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Josh Taylor

Getting work with big studios

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I was wondering besides being in the union and who you know - how does one go about getting work with a big studio? For example if I wanted to get work for Sony Pictures, what would be the best way to set up an interview?

 

Or even how would you be able to get an interview for studio work?

 

Thanks

 

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From what I've noticed there's no direct way to get set production work by going through H.R. departments and corporate job bulletins on the websites of any studio or production entity big or small.

 

Getting below the line crew work is almost always word of mouth recommendations from the department heads or the key's who would be working directly above you.

Edited by Michael LaVoie

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The only position in camera dept who would be interviewed by the studio is the DP. In very rare cases, the studio will request a specific DIT or other key crew member based on good past experience.

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The studio makes a production deal with a Producer; the Producer hires the Director with studio input. More or less, there are a number of variations.

 

Producer and director hire the DP with the studio's approval. DP usually recommends the DIT, operator and 1st AC to the UPM to hire, 1st AC recommends the 2nd AC, maybe the B-camera 1st AC too if the B-camera operator doest have someone they want, etc. Point is the studio itself does not get involved in filling out camera crew positions. If you want to get on a studio film as a 2nd AC, start working with 1st AC's that do studio work. If you want to get on a studio film as a 1st AC, start working with a DP who gets studio work.

 

It's a hierarchy, you hire from the top down, department heads get hired first, then their crews get hired, etc.

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In addition to David's post, I would add the there is the "Studio Approval List" that key department members, like the DP, the A camera operator and the A camera 1st AC must be on to work there. Otherwise, it's very hard.

 

G

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In addition to David's post, I would add the there is the "Studio Approval List" that key department members, like the DP, the A camera operator and the A camera 1st AC must be on to work there. Otherwise, it's very hard.

 

G

 

I was wondering if you could explain more about getting on the "Studio Approval List"?

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Just to clarify a bit more. The members of the camera department work on a freelance basis and usually don't work for a studio per se.

This is why the first question was "in what capacity" because a studio like Sony does have employees doing conventional jobs but those tend not to be on set jobs. So being in the camera department is not like having a conventional job. It's more like the situation with Actors these days where they might be employed by a variety of different studios for different movies. Sometimes you might not have any work at all in fact!

 

It all tends to depend on the relationships you have and your track record so to speak.

 

Freya

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I was wondering if you could explain more about getting on the "Studio Approval List"?

 

I know next to nothing of this, and I don't want to preempt Mr Irwin, but if I might interject with a general observation...

 

I suspect this is the sort of thing that you will know all about by the time you are in a position where the knowledge would be useful to you. Like agents - when you really, genuinely need one, one will call you.

 

P

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I was wondering if you could explain more about getting on the "Studio Approval List"?

 

Hi Josh, the approval list is simply a list of qualified personnel that the studios trust in handling their major investment. In other words, they will not approve of a novice crew on a big budget job. The studios need and require assurances that the artistic side, the technical side and the business side of each department will be handled properly and efficiently. Thus, the list.

 

I'm not sure how they compile the list or just how it works anymore. I don't pay much attention to it since I've been approved by all of the major studios (and minors as well) for years now. It's not for all crew but mainly for the key positions. I do know that every time I get a call for a new movie, my name is immediately screened at the studio level for approval.

 

G

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Hi Josh, the approval list is simply a list of qualified personnel that the studios trust in handling their major investment. In other words, they will not approve of a novice crew on a big budget job.

 

This ensures that the movie will be a huge success and not bomb at the box office.

 

(sarcasm strongly implied :)

 

R,

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This ensures that the movie will be a huge success and not bomb at the box office.

 

(sarcasm strongly implied :)

 

R,

It ensures that the technical side of their investment will be properly looked after. As for the creative side, well that's on you guys ;)
  • Upvote 1

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Yes, I presume they can at least guarantee that the movie will be in focus, and the audio will get recorded in some half decent fashion. Then again Oren Peli armed with only his HD cam and 20K made a movie that did 100 million in business at the box office. Proof once more of the old saying in Hollywood, nobody knows anything.

 

R,

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You will be vetted for the rest of your career.

 

Khondji wasn't allowed to shoot Seven initially until Fincher put up a big stink. Fred Elmes wasn't approved to shoot The Hulk because he hadn't done big effects before. There are a million DP's who got a big success with an indie film, but wasn't able to follow on to the directors big studio project because they weren't considered experienced enough. They'll take a chance on a director, but never on crew. This happens everyday of the week in this business.

 

When you start in music videos you can't get arrested in commercials because you haven't shot "narrative". When you finally break into commercials, you can't get features or TV because you haven't done "narrative longform". Then they won't let you shoot cars because you've not done "sheet metal". When you finally break into that, your narrative stuff suffers. So you veer towards beauty. But you can't shoot beauty, because you have too much sheet metal. So you make an effort to get back to more narrative stuff again and when you finally make it back to that that they say you can't do music videos, sheet metal or beauty because your reel is "too narrative" now. And the cycle starts over again.

 

It never ends. :blink: :)

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How the hell Hoyte Van Hoytema got the job for The Fighter (Weinsteins) directed by David O'Russell.He didnt shot anything unique until that time? Btw Same director David O'Russell hired Linus Sandgren for american hustler which he s mediocre dop nothing special.

Why Wally Pfister choose Jess Hall to photograph his first feature.

If these guys shot big budget movies without long list of very well lit composed features, anyone can be DP on Nolan's next movie.

Edited by Kemalettin Sert

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How the hell Hoyte Van Hoytema got the job for The Fighter (Weinsteins) directed by David O'Russell.He didnt shot anything unique until that time? Btw Same director David O'Russell hired Linus Sandgren for american hustler which he s mediocre dop nothing special.

Why Wally Pfister choose Jess Hall to photograph his first feature.

If these guys shot big budget movies without long list of very well lit composed features, anyone can be DP on Nolan's next movie.

 

Hoyte Van Hoytema shot the much admired hit movie "Let the Right One In" before shooting the Fighter.

Linus Sandgren worked with Gus Van Sant before American Hustler.

Jess Hall shot tons of known stuff before trancendence.

 

I'm assuming you mean Christopher Nolan but not everyone knows him. ;)

 

Freya

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They got the job because they're good, simple as that. Hoyte is a great DP. I saw his first feature when I worked in the cinema in Sweden in like 1997. It was a stupid comedy, but he lit it like it was a dark noir film. Minute I saw the first frame I knew a new DP talent had arrived. He's delivered ever since.

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I think what people often overlook is how difficult it is to even get to a level where one would be considered for the bigtime. The films that are being mentioned here in the context of establishing a reputation are themselves vastly bigger productions than those to which most people could ever aspire. It's an enormously tall mountain to climb, and it's very, very pointy and narrow at the top.

 

P

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(With regards to the studio approved list)

 

This ensures that the movie will be a huge success and not bomb at the box office.

 

 

R,

It may not guarantee a huge success but it certainly increases the possibility of it knowing your investment has a verified, veteran crew behind it. Case and point: My movie, FURIOUS 7 has just earned $384 MILLION in it's opening weekend worldwide. And it's a fun movie that's very good looking and technically perfect!!!

G

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