As a seasoned producer, you may oversee many productions happening simultaneously across multiple locations. You understand the importance of curating the best team for the specific needs of each project.
Many factors have to be considered when assembling a team; including the nature of the project, the genre, and even the individual personalities of the team members. Out of all the team members you hire, the director of photography will play one of the most influential roles in the look and feel of the final product. Here are some key tips for how to find the right director of photography for your project.
Work With an Established Video Production Company
One of the best shortcuts to hiring a competent Director of Photography (DOP) is to work with an established video production company that can put you in touch with viable candidates. Such companies usually have a vetted pool of professionals from whom you can choose according to your needs and personal preferences. Your solution may be as simple as contacting the company and explaining what you’re looking for.
Have Meaningful Conversations
In such a creative field as video production and film production, your rapport with your DOP is just as important as anything that appears on their resume. Instead of sitting across a desk firing questions about what they liked most about their last project, have meaningful conversations with your shortlist of candidates. Bring them out for lunch or a walk so you can have a relaxed, friendly conversation about the possibilities of this project partnership. This is the only way you’ll find out if this is the type of personality that you’d be able to work with. Here are some things to look out for during your chit chat:
- Are they open to possibilities, or do they frequently say things like, “that’s not possible”?
- Do they add creatively to your ideas?
- Do they seem to grasp your vision for what you hope to accomplish?
- Are they receptive to your ideas, or are they mired in doing things “the old way”?
- Do they listen when you speak, or do they interrupt with their own ideas?
- Are they always talking about themselves? Is their ego going to be a problem?
Consider Their Timeframe and Workload
Bad DOP's can be like general contractors, piggybacking projects and spreading themselves to thin. If you think you’ve found the ideal Director of Photography, hang on tight before you sign them to your deal. Consider their timeframe and workload. If they have too many projects in the pipeline, you could find your project held up in the pre-production stage while you wait for your DOP to fly in from his other projects. Make sure you’re crystal clear about how much time this candidate will be able to carve out and dedicate to bringing your project to fruition.
Stay Objective About Your Decision
If you are fortunate enough to find an enthusiastic and charming candidate for your DOP, it’s easy to be tempted to let your emotions influence your decision. But this can be a big mistake. Your final choice has to be based on clear objectives, standards, and practical considerations like timing and budget. Try not to be too heavily influenced by a resume dotted with big names in the industry of movie producers, directors and motion pictures that won Oscars. These things matter, but don't place so high a value on them that you're blind to the practical matter.
Consider all the points mentioned above and hiring the best Director of Photography for your needs should be easy.