Cinematography Tips: 10 Tips to Become a Successful DP

Cinematography Tips: 10 Tips to Become a Successful DP


What’s going on guys we are back! It’s
been a long time since I’ve made a video. We’re here again and we’re gonna be
talking about cinematography. I’ve done quite a lot since my last video in terms
of growing my career, so I just want to share some of what I’ve learned. I have
10 steps here and we’re just gonna get into this right away. Number one would be
education. I think it is so so so important that we are just always
learning when it comes to film. I think learning is just the most important
thing you could do. Education whether that be watching YouTube videos,
listening to podcasts, reading books, watching like behind the scenes of
movies; I really like watching cinematography break down videos. You
basically get film school for free, you just have to go on YouTube and do some
searching. That’s really all you have to pay for. For the first three years I did
filmmaking everything I learned was just from these YouTube videos. Just go ahead
and look at the channels I have linked down below. Some of the ones that helped
me out the most would definitely be like Film Riot, Indy Mogul, The Buff Nerds, The
Wandering DP, Felicia Smith. All these people are just really great at teaching
cinematography, and just sharing the knowledge that’s kind of more like
industry secrets. It’s not so, so much out there and it’s helped me immensely. So
that would be number one. So for number two here we have lighting. Understanding
lighting is single-handedly the most important thing that you can do to
improve the quality of your work. There’s so much to talk about with lighting that
I could really make hour long videos just explaining how all of it works and I
don’t even know all that much there is about it, so really it’s just a crazy in-depth topic that you could really talk about forever. I only started paying
attention to lighting seriously in the last year, and in the time I’ve been
doing that the quality of my work has gone up drastically. Just taking the time
to learn how it works, making sure that you stress that you get
the lights that you need. It’s just 100% like the most important thing
prove the quality of your work as a cinematographer. So the third thing I’d
say that’s really important is that you should always bring on crew to your
shoots whether that’s a producer, a 1st AC, gaffer, PAs.
They all make a huge difference because you are able to focus on what you want
to do as the director and DP. For you know, these like independent projects and
it just helps everything flow much smoother. You can be able to learn from them
because, you know, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses especially on
set. I’ll be on shoots and I’ll hire roles I’m not that good at because I
know, you know, they will really be able to explain it to me. They’ll, you know,
give me the options like you know this is what you can do and it just helps you
out. Like just collaboration is really good. Next up we have freelance versus
independent contracting consider if you want to be a freelancer long term or if
you want to be an independent contractor getting hired by agencies and production
companies freelance method is really great if you want complete control of
your shoots I think most people start out doing this where you’re just one-man
band whatever unfortunately there are some
drawbacks to this the first drawback is that you’ll be getting smaller budgets
most likely and this is because the clients that you’re working with are
hiring independent people the companies who can pay big budgets usually go to
the production companies because they feel that they’ll get a better more
professional production so I would keep that in mind
the second drawback is that it puts a ceiling on the type of work you can
create and your income potential because you’re just working with these smaller
individuals or companies that aren’t willing to cash out the big bucks and go
with the production company route so I’ll just keep that in mind of course
you have a lot of control and you can make it however you want to but that’s
just something out keep in mind a solution to this that would actually be
to make your own production company this can take a few different forms I don’t
honestly know too much about this topic but there are loads of videos on YouTube
explaining you know how to make your own production company how to build a client
base get work all that is kind of similar to being a freelancer except you
know when you’re leading your production company so it’s a bit more official and
you know you can just build it up to get the clients you want I don’t have any
plans of doing this currently but I’m always keeping my mind open to
potentially doing this in the future because I can’t see how it can actually
make you even more money than being an independent contractor you just it’s
kind of a touchy thing you can go into that quite a bit we’ll save that for
some other time the next thing that I would say is super important is that you
want to be willing to work on other people’s sets now this applies whether
you want to be a freelance or long-term or if you want to become an independent
contractor you’ll be able to better communicate with the people that you’ll
be in charge of because you know how those rules work and you’ll be able to
execute the position if for some reason they’re not able to fulfill that you’re
also going to connect with the people working those sets if you work hard and
overachieve the higher-ups will see what you’re doing and that will give you
potential future opportunities to work with them again now if you do work hard
and overachieve on this the people that you’re working with will be really
likely to ask you what role you want to do in the future and of course in our
case you want to be a DP I wouldn’t recommend saying that I would say camera
department you know maybe they’ll bring you back as a camera PA for a second AC
this has happened to me before now the reason for this is that everyone
wants to be a DP depending on where you are already this may be different if you
already do have a really extensive DP reel then of course you probably could
get brought on as a DP but otherwise just a camera department and
you know you can start working your way up now the next thing that I would
really recommend is to set short-term and long-term goals whether this is you
know where you want to go in your career or the type of gear you want to get list
all the gear you want to get and just order it out and it’s important start
saving up your money don’t go out and buy coffees all the time save up that
cash get the freakin red epic 8k get that baby I’m just kidding
save up and you know take out what you want to do accordingly just think about
the kind of projects you want to do and you know list that out accordingly for
how you want to build out your rig personally for me my next goal is to get
some better glass while I get a better tripod down the road I want to get a
better follow focus system may be something Wireless tarot deck
you know wireless video transmitter so those are kind of my goals for gear and
then eventually down the road of course I want to upgrade my camera maybe a red
or an Alexa mini LF is the dream right now hopefully we can make that happen
we’re wondering right now we’re using the Blackmagic pocket 4k I got it about
I don’t know a few months before they announced the pocket 6k I really like
super 35 sensors the micro four-thirds still works great if you’re wondering
but that’s just a personal preference you get more shallow depth of field and
I just like it better but it is double the price so never mind that’s a bit
off-topic anyways if you’re trying to shoot some documentary stuff then I
would get you know a versatile Cinema Camera some zoom lenses just something
that can easily be operated by with one person if you’re trying to shoot mostly
like commercials music videos then I would go for a rig that is a little bit
more favorable to those circumstances when you’re on a set and you’re working
with the crew you can build out your rig a bit more have more technical pieces of
gear and just be able to like focus on it a little bit more specially because
you have that crew that infrastructure to help that happen so the second thing
that I would set short-term and long-term goals for is just your career
where you want to take for me short-term I’m trying to do music
videos and commercial stuff long-term my dream is to shoot narratives so what I’m
doing now is just really working on the music videos and I’m trying to get into
commercials so just kind of think how you want to execute that now you can’t
always pick the kind of work that you get as a freelancer or a contractor
because you just need to make money and you can’t always just oh I’m only gonna
shoot this because usually that will not work out too well for you unless you’re
already getting a ton of that type of work but one thing you can do is to just
promote the type of work that you want people to know you for now kind of
feeding into promoting the kind of work that you want to do is my next tip which
is to have an online presence developing your website your Instagram a real all
of these things are super important to build out your online presence so people
can see what you’re doing and get interested and you know it’s just great
like that for my website I use Squarespace this is not sponsored I wish
it was right so the fastest way to get noticed is to build up that online
presence so a great way to do this is to put out on Instagram stories either you
know being funny entertaining or putting out something that explains what you’re
doing this wasn’t really like on set explaining you know like lighting setups
or your camera rig something like that it’s a great way to bring it value to
people and that’s a good reason for them to watch you into follow you whatever
build up your presence even more you should also just engage with people on
your Instagram I’m talking about Instagram specifically because that’s
what’s most common now on you know you should like posts share you know on your
story comment whatever because that just you know lets people see you’re also
engaging with them so they’ll be more likely to engage with you now this is
pretty subjective but I only like to follow the kind of people that I want to
be like it’s so easy to be influenced by a million different things now with the
internet so for me I just follow cinematographers I follow cinematography
pages all these pages specifically about filmmaking because that’s what I want to
learn about so the next thing that I would recommend is that you should
always rent out gear when you’re doing shoots don’t just use your own there
a few reasons for this the biggest one is that you’re just able to improve the
quality of the work you’re making and that is obviously immeasurable I would
also recommend that in certain cases it might be smart to even cut your own rate
and invest that back into gear when you do this you can boost your career long
term because you’re improving the quality of your work right off the bat
that will attract bigger clients or production companies who are able to pay
even more money so it’s really just kind of a hack to speed things up and get
better work just cut your own rate obviously you need to make money so this
is also quite subjective but just if you think it will be worth it no they’ll
think you know like you’re pulling in bigger budgets so they’ll say oh well
he’s doing similar budgets what we’re doing when in reality you’re getting a
smaller budget but it just looks like you’re shooting something bigger so for
example the last music video I shot had quite a small budget but just the with
how I did things I was able to make it look like I’m much higher and what it
really was and that helped me out immensely and it also helped out the
artist immensely I said earlier lighting is the most important part of making
something look good so understand what lighting equipment does what and then
rent that out accordingly for your shoots now a good camera is obviously
important but be sure to get just what works best for your production like I
said earlier I have a Blackmagic pocket Cinema Camera 4k it’s a big name so I
usually just use this because it does just as well as most red cameras now
obviously this can be very subjective so in a lot of cases it may be better to go
with the red camera just because it is already built out more but for the
smaller budgets this usually works great now what I would recommend is a rule of
thumb to follow here is to just make sure you have the budget for good
lighting and for a good crew and then once that’s out of the way then
definitely invest in your camera setup now I would say this is all right up
there with the most important things you could do and that would just to be take
notes it’s pretty simple just after every shoot write down everything
because it’s just really the best way to remember something and for me I write
down notes after every shoot I do if I’m working under someone I’ll ask them hey
how did I do how can I improve in the future and it just shows great
initiative on your part and you also are just learning so I would definitely
recommend doing that now the last thing for this video is just hard work now
this applies to anything if you want to be successful not just cinematography
you need to work hard don’t halfway do something if you’re gonna do it do it
all the way go 110% with your effort you know you’re not the only person out here
with the same goals so you really need to go above and beyond to stand out the
only thing that separates a novice from a pro is that the pro worked hard and
worked their butt off to make it happen it’s really just as simple as that the
simplest way to be successful is to work hard obviously this isn’t gonna work
unless you have the desire to succeed so I guess if that’s a bonus tip I guess
have the desire to succeed if you don’t then find another career I mean there’s
totally nothing wrong with that cinematography is very difficult and you
really just have to love it for it to work for you
that’s my personal opinion so that’s all I have for this video thank you guys so
much for watching it took almost an hour to record this thing so that is gonna be
so much fun editing so if you found this helpful if you learned something
be sure to drop a like on this video it will really help out this videos
engagement with the algorithm it will help more people to see this and it will
push this video to a wider audience so if you found this insightful be sure to
drop a like and just thank you guys for watching all the way to the end again
like I said and just have a fantastic rest of your day I’ll see you guys later
peace out you

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