Jump to content
Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

Do you have trouble shooting for projects that don't excite you?

Recommended Posts

I sometimes feel sorry for the camera people that have to shoot some of these projects. It is a ton of work shooting a film. Do you accept them because of the $$ or pass on them? What keeps you going to do great work other than $$ if you feel the film is not going anywhere or story / actors / direction is subpar?

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think everyone sooner or later has a project that doesn't excite them, for whatever reason. The trick is to remain focused on what your particular job is, and to do the best you can in that role, or to find some way to use it as a learning experience.

I shot a holiday movie a while back, and I knew that the lighting on the show was going to have to be flat and high key, and there was no room for me to be creative. I didn't want it to become just a 'paycheck' job, so I tried to find a way to make it challenging. As I was also operating, I decided to get a geared head as part of the equipment package. Although I can use one, I wouldn't consider myself an expert, and I'd never used one for an entire movie before, so this was going to be the learning experience for me. I ended up shooting 95% of the movie on the Arrihead. The movie was a fun experience, and even though it was not something I particularly aspired to shoot, I felt that I improved on some valuable skills.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have some scattered thoughts on this: 

1. I don’t think it’s really possible to do your best work on a job like this. But as a professional, you do the best you can with what you’re given. And yes, the money helps!

2. If you’re just starting out in your career, or working as a journeyman in genres where storytelling is not the main focus, then this is par for the course. You may not be working for clients who care about aesthetically beautiful images, or compelling stories, or pushing the cinematic art form. But you gotta pay the bills.

3. As Stuart says, you have to be self-motivated and find something in each project to challenge yourself with, even if no one else will care. That could be something simple like working on your long lens camera operating if you’re shooting live events. Or trying out new lighting techniques and diffusion filters if you’re shooting interviews. Whatever you can to keep yourself mentally engaged.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, David Mullen ASC said:

It’s a profession not a hobby.

Absolutely. We are paid for our experience and talent - not for our approval for the project. But we should always bring enthusiasm to the project. As I’ve said before, many of the pictures I work on are not the pictures I like to watch. That doesn’t matter. We are professionals. 
 

G

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Generally I can find something in a shoot that allows be to practise or learn things. I've done some quite dull multi-camera sports camera operating in the past. On those, I'd try to keep it interesting by operating the tighter shots, forcing my operating to work hard. Doing the wide shot on a football match? Thats hard to stay interested. The UK weather doesn't help.

I have done some corporate type jobs as a director/self-shooter where it's really hard to stay motivated when the content gets so dull and you run out of ways to make it interesting or you don't have time/resources to do the job properly. That's when I lose faith, when I'm doing a job, that I know it won't have a good outcome and it's hard to fix it. E.g the client wants to be the presenter etc. etc. 

I realise I should stop taking those jobs....

I am trying to be more selective, but it's very hard on the freelance market, some you have to take what comes. It can be pretty lean pickings on the directing front (in the UK) because of the amount of competition and low rates offered.  

I also say "yes" too often because of that early day freelance fear of not affording to say no. It's a hard habit to get out of, even though at the moment. I have too much work on my plate. I probably should have turned a couple of things away, rather than killing myself to do them.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What Mr. Mullen said.

I have been very impressed with the professionalism shown by top camera crews when doing less than exciting work.  I have been assigned 2nd unit DP work where the camera assistants working for me are routinely working for top DP's on major studio films and then they treat me as if I were the most important DP they have ever worked for.  I will always try to provide that kind of attitude to the people I am working for.  Truly caring about the work you are doing right now is what makes this work more than a paycheck.

Neal Norton

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is why I don't get the Marvel movies. Sorry, anyone who worked on them, but if you're going to do that sort of movie - and there's nothing wrong with a decent popcorn movie - at least make it look - well - like Transformers or Fast and Furious.

I happened across a bit of urban exploration video (see here) the other day where some people explored an old (very old, 1920) power plant, the Port Richmond Generating Station in Philadelphia, which by my eye was used quite extensively on one of the Transformers movies (see here.) It's an amazing looking place, but I'm not quite sure how people make that stuff look... like it does. Track right, pan left, sprint, shout, air cannon, blue, yellow? Maybe it's because I grew up in a place where everything is either grey or brown, but I must admit to a certain liking for this sort of thing.

P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All the big time DoP.s if you look back ,not even that far ,have shot some dud films .. but they all look good.. look at some of the stinkers really good actors have been in..its a job.. thats what Im always harping on about to the rather more auteur members who seem to only shoot on windup Bolex,s , with film kept in a fridge in East Berlin from the 60,s... 🙂  ..It pays the bills .. it doesn't mean you don't care about your own work ..  no one is starting this job to be rich.. but it can make you a decent living.. but very few can pick and choose totally what jobs they do..  marry someone rich or you just have to get out of bed and shoot.. or stay in a very limited, no budget indie world.. all very admirable ,but its very hard to actually have a life doing that.. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course one is often passionate about one's chosen career, and once hired, we are expected to work with positive energy and promote a pleasant work environment.  But let's not forget that a lot of money is involved; we are hired and paid to produce results. If I can't be motivated enough to do my best work because the project doesn't interest me, odds are high I wouldn't have taken it in the first place.  Every project usually has enough creative challenges to engage the mind though. There are the occasional rare bad experiences, the old Navy joke "the beatings will continue until morale improves" sort of work environment, but all film jobs have an end date that you usually can make it to.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I usually make a playlist of music that inspires me and brings out the "tone" of the film.  This  way I can listen to that while I shoot and I'm not distracted by writing or acting that may be disappointing.  The music will keep me on track and make sure I don't compromise my work just because other areas of the production may be lacking.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Michael LaVoie said:

I usually make a playlist of music that inspires me and brings out the "tone" of the film.  This  way I can listen to that while I shoot and I'm not distracted by writing or acting that may be disappointing.  The music will keep me on track and make sure I don't compromise my work just because other areas of the production may be lacking.

 

 

With the added advantage you don't have to listen to the director .. 🙂  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

With the added advantage you don't have to listen to the director .. 🙂  

Funny, I once had an angry director literally rip the headphones out of my ears.  He was a douche.  Pissed off everyone on the crew. I was the only person who was totally chill around him which I think annoyed him even more. Mostly because I was always listening to music. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/20/2019 at 10:00 AM, Stuart Brereton said:

I think everyone sooner or later has a project that doesn't excite them, for whatever reason. The trick is to remain focused on what your particular job is, and to do the best you can in that role, or to find some way to use it as a learning experience.

I shot a holiday movie a while back, and I knew that the lighting on the show was going to have to be flat and high key, and there was no room for me to be creative. I didn't want it to become just a 'paycheck' job, so I tried to find a way to make it challenging. As I was also operating, I decided to get a geared head as part of the equipment package. Although I can use one, I wouldn't consider myself an expert, and I'd never used one for an entire movie before, so this was going to be the learning experience for me. I ended up shooting 95% of the movie on the Arrihead. The movie was a fun experience, and even though it was not something I particularly aspired to shoot, I felt that I improved on some valuable skills.

Didn't know what a geared head was. Pretty cool.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

Didn't know what a geared head was. Pretty cool.

 

That's just a toy. Real geared heads weigh as much as a sound recordist's wallet.

Edited by Mark Dunn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



  • Serious Gear



    Just Cinema Gear



    FJS International



    Tai Audio



    Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS



    Gamma Ray Digital Inc



    Paralinx LLC



    CineLab



    New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment



    G-Force Grips



    Wooden Camera



    Rig Wheels Passport



    Ritter Battery



    Glidecam



    Metropolis Post



    Abel Cine



    Broadcast Solutions Inc



    Visual Products


    Cinematography Books and Gear
×
×
  • Create New...