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Kenzen Takahashi

Trying to figure out how to make the life of an aspiring cinematographer easier

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Hey everyone! Similarly stated in the title, I’m curious what the trials and tribulations are for an aspiring cinematographer :)


Which is why I have two very simple questions:


1. As an aspiring cinematographer, what are the 2 biggest issues you’re dealing with?

2. Regarding cinematography, what would you wish for more than anything else?


Thanks so much in advance - looking forward to reading your answers!

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Keep your living costs very very low.

This will allow you to keep trying.

Live somewhere cheap. Drive a cheap car that consumes little fuel. Don't buy Apple. Don't buy Nike or Levi. Eat in. Don't party (especially, don't buy alcohol at popular bars, at least not on the regular.)

Live cheap.


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Correction:   "Don't buy Apple, Nike or Levi".... products.  But their stock?  Uhm, yeah.  Go for it.

In the meantime, whether you're a narrative or commercial DP, the best thing you can do is team up with really talented writer/directors who have a strong vision and whose work, whether commercial or narrative will get noticed.   Then you have to hope that as they move up, they take you with them.  Cause that's how you typically climb. On the strength of the work and the relationships.

However, the odds of this are so low.  You have to find that person and click with them and then stars must align to make your projects viable and possible.  All out of your control.

Seriously, if I knew then what I know now, I'd say back off the cinematography thing entirely. haha.  Learn how to produce.  If you can create your own opportunities you can shoot whatever you want once you raise the money.  Not that raising money isn't hard.  It's very difficult but once you do, it gets slightly easier each time.  Provided you make consistent returns to your investors or banks. Whichever are backing you.




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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Michael LaVoie said:


Was that how you became a working cinematographer? Seems like a common way for sure, but sadly not very hopeful for beginners hoping to do something non luck related, haha.




Edited by Kenzen Takahashi

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Non-luck related career advancement is impossible. Someone somewhere is greenlighting you as the film or TV shows cinematographer and they have to say yes.  Luck is just another word for timing.  So you have to meet that individual, first, then they have to like you and or your work. Both out of your hands in most cases.

Even if you go the producing route and literally create your own opportunity.  You still have to pitch investors.  Sit down with bankers and convince them of your vision and ability to make it happen.    So even in that case they have to say yes.

The only way out of luck is to be independently wealthy.  Which many successful Hollywood players are.  Take Megan Ellison.  Annapurna is basically a hobby project.  It continually loses money despite producing amazing films with A-list stars.   Some people are just too big to fail though.  When your father is Larry Ellison, you're not terribly worried about the bottom line.  


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Talk to DPs, ask questions. Even on this site. Specific questions get specific answers. General questions are tough to answer.

Keep learning and test your knowlege with experiments. Even with photography.

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