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    Finding Directors to shoot for.
    #1
    Senior Member Ben Scott's Avatar
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    Hi all,

    Been shooting for ages and worked in production for over 2 decades. I never went to film school and never had a ready-made network of peers except for the ones I have amassed over the years who are all kinda Jack of all Trades guys and girls and not outright doc or feature directors.

    Similarly I've always had to follow the jobs that were going to keep a roof over my head, much of which is stuff I wouldn't show anyone.

    Would really love to find some Directors to shoot for but every attempt at a shout out I have done on whatever platform is met with dispiriting silence. Even wanting to do stuff pro bono for charities or NGOs.

    I've previously shot a doc that won a BAFTA (not for cinematography but I'll take it!), and a recent feature doc on a supercar build is currently up on Apple TV but I'd love to get back to telling people's stories. For context there's some reels in my signature. I'm nice. I'm professional. I know how to do my job. I'm banging my head in frustration.

    Any advice from people a few steps up the ladder from me who have forged those connections and found a way to have a career in docs greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by Ben Scott; 04-10-2021 at 08:38 AM.
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    Based on your reels, which are great, I don't consider myself "a few steps up the ladder" from you. But I'll share some thoughts and observations.

    We live in a time when DPs are a dime a dozen, all with easy access to raw and low-compression ISO 800 cameras and face-tracking autofocus and gimbals and 1200w HMI-equivalent lights. It's been a while since I've seen a reel that wasn't any good. Combined with a global culture that expects immediate results/gratification/responses (I just responded to a potential client's email an hour after I got it, and was told that they hired the guy who wrote back within two minutes) we're basically a disposable commodity. If one DP falls through on a project, a producer can get bids from a dozen other hungry DPs within an hour. At least in this market. I'm on a couple of film boards for my local film community and it's rare that I see a post looking for a DP. Sometimes a film will have a DP attached before they even have a director.

    I think what you (and I, and others) are looking for are those collaborators that still value building a relationship and a creative flow and familiarity over instant responses to their emails. Directors that see the DP role as more of a partner to build a body of work with than a box to check for a certain project.

    I currently have one such director in my life. We don't work on projects that make us much (or any) money. Mostly narrative and spec commercials. Maybe they will if we can ever get them in front of the right people. But irregardless, our projects are better than anything I'm making with anyone else right now. I think he's the most talented writer in Portland, and I consider myself fortunate to be his go-to DP. We met at a shaky filmmaking collaborative that quickly imploded a few years ago. He was only writing at the time, but he was so good at communicating his ideas that I nudged him to try his hand at directing. He did, and he's very good. Sometimes we disagree on how to approach something, but we both have a lot of respect for each others' knowledge and experience and can admit when the other is right. That's what keeps me coming back. If I could have two or three more of these types of working relationships, I'd be set.

    I see so many people shooting beautiful, evocative footage -- in camera tests. And that's all they ever do. There is no storytelling, because they haven't found their director/collaborator either. It's not a sure thing that they ever will. The way that the industry is moving, I think that a lot of DPs are selling themselves short if they don't consider taking on some directing projects and building that skill set too. I like the idea of partnering with a local DP/videographer who is at around the same place in their career, and then taking turns directing and shooting passion projects, just to get a feel for it and to build some creative momentum. That could potentially be another way to foster good relationships.

    So those are my ideas. I'm looking forward to reading others' responses. So much of it is just luck and finding someone who wants to tell the same kind of stories that you do.


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    Oh if we knew the answer!

    Its easy to be dispirited about it. Id get a bit of feed back on the reels. First seems to be cars and headshots (that dont fit into a 235 slice) - maybe do a cars reels and an interview reel. That will be more palletable to producers who dont think it is possilbe that you could do a car shot and an interview.

    As for the directors well what do you have a passion for? Its not obvious. (in fact one critique is a lack of 'moments')

    BTW the work is all good (apart from the narrative?? doesnt look like the next DOP for the next Sherlock. And that is the only drama DOP job there is. At all. The narrative is not bad.. it is just not top dollar.. it is not Line of Duty.. thats who im hiring)

    I guess one meets directors throgh passion.. or because your dads went to the same public school (US people. in the UK public means paid for and exclusive ie private)

    And DPs have names. They are not 'Small Rebellion' - that is a production company wth its own directors.


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    Senior Member Ben Scott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuickHitRecord View Post
    Based on your reels, which are great, I don't consider myself "a few steps up the ladder" from you. But I'll share some thoughts and observations.

    We live in a time when DPs are a dime a dozen, all with easy access to raw and low-compression ISO 800 cameras and face-tracking autofocus and gimbals and 1200w HMI-equivalent lights. It's been a while since I've seen a reel that wasn't any good. Combined with a global culture that expects immediate results/gratification/responses (I just responded to a potential client's email an hour after I got it, and was told that they hired the guy who wrote back within two minutes) we're basically a disposable commodity. If one DP falls through on a project, a producer can get bids from a dozen other hungry DPs within an hour. At least in this market. I'm on a couple of film boards for my local film community and it's rare that I see a post looking for a DP. Sometimes a film will have a DP attached before they even have a director.

    I think what you (and I, and others) are looking for are those collaborators that still value building a relationship and a creative flow and familiarity over instant responses to their emails. Directors that see the DP role as more of a partner to build a body of work with than a box to check for a certain project.

    I currently have one such director in my life. We don't work on projects that make us much (or any) money. Mostly narrative and spec commercials. Maybe they will if we can ever get them in front of the right people. But irregardless, our projects are better than anything I'm making with anyone else right now. I think he's the most talented writer in Portland, and I consider myself fortunate to be his go-to DP. We met at a shaky filmmaking collaborative that quickly imploded a few years ago. He was only writing at the time, but he was so good at communicating his ideas that I nudged him to try his hand at directing. He did, and he's very good. Sometimes we disagree on how to approach something, but we both have a lot of respect for each others' knowledge and experience and can admit when the other is right. That's what keeps me coming back. If I could have two or three more of these types of working relationships, I'd be set.

    I see so many people shooting beautiful, evocative footage -- in camera tests. And that's all they ever do. There is no storytelling, because they haven't found their director/collaborator either. It's not a sure thing that they ever will. The way that the industry is moving, I think that a lot of DPs are selling themselves short if they don't consider taking on some directing projects and building that skill set too. I like the idea of partnering with a local DP/videographer who is at around the same place in their career, and then taking turns directing and shooting passion projects, just to get a feel for it and to build some creative momentum. That could potentially be another way to foster good relationships.

    So those are my ideas. I'm looking forward to reading others' responses. So much of it is just luck and finding someone who wants to tell the same kind of stories that you do.

    Thanks for replying and yes that's exactly what I am trying to find. Someone to do good projects with. That sort of makes it all worthwhile. I just don't have those networks at the moment.
    Last edited by Ben Scott; 04-10-2021 at 01:49 PM.
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    Senior Member Ben Scott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by morgan_moore View Post

    As for the directors well what do you have a passion for? Its not obvious. (in fact one critique is a lack of 'moments')
    To be honest it's the 'moments' I'm looking for someone to collaborate with on. What I have a passion for isn't something for a showreel to necessarily relay in my opinion.


    Quote Originally Posted by morgan_moore View Post

    BTW the work is all good (apart from the narrative?? doesnt look like the next DOP for the next Sherlock. And that is the only drama DOP job there is. At all. The narrative is not bad.. it is just not top dollar.. it is not Line of Duty.. thats who im hiring)

    I guess one meets directors throgh passion.. or because your dads went to the same public school (US people. in the UK public means paid for and exclusive ie private)

    And DPs have names. They are not 'Small Rebellion' - that is a production company wth its own directors.
    Thanks for your thoughts.

    I'm not trying to DP Sherlock. I'm trying to find people to tell stories with.

    I actually worked on something for Line of Duty once but that's another story.

    I don't disagree about the narrative reel and the fact is I am a far better DOP than that narrative/promo reel stuff shows, but that's the stuff I have for a reel because that's the stuff that was shot on various projects for various reasons nobody else cares about. And despite relationships with them, I'm not too fussed about shooting for those Directors again on their passion projects because the first compromise they each made when things got tough was with the image.

    I don't think you meet Directors through passion. I think you meet them through Film School or similar and word of mouth. As a Director I used to have the Directors UK events and stuff. Need to pester them to see if they do stuff for other departments to meet up.



    Quote Originally Posted by morgan_moore View Post

    And DPs have names. They are not 'Small Rebellion' - that is a production company wth its own directors.
    I have a name. It's the name on the videos and in the videos and every correspondence I put out there and my social media accounts. Small Rebellion Films is the other stuff I do - amongst which is Directing, editing, Producing etc, and how I've paid my mortgage. That said I have now changed the Vimeo Page to my name too.

    I think after many years of being a hyphenated-do-everything-filmmaker I just want to do the thing I love to do and tell stories.
    Last edited by Ben Scott; 04-10-2021 at 02:02 PM.
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    To be honest it's the 'moments' I'm looking for someone to collaborate with on. That isn't something for a showreel to try to relay in my opinion.



    This is hard. I mean as commercial operators we film stuff - so we light, get sharp, compose, arrive on time, dont format our cards over the days work. and then the direction team throws something in the frame like a model who may be funny outrageous, or cool or just dull.

    Richie Manic cut 'for real' in his arm and the snapper got 'known' for that pic.. but it was just a pic, one of hundreds of band interview pics every year.

    People (who might hire us) should see through those dull or amazing things in the frame and hire us for the lighting and being on time and all that stuff.. is that is what the reel is saying. Im competent (you are!)

    There are other reels often 'shooting PD' where it is all about someone breaking into tears or doing something emotional.

    Here they are showing a talent for, well, mainly recruiting nut jobs to be on camera and then being rolling when they break.

    Its not meant to sound horrid but .. ive forgotton the content of your reels, there was some heads, some cars and some beer (not as good as a stella ad) and bad drama (no films Ive seen) and some building sites All lit and exposed really well and composed nicely. BTW I expect you have forgotten the content of my reels

    BUt people hire on the content, develop relationships on the content. THats where I/we fall over.. I almost think it is honest to film anything to the best of our ability.

    But the fashion filmers probably say 'Gloves for Dickies? that not really my thing' Wheras Ill film your shi_it if it is gloves for a workwear brand or £1000 high heels. Im a gun for hire and proud not to be snobby about it.

    Recruit some nut jobs to be on camera? And light/expose them well.
    Last edited by morgan_moore; 04-10-2021 at 02:11 PM.


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    Senior Member Ben Scott's Avatar
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    My reel is my reel and that's the work I have to show for better or worse. It is what it is.

    This isn't a thread about simply how to get hired more and it's not a thread about whether my reel is forgettable or not and it's not a thread about shooting whatever someone pays me to shoot.


    This is a thread trying to ask people who have navigated this successfully about ways of reaching out to build connections with new people and for hearing from people that have been through it and done it on the documentary scene.
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    Sorry I know it sounds harsh.. (im saying it is a different thing - its tecching) Im equally or more harsh about my own work. (well other peoples work we have tecched on) Your tecching is great.

    I think these connections come with passion or something so..

    Maybe you are excited by antiques or by 80s hip hop or know a sword eater or when the willow warbler might return from migration. Film it.

    I did study journalism and it might be as simple as about what you would tell your mates in the pub.. you never guess what but last week I was filming and..

    -met a man with a tatooed scrotum
    -saw a gang stab victim die in an ambulance
    -met a woman with 5000 star wars figures
    -filmed a four up sex act
    -had my camera on a 1000HP car while it rolled over
    -went to britains first council estate
    -met three people who were on the windrush ship.

    (in doesnt all have to be tabloid)

    "Wow.. can we have a look"

    No mention of bokeh to the gang in the pub.
    Last edited by morgan_moore; 04-10-2021 at 03:49 PM.


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    Senior Member Liam Hall's Avatar
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    I wasnít going to post on here anymore, but as itís you Ben...

    While building strong relationships with directors is important, for sustained employment, build relationships with producers. A, they are more likely to give you a gig than an overly sensitive director and B, directors come and go and are often only loyal to themselves. Plus, these days, everyone thinks they are a director. It must be the most overrated and misunderstood job in the industry.
    "There is nothing permanent except change."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liam Hall View Post
    I wasn’t going to post on here anymore, but as it’s you Ben...
    How come? Don't leave bro!


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