My partner and I have been shooting DV for quite awhile but are lacking in true lighting skills. We can set up and shoot an interview beautifully, but that's pretty basic lighting. We'd like some suggestions as to where we can either take a class, learn from a pro, or just plain get hands on with more advanced techniques. We're interested in more film look techniques but every suggestion is welcome!! Any ideas, thoughts or pointing us to a place to pick up a class or two? Thanks in advance!!! Lighting is such an incredible art .... I personally can't wait to delve deeper!!! :)
My best advice would be to find someone who lights REALLY WELL (on a movie set, television show, commercial production house, or whatever)... and pester him or her until they are willing to let you just hang around and watch for a few days or so (maybe offer to assist or work as a gopher for free).
Before I was a wanna-be movie director, I was a wanna-be actor. Even though I thought I knew a fair bit about it, I learned more about real lighting my first day as an actor on a real set than I have in all the other classes, books, and tutorials put together. Watch everything they do, and for each thing they do, ask yourself "Why?" (It's probably best not to ask the DP or gaffer that question TOO often, or you'll get booted from the set).
I worked for a while as an actor on a network primetime show where the DP was this horrid horrid French guy who CLAIMED not to speak any English (although he could). He was an evil, nasty man, treated his men like crap, was abusive to everyone from talent to crew (basically everyone but the director). He was basically just a horrible person... but the things this guy could do with just one instrument and 5 feet of gaffer tape was amazing. I tried to learn as much as I could just by watching him work.... but stayed out of his way!
Todd is right. There's no substitute for on-the-job training, while at the same time studying one's basics. Don't skimp on the basics.
Also, get a copy of the Mathews Studio Equipment product catalog or go on line to http://www.msegrip.com/ and learn their product line backwards and forwards. Calling a Mafer clamp a "thingamajiggy" is not the way to impress your mentor.
Also, learn the Mole-Richardson lighting catalog so that you know what fixtures are used and what they are called: http://www.mole.com/
As for mentoring, you can contact your local film commission to find out who is shooting where in your area. They might be accepting volunteers or (better yet) apprentices.
You can contact your local union representative (I.A.T.S.E.) to see if they are accepting any apprentices. Ask the film commission how to contact the union. Each location usually has its own chapter. As an example, here is a link to Local 728, in Hollywood. http://www.iatse728.org/
Good luck. Lighing is 1/2 of the film and takes a life time study, as I'm sure you know. The third "1/2" is sound, but that's another chapter in another book.