Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tips from Cinematographers for Cinematographers

The Black and Blue, a popular website for camera assistants, released an article called "88 cinematographers share the best professional advice they've ever received." I read the article some time ago when I was first getting into student filmmaking. Recently I read over the article again and found some really useful ones. I've compiled a list of a few of my favorites below. 

‘Keep it simple.’ It’s always exciting to try a new piece of gear, but sometimes two grips pulling a camera on a blanket is still the best solution.

                 This piece of advice is especially relevant with student filmmaking. We often have not enough equipment, not enough money, and not enough crew. Keeping it simple and keeping it smart helps to avoid a lot of those problems. 

Don’t let yourself become too obsessed with technology. Find a balance with your creativity.

                 I always hear people talking about new technology and what new camera they're shooting their film on. Or how after looking into some student budgets you realize that close to a third of their budget is spent on camera department but they're still getting free sheet pizza for all their meals. If you have a sound process and story the film will look good no matter what camera you shoot with. 

From my grandfather, Carmine Coppola: What you do with your non-working time is more important than what you do with your working time.

                Constantly on set I see people sitting down or goofing off when they have nothing to do in the current moment. Then later everyone is waiting around for them to do their job that they could have been prepping for earlier. Think ahead, and if you're doing your job on set there should never be down time. 

When Levie asked me to work with him at Corman’s, the pay was $50 a day. Levie said, ‘They’re not paying for experience. Take the job and you’ll meet people.’

                This I feel is incredibly important for those of us about to graduate. Out of school we will all be working for shit pay, or for free. But that is where we need to start and on those jobs we'll work hard, gain experience and meet the people who can get us on better sets. Always remember, you're getting paid in more than just money. 

There are a lot more good pieces of advice in that list that we should all take to heart. You can read them here. The best piece of advice I've ever gotten on set:

If you wear pants to set, bring shorts. If you wear shorts to set, bring pants. 
Grant Harrison

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