How to Become a Director of Photography

Working in the film industry can be very demanding. People in this industry are expected to work long hours and spend time away from home. Despite this, most people agree that very few other careers offer the same level of satisfaction and creative buzz, so it is easy to see why people dream of working in this industry.

While there are many roles in the film industry for people to choose from, one role that has become increasingly popular over the past few years is director of photography. To find out what this is and how you can become one, keep reading below:

What is a DOP (Director of Photography)? 

Before we discuss how to become a DOP, we first need to talk about the role of a DOP in filmmaking. So, what do directors of photography do?

A director of photography is responsible for the photographic side of a production. They read the script and work alongside the director to discuss the feel and look of the film. Once they know what the director wants the film to look like, they research how to create this look through camera movements, framing and lighting. On top of this, they work out what they will need in terms of crew members and apparatus to achieve their desired look. 

And that’s not the end of their role; DOP filming is a difficult job. On filming days, the DOP and their team have much more work to do. They arrive early to prepare for the day. Once everything is set up, they collaborate with the director to decide the exact movement of both cameras and actors. As well as this, they discuss any special lighting requirements or camera moves before overseeing the set for the first take. 

Once filming is complete, they sit down with the director to view the footage. It’s the job of a DOP to ensure that every shot is high-quality, and to talk to the director if they spot any problems. 

Other Titles for a DOP

Like most roles in the filmmaking industry, there is more than one title for a DOP. The term cinematographer is another way to describe a director of photography. Both titles refer to the same position.

How to Become a DOP 

Now you know what a DOP does, and you understand that it is a senior role, we’ll explain how to become a Director of Photography in the UK:

  • Become a camera trainee – if you’re interested in creating DOP films, you’ll be pleased to hear that many DOPs start as camera trainees and work their way up to the position of DOP over time. 
  • Become an assistant director – another option is to become an assistant director first. However, these jobs are hard to find. 
  • Go to university – the university degrees that can help you become a DOP include art and design, graphics communications, maths, and physics.
  • Take a level 3 vocational qualification – if going to university isn’t for you, why not consider taking a BTEC in the above subjects? While these qualifications might not immediately get you your dream job, they are a great start and can help you get an apprenticeship with a filmmaking company. 
  • Get an apprenticeship – these are hard to come by, so ensure you have some qualifications in the areas above to make your application stand out. 
  • Network – as mentioned above, becoming a DOP can be extremely difficult; however, it is possible. One way to increase your chances of getting noticed is by networking online. 

If you’ve always dreamed of working in the film industry, but you’re not the best actor, then a role as a British cinematographer is a great option. There are many reasons why being a cinematographer in London is a great idea. Not only is it a well-paid role, but it offers excellent job satisfaction. If you like the sound of this, why not find out more about this role today?

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