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Craft - Training The Next Generation???
 

Published : 15th August 2003


I'm working on a small, free-form film. Lots of room for experimentation, no money, persona vision of the Director Film. It's a gas, no pressure, lot's of fun.

I've 3 PA's on the shoot. They are hard workers, haven't given me attitude at all. They are, however by their description all Directors of Photography. One of them discusses his reel, and claims he has been shooting for 8 years (which is funny since he can't be a day over 24).

Neat, love the fact that they are proud of their work, and they aren't self deprecating, which will stand them in good stead. They also don't question my choices, and are happy to do to the best of their abilities - which I find very refreshing.

However, they think that it is their job that when I am shooting to sit around and watch me work. When we travel to a new location they want to know what to bring (which doesn't really change from location to location), and seem not to grasp the concept of bringing a backup battery. I had two shots ruined because my crew in one instance didn't attach the second piece of bnc cable for the monitor, and the other because no one cable wrangled.

Now as I wrote, they are a great help, and they are learning. Granted as the D.P. on this shot I am responsible for those screw ups, but when I came up through the ranks, it was the responsibility of the crew to think ahead so that the D.P. doesn't have to micro manage, and spend all their effort thinking about how much cable to bring, or do we have back up batteries, etc. etc. I didn't rip into anyone on set, it is a very relaxed atmosphere, and overall it's been fine.

Perhaps I'm spoiled from working with professional crews, or perhaps I've forgotten how to micro manage. But it seems to me that somewhere along the lines these 3 "D.P.s" didn't get trained. That bothers me. I'm a D.P., it isn't my job to bring the spare batteries, and I don't want to have to think about that, but if I'm working as the guy responsible for the video connection, then it is my job.

These guys aren't full of themselves, but they are lacking in basic on set technique, which is going to hurt their advancement.

Steven Gladstone
Cinematographer - Gladstone Films
Cinematography Mailing List - East Coast List Administrator
Better off Broadcast (B.O.B.)
New York, U.S.A.



>...somewhere along the lines these 3 "D.P.s" didn't get trained...if I'm the >guy responsible for the video connection

Well, sure. But I have to ask: how have these three been instructed on *this* film? Was Larry told to mind batteries, Curly the cables, and Moe the gaffer tape? If not, no wonder you're all waiting around for the 4th Stooge. Somebody needs to do basic job assignment.

Of course if the individual crew responsibilities *have* been explicitly assigned, then you need to take the Gang of Three aside for a bit of re-education.

In either case, a little bit of training *is* required, whether up-front or remedial. Just do it.

I teach--and learn!--on every shoot I'm on.

Adam Wilt
Menlo Park
CA USA



>And I've often thought how amazingly helpful it would have been if this >list had existed when I was new to the game.

I may have only been out of film school for a few years, but I did test the color temperature of those new bulbs before attempting to use them!

And yes, the CML is an invaluable resource for everyone – those just starting out and those who have been doing it for a long time.

Jessica Gallant
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Systems Administrator, Cinematography Mailing List

http://www.cinematography.net



> I would think CML must figure prominently.


Hmm, and which US film school has been logged on to CNL for the last 74 days?

That's right, 74 days without logging that particular terminal off!

Cheers

Geoff Boyle FBKS

Director of Photography
EU based



Hi,

In many ways I find myself in full agreement with the sentiments expressed in this thread. I'm a nobody, but I have worked enough to recognise a good assistant from a bad one. I like conversations like this:

"Ah, I have a low batt....ah, thanks." Clik. "I think we might need the .6ND fill...ah, thanks." Clik.

On the other hand, I am sorely aware that I have not had the kind of background that is being mooted here. I'd love to have had. I don't have a choice. There isn't enough production going on around here for the top experienced people to work, let alone total nobodies like me.

So what do I do? Sit at home because I haven't completed a course of action I ideally should have, or go out and work in a position I haven't really earned? It's a genuine dilemma, and it's the reason I do my best to ensure that nobody gets the impression I'm too pleased with myself. I am absolutely the last person to refer to myself as a director of photography (Although other people do it all the time.)

Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit
London


Steven Gladstone writes:

> They are, however by their description all Directors of Photography.


Arrrghh.

I've been thinking of carrying around in my back pocket copies of the ASC's excellent brochure that enumerates the tasks of the DP... so I can give them out to aspiring young cinematographers... and also read it myself, regularly, as a reminder.

Despite my own four decades of participation in just about every aspect of media production and filmmaking (including three decades as successful documentary cinematographer and videographer -- with a minor in indie narratives) and having been a bona-fide DP on several productions of moderate size, I *still* don't feel as if I measure up to the full definition of a "DP" as the term is properly used in the field of narrative motion pictures.

Maybe we need a new category: "DVDP!" (Those bona-fide DPs who happen to use DV to shoot real movies can still call themselves "DP!"))

Dan Drasin
Producer/DP (pretty much, sorta)
Marin County, CA



> I teach--and learn!--on every shoot I'm on.

I do too, as do all of us.


However it's a sad realization that, even though I've only been out of film school for a few years, on most of the projects I shoot I have more experience than any one else on set.

Jessica Gallant
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Systems Administrator, Cinematography Mailing List



Jessica Gallant writes:

>Even though I've only been out of film school for a few years, on most of >the projects I shoot I have more experience than any one else on set.

That will surely change as your good work and cumulative experience start
bringing you higher-level gigs.

Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA



>That will surely change as your good work and cumulative experience >start bringing you higher-level gigs.

I sure hope so!

Jessica Gallant
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Systems Administrator, Cinematography Mailing List



Jessica Gallant writes:

>Even though I've only been out of film school for a few years, on most of >the projects I shoot I have more experience than any one else on set.

Yeah, being the "Star" of the show is for like a year at most! I get giddy when I know I'm not the biggest investment on the show and there are other people with equivalent or even MORE experience than me. That's when it's exciting!

Roderick Stevens
Az. D.P.

www.restevens.com