One Optical Occupation’s Obviously Obviated
October 28, 2014 at 5:15 pm
This is a commentary on a situation similar to the one that happened to slide rule manufacturers or buggy whip makers of the past, we are now experiencing the demise of yet another career field. The film world is going through the devaluation of the once prized title “Director Of Photography”, also known as a Cinematographer, a DP, or DOP in Canada, this is a direct result of the video revolution. I’ve been working on all sorts of film and video projects for over 30 years and noticed that during the past few years there have been no real DP’s showing up to work on projects, only people that more correctly should be described as video camera owner / operators, people who will show up to work with their own camera, a camera that the producer will not have to pay to have someone pick up and return, or pay for the rental or insurance for. Please read on…..
Yesterday I couldn’t spell DP, today I are one!
Today, any graduating film student, or even a drop out, who has access to a few thousand USD can buy or be gifted with a new or used digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera, and immediately declare him or herself to be a “Cinematographer” and then go about creating a demo reel to demonstrate what they can create.
Exhibit “A” your honor
There is a double edged sword in this that can be described like this:
“The good news is that now anyone can make a film, the bad news is that now anyone can make a film“.
Please note that the description does not say an “Enjoyable“, “Watchable” or “Marketable” film!
You may wonder, what is the engine that is driving this race to the bottom? The plain and simple answer can be found in the flood of film schools popping up nationwide, driven by the economy. These are part of the destruction of the U.S. education process, where similar private “Schools or Universities” in engineering, electronics, music, computers, business, law and other fields will make outrageous / phony claims that they will give students a jump start into a new career field, promises that they never plan on delivering. Their trick is to get students first to enroll, and then quickly lead them by the nose directly to their own sweetheart lenders who will lock those wannabees into a non-refundable student loan, one that the school immediately cashes. Once the school receives its funds, they don’t care if the student ever shows up or soon drops out, they’ve already been paid in full for the complete course. Tuition costs can often can run as high as $40 to $50 thousand dollars, and these loans, like most conventional student loans, can’t be forgiven. This means that the students will find themselves trapped in payments that will go on for decades, decades spent trying to get into a business that usually regards such degrees as worthless unless they happen to be from a school that the producer went to. In the film world I dwell in, USC is the most common of these and inbreeding is rife. My usual advice to friends who will ask what advice I can offer to their children who have started to make noises about going to film school. My response is that the kids should do is (because I live in the Los Angeles area) go to the campus of UCLA, USC, AFI (American Film Institute), or any other schools with a film department and find the bulletin boards that they all have, and then go through those 3×5 cards they will find posted from students that are looking for other students to help each other on film projects. Yes, these projects are most likely unpaid, but the free on set experience and connections that can be made with others they will meet and be able to network with in the future will result in them getting a running start in working in the film industry. This jump in is one that will certainly pay off far more quickly than for those who spent a fortune and a year or two attending one of those diploma mills whose names I can’t mention here due to the litigious world we live in. This is, by the way, a world over run with lawyers who often went to similarly structured law school diploma mills.
N.B., The ownership of any and all photos, opinions, and/ or quotes above (including those of my own) belong to the material’s creator(s). Credit is given when it’s known, but as always, success usually has a million parents and failure is an orphan.
Feel free to ignore any ads that are shown below this advisory, I don’t get to choose them and even more sadly, I don’t make a penny off any of them, so in the holy name of capitalism I rebuke and don’t endorse or support any of them, unless of course they’re made of funny stuff…..
P.S., check back for occasional updates and rewrites….
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Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: a double edged sword in this result of the digital revolution, buggy whip maker, cinematographer, digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera, director of photography, DOP in Canada, driving this race to the bottom, fix it in post, One Optical Occupation's Obviously Obviated, slide rule manufacturer, the bad news is that now anyone can make a film, The good news is that now anyone can make a film, those diploma mills, today I are one!, Yesterday I couldn't spell DP.