Do you have a knack for capturing shots from different angles?
Do you like to explore photography and videography in different lightning situations? Well, if your answer is yes, then the job of a cinematographer is the perfect fit for you.
What Does a Cinematographer Do?
- The cinematographer is the head of the camera and lighting crew.
- They oversees the development of the script and storyboards for the movie.
- They are responsible for the exposure, composition and overall framing of the image.
- Also, a cinematographer can add to the creative factor of the film/tv show by giving your inputs.
- A lot can happen by changing the angles of the camera and by experimenting with the lights.
It is actually the cinematographer who brings the director’s vision to the visible awesomeness that people see on the screens.
Sounds interesting? Then let us tell you the 6 steps that you need to follow in order become an awesome cinematographer!
1. Get that Degree!
Yes, you read that right. We are telling you to attend lectures before you start working with the camera. Getting in to a film school and learning about cinematography from experts of the field will help you a lot.
A graduation degree in cinematography will teach you aspects of film production, direction, lightning techniques(some common lightning techniques) and how all of these affect the end product.
Besides that, a degree specifically in cinematography will look really impressive on your resume. Many production houses consider hiring people who have formal education in such areas.
And you know the best part? You will enjoy film school more than anything else because c’mon, it’s film school! You learn new things in the most fun way possible.
2. Work at Real Sets, Learn from the Maters:
It is very important for you to observe how things happen from a non-working perspective. Before you start practicing cinematography, try to get a job on a film set and observe how things are done.
Look at how the cinematographer places the lights, how they use different angles for different types of shots and how they use natural and unnatural sources of lights.
Working on a set as an assistant or even a crew member will give you real time exposure to the things that happen behind the screens.
It is important for you to look at how a cinematographer works before you actually start working as one.
And for this, the best way for you would be to be present at the set yourself!
Try to get a job that will keep you around the cinematographer or the director most of the time.
Look closely at how they apply techniques to get the best shots and how they co-ordinate with each other to come up with better ideas and perspectives.
3. Polish Your Technical Skills:
The next step in your journey will be to enhance your technical skills.
You will need to learn how to use new equipment and get familiar with the technical aspects of your work.
Filmmaking is an art form, but that does not mean that there will not be science included in it. You will realize that as someone who works with the camera, there will be a lot of technicalities involved in the process.
So, it will be important for you to keep up with the latest gadgets and approaches. You should get familiar with these things so that you do not get uncomfortable at a real set.
Understand the technical aspects and try to improve the areas of your weaknesses. It will actually help you a lot when you will have information about such stuff.
Remember, the learning never stops and neither should you!
4. Work, work, work and well, WORK!
You do not have to be the member of a top Hollywood film project to start working as a cinematographer.
In fact, you will reach there only when you have worked on smaller scale projects.
It is so because working for smaller projects gives you the opportunity to fumble a bit.
It is in these smaller projects that you will actually have more artistic freedom and this is exactly where you will get the chance to polish your skills.
You can work for ad commercials, short movies, theatre and even independent films. Remember, you do not work in such projects for the money, but for the opportunity to learn.
In such projects, you will understand what techniques you are comfortable with, how far along you are with the technical aspects and what are the areas where you need improvement.
So, get your hands on smaller projects because that’s the real path to reach Hollywood buddy!
5. Learn the ‘Other’ Things:
Cinematography is not just about working with the camera and the lights.
You need a lot of other skills to become a good cinematographer.
Since you will be working with various teams, you will have to acquire skills related to leadership, time management, team work, communication and resource management.
Not all projects will have several resources available. In such cases, you will have to make do with whatever is available.
In other projects, there might be a bigger team with many people around. So, to work with so many people, you will have to develop communication skills.
You should also have the spirit to work in a positive manner in teams and encourage others to keep doing better.
Time management is yet another skill that cinematographers should be excellent at.
You will not always have plenty of time at your hands to create the set up and figure out the lighting and angles.
So, make sure to develop the habit of coming up with efficient ideas rather quickly.
Remember, it’s not just about the camera.
6. Advertise Yourself.
Yes, advertise yourself.
By advertising we don’t mean to put out ads in paper. But you need to tell the people of the business about what you are.
You might be the best cinematographer in the world, but if the production houses don’t know about you, then you’re just a lost cause.
And in order to avoid getting lost in the world of showbiz, make sure to establish important connections.
Register yourself with talent agencies. Attend the parties where the producers and directors are going to be. Meet people from the industry and make friends that will spread the word about you.
You have to follow some rules to break others. So, keep a lot of contacts, put your name in people’s minds and get that big project you’ve been dying to work on!
For cinematographers, this is all we have for now. But, if you’re fond of filmmaking, do check out other posts, and we’ll see you with other tips soon!