First of all, I really enjoyed your work on "Cider House Rules"...
established director in Asia mostly doing TV commercials for the market out
here. I've also directed several award winning short films. I'm currently
in-pre-pro with my first feature film project and wanted to know how to go
about hiring experienced DPs from the US or Europe as I want a distinctly
different "look" than the DPs in Asia -- while there are a number of Asian
DPs I admire such as Gu Changwei, Zhao Fei etc., for this project I prefer
to work with a "Western" DP. How do I go about getting in touch with a DP
from the States or Europe with experience -- not to mention, the pay for a
DP isn't high out here considering the budget contraints -- but I thought
there might be people interested in shooting a film in China, even if it's
for scale. Any chance you think?
Thanks in advance!!
I would say there are many DP's sitting at home dying for the chance
shoot in China! You could contact one of the big agencies (like ICM )
Or put an add on a website such as Cinematography.com. The agency
route will get you more established DP's - the internet will get you.. er..
well.. who knows! I always find the idea of a different nationality having a
different "look" a bit suspect - what it will give you is a different
experience - judging by my recent experience in teaching 22 Asean DP's for a
week. Western DP's tend to be a bit more forthright (arrogant?) than their
As an aspiring producer, a large part of my job revolves around scouting for new talent. It seems the more I learn about cinematography the more I realise how little I know. What sorts of things should I be paying attention to when viewing a cinematographer's work?
I've never quite figured out why a director or a producer will call me and offer me a job when there are so many others out there to choose from. Sometimes I've asked a director why he wanted me to shoot his film (usually at the wrap party!) and you don't get much more than this: "I've seen a lot of your films and like them." It's more or less a "given" that the kinds of cinematographers that shoot feature films are pretty good at what they do, so after that it's just a matter of taste.
As a producer you will largely be leaving the choice to the director, so you don't have to worry too much about it. Your job is to make a few phone calls when the director has chosen someone and find out what they are like to work with. This doesn't take too long in the case of someone who has been around a long time. For a new person it's more a question of trusting your own judgement about the person, both on an artistic and personal level.
When I have been on juries to give prizes for cinematographers, some of the criteria have been:
How well does the cinematography serve the story?
Does the cinematography work "in harmony" with subject or is it "flashy" and there to be admired?
Technically is the cinematography well done: do the shots match?
Lastly, and most important, does the cinematography result in a mood for the story that enhances it without being overbearing?