Hiring directors of photography in television, film, commercial and industrial productions is a headache, and I challenge you to find a producer that doesn’t agree with me. There’s a reason this industry tends to be tough to break into; nobody likes hiring, and everyone tends to stick within their networks because the risk is lower. These five questions will help you find the right DP for the job. Picture: Graham Sheldon Hiring is a high stakes game in entertainment. Everyone wants a job and not everyone has worked over a decade to climb to the position they are in. People like jumping rungs, even when they’re unequipped to be there and are afraid to be up so high. Every producer dreads being asked the question, “Where did you find this loser?” Gauging a director of photography’s actual talent and ability to mesh with the team is tricky because of how diversified the type of content being produced is nowadays. A DP with a background in doc/reality may not be the right fit for your feature film. But what if the film is a handheld-heavy project with a short shooting schedule in a vérité style? How do you know if they’ll work well in a small team, travel-heavy shoot? Because this is a hire-who-you-know business, many ops and DPs end up shooting projects in a similar style again and again. This is mostly true in docu-series and reality television. Look at the Netflix series Chef’s Table and tell me those DPs can’t run a narrative. The proof is in the pudding: go to the reel, look at the lighting, observe the composition. Are you affected by the execution of the photography in the same way you want the audience of your current project to be affected? Then you’ve found a candidate. Thankfully, we have online tools to identify talented DP’s such as Production Beast and StaffMeUp, and even unions now have some staffing resources. But, what happens when you want to weed out the less desirable candidate? Welcome to the interview process. 5 Questions to Ask a Potential DP when Hiring for Your Next Project: How do you like receiving feedback? Receiving notes or feedback on your work in any industry is hard, but especially so as a DP. For set cohesion to really work, all departments need to be able to take feedback or criticism professionally. One of the number one personality traits that will bring you back to recurring gigs again and again is the ability to take a note, make the change and make it quickly without attitude. Tell me about your biggest challenge on location that didn’t have to do with lighting. Don’t let them get away with answering this with a lighting challenge because everyone has had a lighting challenge. This question is about true problem-solving and the answer is usually illuminating for the interviewer. The best answer here will usually give you a glimpse into their leadership or mediation style. What projects would you like to be shooting more of? I usually ask this one to see how close my particular project is with their five-year or even life goals. People tend to continue learning and building themselves towards a particular goal, and remain a little more stagnant in their knowledge of other areas. If you’re looking for a DP with lots of action experience, but his answer is something like, “I’d like to shoot more macro photography of insects”, then this may be a good indicator that this DP is not as passionate and therefore not as particular in an area where you need them to be. Why do you want to be involved with this project, and what have you heard so far? The best DP’s are planners, and a good planner will do at least basic research and know some of what they are walking into. Heavy improvisation in the field is a morale killer for the G&E department, and will mean a lot of large lights being setup and broken down without ever being turned on. Make sure you are adding a planner to your team. What do you want to learn from shooting this project? I love this one because it reminds the interviewee that it’s okay not to know everything and to be willing to step outside his or her comfort zone. With every project I’ve ever shot, I’ve tried to push a particular skill or try something that isn’t firmly in my wheelhouse. If a DP has something special they’ve been wanting to try, and you can help make that happen, it might also tame other instances where a Director wants something simple and a DP wants something gorgeous. Picture: Graham Sheldon Obviously, the easiest way to find the right candidate is to compare their hopefully honest resume with your particular show. Trying to staff up “Deadliest Catch” for Discovery, you’re probably headed in the right direction with a DP with lots of ocean-borne shooting experience, but rarely do we get candidates with resumes that match 1:1 with our projects. Lots of money is at stake and at least a career or two, so set yourself up for success in the hiring process. What do you think? What great interview questions do you find effective? Tell me below!Read more
In only 3 years since the full relaunch of cinema5D as a real-world camera review, filmmaking advice and news site, we have managed to become one of the most successful camera gear websites in the world. Our main focus on original, self-generated content – generated by the entire team which consists only of professional shooters who are working in the industry day in and day out. Unbiased and with different styles, the audience sees different takes and perspectives on new gear and shooting techniques. People appreciate personal opinions from professionals, even if they are different – which makes our content even more relevant. Learn more about the team on our “About” page. What matters to become a cinema5D writer: proficiency in filmmaking – you know your stuff in one or more areas of filmmaking (producing, editing, directing, cinematography, post-production …) you follow industry news closely you have fluent writing skills in English (native speakers preferred) you can write well and you are actually enjoying it you consider yourself a filmmaker – maybe you are a creative young person starting out, or a professional in the industry who has worked for many years already, aiming to get more involved in the blogger scene – becoming a writer for cinema5D sounds like the right thing to do for you you have time to write 10+ articles per month you know our site and follow it regularly you actively come up with your own ideas you have the time to write regularly – people with full-time jobs should check if they can find the time to write regularly What to expect: payment is based on the amount of articles written and on success and reach (not a full time employment, it’s supplemental income but has the potential to become a considerable sum!) introduction to our wide network of industry connections, particularly if we meet in person during trade shows and get in touch with manufacturers and fellow filmmakers and bloggers you’re getting your name out there to thousands of eyeballs, and we can link to your personal site from your name in the news posts To apply: tell us who you are, what you do, what you enjoy writing about most – and why you think this is something for you write one representative news post about a current subject of your own choosing that you would consider a “perfect fit” for our site (and which we haven’t written about yet). It can be either a classic news post of something current (example here), a review (like here) or a longer educational post (like here). Choosing the right subject and headline is almost as important as the proper content to go with it :-) email hiring[at]cinema5D.com to apply If you are only interested in writing guest posts or irregular posts, please also get in touch, but please make that clear – irregular posts are however unpaid, but you will have your name and link to your website on them. We hope you see the opportunities and chances of growth this presents if you feel like we’re looking FOR YOU. Get in touch via hiring[at]cinema5D.com. And don’t hesitate to ask any questions too!Read more
You are a filmmaker and have the drive to write about the art you love? You follow news in the filmmaking and filmmaking tech world closely? You might even have a blog writing about your own work and what’s happening in the filmmaking world, and you always suspect what’s around the corner? If you can answer the questions above with “YES“, you might be the person we’re looking for. cinema5D is one of the leading websites for original camera and gear reviews as well as filmmaking technology news.Read more
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