Ed_David Posted February 20, 2015 Share Posted February 20, 2015 From http://eddavid.tumblr.com/post/111I was told I had to redo my W9 income tax form, because the form I filled out was the Nov 2013 form, which was expired. So I went and filled out the Dec 2014 form and noticed something new - a whole extra page of paperwork - It went from a three page document to a four page document - and that’s our government, the king of bureaucracy, in action.Bureaucracy was the big theme in this month’s Harpers, currently my favorite magazine of all time, up there with the Atlantic and the Week and the New Yorker as what I read (sorry novels, I haven’t read you guys in a while and maybe that’s another essay to write about next). In this issue, they mentioned that bureaucracy also bleeds into the arts, which is my field of work as a cinematographer. The use of credentials - like a police chief or military commander or certified doctor - a practice that exists in places like Soviet Russia have fallen into our field. The highest esteemed titles, like DGA or ASC even go after your name on a movie title (also the only art industry in the world where you put the credits on an advertisement for the product - does Colgate Toothpaste do that?) Saying “Joe Schmoe, ASC” does that make Joe Schmoe more certified than his name without that title? Does it make the film any less beautiful?At what point in the arts are you certified as an artist? At what point can you say, “yes I know what I am doing.” Some great artists do their best work before they “become” recognized. A lot of famous artists reminisce about how much easier it is for them to create good art before they are lauded, such as Jackson Pollock. Once he was called by Life Magazine, “is this the greatest artist of our generation?” his life suffered immensely.My theory is, you are an artist when you create art. So anyone is an artist, if they put pen to paper, dirty finger to keyboard. But in our filmmaking industry my whole life I have felt guilty because I didn’t go to a film schoo, I didn’t get certifiedl - I went to a liberal arts college and was an anthropology major and almost a film studies minor, as well as one point a music major. I didn’t have the training everyone seemed to be whispering that I needed.I felt so guilty, that I didn’t know how to load a film mag, that I didn’t ever sit down and learn lighting or even lenses. I had no photography background - that was my sister. I didn’t know the difference between a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens, surrounded by many people who did. I didn’t know soft light vs hard light, or the angle of lighting and how it changes on a face in shadows.I grew up shooting documentaries and prank videos on VHS-C cameras - made one in high school called “perspective” and interviews young people, older young people, and my parents about various historical issues like the Vietnam war, trying to show how our age affects how we interpret history, as well as education level, etc - bigger issues I didn’t address like race and class, because, well, I grew up in the wonderful safe bubble of Fairfield, CT. I didn’t light it - I didn’t think about the aesthetics of it at all, just what I was trying to say.But that guilt of me not having the credentials for filmmaking has haunted me for so long. I would show up on set and be so nervous that I didn’t know anything about lighting - or 35mm film or real lenses - that I would call for the wrong lens - that I was being judged by everyone. I remember about 7 years ago or so I was on a low budget tv spec spot and an electric asked me my age and I think I said I was older than I was so I could pretend that I knew what I was doing.But the more I do cinematography, the more I know that whatever unique perspective I have is an advantage. Not going to film school, coming from an anthropological and philosophical perspective gives me strength, a different way of seeing. And it is skills that can actually be learned on the job, online on forums, by talking and observing and learning from others. I have learned so much about filmmaking from a vimeo series called “Every Painting a Frame” that is just some passionate film editor named Tony Zhou doing it on his own time as from a youtube series spoofing George Lucas, and of course on set mentors like the great DP David Tumblety I shot with a few times.Everyone who brings a fresh perspective to filmmaking is so needed - we can not just have people do films all the same way. I think more and more there is a gluttony of film set behaviors that rewards the same and bureaucratic method of making “films” - traditional, boring, waiting - not just trying to find moments and capture little tiny ideas and bigger thoughts - but this route system of regimented military-like crew that does things traditional ways that people like Paul Thomas Anderson rally against - no marks - no lets go overt here instead - untraditional approaches that open up wonder again.But also that wonder is not anything without intense concentration and commitment and hard work. You can’t be lazy and successful. It’s sweat. My Puritanical work ethic was at one point rewarded vastly by my former boss and greatest mentor, Joe Baron. He runs Attitude, Inc - a post house in New York City. He taught me about perseverance - about going for perfection - “crossing the finish line” - which would sometimes be at 3am to get a piece to a level of standard he believed in. To not be mediocre, no matter what anyone else believes - to put one’s full heart into anything. To not get upset and bogged down by bureaucratic methods - to just be a part of a small group of people and be passionate. He found my strengths, and didn’t make me feel bad about my flaws, my quirks. I didn’t learn this in school, and this mentorship under him, as I assistant edited under him for two years. And his voice has been guiding me ever since, as I navigate through my adulthood. And whoever I get down because maybe I switch a lens too late or change my mind too suddenly (all artists need to be open to changes that can occur at any moment - spontaneity) - I always think of him there, watching over, making sure I’m okay. agolex, Nikkor, sudopera and 3 others 6 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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