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Bill DiPietra

Moving into cinematography

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Hi gang. I've been pondering something for quite a while now and wanted to get some valued input.


I've always seen myself as more of a writer/director type, but I have also ALWAYS loved how film is all about visual storytelling - something I tried to reinforce in my students when I was a teaching assistant. I've always had my hands on the camera, but it has only been recently that I've found myself truly enjoying lighting. So I want to start lensing other people's projects so that I can really develop whatever craft (if any!...lol) I may have.


I've got one thesis project coming down the pipe through a connection at my former grad school. So that's all well and good. I also have a decent amount of gear (MOS camera, ARRI lighting kit, grip equipment, 16mm editing facilities, etc.) which I've been advertising around the campus to try to stir people up into 1) shooting film and 2) shooting it with me so that I can get a reel going.


I have a full-time job, so I can afford to start out doing some gigs for low/no-pay. So my question is this...


What are some other ways to build a reel and publicize yourself? Is it completely unprofessional to shoot something yourself simply with the intention of putting it on your reel when it is not attached to a project?


ANY advice that you think might be of assistance would be greatly appreciated.


Thanks a lot!

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Sure, people shoot things like spec commercials or their own private short films and use that footage for a reel. If you shot it, I don't see why it couldn't be on a reel.

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There aren't any rules about making a reel. People keep trying to invent rules for themselves based on what they see other people doing. For instance I ran into a few people who thought they could only include things from a year, and even one person who thought they had to include everything they had shot that year (whether they liked it or not)! I guess people have a thing for needing rules or something.


If there was a rule then it would be the one I keep reminding people which they always seem to forget: put your best stuff up front! You don't get a second chance to make a first impression.


A reel is just like a little advert for what you can do. If you shot it then it is fair game! :)



Edited by Freya Black

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If your goal is to shoot scripted material for other people, have scripted material on your reel. In many new DP reels it often appears like it's all just a montage of shots and none of them belong to a finished watchable movie. Once you go to IMDB that fact can become painfully clear.


If you collaborate with friends to DP on projects. Avoid directing and dp'ing. And give someone else the producer credit. This will help you build a body of work that appears more legitimate. Like you were actually hired and paid by a producer and a director chose you to shoot a film. Kind of like the advice I was trying to impart to Maxime about his one man band approach. Should you choose to DIY it all. Pretend you didn't. Looks much better to people considering hiring you.

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