Film Friday | Directors Of Photography? | What they are and what they do

Film Friday | Directors Of Photography? | What they are and what they do

January 14, 2020 0 By Peter Engel


Hello and welcome back to the Film Nexus and another episode of Film Friday. I am Antony Brown And I am Ralph Lindsay And on today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about Directors of Photography also known as cinematographers. Directors of Photography (DoPs) are key Heads of Department and is one of the major creative roles in a film production. They provide a film with its unique visual identity, or look. Now a director of photography must discover the photographic heart of a screenplay, using a variety of source materials including still photography, paintings, other films or anything else that gives them inspiration. Now DoP’s create their desired look using lighting, framing, camera movement and so on. They also have to collaborate closely with the other camera crew (Camera Operator, 1st and 2nd Assistant Camera, Camera assistant and Grip). During production, DoPs will work closely with the Gaffer (who runs the lighting team), the Costume Designer, Production Designer, and the Hair and Make-up Department. Now after reading the screenplay, DoPs meet with the Director to discuss the visual style of the film. They then conduct research and preparation including technical recces of locations. They then prepare a list of all camera equipment needed, including lights, film stock, camera, cranes and so on, for the production office to then order. During preparation Directors of photography will also test special lenses, filters and film stocks, until they find the best results that fit in with the Director’s vision for the film. On each day of principal photography, the DoP and their camera crew will arrive early on set to prepare the equipment. During rehearsals, the DoP and the Director will block (decide the exact movements of both actors and camera) the shots of the actors as they are walking through their actions, so that they can then discuss any special camera moves or lighting requirements with the Camera Operator, Gaffer and Grip. Each shot is then marked up for focus and framing by the 1st AC, and, while the actors go through final preparations of hair and make-up, the Director of Photography will oversee the lighting of the scene ready for the first take. Now, on smaller shoots, the DoP may also operate the camera. And at the end of each shooting day, the DoP will then prepare a list of equipment needed for the next day such as cameras, cranes and Steadicams. And at the end of each day, the DoP may then review the rushes (which is the raw footage) with the Director, assuming that the DoP wasn’t the Director on the shoot. During post production, the DoPs will attend the digital grading of the film, which may involve up to three weeks of intensive work. Now, most DoPs also work on commercials and promos as well as feature films. And now, although the hours are long, and some foreign travel is required, the work is highly creative and very rewarding. And there we have it, the basics of what a director of photography is and what their job entails, please feel free to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, via the links in the description below. And if you enjoyed todays episode, please hit that like button, subscribe and share. Thank you for watching the Film Nexus and we’ll see you next time.