Q & A #1…

            In the interest of speaking directly to those who want to know, I’m inviting questions from the followers of this blog.  All aspects of cinematography and filmmaking are fair game.  Remember that in matters of taste and technique there are as many opinions and approaches as there are cinematographers; what you’ll find under this heading is a data point of one.

            Submit your inquiries through the Comments window at the bottom of any entry!

            Leading off is Paula P. of Tampa, Florida.  She asks…

            What is your first priority when you get to set in the morning?

            I was trained that if I’m not there at least half an hour before official call time, I‘m late.  I’m not a coffee drinker nor am I a big breakfast kind of guy, so in most cases I like to take a few minutes to meet with the director, first assistant director and key members of the crew as they straggle in.  We’ll do a quick review of what we’re facing on the call sheet and sort out any issues or changes in plan that may have arisen since the previous wrap.  The gaffer, key grip and first camera assistant are then free to disseminate that information to their subordinates.  Though it’s an informal and collegial process, it gives everyone a bit of an edge for when the bell actually rings.

            I also make sure to take a minute to myself before diving into the challenges of the day.  I love what I do and am always thankful for the opportunity to do it.  Try it sometime and you’ll enjoy an energizing, centering effect!


5 thoughts on “Q & A #1…”

  1. Yes! An old and wise AD once told me “if you’re on time, you’re late”. Also, if you could talk to any DP who now sits in his set chair in Heaven, who would it be?

  2. That’s a good question, Russ! I suppose I’d most like to speak to Billy Bitzer, D.W. Griffith’s cinematographer. I’d love to hear what it was like at the dawn of the medium…during the real Wild West days. Gregg Toland might be a tight second. In addition to grilling him on the making of Citizen Kane, I’d like to hear about his exploits in the Navy during WW2. He served with John Ford’s Field Photo Unit and is credited as the director of the documentary, ‘December 7’, which I understand was quite the deal in the making. He had a short life but it was filled with amazing experiences.

  3. The factors that make a great key grip are the same for all crewmembers; most of them are intangible. Assuming the individual is proficient with their tools, techniques and procedures, I’d place emphasis on the following (in no particular order):

    – sober and mature
    – a clear thinker
    – honest and straightforward
    – passionate about what they do, which is reflected in a positive, can-do attitude
    – a pleasant personality
    – punctual
    – good powers of anticipation
    – inventive; ready to propose new ideas or ways of doing something
    – always seeks the simplest solution to a problem
    – when necessary, is not afraid to challenge or disagree with the boss (civilly, of course)
    – fast
    – a good leader and manager of their subordinates
    – doesn’t complain when the going gets tough
    – always keeps the broader scheme in mind
    – safety conscious
    – a generous collaborator with the other departments

    I’m sure I’m missing a few items, but perhaps the most important of all? A sense of humor!

  4. How has the pandemic for the last few years effected
    your work? I would imagine you have faced cancellations or
    delays on projects? Has it changed or influenced your approach
    to film making?

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