March 29, 2014

Shoot Early & Shoot Often: DP Rob Hardy Offers Advice to Young Cinematographers

Getting your start in cinematography may feel like getting dropped in the middle of nowhere without a compass, which is why advice from those who have found their way out is so invaluable. DP Rob Hardy, who has worked on films like Boy A and Red Riding: In the year of Our Lord 1974 offers some great advice, as well as some valuable words of encouragement, to beginning cinematographers in this BAFTA video. Continue on to check it out.

First of all, here are the trailers to a couple of films Hardy has worked on, so you can get an idea of his aesthetic sensibilities.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VaSQNUt9H4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nx5rqw9tXB8

In this short video, Hardy's advice lays the foundation for any aspiring cinematographer. Now that cameras are more accessible than a stick of gum, the first obstacle one must overcome to begin honing their craft is simply pushing record on a smartphone (or prosumer camera for all of you lucky ducks). Hardy says to just go for it -- after you get your hands on a camera, get shooting -- and keep shooting.

My advice would always be -- just start shooting as quickly as you can. Get used to the idea of lighting and also using cameras, but in a way, if you're interesting in shooting films as opposed to anything else, in a way that tells stories. Just do as much as you can.

As you practice, your work is going to (hopefully) get better, and eventually your gaze will go to the future. "How am I going to get my work noticed?" Hardy advises, however, to focus less on doing projects that you think will get the attention of someone somewhere who might further your career somehow sometime. He says to simply focus on making films that are "you", that mean something to you and speak to you. Which is really great advice, because at the end of the day, when you take a step back and look at your body of work after a long career, you're most likely going to want to see projects in which you funneled your passion and inspiration.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAKjTi6CD14

One of the things Hardy says that truly hits home for many of us is that there is no such thing as a "perfect" camera, only the "perfect" camera for a certain project. If you feel tempted to beat yourself and your project up for the kind of "amateur" camera was used -- just -- please don't do it. Great cinematography can be made with anything, whether it's an ARRI or smartphone camera. If you can't afford the camera you want, no biggie. Ain't no shame in your game! Use what you've got!

What did you think about Rob Hardy's advice? Do any of you experienced cinematographers have any advice or words of encouragement to share with the beginners out there? Let us know in the comments.

[via BAFTA Guru]

Your Comment

17 Comments

Red Riding (in three parts) was one of the most visually stimulating TV series I ever seen. Catch it if you can.

March 30, 2014 at 2:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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JPS

This guy has some nerve having the same name as me, and for also being a cinematographer, and especially for being a much better cinematographer than I am. Some nerve indeed.

March 30, 2014 at 4:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4510

You think that's bad!

March 30, 2014 at 5:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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*cough*

March 30, 2014 at 5:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Alan Smithee

I lol'd

March 31, 2014 at 6:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Micah Van Hove
Writer
director, producer, dp

Strong work.

April 2, 2014 at 9:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Karl Poyzer

I keep getting Jar Jar Binks hate when ppl talk to me. :(

July 31, 2014 at 4:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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George Lucas

Lol....same thing I thought about, except the "better cinematographer" part

March 30, 2014 at 1:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Young Pizzy

Maybe we should start a support group...

March 30, 2014 at 9:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Roger Deakins

Yes, a support group will be great and pls don't forget us in Africa as well

March 30, 2014 at 1:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Young Pizzy

the whole interview about ~nothing.
at the end of the day he doesn't say the most important thing that every professionally educated director of photography will tell you in first 3 seconds.
composition, composition, composition. after that lights & shadows and after that etc.
and then ... if you shoot on iphone/blackberry/arri alexa you will get the same results.

for aspiring dp I would suggest to go to... museum of art.

analyze painting of classics like Rembrandt. All the keys that you need - there. Analyze composition and the lightning in the painting. Read about the picture (like Night Watch). Understand how the painter made his message trough. Take picture.. Try to recreate in "film" mode. Analyze that you did, why it looks cool or not. Start read books about composition for painters.

and again: get a book about composition for painters.

Don't shoot every day. Do something that prepared.

Don't listen some bs "award winning" dp of deli grocery at the corner. if it's not cannes, golden globe, oscar, it doesn't count.

April 1, 2014 at 11:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pete Polyakov

I support this message bcz that's how I look at it lol, not that I have any rep myself but do you have a Golden Globe or Oscar?

I'd say this is more for someone who doesn't even feel comfortable holding a camera... but if that's the case your own personal will to shoot, should be forcing you to want it allthe time :p

April 2, 2014 at 8:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Dave St.Louis

If you will hear some non constructive advice or some type of insanity from deli grocery award winning dp, you definitely should ask about golden globe as well lol
i think it just to use the free space on a hard drive of the server.. to make a self promotion.

April 2, 2014 at 2:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pete Polyakov

Just shoot the thing and base it off of what you've watched in accumulation as a movie and TV fan. Not that hard :)

April 4, 2014 at 12:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Cal

I watch a lot of interviews, but I thought this one really had value--not only from a personal/aesthetic point of view, but also from a technical standpoint. Learned a lot!! Thanks

April 4, 2014 at 8:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I found the interview inspiring with a common approach that relates to many different disciplines: Art, athletics, public speaking, etc., in that you study of course, but also just go for it and start doing it every day you can. Get mistakes out of the way through experience if you must, but go go go. No excuses. Rock and roll.

May 18, 2014 at 10:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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This was am much needed read after being shot down for a job I wanted. I consider myself a pretty good artist, but it was a slight reminder that I am never good enough, and I must keep going. This advice hit home.

July 31, 2014 at 12:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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