Advice for aspiring Cinematographer (12 replies and 12 comments)
Hello Mr. Deakins,
Thank you for providing this incredible platform and for sharing your vast knowledge to us all. I and my 7 brothers run a small film company in Rhode Island, and in the last few years, have written/produced a feature-length comedy and short film.
I myself am an aspiring cinematographer and would be very grateful if you'd be willing to offer some advice/critiques on my own cinematography. I've attached some screengrabs of some of my work, I hope you are able to take a quick look.
Thank you again for being an inspiration and for your unparallel contribution to the art of Filmmaking.
Reading about Mr. Deakins' father, I wonder what he really thinks of Nolan's "Dunkirk." It must irk him that numerous YouTube trailer viewers are calling it a World War 1 version of "Dunkirk."
Personally I'm not a Nolan fan as I consider his transference of ideas to screen clumsy and cluttered. He simply fails to understand the distinction between complex and complicated.
There were so many soldiers with interesting stories and my father was just one of them. There were 60,000 soldiers left in France after the Dunkirk evacuation and they hardly ever get a mention. Many were captured or killed and others escaped from beaches far south of Dunkirk. When those lucky few like my father got home they were ignored. The propaganda was (and still is) all about the 'victory' at Dunkirk. My grandmother had though my father was dead.
When you go through experiences of witnessing death and destruction you really want to forget about it, it’s stuck in your memory bank for life, there no real need to explain it to others, they wouldn’t understand it anyway! You have to be there to ‘feel it’ for yourself, maybe film can be used to paint a picture but can the audience ‘feel it”. In 1972 a BEA Trident aircraft crashed in Staines, 119 passengers died. I was on my way home to Shepperton and I happened to pass the location two minutes after it came down, there were bodies and luggage everywhere. The rear of the aircraft broke off and was intact, there were people still strapped in their seats, they looked like they were sleeping, but had broken necks! Two Air hostess’s were also still sitting in their seats, smelling of perfume. This is something that is personal to me, also not many people want to hear stories about death and destruction, northern France experienced unbelievable carnage, even the French are reluctant to discuss it. My father was on HMS Kelly when it went down but once spoke about it. In times of despair, the human spirit can be a life saver.
Wow Roger, your father is quite literally a war hero. That must make you proud. As you said, many many people have interesting lives, we just rarely hear about them. Have you ever thought of writing a script about your dad's life? It could be a beautiful and powerful movie. The contrast between the dangerous missions and his civilian life afterwards where, as you say, no one would ever know... powerful stuff. Anyway, thanks for sharing that.
Yes, my father might well be in one of those photos. He began as an explosives expert in the Royal Engineers covering the retreat at Dunkirk by sabotaging bridges between the coast and the German advance. He managed to get out of France 10 days after the main evacuation. He was then attached to the Long Range Desert Group, which operated behind Rommel's lines in the Sahara Desert. The LRDG became the SAS. Before the invasion of Italy, my father was sent with Major Sterling's team into Sicily to disable the coastal guns. Luckily, the guns had been abandoned before the SAS got there and they all sat on the cliff tops and watched the invasion fleet sail by unmolested.
The original concept of the SAS was for long patrols in North Africa, to locate German reconnaissance vehicles and destroy them but later took on other duties even attacking military bases and supply depots. Today, they undertake other roles including surveillance, intelligence gathering, government security but nobody actually knows what they do but they do it well.
A few years ago I accidentally stumbled on their HQ. I got lost trying to find a farm and stopped to turn my car around when I was approached by the military police who asked me what I was doing, I explained that I got lost but they saw my Betacams on the back seat so they made a call on their walki talki’s and checked me out. They took my ID card but an hour later they said I could go. I have never seen such a fortified military camp, razor wire everywhere and numorous radio aerials. Not the normal army camp. I won’t say where it is but if you come across it, don’t ask for directions!
Photo of SAS patrol in North Africa with twin Vickers guns upfront and behind in jeep. One has a Browning 50 calibration. Perhaps Rogers dad is one of them in the photo.
My apologies to The Byre, I do not know him personally. The SAS is one of the most prestigious spec ops organization in the world who specialize in hostage rescue. They use speed, aggression, and surprise to neutralize the enemy. They are not to be toiled with and I admire them deeply. In fact, there is a story of a lone SAS operative who saved multiple hostages in Kenya and neutralized all enemy rebels by himself! That is just how well trained and deadly they are. True heroes who don’t do it for the fame or attention. Very few men posses such qualities.
Amazed to hear your father was an SAS operator! I’m glad the UK police now have firearms to defend themselves. BOJO should allow lawful people to own firearms to defend themselves from aggressive immigrants who are territorially adapting their Muslim faith and raping white women.
I am not sure why anyone is questioning The Byre's past as a special forces member. My father was in the SAS during the war but you would have never known it when meeting him as a civilian. People lead interesting lives. BTW, sad to say some police in the UK now carry guns.
I just have to say, that is definitely NOT how you shoot a polymer semi-automatic pistol! The way that police man is holding (what appears to be a Glock) is all wrong! The grip on it is all wrong, and the recoil on a striker-fired handgun is not that bad. Even a 9 yr old child could handle a 9mm or 45 ACP caliber.
I think comedy is a genre that has been abused to death, so much so, that they’ve become less popular because of their inherit stupidity. Take STUBER, I never saw it, but by the trailer alone, it was people “acting” funny within an absurd situation. Why would a cop need an UBER driver to drive him around? Why would a cop give a gun to someone who has never handled one? It’s reckless stupidity, and therefore bashed by critics and audiences.
Firearms are not a joke, they should be respected and handled properly. And policemen are TRAINED to grip them properly, and most are marksmen shooters trained by ex special forces instructors.
May point, is cinematography is not entirely what you judge a film on, it’s the ideas and attention to detail that matter before anything else. Great cinematography is felt more than noticed.
Personally, I’m not a fan of modern comedies, I do like movies like Sabrina or Ninotchka, because they were clever. Or The Lady Eve which I recorded recently from TCM.
You are conflating slap-stick with rom-com. You are also just looking at the US market and not the whole market. Yes the US rom-com market fell from 20% in 2006 to 10% by 2012 and last year was just 2% - but the Indian rom-com market went from 20% to 40% and 2012-18 leveled out at 35%. Similar figures apply to other non-US markets such as China and some European markets.
As for how you hold a gun - nobody really cares. A slap-stick comedy is hardly supposed to an instruction film.
And you have a very strange idea about police training. As a former member of the so-called special forces in the UK, I can assure you that there was almost NOTHING in our training that could be even remotely applicable to civilian policing. In the US, the police train the police and also look to bodies such as the Force-Science-Institute for training. Joe Public never gets to see the endless rounds of scenario and simulation training on cop shows and movies - and would probably switch off if they did!
As for what constitutes a good comedy - if it makes people laugh, it's a good comedy.
The UK a police do t even carry handguns, they carry batons. American police need to be adept shooters, otherwise they may kill innocent civilians.
And now you claim to be a former special forces operator? That’s extremely unlikely! And don’t say you’re a former SAS operator, don’t embarrass yourself.
Not Roger but I would like to throw in my 2 scents worth.
I don’t think that you need any endorsement on your shorts.
You are already accomplished film makers, I have looked at your films and in my opinion, they are superb, great camera work, great lighting and most of all great editing. Well chosen sound tracks and brilliant timing. If I was an Advertising agency I would certainly list you for possible future work, naturally pending your fee. Price does matter when commissioning projects.
Your listed “short” on the forum was extremely good, infact I watched it 6 times with headphones. It a lovely trailer, full of energy, full of promise and makes you feel alive, what a breath of ‘fresh air’ it was, we are awash with doom and gloom films with everybody killing each other and dowdy images, what ever happened to comedy, vivid colours and happiness, where has it gone.
Well done you lot, I was in Rhode Island last year, I would have been more than happy to have met you and buy everyone a beer (or two).
I have a feeling about you lot.