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Hi Phil, nice article pointing out the foggy path for folks entering the industry. 30 years in, I was fortunate enough to come through the rental house path during the late years of film and transitioning into digital. I’ve met countless “film school” grads who lament about the lack of “real, practical” knowledge they paid a pretty steep price for and how they learned more in 2 weeks on set than they did in 2 years of film school. Also, the double edged sword of the incredibly low cost of equipment, the flurry of new mfrs in cameras, lenses, accessories, etc., which has really broadened the visuals we see and have access to while at the same time saturating and watering down, for me at least, the commercial side of production. Good article, I’m not sure where the solution lies, but nice to see someone recognize and start the conversation. Thanks again!

Don Starnes

Many people these days, for a variety of interesting reasons, tend to view the world through a consumer’s lens, which is all about identity though buying things: I bought skis, so now I’m a skier. I went to film school, so now I’m a filmmaker. My mother bought me a RED, so now I’m a cinematographer.

It turns out, though, that filmmaking is an art and a trade which can only be adequately learned through hand-to-hand instruction and lots of experience, like professional ballet dancing and dentistry. I learn something about filmmaking every day that I work, and I’ve worked many, many days.

I often joke that the only entry level position that I know of in filmmaking is Producer; every other position, including PA, is a skilled trade.

But there are a few ways to break in: steaming up the glass outside a rental house is a good one. I mention a few others in my article https://www.provideocoalition.com/how-to-get-trained/

Don Starnes
Director of Photography
IATSE Local 600

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