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Old May 18th, 2004, 08:03 PM   #1
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New to filmaking

I'm a student a USC and have decided to go into film. To start off, I need to get a video camera that I'd be able to use for a few years, therefore I am willing to invest in it. From reading on a few boards, the Canon XL1s and the Sony VX2100 have been some top choices. I am fairly new to it, so can anyone give me some feedback as to what I should do?
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Old May 18th, 2004, 08:29 PM   #2
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Are you going into film or video? I assume you are not in film school there. If you are, your first assignments will be with video cameras so I assume, due to limited equipment availability, this is why you are looking for a dv camera?
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Old May 18th, 2004, 08:38 PM   #3
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Sorry for not being specific. I did not apply as a film student so I will have to apply to the school. By video camera, I mean a minidv with to start short films to gain experience, to also start my portfolio which I think I need to apply to the school to get into "production". I would also use the camera to make money on the side, dont know how yet, but take use of this big investment.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 08:43 PM   #4
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You could, of course, go with a lower-end consumer cam and save yourself a load of money for other things such as school costs.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 09:18 PM   #5
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1- Also check out "Film School Condential", it might be a bit useful although dated now. http://www.lather.com/fsc/

2- If you want to make money with video there are some big startup costs. Not only do you need gear, but you also need to build experience and a client base. Depending on your financial situation and passion for industrial videos/etc. this may or may not work out for you.

3- If you do go to film school, you can always beg borrow or maybe steal equipment. It might help to get in and see if you actually need your own camera. Or you can try talking to film students there.

4- For your portfolio, you may not need to shoot film/video. Plus, most student films suck.

Well anyways you'd need to figure out what the admissions people are looking for. Film School Confidential should have some information on that. You could also just straight up ask what they're looking for. Students and faculty would be people to ask.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 10:53 PM   #6
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I know that with USC, if you even use the smallest of their equipment, they basically own the film. No film festivals, nothing.
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Old May 20th, 2004, 01:23 PM   #7
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So if you use school equipment, they own the film? That is really crappy, since as a student you are paying a huge tuition bill, thus in effect renting the gear. I can see why you want your own camera. I think the VX2100 is probably the best value for the money. However, your odds of actually making money with nothing more than a camera are very slim. I would hold off and buy nothing till you get some experience. Learn the basics with the school's equipment. Then if somebody wants to pay you to do something, or you have an idea that you are certain is so good you will get distribution, THEN buy stuff. Also, anything you buy today will probably be outpaced by something new in a couple of years as the manufacturers come to feel that the DV market is saturated, so they should promote yet another format so we'll all go blindly out and get into debt for the latest new prosumer HD format that comes along.
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Old May 22nd, 2004, 12:33 AM   #8
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Should I begin to write a movie before I make a purchase in order to film something that is worth shooting? Or should I try to get a camera now, in order to practice shots, controls, etc. and develop ideas/scripts along the way?

Also, what would be the best camera according to my situation? Can a good movie be made without using the expensive props "Hollywood" uses?

BTW, I came across this on the Cannes website and thought it was totally immature comment:

Benoît Poelvoorde on jury duty: "I'm not happy. I'm very disappointed to not have been appointed president of the jury. I spoke with Thierry [Frémeau, Festival artistic director], but no such luck. I have had a film selected by Gilles Jacob in the past and I didn't win a single prize. And I intend to get my revenge and therefore I intend to see that a mediocre film wins."
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Old May 22nd, 2004, 07:41 AM   #9
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If you are interested in being a cinematographer then you need a camera to practice with. If you are only interested in directing or producing (making a movie) then the camera can wait.

The reason the equipment can wait is because you can't shoot without a script. What if it takes you a year to write your script and three new cameras come out before you even pick up your own? This is why it could be better to just rent a camera for your shoot when you are ready.

However, a photographer/cinematographer can't learn his job without a camera. So owning one makes more sense if you can't use one and learn "on the job".

Props don't make a movie. It's all about the story. An expensive prop may increase the value of a movie but may not prevent a good one from being made. The best prop is the imagination of the mind.
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 09:17 AM   #10
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What Bob says.
If you are a director, you will always find a camera operator with their own camera. If you want to study the art of the camera, you need one, the sooner the better.

I also agree with what Frank says, if you are short on cash (like most students), I'd look at a cheaper camera than an XL1s or VX2100 (or DVX100). If I was you I'd look for something much cheaper, and spend the rest of the money on a light kit.

Schools will be more interested in the quality of your product than the quality of the camera you shoot on.
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 04:52 PM   #11
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I dont have any friends who are interested in cinema at school, and even if I did, I'd feel like I want to operate the camera, especially if it was mine. I am the type of person who gets connected to what they do, and I would like to do most of the work with the least amount of work from other people. For some reason, I expected directors to be operating the main camera, to get the shots the way they want them, but I guess they have pros they trust do it for them?
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 06:12 PM   #12
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Except for Robert Rodriguez. He shoots a lot of his own stuff. And Lars Von Trier. He shot most all of "Dogville."
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 09:12 PM   #13
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Like any job a cinematographer gets interviewed for the job so the director can judge compatability between them. Many directors won't even look through the viewfinder. Some will occasionally look. A few operate it themself.

Cinematographers are professionals who are very, very good at what they do. They collaborate closely with the director so they both are totally aware of what the shot should be so there is a certain trust level between them.

Of course, many times there is a DP but he doesn't operate the camera either. That's the job of a camera operator.
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