“I Bought an Expensive Camera, Now I am a DP” – Can a Camera Get You Work?

Story with an interesting title – “I bought an expensive camera, now I am a DP” is a personal retrospective presentation from Christoph Tilley. He bought a Sony F65 back in 2011 for around €100,000 with the hope that owning the camera will get him into the high-budget commercials business. The outcome was not exactly how he expected, but eventually he made it.

Shooting with the Sony F65. Image credit: Christoph Tilley

During this year’s Photo & Adventure trade show in Vienna, Austria, cinema5D team was in charge of the “Cine & Video stage” program at this show. We invited many interesting guests to talk about various topics. You can see the innitial post here. We decided to publish the most interesting topics again in a separate articles. You can await these to be published in the next weeks. We are starting  with Christoph Tilley’s presentation named “I bought an expensive camera, now I am a DP”.

This content was originally streamed live from the Photo+Adventure – Film+Video Stage –  in November. We are re-publishing and highlighting some of the best content from the stage.

I Bough an Expensive Camera, Now I am a DP

Christoph Tilley is a director of photography based in Vienna, Austria. Lately, he has been successfully working on shoots all around the world. In his presentation at Photo & Adventure he talked about his story and how he invested a lot of money in a cinema camera.

Christoph founded his film production company MXR back in 2003. He was shooting various small projects, but that was not enough. He wanted to shoot large commercials. Therefore, around 2011, he bought a Sony F65 4K cinema camera with all the neccessary accessories, which was roughly a €100,000 investment. He was hoping to get high-budget commercial work based on owning that camera. It turned out his expectations were not exactly accurate.

Sony F65 cinema camera.

Eventually he got his first large commercial job for Samsung, but it was thanks to a “Spec” he made for his friend with the Sony F65. Christoph emphasized the importance of “Specs” multiple times during his presentation. “Spec” is a non-paid visual piece, created only to showcase its creator’s skills. It would be for example a car commercial, which you only do with your own money and use that video in your portfolio to get paid commercial work.

During many years working in the industry, Christoph has learned five things. I think these tips are a nice and useful summary of his presentation:

  1. Owning a camera will give you the opportunity to improve your skills on a daily basis
  2. Working with creatives and art directors taught me the importance of creative decisions about stuff in front of the camera.
  3. There isn’t something like the perfect camera. Every job needs the right tool.
  4. The shot is more important than the gear.
  5. Keep challenging yourself, keep learning.

Christoph’s daughter sitting on the Sony F65. Image credit: Christoph Tilley

To see the work of Christoph and his team, head over to MXR film production website or take a look at their social media – Instagram & Facebook.

What do you think of Christoph’s story? Did you, or anyone you know, try the same approach? Let us know in the comments underneath the article.

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ChaseEdward AndrewsAlex PasquiniJan Hermann von Bayernvisionrouge Recent comment authors
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Jan Hermann von Bayern
Member

There is another thing that is more important than gear or talent to get work: Self-marketing. It’s a talent you have to develop if you don’t naturally have it. I suck at it and it’s a journey. I was a DP on a Emmy nominated sitcom and I kept it quiet because I was raised to be “modest”. Big mistake. I got no follow up job. That is ridiculous. But a very good example who a lot of talented people with great gear end up with no jobs and a lot of debts while great self marketers with no talent and shitty gear getting gig after gig.
This is a reality we all need to face.

Ben J
Member
Ben J

C5D and other sites do a great job, but I feel they must accept some responsibility for this fixation on and worship of camera tech. The business model is to fund sites with equipment advertising, which helps drive this. I’d like to see a much greater balance towards the craft and ideas of filmmaking or video production, but I guess it’s harder to write about and harder to fund.

Chase
Guest
Chase

This is really well said and important. Thank you!

 Dan Hyman
Member
Dan Hyman

Is that Christian Slater from True Romance?

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