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Movie set photography

Hi Everyone
I am thinking about movie set photography in a large studio in Eastern Europe, usually hired by the largest US companies with A list stars. I have a considerable amount of experience with arts and entertainment photography with good agencies, mostly in the UK, but do not have a clue as to how to approach the whole issue. Obviously with every movie the whole crew changes, new director, producer, etc., and it simply would not work if I had to renegotiate my position on every new occasion. Paramount and Universal are using the location on a regular basis, my best bet is to have a contact there who will recommend me whenever they start a new project at the film studio. What do you think guys?

by Daniel Deme at 2011-12-18 21:12:09 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

It’s not clear to me what you are going to do—-but I think you are talking about doing a feature on every production as it rolls through?

If that is the case, I would first start with a feature on the history, application and unique aspects of the studio—-so you get in between two productions and shoot it from what ever angle the person who got you in would be—-so if its set designer/builder, audio or lighting whatever—-focus on that and get a wider angle of the studio along with it. Then I would just move from one angle to the other until you know everyone—-you’ll most likely have to have pitched the piece and have it sold with a print date to get anywhere or at least it would be much, much faster to get going.

Next, I would do an advance on a production that will be using the studio—-hopefully with UK talent so you can get them in home offices and find out the most compelling reason why they are going to use the studio and you would already have the shots and info plus contacts on it and go to a trade mag with it—-

If you are solid in that, then you should get other advance stories and then it would not be long that either the studio or the production is calling you to do mid-production editorial in order to ramp the film ahead of time for buzz. There might be locals on it already so you’ll have to sell your uk angle and it could be you would only get UK productions——if you have shot any pap stuff you are going to have a hard time.

I think the key is to stay solid and not dry gulch anybody——so if you see things you shouldn’t then keep it out no matter how juicy it is and don’t get anywhere near any pap stuff and you should be off.

I’d say you are on a minimum 2 year program here to be in and solid.

Good Luck,


by David Bro | 18 Dec 2011 21:12 (ed. Dec 18 2011) | orange county, california, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks for the advice David. My main dilemma is how to find the one constant contact amid the ever-shifting crews of film studios who would transfer me from one production to the next one. Who in a production team or studio is the responsible person for hiring the on set photographer? At the moment I just cannot envisage the whole process, how it works and how it gains continuity.
No problems with any pap pre-history here, God forbid.

by Daniel Deme | 18 Dec 2011 22:12 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
It shouldn’t matter who you have to help you out at first, its a big target—-I get that you need that one contact but regardless if you have one or not, the coverage you propose will still have to do something for them -- eventually you will get that person, regardless, production on the level you are talking about will have quite a bit of security built in with contracts of what can and cannot be done with publicity—-the only way around it is too build up the coverage in scaling things up at every turn so you gain management’s confidence in your abilities and where you are going with their reputation in your hands each time you do a feature—-this is hard work and only takes time…

If you have never shot editorial like this and its important enough for you, I would suggest you try it out a little bit somewhere else because if you butch it up on a big operation, its over and you don’t ever get it back.

Get in contact with the studio’s public relations firm—-or check to see if the have their own Media office, and that’s where you start and remember that anyone else you contact will have to refer you there anyway as anything as big as what you are talking about in a studio will have it’s set policy—-it’s not like shooting a garage band at their first pub gig two towns over.

I guess if you want to be the studio’s in house photographer, then you’ll have to move there, get in line and fill out an application, and be sure to learn the language.



by David Bro | 19 Dec 2011 00:12 (ed. Dec 19 2011) | orange county, california, United States | | Report spam→
I did stills on sets in L.A. years ago. Most of the time I was hired by the DP who has hiring power for the crew he wants to work with. The more people you know on crews who can recommend you, and particularly Directors of Photgraphy you know, the more work happens. And, these use to be union jobs in L.A. I could never build up enough hours in a given time period to get into the union, and then moved on to other types of photo work. But this was the 80’s, ancient history.

by Joel Sackett | 25 Dec 2011 00:12 | Puget Sound, Washington, United States | | Report spam→
Directors of Photography sounds about right, hell of a task to find out who that person is going to be for a particular project in advance, before filming itself starts. I guess you really need to be an inside man at the studio. Do you travel around sets and scenes with the crew for months or was this a ‘call you when I need you’ type of job? Thanks Joel.

by Daniel Deme | 25 Dec 2011 21:12 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
The last time I explored that job option(the 70’s) it was as Joel states a union job with tech tests to get into the union. A tough nut to crack unless you have personal connections or have a big reputation to start with. Hang out with film people,do freebie head shots for actors, leave your name around the biz. Just a thought.

by Gregory Sharko | 25 Dec 2011 22:12 (ed. Dec 25 2011) | Brooklyn, New York, United States | | Report spam→

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Daniel Deme, Press Photographer Daniel Deme
Press Photographer
London , United Kingdom ( HEA )
David Bro, freelance editorial David Bro
freelance editorial
Orange County , United States ( LAX )
Joel Sackett, photographer Joel Sackett
Puget Sound, Washington , United States ( AAA )
Gregory Sharko, photographer Gregory Sharko
Brooklyn, New York , United States ( JFK )


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