Oh and you might want to read (or skip) all the way to the bottom to find a special announcement about the winners of the first ever contest from The Black and Blue.
This Week’s Comments
Here are this week’s comments in no particular order:
1. Dominic on How to Measure Distance for Focus Marks
An anecdote: a friend of mine was pulling focus in the woods on a handheld camera walking backwards. They were walking pretty quick, so that he had to concentrate very hard on focus and wasn’t looking where he was walking. Suddenly, he slammed into a tree and disappeared into the ground, but the take continued.
The B operator who was just standing by at that time jumped in and continued focusing, and the shot was finished without interruption. So remember boys: if you slam into a tree while walking backwards, better have distance marks on both discs so that anyone can step in for you. :D
2. Britt on How to Measure Distance for Focus Marks
Another good tip for focusing on faces is to measure to the bridge of the nose, not the back of the eye sockets. This could save you from having focus just slightly too far back when on a very shallow lens.
Also, as a first AC, I pull my own tape. I’ve seen some people hand the tape to their second and sit with one end at camera while the second pulls to the actors, but I don’t trust that. It also gives you a better spatial awareness of the distance between the actor and camera if you walk it yourself with the tape connected to camera.
3. Diego Chalita on The Black and Blue Facebook Page
On the Facebook page for The Black and Blue, I asked people to fill in the blank for this prompt: I love making movies because _________.
This was Diego’s response:
There is always a story to share, an emotion to produce, an audience that wants nothing more but to be entretained, to escape; for be it ten minutes to four hours of film reel, they want to feel. The audience wants to feel love, fear, laugh, scream, cry, hate, identify.
Movies give me chance to give that to an audience, it gives me a chance to connect with them, to share my passions, ideals, my emotions, I love making movies because I love people.
4. Teddysmith on Are You Struggling to Find Film Work?
I have worked on set as a cinematographer, camera operator, and still photographer. Those are three completely different jobs with the same basic skill set. If you can do one, you can probably do the others.
I would recommend finding other similar jobs in your field and let everyone who will listen know you can do those jobs. They might just give you a chance to prove it on 2nd Unit or when a crew member unexpectedly drops out.
Just don’t dig yourself too deep. I wouldnt claim to be an AC because, in my opinion, that’s a different set of skills from an operator or DP. I don’t even know how to properly mark a slate or work with scripty.
A friend of mine is transitioning to DP after almost 20 years of assisting and operating, and he’s having a very hard time because people know him as a (very good) assistant, and he’s not really saying “no” to assisting jobs, so in a way he’s hanging onto his old position while trying to jump.
I think that’s a mistake: “jumping” forward is a risk, but it’s even riskier when you try to hang on something behind you while trying to move forward. Same thing with moving “horizontally”, so to speak: you can do it, but make sure people know what your main job is whenever you fill a slightly different pair of shoes.
Winners of the American Cinematographer Contest
Last week, I sent out the weekly email newsletter from The Black and Blue announcing a contest to win a free subscription to American Cinematographer magazine.
Immediately after seeing the strong reaction from those who participated, I added a couple more prizes to the pot. Those were a copy of The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron and the choice of a free iPhone app.
As I said before, I wish I could give you all a free subscription for being awesome! The response to the contest was overwhelming and many of you sent kind notes along with your submission emails.
Thank you for taking the time to participate and I’m very excited to give these gifts away.
But wait… I didn’t get a chance to enter
The notification for this contest only went out to my email subscribers as a thank you to those who signed up. When I say that I offer exclusive content to email subscribers, I’m not making it up!
To get access to that content and to make sure you don’t miss out on any future contests, sign up for the newsletter (it’s free!)
And the winners are…
So now it’s my favorite time — to give away the prizes!
- Nic Justice wins the free subscription to American Cinematographer
- Louis Chan will receive a copy of The Futurist
- Phil Jackson has his choice of one of five iPhone apps to receive for free
Congratulations to you all! I have sent out an email officially notifying you that you won with instructions for the next steps forward to claim your prize.
Thank you again for being a part of the contest and email newsletter!