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Marco Materassi

Career advice

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Hello everybody,

As all of you I would like to be a cinematographer one day. Let me tell you something about myself. I'm 26 and I moved to LA 2 years ago from Italy. I started working as a camera op an assistant when I was 19. In italy i worked mostly for small documentaries, small commercials, events, shorts. I worked also a lot in the electric/grip department. since I moved here I'm doing 2 things: I'm working pretty often in electric department, as electric or bestboy in bigger projects like spec commercials, independent features, music videos etc. At the same time I worked on several things as AC. For smaller budget things I was lucky enough to be the DP and I shot 2 independent features (very very low budget), several shorts, and a webseries (12 episodes), a TV show pilot. I would like to join the union at some point but I really don't know which path to focus on. My final goal is to become a cinematographer and my question is: start collecting my days in the camera department or in the electric department? I don't want to find myself stuck in the wrong union where is not possible to go further.Thank you very much

I don't want to call myself a cinematographer right now, I think that I still need to learn so many things and I want to be humble.

Thank you very much for your help

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Hello everybody,

As all of you I would like to be a cinematographer one day. Let me tell you something about myself. I'm 26 and I moved to LA 2 years ago from Italy. I started working as a camera op an assistant when I was 19. In italy i worked mostly for small documentaries, small commercials, events, shorts. I worked also a lot in the electric/grip department. since I moved here I'm doing 2 things: I'm working pretty often in electric department, as electric or bestboy in bigger projects like spec commercials, independent features, music videos etc. At the same time I worked on several things as AC. For smaller budget things I was lucky enough to be the DP and I shot 2 independent features (very very low budget), several shorts, and a webseries (12 episodes), a TV show pilot. I would like to join the union at some point but I really don't know which path to focus on. My final goal is to become a cinematographer and my question is: start collecting my days in the camera department or in the electric department? I don't want to find myself stuck in the wrong union where is not possible to go further.Thank you very much

I don't want to call myself a cinematographer right now, I think that I still need to learn so many things and I want to be humble.

Thank you very much for your help

 

 

Perhaps someone has actual numbers, but circumstantial evidence suggests that more working DPs have come out of the Camera Department than either Electric or Grip. That said, many working DPs have skipped "working their way up" altogether and just jump in as DPs and work their way up to larger projects. The danger there, of course, is that you could get stuck in low-budget world forever and never earn a viable living. By the same token, by working your way up through a department, you could be working on really big projects, but stall out as an AC or Operator and never make it to the DP level.

 

It's really a crap shoot. Certainly your skills and personality will be determining factors in how successful you ultimately are, but the sad fact is that things like "luck" and opportunities are often out of your control so there is no single "best" way to get to the top.

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Sorry but I need to disagree with Brian. While there are many people that jump right into being a DP, few of them every become good at it. And the ones that do become good at do so because they have great gaffers that they learn from. Being DP is as much about lighting as it is about the camera. No matter which way you go you do run the risk of getting stuck. If your smart when you get stuck though thats when you'll transition.

 

Just my opinion.

 

~Marque

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Sorry but I need to disagree with Brian. While there are many people that jump right into being a DP, few of them every become good at it. And the ones that do become good at do so because they have great gaffers that they learn from. Being DP is as much about lighting as it is about the camera. No matter which way you go you do run the risk of getting stuck. If your smart when you get stuck though thats when you'll transition.

 

Just my opinion.

 

~Marque

 

 

You're not really disagreeing with me. I've said all of that in one way or another.

 

Yes, there are likely far more aspiring DPs than there are working ones and the ones who are successfully working more than likely DO know what they are doing by the time they get there. Sure, to "get there" they likely had to lean on their departments more than someone else who rises through the ranks, but I'd wager that you'd find more working DPs who made the choice to just "jump in" than wait decades in the "moving up the ranks" process. This would be an interesting poll (of working DPs) if someone could figure out how to get them to participate. :)

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My input would be, find out what interests you the most, where your talent lies, is it lighting or camera operation (??)....I've read where most Cinematographers come from the ranks of the camera crew, from 2AC to Operator then finally to DP under the wings of talented DP's. Others come from Electric, working as Best Boys to Gaffers, then finally to DP, but not as much as camera crews.

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I think that I still need to learn so many things and I want to be humble.

 

Well you won't get very far in the entertainment industry with an attitude like that, maybe you should think of joining the clergy. :D

 

R,

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Well you won't get very far in the entertainment industry with an attitude like that, maybe you should think of joining the clergy. :D

 

R,

 

that cracked me up, Rich

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I know that its mostly about who you know not what you know. How do I get into working in the camera department on narrative television? Is there something other than networking that will get me where I want to be?

 

Scott

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