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Friday, June 14, 2013

••◊ Build a Net

It's been two weeks since I've approached the blogger composition page, but things have actually been busy.  I'm working with Tommy Friedman and the engineers at Mediatech on a production highlight video for Neshima.  Filming ends tomorrow, so I'll be knee deep in editing next week.  Meanwhile, you'll be reading my latest slightly self loathing thought dissertation this week.

In the last two days at least four people have asking me when I'm going to take up cinematography full time.  It's like I'm beginning to feel peer pressure.  Don't they know that I'm putting enough pressure on myself to succeed?  ...so much so, that I've developed physical health problems.  Is my life really destined for a depressing malaise of mediocrity?  I hope not.  Much to my mom's night terrors, I do want to be that guy hanging out of a helicopter photographing cool stuff.  I do want to capture car chases at 160mph, and make people cry in the process.  As stated before on my blog, I have a plan and I'm executing it.

My mom keeps telling me the phrase "jump and a net will appear."  What she doesn't understand is that in this industry you have to build a quality net first, quite literally - that is, a network.  This part of the success path doesn't come easy for me as it's something I've struggled with my entire life.  Admittedly I've neglected it far too much.  So my self-development efforts of late have been to try to build my network as much as I can, but it seems like I've exhausted the doorsteps of the San Diego network.  Our local 600 camera operator union is probably something like 10 people.  The two networking groups in town are the San Diego Filmmakers (mainly "developing" filmmakers) and the MCA-I (mainly corporate video folks).  Just like everyone else, I haven't found any secret formulas.  It's a bit like being Juan Ponce de León chasing the mythical fountain of youth.

Still, if this was really enough to discourage me then I wouldn't be fit for the industry.  There are a hundred fresh faces getting off the bus from central Iowa in L.A. every week.  They believe in the "dream" of flashy sets, beautiful actresses, and everything will be peachy in the end with a sunset.  A small fraction of these folks are better photographers than me, but they'll only succeed through their network.  It takes a team to make a film.  When you go into battle you want people surrounding you who know what they are doing and care about the success of the mission.  The flashy sets are really done in on an old dark warehouse sound stage, the actresses look beautiful on camera after they've gone through hair and makeup, and the sunset is a matte painting lit behind a window.  That's the reality, but somewhere in there is the ability to be a part of a compelling storyteller team - that's the real dream to me.

My chosen occupation is a cinematographer.  That means that I don't direct films.  I don't write scripts.  I don't edit.  I don't do visual effects.  I photograph.  Sometimes I direct the photography and camera/grip crew, but essentially it's my job to not screw up the picture.  The downside to this is that projects are generally initiated by producers, not by me - which means to have a job I need to find producers.  It's cool to go off an do little 1- or 2-man band self interest documentaries on weekends, but that's a hobby. 

So the answer here is, as always, I need to work on improving myself *and* building my net to jump into.

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