DP Hoyte van Hoytema Shares Tips on Staying Motivated When Unemployed

Hoyte van Hoytema on the set of Ad AstraCredit: 20th Century Fox
Keep at it. 

Finding work has always been tough for filmmakers. Heck, it was tough even before the pandemic slowed down the industry. But there’s hope on the horizon. Even the most influential cinematographers of today fought their way out of the mud.

Case in point? Hoyte van Hoytema, a cinematographer who’s shot Her, Ad Astra, Interstellar, Dunkirk, and Tenet to name a few. 

Before van Hoytema became the go-to cinematographer for many of the world’s leading filmmakers, he was shockingly unemployed and “sitting in his apartment in his underwear for years."

Check out what he has to say in the video below. 

He says that, weirdly, this could be used as an advantage over other filmmakers/cinematographers that seemingly had all of their doors easily open for them in their careers.

By being persistent with what you truly aspire to, you can learn a lot and develop yourself in other ways. Van Hoytema says that after all this time of being unemployed, it built up an insatiable and incredible hunger to work hard.

That being said, you shouldn’t just sit around and do nothing. He says that you should be extremely proactive. Do everything in your power to make a living, learn from the success of others, maybe do that freebie short film that you wouldn’t normally do just to make connections. As said by Tony Robbins, “the path to success is to take massive determined action.”

“... if you have the patience and the means to deal with the harsh reality of being unemployed for very long [afterwards], you will eventually become a full-blown DOP,” says van Hoytema.

It isn’t just van Hoytema with a history of lack of work, there are countless examples of extremely successful filmmakers with a similar background. It’s just good to know that all the hard work you put in will eventually pay off.

Let us know what your favorite tips from the video are in the comments below.     

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2 Comments

This is inspiring to me because, I look at myself and wonder why haven’t I gotten that big break like some of my peers. I push hard just like them, and for some reason I’m not moving further down the line as a cinematographer that I should be. I started to question my work. Was it not good enough to get the job? Do I know what I’m doing? Etc. But, I look back at my work, and I’m blown away at the work I did. So I pull up my DP pants and go back to the drawing board on build myself as the cinematographer that will make large budget films. Eventually, I will get there. It’s refreshing to hear that Van went through those moments.

January 21, 2021 at 11:19AM

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Azariah Oldacre
Cinematographer
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Hoyte is the absolute man. Great advice, too.

January 28, 2021 at 9:02PM

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