I worry that Grumpy Old Men In Black, ie older cinematographers, tend to discourage young crew when they think that they’re helping them.
“The business has got much tougher” is a typical comment that I don’t think is true. OK, there are more people out there competing for the work but there’s a lot more work out there!
I’d like to start by saying that this is a great way to earn a living, I’ve travelled all over the world and got to see all kinds of things and places that people just normally don’t get a chance to experience.
Yes some of it has been bad, very bad, but most of it has been amazing and in the bad cases I mostly knew what I was getting myself into and made that choice.
Do most cinematographers get paid as much as we were getting, in a relative sense, 30 years ago? absolutely not but we were very well paid then and people still make good money now.
I heard all kinds of tales about how we weren’t be treated as well as we used to be, maybe people just have rosy memories.
Is it a struggle and will it always be? yes, but you make a choice not to have a steady job and income and you live with the downsides as well as the upsides.
I was once told that I was freelance because I was unemployable. That’s probably true 🙂
What I’m trying to say is that you should just get on and do what you want to, don’t get discouraged by disillusioned old men. Do listen and try and learn from others experience.
Ultimately it’s your life and your choices, make them wisely if you can but most of all try and enjoy your work.
Don’t get hung up on not shooting your first movie yet or not shooting “glamorous” things, some of my best experiences were on corporate jobs. Some of the best fun and memories come from those jobs.
Don’t get hung up on kit, there’s a lot of great kit out there, maybe you can’t use the camera that was used to shoot the Oscar winning film but actually is it the right camera for you anyway?
There are some great cameras at “affordable” prices and anyway, what’s wrong with renting? that way you can have the perfect kit for every job.
Learn as much as you can, read, read more, watch YouTube videos, (of course you will have to learn to filter out the crap on there) it’s not enough to think you can look it up using Google, you need to know and understand stuff that you don’t think you’ll ever need because it’s that stuff that you pull out of the bag that makes you stand out.
Can’t afford Lights? one of the best most colour accurate softlights out there is the IKEA FLOALT that costs about $80. It outperforms some lights that cost 20 times as much.
Don’t talk about it, do it!