With the internet and streaming videos becoming more popular, television continuing to grow as a whole, and the overall demand for video content increasing, becoming a lighting cameraman or camera operator is a great career path. Not only do you get to express your creativity as a lighting cameraman which can be a reward in itself, camera operators often get to travel to unique and interesting locations, meet a lot of interesting people (and at times work with celebrities) as well. If you are interested in becoming a cameraman, here are a few tips you can use to make sure you find success:
Should You Get A Filmmaking Degree?
As a lighting cameraman, having a formal education in lighting, composition and film making can radically alter the way you take shots. With a degree in film production you will enter the workforce with an understanding of how the industry works, what goes into making a film, and some hands-on experience as a cameraman, but it is important to note that formal education is not a necessity. With the rising cost of tuition fees, you may end up with financial burden that do not offset the skills you learn. If cost is an issue, consider enrolling in short courses at a film school such as NFTS. This will allow you to learn techniques for shooting without making the financial commitment of getting diploma.
Start Off At The Bottom
Instead of simply trying to position yourself as a freelance lighting cameraman straight out of the gate, it can be extremely beneficial to start out as a cameraman or kit assistant. Instead of a formal education at a university, deciding to work as an assistant will give you hands-on experience in not only working with a kit, but an understanding of how a cameraman interacts with clients, how they treat directors and other set members, and much more. This may be the long road approach to becoming a lighting cameraman, but it is a path that many of the most successful DOPs have used.
In the filmmaking industry as a camera operator you are looked at for your technique and skillset, but a will have will be through the connections that you make in the industry. Developing a strong set of business relationships are what will propel you through your career, especially if you decide to become a freelance lighting cameraman. Having the right connections in the industry take out the necessity to compete with the growing number of people who simply buy a camera and call themselves professionals.