A cinematographer or director of photography, also known as DP or DoP, is the head of the camera and lighting crew working on a film or TV set. As a cinematographer you will be responsible for the development, look and feel of the images which will make up the final film.To do this job you need to have a passion for film and photography. You also need to be a good communicator. If you are creative, have leadership skills and want to work in the film or television industry, then this career could be for you.
- visit a location (known as a recce) before filming to check its suitability, access to facilities and lighting and sound potential
- order filming and lighting equipment
- test equipment such as lenses and filters to check their effect
- manage all aspects of the filming, sometimes operating the camera
- supervise the camera crew to decide on any special camera moves
- work closely with the lighting team to decide on lighting techniques
- review film footage with the director.
- a passion for film and photography
- knowledge and experience of camera equipment and lighting techniques
- creative ability with a camera colour
- colour-normal vision
- excellent communication skills
- the ability to work with a wide range of people
- the ability to lead and motivate others
- an eye for detail, and a steady hand
- the ability to work well in a team and also independently
- good IT skills.
Average salary (2013):
United Kingdom: £65,000 for a production.
Qualifications and training required:
You need to understand how cameras work and have a good working knowledge of all the camera equipment such as optics, filters and film stock. You will also need to understand exposure, composition, lighting, development, special effects, colour composition, scene blocking, and sound. You can develop your interest by:
- watching films
- studying lighting
- following the work of current cinematographers
- studying photography to learn about film exposure and film composition.
To get work, one of the most important things you need is experience. Employers want to know that you have:
- camera operating experience and the ability to test equipment such as lenses and filters
- experience of working with a camera crew
- experience in lighting and the ability to plan for the camera and lighting equipment that might be needed
- an understanding of photography so that you're able to capture images with light.
It can also help to have a degree in a related subject. The following subjects will all give you a good background:
- film studies.