Trying to Become a Director Of Photography? Read How I Did It!

From the age of only 9, I had wanted to Become a director Of photography. Most of people my age were eager to become firemen, footballers and ‘rich men’ but I knew that I wanted to Become a director Of photography. How? I had worked on the sets of several films as a Child Actor. It gave me the insight into the industry that brought upon the passion I now have for it.

But how did I do it? How did I Become a director Of photography? It’s fairly easy and fairly straight forward to explain. Read the steps I followed in order to Become a director Of photography and you SHOULD be able to replicate them:

1. You need to understand how the step ladder of the camera department work. It is the jobs you ALL will take on when you want to Become a director Of photography:

- Video Playback Operator – Their job is to record the footage onto tapes/disc/hard drives. The quality is not brilliant but it allows the Director and more importantly, continuity to check that everything was in order in the previous takes.

- Camera Trainee – Their job is often to assistant the Clapper Loader and the Focus Puller. They will collect filters, lenses and batteries for the camera. They will also make sure that there are always batteries on charge, whether this be on the Camera Truck or on set. Imagine if the camera batteries all went flat? Not good!

- Clapper Loader – Their job is to control the clapper (the board with the scene and take information on). They will also load and unload the film from the magazines so that it is either ready to be shot on or ready to be sent to the lab.

- Focus Puller – Their job is to ensure the shot is focussed properly. There is not a lot more they do. They assistant the director Of photography. The Focus Puller does have one of the most important jobs in the camera department. If they do their job wrong, the shot can be completely ruined.

- Camera Operator – This job is become rather extinct on film as the director Of photography is not operating the camera more often, but if they don’t, the camera operator will… Operate the camera.

FINALLY! – Director of Photography – Their job is to basically run the shot and make sure the shot is perfect at the end of the day.

2. Once you have a sound understand of how the camera department works, you are one step closer to living your dream to Become a director Of photography. The next step you need to technical knowledge, you need to know the difference between 16mm and 35mm film. You need to know what the Arri Alexa and Red Cameras are. You need to know what Zeiss lenses are. You need to know what Depth of Field means. And what Aperture and Exposure means. You need to know what Focal Length means. You need to know what a Polarizing Filter does. Well I could go on… But there’s no point. If you are completely new to the industry, you probably don’t know any of this so the best way is hands on experience. But how do you get hands on experience?

Try (and pester) the camera rental houses to get some experience, whether it be for a few hours, a week or a month. The BIGGEST camera rental houses internationally are Arri and Panavision.

3. Something I did that a lot of people who wanted to Become a director Of photography didn’t do is get yourself an Online Presence. No that does not mean adding hundreds of people in the Film Industry on Facebook, this is just annoying. Instead you need to get a professional profile online where you can show your contact experience, your education, a little bio, a small resumé and show reels etc.

Honestly, it is something that will help you stand out among the HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of other people who want to Become a director Of photography.