BUSINESS AND MARKETING: Business and Marketing Forum Business and Marketing Articles

Ethics about Cinematographer Reels and Overseeing Camera Crews

COW Forums : Business & Marketing

<< PREVIOUS   •   FAQ   •   VIEW ALL   •   PRINT   •   NEXT >>
Joseph Hung
Ethics about Cinematographer Reels and Overseeing Camera Crews
on Nov 23, 2013 at 11:03:11 pm
Last Edited By Joseph Hung on Nov 23, 2013 at 11:04:26 pm

I'm posting this here, because this could apply to other roles and aspects of filmmaking.

A question was posed to me the other day, and after a long debate, we couldn't come up with a definitive answer. I'm posing it here to see what others think.

As a DP or Cinematographer (interchangeable these days), it makes perfect sense that your reel would feature footage that you shot, ie. directed, designed, lit, operated, etc. What happens if you are a DP for a project where you oversaw several camera crews? As we all know, this happens all the time for DPs on big projects. Let's use a documentary shoot for conjecture: you have 2 roaming camera units, where one of those is you, the other is hired, and a 3rd camera unit that's focused either on another aspect of the shoot or project, or shooting on a different format such as high speed, etc.

Can you as the DP use the footage from the 2nd and 3rd crews, which you directed, in your own showreel? Or are you only limited to footage you actually operated yourself?

It is understood that as a DP, you are responsible for the look and style and coverage, and usually the decision making in technical aspects such as camera, lenses, workflow. As the DP, you oversee the various crews, even though those crews have their "heads in charge" who also make certain decisions on their own such as framing and even on equipment, workflow, etc. It's all situational, but how entitled is the DP to this footage?

Your thoughts and insight is always appreciated.


Return to posts index

Bill Davis
Re: Ethics about Cinematographer Reels and Overseeing Camera Crews
on Nov 25, 2013 at 7:06:59 am
Last Edited By Bill Davis on Nov 25, 2013 at 7:09:51 am

I see a trap here.

One rule of excellence in supervision is to try your best to hire those who are BETTER than you are at the tasks you're assigning to them.

So if you do that - and hire a DP with a superb eye or outstanding technical skills - then he or she finds out that you're using the stuff that they executed to promote YOUR brand - it's going to lead to resentment.

My solution has always been that when I use work to promote myself in relation to a job where I was a key participant - but did not personally execute, I add a visible on-screen description of what my function was. So "Titles by me" or "Lighting by me" or in your case, "Supervising DP" - which is both accurate and hard for anyone to get ticked off about.

The last thing I'd EVER want to hear anyone say is - "yeah, that's on Bill's reel - but Sally was the one who did the actual work."

That's how I'd handle it, anyway.

YMMV.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


Return to posts index

Joseph Hung
Re: Ethics about Cinematographer Reels and Overseeing Camera Crews
on Nov 25, 2013 at 8:33:31 pm
Last Edited By Joseph Hung on Nov 25, 2013 at 8:38:25 pm

Hi Bill thanks for chiming in. Yes, I feel the same way. Ethically, if I were the "supervising DP" I wouldn't want to do that, unless I specifically needed to, and in that case your solution would make sense. I argued that it's not professionally scrupulous to use, say, your heli aerial crew's footage in your own reel. Even though you directed them on what to get, how to get it, what you want, etc, and you weren't operating and it wasn't you ultimately running the camera and crew. On the other hand, my friend thought it was totally fine to use the footage, since it was your vision in the first place. However, I don't think you would be keeping the DP and crew as friends once they see your reel.
I guess the question comes down to what specificity your reel is aiming at.


Return to posts index


Bill Davis
Re: Ethics about Cinematographer Reels and Overseeing Camera Crews
on Nov 26, 2013 at 5:56:51 am

[Joseph Hung] "since it was your vision in the first place. "

Yep.

And you know what "vision" is worth these days?

The same as "ideas" - everyone's got bunches of them. So they're essentially worthless.

I've come to understand that It's the IMPLEMENTATION of ideas that creates value, not the ideas themselves.

I'm all for supervision and good leadership. But I also know that about 75% of the time, the big "idea" guys tell everyone about their great "vision" stuff - then 5 minutes after the actual shooting crew leaves the meeting, they huddle up and somebody says "OK, that's the lovely "vision" stuff - now lets buckle down and figure out how we're actually gonna get something awesome looking in the can."

Those are the crew dogs you live or die with.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


Return to posts index

Todd Terry
Re: Ethics about Cinematographer Reels and Overseeing Camera Crews
on Nov 26, 2013 at 4:09:42 pm

I agree with everything Bill said...

But as for...

[Joseph Hung] "...you weren't operating..."

Keep and mind that while the terms "DP" and "cinematographer" are interchangeable, the terms "DP" and "camera operator" are not.

It's definitely very common for a DP to be his or her own camera operator, but they certainly don't have to be. Probably on a lower-budget project they will likely be one in the same... but on a higher-end project, maybe yes, maybe no. Just looking at a couple of bigshot DPs... I believe Haskell Wexler always is his own camera op. Roger Deakins, on the other hand, rarely if ever is.

I have a friend from LA who is the best cinematographer that I personally know (and I hate him because he's only like 26 or so). He was telling me a little while back that he did a DP job on a feature where he actually had a camera operator for the first time, and didn't have to run the box himself. He said this was such a luxury, and let him worry 100% about the cinematography, and leave the pure mechanics of running the camera to someone else.

All that's to say, yes, you certainly can list yourself as DP or cinematographer even it you weren't physically operating the camera itself. Two different things.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



Return to posts index

Joseph Hung
Re: Ethics about Cinematographer Reels and Overseeing Camera Crews
on Nov 26, 2013 at 5:03:41 pm

@Todd Terry, yes that is expected, that you would absolutely get the credits for DP even if you weren't operating the camera yourself. Does your friend use that footage where he had a cam op on his reel? I'm sure he did, because that makes sense. In the case of my friend, who had a second unit with it's own second unit DP, I argued that it would not be "fair" or "right" to use that footage in his reel if he cared about his relationship to that crew and DP. If he doesn't care, then that's his own perogative and how he wants to conduct business with other people. Burn that bridge if it means that much to him. He wants to use it, because there's some great stuff there, and he directed the second unit DP of what he wanted, what to get, etc. but you know, he's feeling guilty for considering it :) And of course, he's still gonna get credit as THE DP, and the second unit will get their own credit as "second unit" and "second unit DP."


Return to posts index


Todd Terry
Re: Ethics about Cinematographer Reels and Overseeing Camera Crews
on Nov 27, 2013 at 12:04:07 am

I'm not sure if I'd include shots on my reel from a scene where I wasn't even there, even if I was the DP on the project as a whole. I'm sure in that instance the second-unit camera operator was technically serving as the DP as well for those scenes (unless there was also a second-unit cinematographer).

I'm reminded of an Academy Awards acceptance speech of some years ago... sadly I don't even remember when or what movie, but the Oscar for directing was awarded. As the winner was making his way to the podium clips from the movie were shown. The winner took his Oscar and began his speech, but he was laughing. Finally he stopped and said "Sorry, I'm laughing because those clips were all second-unit." The Academy was showing off his directorial prowess with footage he was nowhere near.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



Return to posts index

Herb Sevush
Re: Ethics about Cinematographer Reels and Overseeing Camera Crews
on Dec 4, 2013 at 9:59:02 pm

[Todd Terry] "The winner took his Oscar and began his speech, but he was laughing. Finally he stopped and said "Sorry, I'm laughing because those clips were all second-unit." "

It was David Watkins when he got the Oscar for Out of Africa.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


Return to posts index

Mark Suszko
Re: Ethics about Cinematographer Reels and Overseeing Camera Crews
on Dec 6, 2013 at 4:41:06 pm

Second-unit Directors are under-appreciated.


Return to posts index

<< PREVIOUS   •   VIEW ALL   •   PRINT   •   NEXT >>
© 2017 CreativeCOW.net All Rights Reserved
[TOP]