Where to find a cinematographer for an indie feature film?
March 12, 2013 11:04 PM   Subscribe

We're shooting a low-budget feature and are having trouble finding a cinematographer/DP. Where else can we look (details inside)?

The film will have a budget in the low six figures, if that. We'll probably shoot on a high-quality video camera like the Red Epic or similar. We need to find someone who can DP it for $250-300/day, at the most. We'll be shooting in Los Angeles, in late 2013, with a "regular
' feature film schedule (25-30 shoot days, 5-6 days/week over a month).

I know the right person is out there because we've come close to finding him already, but we need to broaden our search. We've had 100s of submissions via Craigslist, and some of them are good, but the few that have been good enough, we haven't been able to make it work, timing- or money-wise.

Places we've looked:
Craigslist, mostly (gigs and paid jobs section)
our personal networks
alumni list of our producer's film school
randomly trolling reels on Vimeo

Things we've considered but haven't tried yet:

mandy.com (does anyone still use this site?)
Production Notices/Staff Me Up

Things we've ruled out:
Students (I doubt they'd be able to take an entire month off school to do the shoot)

Things we don't want to hear:
"You'll never find anyone for that price, you need to lower your standards." No. I'm 100% certain the right person is out there.

Any other ideas of where to search would be very welcome. Our goal is to find someone who is an artistic fit- not really interested in the types that lead with what equipment they own, or brag that they shot 20 movies last year. Thanks for your help!
posted by drjimmy11 to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 


OP, I wonder if your job listings are taking a rather aggressive or off-putting tone that is scaring off the right applicant. DPing is a craft, and a lot of people would read a statement that you care more about artistry than how many pictures you've put in a can, as a sign that this would be a PITA gig and might have a director or money who don't know what they're doing. You might also reconfigure your offer as a fixed fee ($6000 for a month of full time) than a day rate -- that could make a big difference in terms of guys with some down time being willing to check you out and not feeling they are going to be wondering every day if that will be the last $250 they see because the production ran out cash or had its star run away for a full paying gig, etc. Bottom line -- you should be thinking of this as getting a professional DP to choose you for a bit of semi-charity.
posted by MattD at 3:55 AM on March 13, 2013


OP, I wonder if your job listings are taking a rather aggressive or off-putting tone that is scaring off the right applicant
No.

DPing is a craft, and a lot of people would read a statement that you care more about artistry than how many pictures you've put in a can

This statement is not in the ad.

have a director or money who don't know what they're doing.
Nope.

Bottom line -- you should be thinking of this as getting a professional DP to choose you for a bit of semi-charity.
Not in the least. It is a professional film seeking a professional DP, and the question is about where to advertise. Please take your baggage elsewhere.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:01 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just as an explanation for anyone who's interested, often on CL you receive responses from people who claim to have done 10 or 15 films in the last year or something like that. Obviously that's more like porn-style "point the camera and press 'record'" than DP-ing.

With all the prep and scheduling that goes into a serious feature film, I can't imagine anyone doing more than two or three in a year. It is a craft and an art, which is precisely why bragging about volume is a red flag.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:08 AM on March 13, 2013


I'd give www.mandy.com a try. My buddy shot a Red project last year and hired many key positions from there.
posted by shino-boy at 10:10 AM on March 13, 2013


I'd give www.mandy.com a try

Cool, will do. As I said above I wasn't sure if anyone was still using Mandy after all these years, but we will give it a shot.

Confidential to people sending referrals to my mail: thanks, and keep them coming! Do keep in mind it may be problematic to work with someone who doesn't live in L.A. - besides a month-long shoot, we'll probably need to meet with them in person in both pre- and post- production.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:18 AM on March 13, 2013


How about a boutique-y below-the-line agency like Skouras or the like? Or would their clients be too pricey?
posted by lewedswiver at 10:09 PM on March 13, 2013


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