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Communication and Leadership on set (4 replies and 1 comment)

RobertZ
6 months ago
RobertZ 6 months ago

Hello Roger,

I've been shooting shorts for a couple years now, and I immediately realized how important communication and leadership is between the entire cine department, though occasionally I tend to struggle to effectively communicate to camera and lighting on set.

Thinking about this, how do you (and DP's in general, obviously everyone is different) lead the departments and communicate the task needed to be done to camera and lighting? (The nerdy, in depth stuff would be fantastic) Have you picked up many tips and tricks over the years, or did you find leading the cine department on set just come naturally to you? 

Thank you for your time!

Cheers,

Rob

Roger Deakins
6 months ago
Roger Deakins 6 months ago

I haven't had much chance to see how any other cinematographer works. I believe in a lot of prep. The choice of crew is important. It doesn't matter how communicative or inclusive you are if you just don't get on with the people around you. The job can be immensely satisfying but it can also be stressful so it is good to have a crew that understands that.

Steve Buckwalter
6 months ago
Steve Buckwalter 6 months ago

For me it's certainly always been a challenge. I often find it difficult to translate ideas out of my head and into direct action. To Roger's point, that's why having the right people around you is so important. For some reason I've always been more successful with Gaffers than I have been with Key Grips, and for a long time I thought it was an issue with my own personality that I would struggle to work with so many different people (and I'm sure I'm partly to blame because I can struggle to communicate well). On the other hand, after checking in with a lot of different people, I am finding out that, no sometimes there are these people who are difficult to work with. I've also always been someone who likes thinking three or four setups ahead, and making sure that I'm not compromising the rest of my day by doing things on the current setup. Some keys struggle with this, but the ones I like working with appreciate that I can talk them through the days work, and then are already standing by with the gear that we'll need in a few minutes. For camera team, at the beginning of the day I'll have stepped through the work with the director using Artemis on my phone, and so even as we deviate from that, we at least have a starting point because I have the pictures right there in my pocket. So as soon as we know we're moving on, I know what lens I'm asking for and usually it's the correct one. 

For all that I try to communicate, there are times when as a creative person, you will just find that there is something that isn't sitting right with you, and you're not always sure what it is, and you have the AD and Gaffer both asking you what you need, and if you knew, you could tell them. Usually when I reach those moments, I find that I start turning lights off, but often there are small last minute adjustments that you have to make after the final rehearsal, and the people you work with have to respect that it's not always easy to verbalize how lighting makes you feel.

But I'm spectacularly bad at interviewing new people, and I'd be interested to know what strategies anyone else has in finding people that you actually like to be around for long hours.

Roger Deakins
6 months ago
Roger Deakins 6 months ago

It is hard to make a judgement on a crew member when all you have is a half hour interview. I chose a dolly grip once partly based on the T shirt he was wearing, probably a 'Grateful Dead' shirt. Whatever, we worked together happily for many years.

I sometimes find it easier and less disruptive to 'tweak' a lighting set up myself rather than trying to communicate what I want with someone else. That is especially so during a shoot when there is little time to discuss it. I will often be adjusting a lamp or a bounce card between takes and my gaffer has given me gloves to do it!

If your crew are not engaged with what the day will bring, rather than on a shot by shot basis, i think you might want a change.

RonanMcAuley
6 months ago

Is the dolly grip you're referring to Bruce Hamme?

Mike
6 months ago
Mike 6 months ago

Photo, Roger fine tuning his lamps ‘himself’.

https://www.rogerdeakins.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/6A46DCC7-4142-42EF-BAF7-901C99FF5528.jpeg
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