“What Dreams Are Made Of”

In our professional lives as cinematographers, camera operators, assistants, DIT’s, still photographers and publicists, there’s nothing more satisfying than completing a successful day’s work on a project that any of you as crewmembers might experience. It’s hard work – always. But when it’s done well, and the job includes a high level of camaraderie and the feeling of accomplishment, it’s extremely gratifying.

Extrapolate that sentiment into an entire production. Sometimes on commercials it can be a few days, but on features it can be several weeks on up and literally months or years for successful television shows. The feeling of satisfaction that comes from a job well done is shared amongst the entire crew and across every department – from dozens to literally hundreds of union professionals, all pointed in the same direction and dedicated to a common goal. It’s really an amazing and fabulous endeavor if you stop to think about it.

There’s another level of satisfaction that comes into play when that same project is submitted to film festival or similar industry gathering and potentially chosen to compete for an award. Everyone who works on a project that gets attention for its excellence gains a sense of pride that lingers long after the job has finished. When that same project actually gets nominated for an award, no matter the size or reputation of the honoring body, the excitement grows even more. That’s when the most skilled public relations and marketing professionals in the world take over (our own Local 600 members) to help create buzz, spin, whatever you want to call it, to help ensure that project not only reaches its maximum intended audience but also those key decision makers who are voting on the award.

It can’t be stated enough that there is a tremendous amount of pride and satisfaction in just working on a project that’s been nominated (given how random and sometimes politically biased are the reasons that go into the final selection of award winners.) Of course, if your project does cross the line in first place, it takes things to yet another level. Anyone associated with that project can justifiably claim he or she was part of something that reached the echelon of our industry; that also holds true for projects that don’t necessarily win awards but knock it out of the park in terms of business done – box office, ratings, etc. There have been films that I merely “helped on” – Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Blade Runner, for example – that still fill me with pride by association, decades after they wrapped. (Not incidentally, my name was put in the mix for other projects I never would have been interviewed for had I never worked on such cherished and groundbreaking works of cinema.) I’m terrifically proud of the work we all, as union professionals, did on those movies. It’s the same kind of feeling I still get every time I walk off a set after a good day’s work – a tangible sense of professional pride, contentment, gratification and satisfaction that comes from being part of a larger, unified effort – very much like what this Union stands for.

It lasts a day and also a lifetime, and is the stuff cinematic dreams are made of.

 

Steven Poster, ASC
National President
International Cinematographers Guild
IATSE Local 600