Thursday, November 25, 2010

Job of the movie camera man

By Jamie Day

Having a creative edge and knowing how to set up lights so that they create a specific mood is only a small part of a cameraman's work. A lot of cameramen are proud of their work, especially if they've joined the union. With a good editor, the end result of your work can look even better before and shock your audience.

To see your audience has been affected the way you wanted them is a treat as a cameraman. When the audience feels how you want them to after watching your movie, a sense of accomplishment arises within. The blood, sweat and tears that are poured into creating a movie are well worth it when the movie is said and done.

A cameraman claims the job of visualizing all the elements of the picture-and hardly anyone can do that with light-which is one of the hardest parts of my job as a cameraman. It takes patience and a good eye to assemble all elements creatively and think of creative lighting set-ups. Mimicking the feeling of "being there," with the camera also takes a good eye and agility. One must be fit in order to hold a camera without shaking for long takes, so build your muscle and your stamina!

The cameraman takes longer than everyone else in the crew because they have to prep the camera. Even though there are camera assistants, cameras consist of many small, delicate pieces and must be handled with extreme care. Working on set as a cameraman means you go to work early and stay late because of the camera and how long it takes to prep.

Depending on what type of camera you're shooting with, some camera preps take up to a week to test out all the parts and make sure they work properly. A cameraman must be in good shape and be able to lift heavy equipment, as industry-standard tripods and high-end cameras tend to be on the heavier side and you have to be able to move it all around quickly and proficiently.

Getting your "foot in the door" as a cameraman (or any crew member for that matter) is incredibly hard and requires a lot of time, persistence and ambition. Being able to operate and put together numerous cameras is an important skill to acquire in your camera career as well so you can be quick and efficient getting ready to shoot every day of the production. Lagging is bad in production work because there is never any time to waste. The quicker and more efficient you are at putting cameras together and operating them, the more jobs you'll attain.

Freelance camerawork, like I do, is the most difficult, as I believe, because it is never a promise. You think you'll be working a gig two weeks from now, and then in one week, the person or production company hiring you will call you to let you know the project had been cancelled.

The majority of getting your foot in the door has to do with networking, meeting and keeping in contact with other camera people from previous shoots or random contacts you just happen to meet. Even if you're still a student, there are a lot of people who have contacts and networking is a big deal and a big part of getting work in the film industry.

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