INTERVIEWS, THE MOVING PORTRAITS WORKSHOPS
The most common type of EFP type assignments are interviews, the same interviews we see on TV everyday. Underestimating the importance of interviews skills could be a fatal mistake to one’s career. This is the first and most important skill that most producer look for when selecting a crew. It’s the barometer to gauge just about every technical skill that the photographer has.
Viewers might not see images of landscapes or events everyday, or not enough to judge what’s good or bad, but people see images of people every day, they subconsciously know the difference between good and bad work. Even the least trained eye can walk into a living room and admire a fine portrait created by a master photographer, and at the same time totally overlook a portrait made by Sears studios.
Quality video interview and photographic portraits visually require the same techniques, I refer to interviews as moving portraits. For these all aesthetic elements and skills that create any type of quality images come together. The technique we use to do quality interviews today are fundamentally the very same technique created over half century ago by renaissance artists like Da Vinci and Caravaggio. The chiaroscuro lighting techniques created by these masters in order to give their work the illusion of depth in their otherwise flat two dimensional work is the most used lighting technique today, even thou most people today have no clue on what it is or where it started.
As most video programs created today have talking people in it, the viewing public first impression of the quality of the program that they are about to watch will be determined by the quality of people images as they are seeing because it’s something that they can directly relate to, women are particularly good at this. Of course if the content of the program sucks no quality interview will rescue it.
It only makes sense that when a producer is looking to hire a crew the only thing on his mind is his own career. A skilled TV photographer can make that career while a bad photographer can wreck it. This is why learning interviews techniques is vital for one’s career in this business.
These workshops is what established professional as well as newcomers in this profession have long been asking for.
When nino began his career 42 years ago he was fortunate to find two mentors who saw the potential in him. He learned from them how to succeed in this business with a simple formula, “be the best you can be, both personally and in business and the money will follow”.
Like those mentors who helped him, as time allows Nino has been helping many in this profession achieve success. For years he’s been an active participant on many professional forums and lecturing at seminars on the important role that lighting and other technical skills play on the success of our careers. The ultimate goal of his teaching is to improve the financial picture of those who believe in the success of their profession, the only way to achieve this is with skills.
“Understanding our clients needs and delivering those needs on or above expectation is the fundamental formula for success in our profession”
“You can’t take it with you, and it would be a shame if I did. After 42 years in this business I was fortunate to accumulate a vast amount of knowledge, the time to share it is now while I still can”
After 42 successful years in the production business Nino will finally start cutting back on his workload and start dedicating more time in sharing the knowledge he was fortunate to acquire in his long career. Starting in 2012 Nino will conduct regular workshop sessions in his home town of Tampa Florida. These workshops will be a total departure from other similar events that are being offered across the country.
The most significant difference from what has been done until now and what will be available form Nino’s workshops the relation between lighting skill and the current needs of skills in today rapidly changing market. Most of the training available today is bases on theories from the motion picture industry, most instructors have very little in term of real working experience. Most students graduating today from accredited school in productions can’t even find jobs working for nothing, theories are not keeping up with the real worlds. On the other hand Nino’s teaching is based on real day to day working experiences with real clients. The results of his work can be seen everyday on ESPN and other major networks as well as corporate productions. These are techniques that generate work not dreams.
Until about 10 to 15 years ago there were parallel similarities between the motion pictures and television industries. Shrinking budgets and new technologies changed all that. Today the two industries are miles apart.
Look at this picture taken by Nino during a golf instructional done in the mid 90s. Count how many in the crew, there are nine in the picture plus Nino taking the picture. Outside the picture there’s a producer/director and a production secretary, a total of 12 people to do a golf instructional. We also had a grip truck with a generator plus a separate tent for make-up and catering for the crew.
Back those days the DP/photographer used to travel to the location driving a personal car. with him he had the camera, tripod, a monitor and batteries, that’s all. Those were the days when television production were similar to film and motion pictures productions.
Then things began to change and business methods and techniques that for years kept the motion picture and television industry parallel to each other began drifting in different directions.
Today Nino occasionally still works on golf instructional projects, but instead of a crew of 12 people that’s just him and his sound tech/assistant, and instead of driving his Audi 5000 sedan to the location he drives this.
A custom converted van filled with everything that’s necessary to create any type of location production.
Just because budgets have shrunk it doesn’t mean that quality must suffer. It’s a no frill type of production these days but whatever is there it still must look the best.
These changes of “do more for less” created an entire new set of challenges for the DP/photographers. Many couldn’t make the transition and just left the business, but many saw the new challenges as unlimited opportunities.
Today good and resourceful photographer earn more than ever. They have to wear more hats than ever before, learn new skills and be resourceful, but those who can meet these challenges are being well rewarded.
Nino on the importance of lighting skills in today’s market.
I can’t stress this enough. In the video production business the main contributing factors between making a good living and struggling to stay ahead of the bills comes down to lighting skills.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many more skills required in order to get top dollars from your clients, but without lighting skills you don’t stand a chance.
The video production industry in the last 7 years has become very polarized. While there are thousand of cameramen looking for work and even willing to work for nothing just to get their foot into the door, there’s a critical shortage of skilled and experienced crews. Many times we have to fly-in crews from out of state even thou we have thousand of available freelancers within a short drive. This reflects on the rates that good crews are being paid. An experienced and skilled crews consisting of a DP/cameraman and a sound tech charge a base rate of over $2,000.00 per day, plus extras, and most are as busy as they want to be, many pick and choose their assignments. Most of these professionals haven’t made a sale call in years, yet their phones keep on ringing. There’s a network of producer out there that don’t rely on the web to hire crews, I have yet to see any DP/cameraman web site that says they they are mediocre, they are all the best. When producers need a crew in a specific area they call other producers for recommendations. This word of mouth network is the most powerful in the business.
On the other end of the scale those with little skills can’t even get “no pay” gigs, look at Craigslist under “gigs”, there are so many people desperate to do anything with their cameras that an entire new industry was born, the “no/low pay producitons, and even those are hard to get. The only difference between getting or not getting paid are the skills the photographer possesses. But not all skills can translate into work, only those that clients need will generate revenue.
Most newcomers in tis business are struggling to get any work and look at all sorts of ventures on the web as the sole source of potential revenue. That’s a major mistake. Production is production, what the venues of distribution are shouldn’t be our concern, in fact most of the projects I work on I have no clue where they will be shown, I know that they are intended for multiple platform, but again it isn’t my concern. My job and the reason that I was hired for is to give my client the very best quality of work that I possible can.
There’s this myth that started a few years back when small cameras capable to record under lower light conditions started appearing on the market. The notion was that lighting skills were no longer needed. This is also the time where rates paid to cameraman started dropping to the lowest level in decades, now you make the connection. Somebody back then confused quantity for quality. It isn’t the amount of light necessary to create a video, is the quality of light that brings in business. As far as photographic images goes existing light is good to see and not be seen in it, nevertheless photographed in it.
The very first thing that a producer look for when hiring a crew is lighting skills. Extensive lighting skills is much more than just lighting. It also means that the photographers is knowledgeable about composition, depth, separations, creating backgrounds, etc.
Caution! Creating quality lighting can be addictive.