Watch: 5 Ways You Can Start Today to Get Work as a Cinematographer

Donald Duncan Cinematography
Credit: Donald Duncan Cinematography
Are you ready to get your cinematography career off the ground, but not quite sure where to start?

The roadmap to becoming a professional cinematographer is not clearly marked. In fact, the journey is different for everyone. However, Matthew Workman of Cinematography Database wants to help you navigate this confusing and unforgiving terrain by suggesting 5 things you can do to launch your career in cinematography successfully.

Video is no longer available:

As a quick overview, here are the 5 tips Workman talks about in his video, but I highly suggest you check out his blog post, where he goes into each one in more detail.

  1. Shoot, curate, and share video
  2. Network online and in person
  3. Know your local market
  4. Learn cinematography online
  5. Take your passions and combine it with your filmmaking

Now, there is no special sauce to getting noticed in the industry—except maybe if your parent is a studio head, producer, or director (Hollywood isn't—not known to have its fair share of nepotism). However, there are two things you can do immediately and regularly that will help you get to where you want to be, and those two things are shooting stuff and networking.

People want to hire people who are great at what they do, but they also want to hire people they know, or who knows someone they know. If you're like me and a total introvert who doesn't live in a place you'd call a hotbed of cinematic activity (our Animal House fame is all but dead with this new generation), this might seem like a total bummer, but don't despair. 

In the same way digital cameras have democratized filmmaking by making it cheaper and more accessible for everyone, the internet has also democratized networking in a lot of ways. This is why you should absolutely be on all of the relevant social networking sites, like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Follow people, like their posts, and slide right into their DMs. Join groups; meet up with those groups. Go to conventions, events, fim festivals, workshops, whatever—because the more people you know, the more opportunities you might be given. (But, as Workman points out, don't be a creep—be an uncreepy creep.)

Again, getting into the industry can be extremely tricky. Sometimes there are setbacks, sometimes you'll feel like you're getting nowhere, but keep going and keep trying. I think this quote from one of the greatest minds of our time sums it up best:

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Your Comment


Eugene shoutout. Hey-oooo!

August 5, 2016 at 11:00PM, Edited August 5, 11:00PM

Luke Neumann

i like and follow all my favorite people photos and video i feel like i am a ghost i see them all talking and likes and comments never once have i got a like or a comment no love from anyone i don't get it i been putting in work for over 6 years and networking and learning.. but i guess you gotta hash tag and do it for the likes and put corner quotes and copy to really be part of this networking world ... i see the worst work get comments makes no sense

August 6, 2016 at 2:02AM

You voted '+1'.

You'll get there. They say it takes 10 years :)

Also, chasing vapid 'likes' on social should not be your goal. Making great art should be the goal. Putting in effort and realising your vision.

Do you have a vision? A story to tell?

August 7, 2016 at 3:13PM

Guido Gautsch
Education Person

I suppose all that is the way things are done these days but, the truth is, nobody wants to see your work.

August 7, 2016 at 9:56AM

Richard Krall