At the start of the semester, I was determined to make the film I had been dreaming of for what seems like years now. I was all set, but once semester actually took off, I realized that I just couldn’t do it. The problems I faced were endless, the realities bode me down and the risk of a result that didn’t meet what was in my head, the perfect picture, was just too great. I spent the entire break making films, editing, directing, producing, you name it. For the first time since I started this course I had a very clear picture of myself and my abilities. I knew what I was good at and what I needed to work on. This is NOT fun.
Though my book knowledge and logic base seemed more sound than one would think, I was not yet confident with the technology itself. I knew I was decent with lighting, I could create in theory beautiful frames but I wasn’t ready to shoot my dream. Having heard everyone’s projects, I decided to take a chance and ask Alex Hipwell if I could be a part of his. He said yes, I could be the cinematographer. This hit me with two emotions – Relief and fear. Relief because I hadn’t realized how much weight being a part of a good team can take off a person and fear because that was a role I had hoped to play in the future, but was I ready now. Was I artistic enough? What the bloody hell was cinematography anyway? Lighting? I don’t know my lenses!!! If I decided the frames and the colours and the look, what exactly is the Director to do?
I went home that night and started in on my research, the most basic research that is and the stuff that came up in people’s blog was very helpful but at times hilarious. To be a part, you have to look the part, act the part, dream the part and then you are the part. After that it’s easy – Just Do It! One blog said the stereotype is grow a beard, wear dirty old loose clothes, wear big round glasses and learn to saunter to be a cinematographer. Well, atleast I had the big round glasses down and I could definitely dress fancily creative, wear my stud puffin’ pajamas on set. So I looked the part, the nose ring substituted the beard and I was ready to rock being a cinematographer.
The next step was to act the part, and I needed to do more research for that. I read up about the lenses, studied what I could do with each and started studying the best cinematographers and their work out there. I also found the perfect excuse to sit and watch movies, tv shows and music videos but it was like watching everything with new eyes. That’s not a window, that a light panel!! I would exclaim in the middle of serious scenes till my housemate decided she couldn’t watch stuff with me. Oh well! Then I put my research into practice. That was easy, cause I love being chatty. Lucky for me all my friends here are either photographers or filmmakers, so no one wanted me to shut up. Scintillating conversations, that’s what I had now as we discussed the latest videos and the cinematography of Downton Abbey.
Before I knew it, I was dreaming about it, and thinking of lighting structures and the bokeh effect all the time. It was exciting and the best part was it was all I had to think about, being a part of another project, which was just such a relief and brought out the better in me. I started becoming more confident as the weeks went by. I remember when Alex first asked me if I would like to be DOP and I told him no I would be bad behind the camera, to the third day of shooting when I offered and co-DOPed with him. So, I am a cinematographer, I am a confident one and all it took was a dream to reality journey. Who would have thought two years back when I started the course, that I would leave with a title as awesome as that and where my dreams would take me. Me – A CINEMATOGRAPHER!!!!!