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Delineation of roles and job title

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Hello, 

I would like to know the difference between cinematographer and lighting director. what is the delineation of roles and job title. Which countries use the title "Lighting Director" as opposed to cinematographer/gaffer/Chief lighting technician ? 

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"Lighting Director" is more of a title for live theater lighting situations like for a concert show -- "Lighting Designer" is the more common title though.  If the live show was being photographed, there would be a separate cinematographer or videographer or Director of Photography.  If this show was a scene in a movie, then the Gaffer / Chief Lighting Technician would be in charge of the lighting department though that person might hire a theatrical lighting designer to handle the stage lighting since that's such a specialized skill.

There used to be an old designation in U.K. cinema for "Lighting Cameraman" -- who would be the cinematographer -- as opposed to "Operating Cameraman" (the operator).

 

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Lighting Cameraman was also used for TV drama.. docs with drama reconstruction, type shoots.. as opposed to DoP which was seen as the title for movie camera people..

It was what the high end TV camera people would call themselves .. but without presuming to be called a Dir of photography ..as this was the more lofty title of those who were working in the film industry ..

All changed now.. but I still find it weird that people with very little experience will call them selves DoP..shooting a "feature film" .. on the crappiest of shoots.. could just be Im being an old fart.. but I think people should earn that title .. it doesn't  come in the A7 box ..after you shoot your mate on a skate board for YouTube ..

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

 

All changed now.. but I still find it weird that people with very little experience will call them selves DoP..shooting a "feature film" .. on the crappiest of shoots.. could just be Im being an old fart.. but I think people should earn that title .. it doesn't  come in the A7 box ..after you shoot your mate on a skate board for YouTube ..

I don’t know. Ultimately, it’s a job title, not an honourific. You don’t need a degree to earn the title, you don’t have to pass any exams.

So if you’re doing the job, even if it’s just with a small crew, on a small production - you’re fulfilling that role, and should be credited as such. 

I don’t really see that there’s much of an argument that can be levelled against that.

Now, obviously if you’re one-man-banding it, or not working within the structure of a crew (in a conventional sense), then it’s really stretching the title too far. In which case “cinematographer”, “camera operator”, “cameraman/camerawoman”, “videographer” or whatever else, is going to be more important.

But ultimately, I think the elitism that some people attach to the title of DoP, is really just fuelled by ego moreso than any actual justifiable reason. 

If you’re doing the job, you’re doing the job.

Edited by Mark Kenfield
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Yes I see your point ..but that's also my point.. there are not doing the job of a Dop.. and obviously there is no exam.. I guess its my generation, as a camera assistant in the 80,s UK .. was the last that you would never dream of calling yourself a DoP... unless you had quite a bit of experience .. I mean really people would take the piss if you did that ..you be laughed out of the room..  it was more a respect thing that an elitist thing..  and still I have to say I think its a joke that some people are calling them selves a Dop.. with an A7 a week out of its box.. they are not.. they are learning.. and best of luck to them..  its a job title you earn.. ...  and a feature film is not going to the park with a BMX bike..  🙂 

PS I don't call myself a DoP either ..  thats not where Im coming from..

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I think there’s a difference between being a DP on a specific project, and being a DP as something you do for a living. It’s both a description and an honorific. When I was an assistant, the DP position was something to be achieved through hard work and experience, not by buying a camera. There are many ‘dps’ on this site who are evidently very inexperienced. We all had to start somewhere, but when you use the term DP to describe anyone with a camera, it renders it meaningless.

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In my experience anyone in film hiring a "lighting director" or designer is basically hiring it because their "DP" has no idea how to light a set and no interest in it.  Yes a Gaffer can definitely be creative but they shouldn't be leading the entire look of a show and deciding ratios based on their informed opinion of the script and it's emotional content.  If the gaffer is doing that, they're basically a ghost DP on the film getting neither the pay nor the credit.  Unfair imho.   If you want to be a cinematographer, you need to learn how to light.

This doesn't mean learning the how necessarily, which is the electrical side of lighting.  That's why you have a gaffer, best, etc.  It's learning the why of lighting.  Quality and quantity of light and when to adjust both, how much. etc.

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Probably veering off-topic somewhat but I guess the ease with which people assume the DP title is the fact that anyone these days can own a DSLR or mirrorless stills camera that happens to record video (and pretty decent video at that, compared to the camcorders of olde), probably has a manual mode, not to mention live mode / EVF which gives a decent enough idea of exposure and general look, all of which requires zero knowledge and understanding of exposure tools - all of this in contrast with owning/renting a film camera and all the know-how inherent in its operation, getting a decent image, lighting (a necessity for relatively slow film stock), film development, etc. 

Just like everyone and their dog is a music producer / engineer these days because they have an audio interface, a DAW, and a few virtual instruments. 

On 4/24/2019 at 9:31 AM, Robin R Probyn said:

Yes I see your point ..but that's also my point.. there are not doing the job of a Dop.. and obviously there is no exam.. I guess its my generation, as a camera assistant in the 80,s UK .. was the last that you would never dream of calling yourself a DoP... unless you had quite a bit of experience .. I mean really people would take the piss if you did that ..you be laughed out of the room..  it was more a respect thing that an elitist thing..  and still I have to say I think its a joke that some people are calling them selves a Dop.. with an A7 a week out of its box.. they are not.. they are learning.. and best of luck to them..  its a job title you earn.. ...  and a feature film is not going to the park with a BMX bike..  🙂 

PS I don't call myself a DoP either ..  thats not where Im coming from..

 

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One of the problems with this is that the modern world is very, very keen on cognitive behavioural therapy, or, to put it another way, faking it until you make it works, even to the point that it's essential. I think that in order to become a director of photography in the true sense, starting from nothing in the early 2000s, it would probably be necessary to claim the title some time before one would be widely considered entitled to it, especially for direct-entry DPs. Not to do so would isolate a person from crucial formative jobs.

 

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