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Rajiv Jain – Bhartendu Natya Academy of Dramatic Arts Alumni Lucknow

Rajiv Jain – Cinematographer – Director of Photography – Rajeev Jain Information for Indian Cinematography Students...... Some of the responses .....




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04-10-2010
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Rajiv Jain – Bhartendu Natya Academy of Dramatic Arts Alumni Lucknow


Rajiv Jain – Cinematographer – Director of Photography – Rajeev Jain


Information for Indian Cinematography Students......

Some of the responses to the questions asked by visitors to the website! Drop me a line today.
QUESTION: HOW DO I BECOME AN INDIAN DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY?
For people with successful careers in this business, the question most often heard is the one that asks how you got where you are. Sure enough, as soon as I began to set up this Web Site and state my willingness to share this information and answer questions about production I began to get inquiries regarding what I call "The Big Question".
So I have written this generic answer. I hope it is useful to anyone contemplating a career behind or in front of the camera.
If you ask 10 or even a 100 different people as to how they got into this business you'll get as many as 100 different answers. As for me, I've had a natural, lifelong interest in photography, partly due to my Guru, whose hobby was black and white still photography. Learning and training under him gave me loads of exposure to that type of photography which soon graduated from a hobby to a full blown passion. At that particular point of time I was also involved in theatre doing plays for small Theatre Companies in Lucknow, and apart from the character roles I also worked back stage as a carpenter / light operator/ Set construction on these plays. It all tied in together so perfectly.
The experience and training I gained in my adolescent years paid off full returns when i decided to get into a full time job. I began with a job as a light man in a TV station, my back stage experiences in carpentry/ set construction further sharpened and enhanced my skills. i began small time but with time my vision and my dreams grew and I saw for myself the possibility of a career as a cameraman in the television or film industry, to make this dream a reality i went back to Drama school full time and i majored in theatre (stage craft) & in stage light designing production. Believe me completing my education was the best thing I could have done. In addition to a thorough education in many different phases of the business, it allowed me to focus and hone my natural abilities (which are strongly visual) to the point that I was sure I wanted to be a cinematographer.
In a way, because of my prior experience of working in a television station where I was allowed to do lighting, cameras, and build sets, etc., I was already way ahead of many of my peers when I started Drama school. Even so, I continued to hunt for part time work, projects, whatever would allow me to work with cameras, lights etc. A couple of summers before graduating I worked as a temporary technician in a TV station and right after graduation I was offered a full time apprentice position with Binod Pradhan to work behind the movie camera in Mumbai. While doing that job I continued to make little films on the side, by volunteering to shoot on VHS format, direct and edit anything for anybody as long as they would pay for the equipment, film, etc. Soon, after working for an 8 year time span where i covered and worked at different levels of cinematography i.e., as a spark, grip, key grip, loader, focus puller, camera operator, gaffer and through constant lobbying and showing my work, I was offered a cameraman s position at a TV production house.

From there, after a couple of years of effort and with several long-form TV commercials, industrial, corporate, documentaries & serials under my belt, my work was noticed by a very successful independent producer of network Film / TV / Commercials specials. He made me an offer I could not refuse; i.e. to spend a few years shooting many of the shows he produced for the network. That stroke of luck put me on the map as a DOP and my career has gone well ever since.

Nurturing the desire to become a DOP is a lot like saying you want to become a movie star. There are no set routes to such goals. Many try but few succeed. But the fundamentals of the craft can be learnt, and learnt well in a film school. So, incase of the special privileges that are bestowed on a selected few (like being born of a great cameraman, director or studio executive), film school is probably the best place to start. It will also expose you to a lot of information about many other aspects of the business.

What You Need To Know
There are obvious things one should study to become a DOP, i.e., photography, including composition, lighting, movement, and fine arts in general, including music, painting, even sculpture. It also helps if a DOP has good eye-hand coordination and is good with his or her hands, with tools. After all, a camera is just a big, complicated, delicate tool, with lots of interrelated parts which must be mastered by the DOP. It is also highly important for a DOP to be a good leader, a good communicator and have good people management skills. But one of the most important things a DOP should know well is often overlooked. It is the study of the theory of "montage" or editing. Montage theory is at the heart of what makes "movies" work, whether for television or the big screen. It also encompasses and necessitates the study and understanding of the psychology of human perception - the things that go on between "seeing" and subjectively "perceiving".

Some of the most important dynamics of the moving images that we see on television or in a theater are the dynamics of "cutting" one scene, or shot or frame against another, then another, then another, etc. This dialectic process, this joining of two things to create a third, then joining that with yet another and so on, endlessly; this is the basic grammar of film as we know it and it works at many levels. It works in the juxtaposition of scenes, of shots within a scene and of the elements of sound and picture and movement. In what direction are the composition, lighting and physical movement leading the viewer s eye and what effects are the juxtapositions of these elements having on the viewers emotions and perceptions? Wide shot, medium shot, close-up, screen direction; these progressions are as basic to the language of film as subject and verb are to the spoken language. These concepts and more are fundamentals of the visual language of the moving image and should be well understood by anyone wanting to be a Cameraman.

On being a Director of Photography...

Q: Could you define the Cinematographers job? How does one find themselves in the lighting/electric department?
A: The Director of Photography/Cinematographer (yes one and the same person) is like the photographer of a movie. All the technical related dept (camera, lighting/electric, and grip) work qualifies as work for the DP. One in thirty-four (1/34) makes it as a DP. It takes years of professional experience to gain your I.C.S. AND W.I.C.A. accreditation.
Ask yourself this question...

So the bottom line is that there is no real set way of becoming a cinematographer. Ask yourself this question - “What is your life about?" What are your hopes and dreams and find a path that best fits your needs. Do you want to work in the industry, learn from the pros and then start shooting?

...be prepared for the big drop in pay

A lot of camera assistants will work for a minimum of five to seven years and then start shooting. Camera Assistants make the most money in the entire techie dept. Money can be an evil sometimes, in the sense that you lose sight of your goals because you're being offered so much of it. All of a sudden years go by and all you've done is made money.
Be prepared for the big drop in pay because you are not gonna lands a $2000 - 3500/day commercial gig in your first year much less your first three. Some people start shooting as soon as they get out of film school and five years later they might be a professional DP (in my opinion, a pro is someone who makes a living with their craft).
You will need an incident light meter (I recommend the Sekonic L398 for the beginner) and a spot meter (Minolta F or M). Also handy, working knowledge of various cameras, which means understanding depth of field, circle of confusion, camera operating and learn a feel and understanding of lighting which means an understanding of color temperature, gels, diffusions, bounces etc, etc..
Advice on volunteers...
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