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Creative Input?

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#1 Jamie Hammond

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Posted 29 July 2004 - 04:58 PM

Just wondering as a newbie really. How much creative input do you guys get? I've been lucky enough, that when bought in to operate the directors and DOP's have allowed me to stick my 2 penneth in when it came to shot design. Is this the norm or do some DP's and directors like to just bark orders and set you off. I kinder feel that as the operator i can tell them what i can or can't do, but it does feel good when the director is open to suggestion. Anyway just wondering how the land lies.

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#2 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 29 July 2004 - 05:16 PM


This varies from little to no input to designing the whole move (and in an extreme case, lighting it - discreetly of course). It all depends on the personalities and experience of those involved. If you have a first time Director and a green DP, you may find yourself in the extreme case listed above. I find that most situations are somewhere in between. As the specialist (we are still that, despite modern trends), it is our place to offer our experience. I can't believe I'm quoting Ronald Reagan, but... "you can go far if you don't care who gets the credit."

Use your judgment. These calls, along with your ability to interact with others on set, are equally as important as your horizon, etc.
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#3 Howard J Smith

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Posted 30 July 2004 - 02:57 AM

Hi Jamie

I totaly agaree with Alec - the hard thing sometimes is to work out if you can have an input.
Some Dps welcome it and some are insulted.
I have done films where I was just a "PTI" (pan - tilt- Invoice) and others where I got little or no direction at all and total freedom (These were far more fun...)

The end of the day, you just need to way the set up and see if it is that type of show.
But if you do have a really good idea, it is worth saying quitely up the corner to the Dp. I have had directors and Dps say" Ok, if it works it is my idea and if it doesn't it is yours..."

But once you show them you are not a threat and on their side and trying to help, then they also give you more freedom.

Have fun, and if it doubt - be subtle.
All the best

Howard J Smith
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#4 ChadPersons


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Posted 30 July 2004 - 04:19 AM


I competely agree with Howard and Alec. Having good set etiquette and knowing when to speak and when not to is critical to our job. The mechanics of operating truly is only half of what makes a good operator. I've found that when in doubt just stay quite and do as your told as well as you can. You can't go wrong that way. If you think you have a good idea for a shot make sure that you have a good feel for the chain of command so you don't step on anyones toes. For example, say you have "a great idea for a shot". Ask yourself some questions first. Will my idea have an effect on the lighting in anyway that will make it more difficult or limiting for the DP? If you're not sure then ask the DP humbly and privately. Second ask yourself if the shot helps the Director tell his/her story? In my more eager days I often came up with elaborate shots only to be told that they were great shots but didn't fit the film. Think about whether or not the actors will be receptive to an idea from the operator? Many actors don't like too many chefs in the kitchen. And finally, choose your battles. Save your ideas that your not 100% crazy about and suggest the ones that you really do feel would be great. Too many ideas can be threatening to the DP or Director. You'll find that if your ideas are consistantly good you will develop a trust with your DP and Director and in turn they will ask for your ideas more often. That is the best feeling. When you have earned your place on the creative side of film making.

All the Best,

Chad Persons
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#5 Jamie Hammond

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Posted 04 August 2004 - 04:21 AM

Thanks guys for all your Creative Input all noted and logged.
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