Will you DP my project? (or camera operate, assist, color, edit…)
Thank you for asking! Sure. Most definitely. Let's see:
If the work is paid, you can contact me here, by phone (214) 886 0288, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Unpaid / Deferred
If the work is unpaid, a passion project, or based on some sort of points/deferred system, let's chat, but here are a few things to consider:
- I do this, all things camera department, and only this, for a living. Being a freelancer is challenging and I have to prioritize paying work. That doesn’t mean I absolutely won’t do other projects but it does mean I have to justify committing the time.
- As a DP / Cinematographer / Camera person there are non-financial benefits to each project (e.g. working with a new director; a cool DP; good showreel material; another credit) that make it easier to consider freebies, so let's talk. That’s not the case for the other crew members — as I have heard said, “grips don’t have showreels”. So, though I can recommend & source crew and it is possible to pull a few strings, please consider that for a professional film crew:
- Their skills are specific to their role and they are hard-earned. You really do need someone with several credits as a focus puller to be your focus puller. The same goes for your loader, gaffer and grip. For simple projects beyond those key staff you could start to look at getting less experienced ‘helpers’ but there will be a cost in terms of how much you can get done on set in a given time (amongst other factors).
- If you have too few professional crew they end up running a free film school for the inexperienced helpers in order to get anything done which isn’t fair to the pros.
- Professional crew have been on many, many sets and have seen many, many projects. They are enthusiastic and dedicated to their role but don’t expect them to be particularly interested in your creative pitch about the project. That’s not what’s going to be the deciding factor for them in doing a freebie (more likely to be who the DP is or what equipment they have a chance to play with).
Here’s a few things that would count in your favor:
- I'm an easy pitch. On most days.
- Attach a script and give me the one short paragraph pitch in the email.
- Have a project that lends itself to visual storytelling. I love pretty pictures! And ones that makes sense for the story.
- Mention it’s a freebie right up front (you would be amazed how often that gets missed out only to be revealed in an awkward phone call).
- Mention up front your ballpark figure for camera and lighting rental or what equipment is available.
- Guarantee there will be decent hot food and drinks for the crew and cast throughout the day. This makes so much difference. Spend decent dollars per head a day on warm breakfast and lunch with decent teas and coffees and you will generate a huge amount of goodwill.
- Be clear about what expenses you will cover.
Thank you for taking the time to read all this.
What equipment do you bring with you?
I don’t own any of my own camera or lighting equipment besides assistant camera gear, some china balls & dimmers, a bunch of tools, stands, a slider, and other miscellaneous film & photography items. I used to, but it turns out it works much better for you and me if we are able to pick the specific package that works best for each project.
In addition, I can get competitive rates on gear from the brilliant camera, lighting and grip rental houses in the town staffed by helpful, knowledgeable folk who spend a ton of time making sure they have the latest kit and that it’s all maintained and supported to the highest level. Beyond these are several other options that can be explored if needed. I will help as much as I can.
In the same way you should try always use professionals for your film crew, you should try use a professional rental company to supply your equipment too. It is usually worth it.
What else do you do?
In days gone by, I started out providing creative services for individuals, small businesses, and corporations, doing graphic & web design and photography. Now, my focus and attention is wholly on film & video production – movies, commercials, and music videos – in the camera department and editing/grading most of my own projects. I'm a camera geek!
That being said for the right project and budget and time permitting, I could don the hat once more.
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