Jake Quinn of Silver City, New Mexico asks:
How did you become a cinematographer and what do you like most about it?
I wasn’t one of those kids who always knew what they wanted to do when they grew up. I went through all the usual phases and obsessions, but the vast portion of my interest concerned sports. An elective film course in college put me on the path and I found that the deeper I got into it, the more I liked it. My passion for cinematography developed quickly from there.
After graduation I worked as a PA while attending film school in my free time. I also shot quite a few student films and what-have-you, but my real education began when I gained entry to IATSE Local 644 (since merged into Local 600) as an assistant cameraman. I was fortunate to work with some of the world’s best cinematographers and from there it was just a matter of being tenacious and putting one foot in front of the other.
Understand that the film industry was very different at that time. There was no such thing as a twenty five-year old cinematographer. Most of us never got our first significant chance until our mid-thirties…and I was no exception. But I was super prepared for the opportunity and made the very best of it. I had no connections in the industry and had started from scratch, so I had no grand plan. There was always a goal however, and that was to become a full-fledged Director of Photography. So, I set my intention on that – and got after it!
To this day I really enjoy every aspect of what I do. Perhaps the best part is having new experiences and meeting new people, mixing it up with the directors and crews, etc. Internally, I derive enormous satisfaction from creating a moment in time, capturing it and sharing it with other people.
I’m fielding any and all questions on cinematography and filmmaking from readers of this blog, so fire away with whatever you’d like to hear about. Post your query in the comments box and I’ll reply as soon as I can get to it!