January 3, 2011

I Am Not A Filmmaker

Regular readers of Photofocus know that I have been shooting a great deal of video since the hybrid cameras came out. I really enjoy it. In the last two years I’ve shot as much video as I have stills. But even though I have learned a great deal about shooting video, I still have a long way to go. In fact, too long a way. I’ll not live long enough to learn everything I wish I could or that I think I need to about video.

I have learned one important lesson. Owning a camera that shoots motion-pictures, i.e., video, does not make me a filmmaker. Filmmakers have a very unique skill set that I find myself lacking. I can operate a camera, but that’s pretty much where my skills end. I need to rely on an entire team of people to take what I shoot with a hybrid DSLR and turn it into a “film.”

It takes a director, producer, editor and many more folks to make a real film. If you think it’s easy, you’re wrong. I’ve come to realize that I suck at trying to make films. I am pretty good at capturing the footage, but I need help knowing what to shoot so that the filmmaker’s vision can be executed.

It’s an odd place for me. I am usually pretty good at anything I work hard at. But I just don’t have what it takes to be a filmmaker. One of the reasons I know that is that I have met and hung out with some real filmmakers. Simply being around people like Vince Laforet @vincentlaforet – Eric Howell @anasplayground and Kevin Shahinian @kevinshahinian I’ve been able to conclude I don’t have what it takes.

But what I can do is shoot. Light and composition are important in both video and in stills work. I know how to get that in either format. And the good news is that I can hand off what I shoot to people who can work with it. And if I get direction on what to shoot, I can make sure it’s even better. In short, filmmaking is a whole great big bunch of hard work and it’s a team sport. Going it alone is virtually impossible. You can buy all the cool gear you want but just as it is with still photography, filmmaking is more than having gear – it’s having vision.

My hat’s off to the filmmakers out there. I have decided to relegate my video work to that of documentarian and camera operator. I’ll hand off the footage to clients and other creatives to make it into something that matters. I’m sticking with what I am good at and recognizing my limitations.

In closing I can tell you this – if I were 15 years younger – I might TRY to BECOME a filmmaker. I think it’s an amazing creative outlet for people who can do it well.

This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store