The dividing line between good and great cinematographers lies not in their ability to show up and shoot a scene, but in their ability to effectively prepare for it.
This concept is something that I've explored in my Cinematographer's Process articles, which covered script breakdowns for cinematographers and building an effective camera strategy. However, the strategies in those articles are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the full process of preparing for a project, building a plan for the shoot, then carrying out that plan on set. Luckily, director of photography Jim Denault will be teaching a two-day course on CreativeLive starting Tuesday morning (March 31st) that covers that very topic.
For those unfamiliar with Denault's work, he's shot countless independent features over the years, including Boys Don't Cry, and he's been an integral part of several HBO series including Carnivále, Six Feet Under, and most recently, the utterly hilarious Silicon Valley.
His two-day masterclass (it's actually two separate CreativeLive courses taught back to back) starts on Tuesday morning with The Cinematographer Prepares, a day-long exploration of the many steps a cinematographer must take in pre-production in order to effectively shoot a film. Here are the topics that will be covered.
- Analyze a script aesthetically and technically
- Evaluate and provide for the practical needs of a scene
- Achieve maximum subjective effect within your shooting "strategy"
On Wednesday April 1st, Jim will return with the second half of this series. Shooting the Scene will focus on the technical, aesthetic, and logistical considerations that cinematographers grapple with on set. Here's the agenda for day 2:
- Set the aesthetic and technical approaches for each shot
- Determine how many shots you’ll need within a scene
- Balance practical limitations and still acquire what's best for the scene
If you haven't experienced any CreativeLive courses yet, they offer some of the best educational content for creatives that the web has to offer, all of it taught by experts in their respective fields. The courses are broadcast live (and for free) over the interwebs, but they can also be purchased for relatively reasonable prices if you want on-demand access. You can occasionally catch re-broadcasted versions of all of their courses, so it's a good practice to check in every now and again to see what's playing live.
If you're interested in watching the live broadcast, head on over to the links below to register.