ACs get "50 takes" to get it right, Boom Ops get yelled at if the "boom is in the shot" once.. last but not least, its really really really really really hard to do well.. and really really really really easy to do badly.. its pretty much the worst job ever.. but totally worth it..

 

Ok.. Im bitter.. but Im a Cinematographer because of it..

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Work and study. That applies to us all.

 

But how is the road to becoming a DoP different for a woman cinematographer?

 

...i don't get why it would be different?

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"Cinematography" means writing with light. Light is your first tool. Start in the electric's department.

 

jb

 

Actually, the term "cinematography" means "writing with movement" and not "writing with light". But your statement still holds true, light is the most important aspect of cinematography. Learning to manipulate it, how to create it, and how to use its effects to help tell the story is by a long shot the first thing you should be doing. The only real way to do this is to get some lights and a camera, and do it yourself.

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I'd say that to be a DP you must be prepared to not DP, or do anything camera related. How do I mean? That jobs are tough to come by, and there's lots of talented folks out there. I myself got laid off recently (as I'm sure a lot of people remember, from my earlier moping about). I still love DPing, but lately I've been doing more editing than anything. When I was laid off, I was working on a documentary project, because I was also a history major, and best suited for the research and writing and all that. I helped shoot a bit of it, but now they're using me as a freelancer because I know the project best. So despite the fact that I don't consider myself an editor, and it's probably my least favorite part of the whole moviemaking process, I've nonetheless found myself cutting an hour long doc for DVD and PBS. Go Figure!

 

But it is something, when work is in such short supply. I'll get an AC credit. It keeps me in touch with the industry, and my producers have already talked to me about bringing me in on more projects they're hoping to line up early next year. And on those projects I may have more chances to run camera and build a resume and hopefully move away from editing and doing these things I'm less keen on, and doing what I really love.

 

So even though you want to DP, if someone needs you on a project, just say YES. Even if it's not something you necessarily like as much, or know as much about. Just say yes, and get the snowball rolling, and building.

 

BR

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"Ok.. its the truth.. I was sworn to secrecy by the film gods... but im spillin it... The real true best way to become a Cinematographer... besides "being" a Cinematographer... *cue trumpets*

 

 

 

Boom Operating"

 

 

 

Somewhere, in cyberspace, someone else is asking "How do i become a Boom Op?"

 

And the answer shall be..."DPing"

 

And round and round we go....

Edited by Keneu Luca

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"You have to go out and do it. That's one of the basic things you have to know about the profession."

--German director, Werner Herzog

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What part of film production should you get into if you eventually want to be a professional DP in the future? What should you know best?

 

 

Great advice so far in this thread. For more than soundbites, I urge you to read the Chapters 1-5 and the entire Camera Department section in the book, "What I Really Want to Do: On Set in Hollywood." http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display...n=9780823099535

 

The "secret" to making a living as a DP has to do with knowing as much about the arena you're getting into as possible. The DP is a technician, he is creative, and he is wise about logistics and politics. There is A LOT to know and the more you do know before jumping into the pool, the more successful you MIGHT be.

 

As has been mentioned, there are a lot of "hacks" who seem to work consistently. They may not be artists (in other's eyes), but they have the connections to keep working. And there are a lot of uncounted qualified people who do NOT have "successful" careers even though they have the technical and creative knowhow.

 

So, there are absolutely no guarantees. You could suck and somehow be shooting major features by virtue of who you know. And you could be great and wind up selling insurance back in Iowa. The cream does NOT always rise to the top. That's a fallacy put out by the hacks who have made it to make themselves feel like they are better than they are.

 

The key to "making it" is to learn as much as you can about your own job, the jobs of others, the entire business, and keep abreast of the industry as a whole so that you know best where to go to find work and where to focus your efforts. And above all, just get out there, work, gain experience and hope that one of those jobs will lead to the "networking" that will create viable income for you to keep doing this until you're too old to move.

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