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Questions for Roger (2 replies)

2 months ago
jamienorman 2 months ago

Roger Deakins,
Hi, I'm an aspiring film maker based in the North Midlands of England currently studying Film and Media Production at University. I am hoping to contact you to ask a few questions as part of my course to research how to get into the industry as a Cinematographer.

Your work is truly inspirational and I love the work you have done on 1917. The whole movie is filled with suspense. I also particularly love the cinematography in 'No country for old men'. I loved the cinematography that much, I even did my essay on it where I broke down shots from the film.
so, it would be really insightful to hear from you about how he you into the industry as a cinematographer as well as your experience as one.

The questions I wish to ask you are:
How did you start out?
Did you undertake any formal qualifications, training, and/ or internships?
Could you walk me through a day in the life of you job?
Have you had any experience working as a freelancer?
Is there anything you would recommend to avoid when starting out?
Are you a member of the BECTU? If so what are the benefits? If not why?
What kit and software do you use most regularly in your work? How has tech changed? How might it develop in the future?
Is the industry what you expected it to be when you first started?

Your work is truly inspirational, so it would be insightful to hear your replies.
Thank you for your time.

Kind regards,
Jamie Norman.

Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

That's a lot of questions and I suggest you can find more detailed answers on the site or from interviews I have given elsewhere.

In briefly!

I work as a freelancer and always have.

I studied at the National film School outside of London.

After Film School I started out as an assistant but I couldn't get work so I decided to call myself a cinematographer. It just made me feel better being an unemployed cinematographer. As it would happen, I soon began to get work, at first on documentaries, on music videos and on independent short films but also on a feature film.

A 'day in the life' can vary considerably depending on the film and the day you chose within a production. Pre production is part of the job so there can be many days sitting in a scout van driving around locations. Or the day could constitute working in an office with the director or a storyboard artist,  talking through shots. A days shooting can be composed of 12 hours with a camera turning for much of that time or 18 hours (or even more) and the camera might only record one 2 minute shot.

And then there are the days between productions, which are still 'days in the life of'. When you are starting out these are the hardest days. What do you do? Do you sit and wait for the phone to ring or go knocking on doors? Do you take a job you have no interest in or do you do it for the money? What do you do if you are then offered a job you would die for but you are already committed? That is the really hard part of the job!

The industry is constantly changing, both the technology and the ideas that are developed into films. Is it what I expected? I don't know what I expected. Certainly not what my life has been to date, that's for sure.

How will the industry develop? Over the years the film industry has been moving towards making product aimed to be popular across the globe and that has led to film making that is less 'personal' and rather bland. There seem to be signs that the pendulum is swinging back but that might just be my positive outlook thinking that.

BECTU? No. I live in LA and I am a member of Local 600.

When you start out? I would avoid trying to copy other work. That is a dead end.



1 month ago
jamienorman 1 month ago

Thanks for your replies. It means a lot.

I also think that cinema is starting to be more meaningful and creative again, so the pendulum may very well be swinging back

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