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Attention, Filmmakers: Here’s the Best Career Advice from 2015 Sundance Cinematographers

Attention, Filmmakers: Here's the Best Career Advice from 2015 Sundance Cinematographers

As part of our “How I Shot That” series, we asked a select group of cinematographers with films at Sundance about the best career advice they’ve ever received. And now we’re sharing it with you.

“Surround yourself with good people. This isn’t easy as it sounds because it also means being truthful with yourself about what your own shortcomings are and what you need help with. The energy of the crew suffuses what happens in front of the camera and you want as little as possible to impede the flow of creativity on set. With the right crew, that creativity comes from all directions, the AC, the key grip, etc.” – Eric Lin, “I Smile Back”

“Be bold and take risks. Don’t be afraid to fail.” – John Guleserian, “The Overnight”

READ MORE: Sundance 2015 Cinematographers on How They Captured Their Most Difficult Shots

“The best piece of advice I ever got was also the first. Right before I started film school, I reached out to a DP named John Leonetti, who is a family friend. He told me to look at the light. Watch it. He said that lighting will never look as good as it does in real life and you have to learn how to create it and apply it to scenes in the way that you remember seeing it. To this day, it’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten.” – Brandon Trost, “Diary of a Teenage Girl”

“Shoot as much as you can and follow your instincts. The more you can be true to your own eye and create an individual style, the richer your work will be.” – Tim Orr, “Z for Zachariah”

“I started to reveal the white and black material in the bathroom of my studio but I had lots of problems in the dark room because the 100 feet of film tangled up and scratched all my material. An old camera man gave me the solution: Never unhand the sides of the reel. Hold one end in each hand. They never scraped again.” – Antonio Quercia, “Knock Knock”

“If you end up with the story you started with, you weren’t listening along the way.” – Matthew Heineman, “Cartel Land”

“Be kind, be helpful and work hard.” – Ben Kutchins, “Sleeping with Other People”

“Never light from behind the camera.” (also the worst advice) – Jas Shelton, “The Stanford Prison Experiment”

“You can make money doing the things you love.” – Crystal Moselle, “The Wolfpack”

Editor’s Note: The “How I Shot That” series is part of the Indiewire and Canon U.S.A. partnership at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, where we celebrate cinematography at Canon Creative Studio on Main Street. Read the entire series here.

READ MORE: Here’s What Sundance Cinematographers Think of Shooting Film Vs. Digital

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