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Richard Prendergast

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Hi Everyone,

 

I just wanted to introduce myself and say hi. Just been reading through some of the threads, really can't believe it's taken me this long to find such a knowledgeable community!

 

My background up till now has been almost exclusively in snowboarding. I've worked on some great productions and been lucky enough to travel to some of the most beautiful places in the world. It was my love of snowboarding that brought me to cinematography but the last few fears I've been craving the need to shoot something with a little more substance. I moved from Austria back to the UK last year and have been working on some TV shows, but I'm still stuck in the genre of action sports. I'm not complaining, I could certainly have a worse job...

 

But now I'm back in the UK I'd like to break into more mainstream film production. My goal is to DP a feature film. I understand that might be some way off but I was wondering if someone could give me a few pointers please. Are there any standout threads that anyone knows of one here that gives some good insights? If you could give just one piece of advice for "breaking in", what would it be?

 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated

 

Many thanks, Richard

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Welcome to the forum, Richard (officially, that is!)

 

Although I am not a DP by trade, my advice would be to read up as much as you can, watch as many films as you can and actually take notes on what you like; and beg, borrow, or steal some gear and experiment. Anyone can talk about theory but you never truly learn something until you have done it.

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Hail, fellow East Anglian.

 

I'd stick with the extreme sports. The likelihood of achieving a similarly globetrotting career in conventional cinematography is... well, I'd say slim, but in the UK it's so near to nonexistent as makes no difference.

 

P

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Hail, fellow East Anglian.

 

I'd stick with the extreme sports. The likelihood of achieving a similarly globetrotting career in conventional cinematography is... well, I'd say slim, but in the UK it's so near to nonexistent as makes no difference.

 

P

 

You couldn't have a more friendly person with a more positive attitude to welcome you to the forum than Phil. He's a bright ray of sunshine! :wub: :P :lol: :D :rolleyes: (Note I use all the happy faces available.)

 

Take a page from fellow UK filmmaker Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) and get cracking!

 

R,

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Well, on second thoughts, yes, you should pin your hopes on being just like the one-in-sixty-million Edwards, because that's obviously realistic.

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You couldn't have a more friendly person with a more positive attitude to welcome you to the forum than Phil. He's a bright ray of sunshine! :wub: :P :lol: :D :rolleyes: (Note I use all the happy faces available.)

 

Take a page from fellow UK filmmaker Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) and get cracking!

 

R,

 

Hail, fellow East Anglian.

 

I'd stick with the extreme sports. The likelihood of achieving a similarly globetrotting career in conventional cinematography is... well, I'd say slim, but in the UK it's so near to nonexistent as makes no difference.

 

P

UNLESS you stumble on a production that features a lot of Extreme Sports!

I guess you'd need to find a way to display your footage on a big screen, see how it scrubs up and work towards that.

One of the few advantages about being in a small film industry is that with a lot of things, there's really only room for one, and you need to be that one.

 

Then again, I'm pretty sure I'm the only person in Australia (if not the world) who can do real-time 24 frame video playback (for shooting CRTs on film or with 24p), but what work there was in Australia was routinely taken up by a total cowboy who used to routinely import a huge bank of clumsy tape playback equipment and monitors at great expense from the US. (My setup is a single box that will take anything vaguely approximating PAL, NTSC or SECAM and turn it into 24 frame video that will work on just about any TV set). You don't even really need an operator.

But he was the "Go-To Guy" and that was it...

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Well, on second thoughts, yes, you should pin your hopes on being just like the one-in-sixty-million Edwards, because that's obviously realistic.

 

Hmmm pretty close to what I was expecting, not bad. I could of written, Phil will respond with.....but that would not have worked obviously.

 

R,

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Hi Everyone,

 

I just wanted to introduce myself and say hi. Just been reading through some of the threads, really can't believe it's taken me this long to find such a knowledgeable community!

 

My background up till now has been almost exclusively in snowboarding. I've worked on some great productions and been lucky enough to travel to some of the most beautiful places in the world. It was my love of snowboarding that brought me to cinematography but the last few fears I've been craving the need to shoot something with a little more substance. I moved from Austria back to the UK last year and have been working on some TV shows, but I'm still stuck in the genre of action sports. I'm not complaining, I could certainly have a worse job...

 

But now I'm back in the UK I'd like to break into more mainstream film production. My goal is to DP a feature film. I understand that might be some way off but I was wondering if someone could give me a few pointers please. Are there any standout threads that anyone knows of one here that gives some good insights? If you could give just one piece of advice for "breaking in", what would it be?

 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated

 

Many thanks, Richard

Well, maybe networking and working on smaller, indie feature productions in your spare time might help you get the type of footage you need to help convince a producer that you have what it takes to join the lighting department for features. I'm a BIG believer in friends hiring friends. Nothing wrong in shmoozing people who can help you particulaely if you bring something to the table like your talent, drive and enthusiasm. Even if you start on the bottom rung as a lighting P.A. despite your expirience, you'll be on a narritive feature set, right in the thick of it, meeting people doing the jobs you'll be doing as you move up in the feature world and as I STONGLY SUSPECT will happen, moving up more quickly than most, given your already proven drive to suceed.

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Okay... firstly Gareth Edwards is a director and not a DP but actually aside from that there might be some good advice there.

 

I think that Phil is right that you should stick with the extreme sports because it's really hard to get an in, and you have an in there. Then look for opportunities to get that to where you want to be. Gareth started out doing tons of VFX for the Beeb et all and then used that to get to do other stuff.

 

Theres a lot of nonsense talked about Mr Edwards such as "Monsters" being his first movie when actually it's at least his third (could be more but I've only seen 2 others).

 

Anyway...

 

Freya

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Gareth started out doing tons of VFX for the Beeb et all and then used that to get to do other stuff.

 

Oh, right, because doing VFX work for the Beeb is really easy to get in itself!

 

 

maybe networking and working on smaller, indie feature productions in your spare time

 

This is London, there are no smaller, indie features worth speaking of.

 

P

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Oh, right, because doing VFX work for the Beeb is really easy to get in itself!

P

 

Phil you totally misunderstand what I am saying. I'm saying exactly the opposite of that, that it's hard to get an in and that if you already have an in through extreme sports you should try and work that angle rather than throwing it away.

 

I don't have time to write a lot about this stuff right now sadly as there is a lot I could say but the real story about Gareth Edwards is way more interesting than the one where he came out of nowhere and was handed a $160m movie to direct for his second feature.

 

Gareth is actually a smart guy from what I can tell unlike a lot of the people who are handed money to make movies by various UK departments. Despite the fact that he is exactly the kind of white middle class man that the government normally hands money to to make films, he didn't come down the conventional film funding path. Godzilla is at least his 4th feature length project

 

Have to rush off now.

 

Freya

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If you're primary experience is camera operation, you might be missing the critical info on lighting and whatnot that comes with single camera narrative production on location. You can learn a whole lot just observing a production in action. Talk to the grips and see if you can pick up on what they'e doing and why. Film school is a potentially great way to learn how to DP and network with up and coming talented directors. In theory. Sometimes in practice film school is a waste. It's a roll of the dice cause it all depends on what you get in terms of faculty, colleagues and what you're hoping to get out of it as well as what you bring to it. But it's worth considering. When it comes to being a DP, it doesn't hurt to know a lot about the overall craft of filmmaking like screenwriting, directing, editing etc. That's where film school can give you an edge cause it's a broader sweep of knowledge than just working on set.

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Oh, right, because doing VFX work for the Beeb is really easy to get in itself!

 

 

This is London, there are no smaller, indie features worth speaking of.

 

P[/quote

 

Phil, it's irrelavent if the small films are not worth speaking about, he is looking to show decision makers he has what it takes to light and shoot a narritive feature. His reel , hecan use the footage even if the story blows as long as one single scene rocks. Hell, given his expierience, the guy producing these little films would probably jumps at the chance to have someone with his production expirience on set.

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One thing is clear, Gareth was not handed anything, and he certainly didn't get to where he is today by bitching and moaning.

 

R,

 

Actually I think the opposite is quite clear and he was handed quite a lot on a plate!

 

HOWEVER, he was very smart and savvy in the way he made the most of the opportunities he was given, and he is also someone with a certain amount of awareness at the nonsense that goes on and he learnt from that quickly and made the most from it.

 

I've personally got a lot of time for Gareth Edwards and get a bit annoyed by the stuff that tries to suggest that he magicked everything out of nowhere. I also really, really like his pragmatism about things and it's always great when someone with some intelligence has some success in the UK.

 

I have had my fingers crossed for him. I guess I can uncross them now! ;)

 

Freya

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Ok I'm going to put it to the test, I'll just bitch and moan and see if it moves me forward.

 

R,

 

You are going to give up making films Richard!??

Sounds like kind of an extreme experiment to me!

 

Freya

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James, I don't mean to jump on you unfairly, but this is unfortunately an example of people really not understanding what the situation here is. For instance:

 

 

 

Phil, it's irrelavent if the small films are not worth speaking about, he is looking to show decision makers he has what it takes to light and shoot a narritive feature.

 

It doesn't matter. There are no decision makers, at least none who are interested in looking at a reel from someone who's only done the extremely low end stuff you can get here if you have no experience. There are no decision makers because there are no narrative features being made.

 

So not only will he not get a decent reel by working on low end stuff, he also won't get to work on high end stuff even if he did have a reel, because there isn't any high end stuff (other than the extremely high end which obviously isn't a reasonable goal for most people).

 

There is nobody to impress. There is nowhere to go. Nobody cares what you've done, any more than they care whether you can juggle five. Ability is of dubious relevance anyway, but especially so here.

 

This crippling lack of a middle ground is one of the biggest reasons that British crews, who previously enjoyed a good reputation, are starting to shelve off noticeably in quality. There's no way to train anyone anymore, at least not in anything except the very smallest numbers. As I've said a million times, there's a DSLR shoot in someone's white-walled apartment with no crew and no gear and no money, and there's James Bond, and there's absolutely nothing inbetween. It doesn't matter how competent you are in that situation. You're still going absolutely nowhere.

 

P

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As I've said a million times, there's a DSLR shoot in someone's white-walled apartment with no crew and no gear and no money...

Sounds like they need someone for Set Design. :D

 

Seriously though, Phil, have you ever thought of making a film and bringing some dignity to your homeland's industry? A guy with your knowledge should be able to put together a pretty good project?

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I remember seeing the visual effects from Seven Wonder of the Industrial World. and thinking they were impressive for TV doc series. "Monsters" would've been pretty good sell on the low budget. He had the background in visual effects and a couple of suitable actors. At the time when "Monster" when into production, Gareth Edwards been in the industry for a number of years and been working on higher end TV documentaries.It's not a case of recent film school graduates trying to make a feature for $7000, more a case of doing the 10,000 hours, staying focused and having the luck of building good connections.

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I remember seeing the visual effects from Seven Wonder of the Industrial World. and thinking they were impressive for TV doc series. "Monsters" would've been pretty good sell on the low budget. He had the background in visual effects and a couple of suitable actors. At the time when "Monster" when into production, Gareth Edwards been in the industry for a number of years and been working on higher end TV documentaries.It's not a case of recent film school graduates trying to make a feature for $7000, more a case of doing the 10,000 hours, staying focused and having the luck of building good connections.

 

EXACTLY and if you already have an "in" to the broadcast industry I think it's better to work that angle as hard as you can to have a good foundation before moving on. It's actually very difficult for most ordinary people to get work at the BBC or any kind of broadcast outlet, so to throw that away is really crazy. If you have already made it that far it's worth thinking about how you can build on that to go further.

 

Now Gareth must have some great social skills and/or charisma. I just took a look on IMDB at his directing credits. It turns out that not only did he direct the feature length dramas "Atilla the Hun" (which people suggested was like a really, really low budget Lord Of The Rings at the time), and "End Day" another feature length drama about "The end of the world" but it turns out he has also directed two 45 minute TV docu-drama's for the Discovery Channel!

 

Here's the start of one called "Super Tornado":

 

 

and heres another called "Solar Storm":

 

 

and of course he directed a number of shorts too.

He has also done a ton of VFX work of which I'm sure only a small fraction is even listed on imdb at all.

 

Freya

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Well, the lack of funding is what makes it impossible to do, but my interest in pursuing the traditional pathway of film production is next to zero anyway, because in the UK, the resulting film simply cannot be sold.

 

P

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