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Advice on becoming a cinematographer (1 reply and 2 comments)

Shamasali55
2 weeks ago
Shamasali55 2 weeks ago

Hi Roger, 

I'm currently a second year film student studying Media (Film) Production at Staffordshire University and for when I graduate, I want to start my career path to get into cinematography. What advice can you provide me in terms of networking with other cinematographers, how to get to the position of cinematographer and career steps to take? I already have some understanding of what a cinematographer does, it's just the career path I would have to go down to get where I want to get to.

Thanks

jthomsg
1 week ago
jthomsg 1 week ago

You have to suck up to people and pretend to like them. The route of becoming a filmmaker is all about who you know; I’m sure most cinematographers hate the directors they work with, but they stick to a project because they like the story.

Nobody is truthful in terms of the odds of making it in the film industry. Roger and some of his prestigious colleagues are among the elite, which is smaller than  1% of cinematographers in the world. Even so, the ASC has only a few hundred members of cinematographers that actually get paid for their work. The only way to really be among true professionals is to have the right friends, some talent, and good work ethic. But without knowing people, you most likely won’t make it at all. 

The Byre
1 week ago

Some parts of the industry may be like that, but 'placement-monkeys' tend to fall by the wayside.  Talent always shows.

Your key as a fresh graduate will be a killer show-reel.

Mike
1 week ago

Jthomsg,
It’s all part of every day life, pretending to like people is what we do best, it’s called diplomacy! You don’t bite the hand that feeds you, you are getting paid to do a job so being nice to people is the way to go about it. In the TV and Film industry you must be prepared to be unemployed at certain periods of the year, so when you finally get hired albeit only 4 months of the year you are so grateful that you cannot afford to upset anyone as you want to be rehired at some point. It’s not sucking up at all, it’s an opportunity to get to know the rest of the crew as you may not see them again. You want to be remembered and it is a very small world, so you want to make the most of it while you can. That surely makes sense, doesn’t it?
As far as Directors go, some are very nice some are, well! The work load is fast and furious so you are going to ‘clash’ at some point but making a film is about getting along with people and compromising, you are constantly making do with the tools you been given but you have no choice, accept it and move on, there is no time to take issue with anyone. Adapt quickly and move on. There are going to be personality issues, that’s goes for any industry but maintaining harmony is paramount to completing a film so if it means ‘turning the other cheek’ to avoid confrontation then that is what has to be. The films schedule comes first, every time. The secret is to manoeuvre yourself in the right position before disputes occur but that takes experience and some wisdom which comes with longevity. Be nice to everyone, that’s the way to go and you will be remembered for that.

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