THE SHORT STORY
A love of film is a given when beginning to look at a career in the industry. It was a given when I was named after Indiana Jones as well but that's a whole other story. The desire to work in the industry hit me watching Malick's Tree of Life.
I entered the camera department because I couldn't do it. When I entered it, I didn't know where to begin. I had no knowledge of how to work a camera or the principles behind it. However, I knew I wanted to learn how to create the images we see on screen and fall in love with. However, it was important not just to have a vision but be able to execute it. Using the technical, practical, and creative application of camera, lighting and collaboration to realize a vision.
My passion and enthusiasm for the camera department has led me to travel over the past three years trying to learn all I can about the camera department and its industry. I have been working with a variety of film companies (shoutout to my Vantage family) being trained in optics, camera and their respective accessories. Learning lighting and becoming a voyeur on some fantastic mentor's sets (sending love to David Miller and Alexander Gruszynski) and finally, freelance assisting, operating and DPing on short films and a few documentary projects overseas.
As I continue to travel in 2017, I am constantly on the look out for new collaborations and striking visuals to reiterate what about the love of film is a given.
A MUCH LONGER STORY
In order to even enter into the camera department I first had to learn the theory. Like most things, once I set my sights on something, I delve into it. It was accessible to learn on a DSLR, at the time, so I purchased a 7D and spent my first few months beginning with the principles of photography. I read, listened and learned about exposure, lens compression, posing your subject, natural/artifical light, finding narrative in your work, and controlling natural light through bounce, modifiers and negative fill. I fell in love with all things camera. Online classes from CreativeLive, a variety of lighting books, American Cinematographer, practical application through freelancing, and the photographs of Bruce Gilden continued to inspire me through those few months.
I moved to post-processing learning how to do basic grades, controlling curves, and took a course in digital retouching. When I felt confident in basic technical knowledge, I reiterated it to my own photography business, teaching photography, shooting corporate and actor headshots, and shooting my own photography through travel- paying attention to creative exposure and composition. When I had the chance to go to Buenos Aires for a few months, I took a 35mm film processing course, diving into the format we should have started shooting with in school to begin with.
However, the game changer for me happened late one night. I had been watching Lana Del Rey's Tropico album film and couldn't figure out how they achieved such apparent lens flares and that widescreen look. So, after a few google searches, I came across the word "anamorphic" which I couldn't comprehend without practical application. A few months later, I went to Camerimage in Poland. The first day I saw the word "ANAMORPHIC" on one of the booths. Peter, one of the heads of Vantage Film, passed me what I call the bible in everything anamorphic, a catalogue of all of their in-house products and what they do including specifications. For the next week in Poland, Vantage became a family to me and it is why I have been a part of that family for a few months out of the year for the past 3 years interning with them. Learning again about all things lenses, filters, accessories and truly understanding that word anamorphic.
The scariest part isn't the job- it's getting it in the first place. Wanting to work in the industry, without any network, feels at first like an intangible dream. How do we get up from our seat in the front row of the screen and not be able to see behind it? Through that first relationship with Vantage, I have built many others. Very quickly, I learned it's about the wonderful people that fuel this industry that will pass on their knowledge and ask nothing in exchange but appreciation for the skill and the craft.
Thus far, I have a few core principles I try and follow. Finding motivation to achieve something relentlessly in any aspect of your life is vital to success. Whatever you want to know, learn. Whomever you want to aspire to be, learn what makes them unique. Now keep that foundation and build your own story around it- have a vision unique to you.
For me, the first moment that motivation kicked in was through anamorphics. From there, every move I continue to make in my personal life and career is dedicated to evolving that vision. Through the people, work, travel and a love of film.