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January 16, 2011 / nicotvandenberg

Digital Filmmaking: An All You Can Eat Buffet

Throughout my experience as a cinematographer and DP (Director of Photography), there is one statement that really strikes a chord with me. “Let’s shoot it to have it.” These are the shots that have never existed, until that moment on set. Angles, most commonly thought of by the producer and or director.

Capturing the alternative angle’s is a blessing and curse. The blessing, is the spark of creativity, opening an eye to an angle that may have captured the moment perfectly. A scene now fully comes together with that additional shot. The curse, you have over shot and wasted time on an unscheduled setup. Taking away from the visual storytelling originally created by the DP. Turning a production into what I like to call, an all you can eat digital buffet. It is there, so why shouldn’t I shoot it.

Filmmaking has always been a creative democracy. With more and more sets turning to the digital medium, I see a change in the winds. How many zeros and ones are left on your reels? Well that fact is, in our current generation of digital filmmaking, we aren’t limited to the number of reels we can shoot. We can have and “endless” supply of storage. Download the memory card, continue to shoot. So the term, “Let’s shoot it to have it,” from my perspective is a statement that belittles the DP’s role.

Pre-Production, Pre-Production, and Pre-Production. When signing on as a DP, it is my job to know and learn the script, establishing a creative arc to the visual storytelling process. Working alongside the director to come up with a shot list, that will effectively tell the story. All of this work, done before the first shot is coded onto your memory device. All of this work done, so that we have thought and covered the shots that we may  have prior said, “Lets shoot it to have it.”

This article is not meant to point fingers or name names. But really to inspire and give thought to your next production so that you can get to most out of your crew, actors, and most importantly, story.

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