Director of photography
A key position alongside the director
On a shooting, the director of photography designs the lighting and organizes the shots.
To become a director of photography you must be able to create much of the visual atmosphere of a film.
The Director of Photography’s missions
What is the role of the Director of Photography, also known as the cinematographer?
As the person in charge of the technical and artistic quality of the images of a film, he or she is involved at all stages of the audiovisual creation: in pre-production, during shooting, and in post-production.
First of all, he works out an aesthetic and artistic style for the image of a film, taking into account the script and the director’s intentions, since he obviously works hand in hand with the latter, with whom he establishes the shooting schedule and the film editing.
During the shooting itself, the director of photography supervises the assistant operators, cameramen, electricians and stagehands. He also participates in the editing of the film: calibration, rendering of images. He ensures the aesthetic coherence of a production.
He is both an artist and a technician!
His know-how, his knowledge
To be an effective director of photography, you must have a good sense of observation, be conscientious, accurate while maintaining a strong artistic sense. Confirmed technical skills are essential (mastery of shooting techniques and image).
A cinematographer must be a good instructor, available and attentive to his co-workers (assistant operators, cameramen, electricians, stagehands) whom he manages with perspicacity.
Moreover, he is technically familiar with the new technologies of image processing.
There are different ways to achieve this coveted profession. However, audiovisual training is an essential first step towards this position. Thus, CinéCréatis offers a three-year curriculum in cinema and audiovisual studies. The “Audiovisual Director-Creator” training program leads to a level 6 RNCP title (equivalent to Bac+3).
Careers, salaries and job openings
Very often, as he begins his career, he will first start as a trainee on a film set, then become a cameraman, a second assistant and a first assistant director, before being able to assume the responsibility for the lighting and the visual environment of a film.
It is a job that requires above all experience and practice. The cinematographer works for a film, television or advertising production company: he or she generally is an occasional worker, which implies a certain degree of precariousness, especially at the beginning of a career.
They are paid according to the means and reputation of the production. The remuneration of a junior director of photography is around 2.500€ gross per week.
With persistence, talent and experience, a cinematographer can evolve towards a career as a director. Before becoming the next Steven Soderbergh, who is not only a director but also an excellent cinematographer (he is behind the camera on each of his films), you will have to work hard and stand out from the crowd.
This is the prerogative of all artists!