The cinematographer is literally the set ‘magician.’ DPs are responsible for the technological wizardry to help create the needed light, while at the same time also having the keen sensibility to shape the light for the greatest artistic effect.
The DP works side-by-side with the director from the beginning of the film’s conception to help DIRECT the PHOTOGRAPHY. The DP is the director’s partner, confidant and, at times, only friend on the set. The DPs help to come up with shots, run the crew and look for ways to make every image better than expected. It’s a never-ending quest that only gets more interesting with experience.
As an apprentice (extern) cinematographer, the Film Connection will pair you with a working DP who will not only show you the tricks of the trade, but also serve as a mentor to develop the ‘eye of the DP.’ The eye is something that no book can teach you and no professor can lecture you on – you have to learn it by doing.
Here’s an overview of the curriculum you will be studying as a Film Connection film school student:
Lesson 1: Rule of Thirds
This lesson teaches basic framing within the lens, including how to frame your actors and setting in the most aesthetically appealing manner possible.
Lesson 2: Basic Lighting
Lesson 2 emphasizes three-point-lighting, the most common and practical way to light a scene in order to give a true cinematic look and feel to your shot.
Lesson 3: T-Stops and F-Stops
This chapter focuses on the technical aspects of the camera and introduces the all-important ‘f’ and ‘t’ stops that are on every lens. In this chapter, students will learn what ‘f’ and ‘t’ stops are and how they influence light and the lens.
Lesson 4: Depth of Frame
Every DP needs to understand how to frame a shot; however, to create a truly beautiful shot, the cinematographer must bring depth to the frame. This chapter will explain how to optimize beauty and depth within a frame.
Lesson 5: Aspect Ratio
A comprehensive lesson that examines the history of aspect ratio, how it has evolved through cinematic history and where it stands today.
Lesson 6: Shot Sizes
An in-depth look at the standard shot sizes used relative to the human body. This lesson will describe each shot size and type in detail, providing both descriptive and pictorial representations of how shots should be framed relative to the subject.
Lesson 7: Frame Rate
Students will explore how different frame rates affect the look of the image. Additionally, students will be given a brief history of how frame rates developed on the original motion picture medium; film.
Lesson 8: Final Assignment 1
Students will take the cumulative knowledge they’ve gained in prior lessons and shoot their own ‘experimental documentary’ utilizing all the skills they’ve learned from prior lessons.
Lesson 9: Final Assignment 2
Students will learn how to communicate practically with directors in order to understand the director’s vision, but will also learn how to integrate their own creative ideas with the director’s.
Lesson 10: Final Assignment 3
Cinematography students will collaborate with fellow Film Connection directing students who are also studying in their local area. This collaboration will be in the form of a full scene, shot from the director’s script and under full control of the director and cinematography student. This project will enable cinematography students to implement and utilize every skill learned throughout the curriculum in a true, on-set manner. Additionally, it will give the cinematography student high quality footage to add to his/her professional reel.
Coursework is delivered via distance education and completed at a location determined by the student. Apprenticeship (Externship) locations can be up to 60 miles away from the student’s address. The apprenticeship (externship) mentor will work with each student on structuring a specific schedule, the student agrees that he/she will be available to meet with the mentor for a minimum of two sessions per week.”