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Old July 31st, 2010, 03:48 AM   #1
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Directory of Photography vs Cinematographer title in credits

I've been working on a feature film for the last month or so. We're using my XH-A1 along with my letus and set of lenses. Our crew consists of a group of high school friends, now college students and graduates, ranging from actors to boom op to director. We all get together nicely and everything is pretty laid back, but we are still productive.
My job:
-Work with the director and help figure out/frame out shots
-Set up and maintain all camera equipment
-Set up and place all lights (wherever I want to put them)
-Run the camera
-Rack focus
-Pick and change lenses
-Block/run camera movements
etc.

The director gave me the option of choosing DP or Cinematographer as my title in the credits but I'm not sure which to choose. Is there a difference? Which best suites my role in this film?
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Old July 31st, 2010, 04:02 AM   #2
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Cinematographer usually denotes the more advanced role, or role with more control. If you are making choices in framing, and lensing, you've moved away from DP, and into Cinematographer. Nothing wrong with either, and I've been both.

I don't know if the description I gave you is a "Union" definition or not, but it was one I heard used by a very famous DP/Cinematographer (Robert Fraisse).
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Old July 31st, 2010, 04:37 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
Cinematographer usually denotes the more advanced role, or role with more control. If you are making choices in framing, and lensing, you've moved away from DP, and into Cinematographer. Nothing wrong with either, and I've been both.
This notion came up a year ago or so here at DVI, and it's completely foreign to me. In every situation I have ever been in in this industry, the two terms are interchangeable, at least here in the US. There are some who prefer not to be called a DP because they feel that only one person on set should have "director" in their title, but that's just a personal preference.

The only distinction I can come up with is simply semantics--you are the Director of Photography on the set, which means that you are a cinematographer (note use of "the" vs "a"; essentially one is a title and the other a job description.

Anyway, bottom line is that for the vast majority of working cameraman, they are one and the same. "Cameraman" is, incidentally, the old-school Hollywood term for a DP, with "Operating Cameraman" and "Assistant Cameraman" below him (now called operators and AC's). Using the traditional lingo, I make the distinction between projects that I've shot (as a DP) vs projects I've operated (obviously, as an operator).
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Old July 31st, 2010, 05:12 PM   #4
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I actually feel really funny about both terms.

In my mind, each of these - DP and Cinematographer - imply one overriding reality...

That the person using those designations long ago mastered all the essential elements of the craft of using a camera and has now MOVED ON to spending their time thinking NOT about HOW things are done - but rather WHY things should or should not be done a particular way.

I know that there are plenty of 20 year olds out there so THINK that the've made that transition. But unless they started consistently making content at the age 10 - I think they're fooling themselves.

Two gigs using a borrowed or rented Lettus on a PD-170 and suddenly they're ready to slap Cinematographer behind their names.

In business, one of the most powerful tenants that leads to success is the old saw "under promise and over deliver"

That starts with the title you attach to your name as you go out and seek work.

If you're over promising and under delivering - the only people you'll ever impress are the ones with even LESS experience than you. And how does that help you move up?

Just my 2 cents.
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Old July 31st, 2010, 05:53 PM   #5
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I hear you, Bill. I had already worked for 2 1/2 years at a production company as the in-house cameraman and editor, had shot 150 corporate/industrial films and over 400 local commercials. When I went out to freelance after that, I was being hired and paid to shoot for other production companies and I STILL felt awkward about advertising myself as a DP, so for the first year or two I listed myself as a lighting cameraman. Now we are in an era where, as you said, the incoming sense of deference and respect for the title has been swept away. In the internet era, hyperbole and self-promotion is king and there's no room for humility, it would seem.

Last year I expressed reservations to [columnist/pundit] Joel Stein about constantly entreating my friends and colleagues to go see a feature I shot during its short theatrical run, he summed it up pretty well:

"You are doing the average 2009 self-promotion. In 1985 you would be a huge a**hole, in 2009 terms you might even seem modest".
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Old July 31st, 2010, 06:22 PM   #6
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Charles,

Thanks so much for your response. A break to laugh is ALWAYS welcome in life.

And as to your obeservations about self-promotion - I couldn't possibly agree more. As more of us work as individuals or in very small shops without support staff - we have to face the reality that if WE don't take control of blowing the "look at what I can do" horn - then the resulting silence can sink the operation and leave the family without food on the table.

The truth is that the more empowering digital production tools are to individual competence, the fewer people we are exposed to and the harder it is to build a reputation.

Yin meets yang.

Such as it ever was.
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