June 17, 2014

These Hollywood Agents Have Some Great Advice for Up & Coming Cinematographers

Last year, I shared an interview with one of the most prolific commercial and music video DP's in the country, Matthias Koenigswieser. A good portion of that article was centered around the importance of cinematographers finding representation, as well as some best practices for young cinematographers looking to land an agent. Representation is definitely a tremendously important subject for folks who are looking to make a sustainable living as a DP, but there are so many important questions to consider. Luckily, our friends over at Cinefii tracked down two of LA's premier cinematographic agents and got them to spill the beans on things that up and coming cinematographers need to know about representation.

The following video interview features Richard Caleel and Kristen Tolle-Bilings of Worldwide Production Agency, as they answer a few of the most pertinent questions related to cinematographers finding representation.

https://vimeo.com/97338993

One of the most compelling pieces of advice that Caleel and Tolle-Bilings have for cinematographers is that they not only need to have an updated reel with their most accomplished and recent work, but that it's essential to have a website or online portfolio of some sort that allows potential employers to get a quick overview of your work and your style. Websites are often the first stop for people looking to hire talent -- before they ever start calling around to agencies -- so having a portfolio that shows off not only your work, but also your unique aesthetic and personality, is key.

As for actually finding representation as a cinematographer, it's much more about letting the agents come to you than it is about tracking them down. Agents and agencies are always on the lookout for new talent for their rosters, and they're often at film festivals and industry events trying to find new talent. What this means for cinematographers is that it's paramount to showcase your best work as often as you can, because you never know who might see it.

Additionally, it's incredibly important to constantly be working on creative projects, even if they're unpaid or low-budget, especially if it's something that will end up on your reel or portfolio. By constantly creating work and putting it out into the world, cinematographers can greatly increase their chances of finding an agent. Beyond that, developing and fostering a unique aesthetic, or personal style, can help you stand out in a market that is incredibly saturated with camera-savvy kids, thus making you even more attractive to an agency.

What do you guys think about the issue of cinematographers finding representation? What tips or advice would you give to a DP looking to find an agent? Let us know down in the comments!

Link: Get Some Tips, Tricks, and Advice from Leading Cinematographic Agents WPA -- Cinefii

Your Comment

11 Comments

What are some good DP agencies out there? I didn't even know this was a thing and sounds great.

June 17, 2014 at 6:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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There are quiet a number of "Below the line agencies" do a web search. Nobody should be under the impression that by being with agent they will be working more. Agents do bring new work to clients, but very rarely. When you are approached by an agent for representation, it generally means, they see you as a source of revenue for them. 10 or 15% of a busy DP's pay check can add up to some real money. They can be helpful guiding careers, but my feeling is that most of them, not all, do very little. I have an agent and he's one of the rare great ones, I'm very fortunate.

June 17, 2014 at 7:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mark

10 to 15%? My agent gets 25. Pretty common in the stills world.

June 18, 2014 at 2:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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If I remember correctly, Khondji began by shooting shorts and small commercials and began making a reel. Eventually, through networking and connections, bigger companies sought him out because he was so experimental. He met Fincher on a Nike ad. When he went into Se7en, I don't even think he was union. I remember specifically that he had to wait on union acceptance and studio approval.

June 18, 2014 at 7:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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RidingtheDragon

Great piece.
We often are guided by agents to new DP finds. Its not the only route, but certainly for commercial/music video DPs its pretty much essential.

June 17, 2014 at 11:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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marklondon

You don't need an agent to succeed. You need a marketing and networking strategy. The internet is extremely powerful.

June 17, 2014 at 11:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rich

Our house worked almost with all international agencies that are out there. The agency account (project manager) and the client of the agency don't give a damn about who DP is, they just want their product on TV. In most cases it is the producer who decides who will shoot the whole thing. Sometimes agency may demand particular director and the director may demand particular DP(prolly someone he knows well), but if that DP is out of a budget, producer will go with someone else (and again that person will be someone he/she knows well). So I think if you are a freshman the first thing to do is to send your reel to all freelance directors and production houses. I strongly believe that no one will take a fresh DP on a serious commercial shoot (even with the help of an agent), unless the DP built a solid reel in film school. Better chances to start out as a grip or camera assistant and then the things will start to evolve.

June 18, 2014 at 1:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Einar

If you don't have any connections that can get you or your work in front of an agent. How do you go about getting an agent to look at your work?

June 19, 2014 at 10:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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What the range of day rate for a DP on the mid to higher end commercials with real budgets?

June 19, 2014 at 2:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Earnest reply

One question, this works for Steadicam/cam operator too, i need an agent and get in to the Union to start to work in LA or wherever in USA? I'm a steadicam operator from Brazil and i'd like to work abroad, what's the better way, please?

June 19, 2014 at 10:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Great article with good "advice". Don´t put more into it. As an artist I would like to spent my time on creating but not to chase moneymonkeys which an agent can do much better.

June 20, 2014 at 4:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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ThomasLarsson