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Hello all,

 

I am doing cinematography for a friend's film, and I was contacted by a local camera operator who was interested in working on our set.

 

Coming from sets with a minimal crew, I'm used to operating a camera by myself when doing cinematography, so this is going to be a first time thing for me. As I'm new to this process, I wonder -- how does the relationship between a DP and a camera op go? I understand DP's will sometimes take the camera to get the shot they want, and therefore trade off with the camera op on-set, but my question is directed more towards pre-production meetings and such.

 

For instance, are there any meetings that are meant to take place between a DP and his operator prior to arriving on-set? And if so, what exactly gets talked over?

 

As a side note, I have yet to meet this local camera op in person.

 

Thanks,

John

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These are things you can talk over when you interview the operator. Truth is that unless there are some unusual operating issues that may involve specialized equipment needs, operators aren't usually involved through all of pre-production except for the camera prep days, though if this is a short film, you might as well get the operator involved early. There are always stylistic discussions with your operator in prep and you two can watch some movie clips to get on the same page.

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It also might be worth meeting this person just to see if your personalities mesh and that you can work together well. I've found that hiring crew to work under you can often come down to not just who has the appropriate skillset for the job but also the appropriate temperament and attitude. This goes double when it's a personal project and not a paid job. If the operator is a professional, then their skills probably won't be an issue.

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I often think it's a lot more important to be working with people you like working with, even if they aren't the best, often it's the devil you know which is more important as you can plan for that -v- a random variable.

As for the op, meet with them, talk, have a beer or two, if they work out, after all you may well be spending a significant part of your life on set with this person.

Most ops are pretty good at getting a feeling of what you want, though.

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