General Question

JSpeer's avatar

What is the process for hiring and working with a DP for film?

Asked by JSpeer (274 points ) July 28th, 2012

I’m working on a short film and I’d like to hire a Director or Photography to be in charge of lighting and camera work. I’ve never hired a DP or worked with one and I am just unsure of the whole process. I don’t want to be unprepared when I meet with him. What should I have for him when I meet with him? Do I just simply tell him about my movie, and show some examples of the lighting style that I want and then let him do the rest? If anyone could give me a simple “walk-through” of the process It would help me a lot. Thanks!

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2 Answers

6rant6's avatar

I’m going to assume you are the/one producer of this thing. In that respect, here are some things to consider:

Do you have a finished script? If not, it’s hard to take you seriously. And by finished, I mean typo-free in standard format, not first draft. Are you asking for the DP’s input?

The more specific you are with regard to shooting schedule, the more seriously you will be taken. It’s important to be taken seriously because there are a lot of goofs out there and just a handful of competent, trustworthy types. You could engage actors and a location and then get a call from the DP that his mom won’t let him go out until he cleans his room.

Who is going to work with the actors? The DP or a director? If a director, get that person first. If you’re asking the DP to do it… God help you is all I’m saying.

Ideally, you’d have a DP and a grip for lighting. If you expect the DP to do both, that’s okay, but you have to recognize the burden you are imposing. DPs often have crew they like to work with for second camera, lighting, and sound. Ask them directly if they do. If they don’t, it’s your responsibility to fill in the gaps.

Do you expect the DP to supply the lighting?

How are you expecting sound to be handled? Having someone good to do sound is more important that good camera work. Audiences will ignore (or laugh off) bad camera work, but they will not tolerate bad sound – and by bad I mean inaudible, inconstant, or with drop outs.

Someone has to do up a shot list. Are you expecting to do that, have the DP do it, or collaborate?

Other people you should be recruiting – costumer, makeup, still photographer, restaurants (some will donate food during filming for credit), boom operator, location finder, production assistants (aka gophers), assistant director (to make sure you get the shots you need), script supervisor (because, yes, there will be changes.)

JSpeer's avatar

Awesome answer thanks @6rant6. Great things to think about and consider; very helpful! Appreciate it!

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