This year has easily been one of the best years of my life! I'll be 33 years old in a couple of weeks and things are going well according to the master plan hehe :) That is, to start my own family (found the best girl on earth) and to shoot the biggest and best films on earth, or mars, or wherever that may be over the next 50 or so years. The good thing is, I somehow have the same enthusiasm that I did when I was a kid playing Zelda on my Nintendo in 1990, the same passion I had when skateboarding for years until I was 23 and the same desire to be the best I possibly can be in everything I do. The other cool thing is, even though I act like a kid and probably write like one too, I think I'm figuring out how to be an adult....no wait........that's a terrible idea! Adults have responsibilities right? Exactly.
A few months ago I finished shooting the Australian action packed feature film NINJA: IMMOVEABLE HEART which was an incredible challenge, to say the least. A lot of good things came from shooting that film, the best being my amazing crew, (see the CREW page above) but I also learned a lot about my responsibilities as Director of Photography. I love shooting, lighting and composing what I think are amazing shots. That's why I started this shit! But there's a lot more to it than that. Committing to a film means hours of pre-production, meetings about locations, gear, styles, shots, color, moods, budgets, effects, scheduling and crew. But more to the point, it means that I am responsible for a lot more than just "the shot".
When it comes to responsibility, bringing the director's vision to life is one of the small feats required of the DoP, and to make things even harder, imagine that their vision conflicts with your own creative ideas! What if their vision forces you to do things you don't like doing? Or think in ways that go against everything you work for? This may seem like conflict, but honestly, it's one of the best things about being a cinematographer. When you take full responsibility for the job, you are forced to push the boundaries of comfortable shooting and what you think you know is best.
Since the Ninja, I've had the pleasure of working with three very different directors on three very different films (Queen of the Bees, Dead Therapy and Thrombosis). Each film presented it's own set of challenges in terms of shooting styles and complex shots, but the thing that is becoming easier and more enjoyable for me, is allowing myself to explore new territories and really embrace true, creative collaboration.
Whenever I use the word cinematography to describe what I do, I use it as a descriptive word that encompasses many art forms and responsibilities from many different departments. I've talked about collaboration and team work a lot in previous blog posts because for me, cinematography isn't really about 'camera work' or lighting...it's a multitude of things that when in harmony, can produce amazing images. So not only do I embrace collaborative creativity (film-making), but I'm also realizing that collaboration really comes alive when each department is 100% dedicated and responsible for their contribution to the film. It also makes life easier when you don't have to worry about another person's job, because ideally (as my 2nd AC pointed out the other day), every person is doing their job better than anyone else could! That's a perfect crew, right?
Will I ever stop harping on about crews, on-set relationships and what it means to be a cinematographer? Probably not, but I'll try and ease up ;) I actually have some useful posts coming up which include lens reviews (Rokinon Cine series) some lighting experiments, talk about blocking (so important!) and more broken glass filter action...stay tuned and thanks for visiting :)