When shooting digitally, especially on a tight budget, there is a common temptation to shoot first then figure out post later. With the low perceived cost of recording data and the wide availability of affordable tools to process and work with such data, there is a mindset which suggests that with a little Google searching one can quickly figure out how to get from A to B. While it is possible to figure things out, it will likely end up costing a significant amount of time and potentially risk compromising the quality of the material. The shoot first-figure the rest out later mentality is a dangerous one in all areas of production and has resulted in many costly unfinished and unfulfilled projects.
…please hire me.
I love story. In my mind, cinematography is primarily a storytelling craft. However, sometimes it’s fun to shoot something that looks awesome just to show how awesome it looks.
Like the other departments of film production, cinematography is a specialized field. As cinematographers, we are required to fully grasp and utilize concepts and tools that may never be completely understood by other members of production. For instance, a director may never need to know how to read a waveform monitor, or the difference between griffolyn and ultrabounce. However, the choices the cinematographer makes regarding exposure, or his choice of bounce, or the myriad of other technical decisions ultimately have narrative and emotional impact on the film. Therefore, it is wise for directors to have a basic grasp of cinematographic techniques—as well as the other aspects like production design, sound, and editing—so that they can confidently and deliberately work with their collaborators to craft their vision.
With that in mind, I’ve set out to write a series of articles on foundational concepts of cinematography, for directors. I intend to approach these concepts from a story perspective as opposed to an overly technical one. My goal is to help new directors get up to speed, or provide a refresher for those that may have more experience, so that they can more effectively communicate with their cinematographer and better craft a film that is in line with their vision.
The Purge: The Morning After, a comedic sketch I shot for director Johnny Ray Gill, starring Daniel Rubiano and Da’Vine Joy Randolph is featured today at The Hollywood Reporter. Check out the article here, and check out the video below.
The Father’s Love, a romantic drama I shot last fall is premiering this weekend at the Harlem International Film Festival in New York City. The film, which we shot primarily in Harlem and Brooklyn, New York, is directed by Sharon Kon and stars Angela Lin (Grey’s Anatomy, Chinglish). The Father’s Love was my first full feature as cinematographer, and I am happy to have worked with such a great cast and crew.
Teamwork makes dreams work!
Colton Davie, Cinematographer
This post was originally written in April 2011.
I always thought that this pool looked pretty at night time, with the small landscape lights, pool lights, and little waterfalls, but the lighting around the pool is very dim. One night I decided, just for fun, to try and shoot a theoretical scene in a way that played off the location’s natural beauty. Mainly this exercise was a way for me to explore a couple of ideas that I had been kicking around in my head, and to further develop an approach to lighting of letting the location do as much work for you as possible, in terms of both inspiration and actual illumination.
Over the weekend, Pas De Restes, a short film directed and produced by Johnny Ray Gill, and which I shot, won the award for Best Narrative Short at the Portland Film Festival. I am proud of the entire team and am excited that the film is doing well. This was the film’s second “Best of” award and ninth festival screening.