David Stragmeister, DP, Intergalactic Samurai

Here’s What The 2018 Emerging Cinematographer Award Honorees Have To Say About…Everything!

by Margot Lester / Photos Courtesy of ECA Honorees 

Writing is more like filmmaking than you may think. One of the more striking similarities is how much gets left on the cutting-room floor. While cinematographers shoot way more frames than can ever be used, with great imagery that doesn’t make the final cut, writers ask more questions and get terrific answers that we can’t include, either. Our editors’ pens are just as sharp as your editors’ blades (or computer mice!). This year, we decided to create an editorial reel of sorts to share some of the best quotes that didn’t make it into the ECA profiles produced for the magazine. So without further ado…

Sources of Inspiration

“I feel cinematography is more similar to music than to painting. It’s rhythmic and has a cadence. The lenses we choose, the lighting we implement, and the way the camera moves create the symphony.”

Hunter Robert Baker, DP, Peacock Killer 

“I always go through the works of photographers and filmmakers I admire for inspiration. That includes OG cinematographers and many of the young guys whose work is always pushing the envelope.”

Tommy Daguanno, DP, Detroit Diamond

Tommy Daguanno on location for Detroit Diamond

Tommy Daguanno on location for Detroit Diamond

“I find inspiration in paintings. I like to think about Vermeer and Caravaggio as being some of the great cinematographers of their time. They didn’t just create images, they told stories with their images. However, I connect more to impressionism and abstraction. Monet, Basquiat and Picasso are some of my favorites. I like to think about what their films would have looked like if they were cinematographers.”

Drew Dawson, DP, Demon

Demon Shot by Drew Dawson

Demon / DP Drew Dawson

I’m inspired on a daily basis by people I follow on Instagram…some are filmmakers or artists or musicians or just friends…all sharing their perspectives of the world. I go to photo exhibits as often as I can, and my wife works in the art world, so we go to see shows that she hears about…to me there is nothing like being in the same room with someone’s creative expression.”

Clifford Jones, DP, Baby Steps

“Generally, I first ask my director for visual pieces that inspire him or her – either frame grabs or entire films. From there, I dive a bit deeper into their references, and then find ways to create that style or look with the resources that I have while also adding my own personal touch.”

Alicia Robbins, SOC; DP, Internet Gangsters

Alicia Robbins, SOC

Alicia Robbins, SOC

I normally go to still photography, film stills, or other films for reference. Getting on the same page with your director about where the inspiration for the aesthetic comes from is certainly one of the most important aspects of your working relationship.”

Gus Sacks, DP, Embalmer

Embalmer / DP Gus Sacks

Embalmer / DP Gus Sacks

Go-To Gear

“Lenses are the real instruments of our craft. You can perform on a piano or violin; however, if you play the same piece of music on an electric guitar, you might discover an entirely different feeling. For my work, I turn to vintage Panavision glass.”

Hunter Robert Baker

Peacock Killer / DP Hunter Robert Baker

Peacock Killer / DP Hunter Robert Baker

“I love my Odyssey7Q. I have gotten used to exposing with its waveform and other tools, and when I am shooting for projects whose budgets can’t afford a proper DIT, I find it’s the best way for me to stay consistent.”

T. Acton Fitzgerald, DP, Intrusions

Intrusions / DP T. Acton Fitzgerald

Intrusions / DP T. Acton Fitzgerald

“I guess for me it’s an EasyRig. I’m a tall guy at 6 foot, 5 inches – keeping eye-level or below handheld shots for days would be painful. And I truly love operating the camera, being with the action and the actors, and feeling the scene while shooting.”

Martin Moody, DP Goldblooded

Martin Moody / Photo Courtesy of Tom Botchii

Martin Moody / Photo Courtesy of Tom Botchii

“My Flanders Scientific DM170 monitor and Artemis Pro app.”

Gus Sacks

Gus Sacks

Gus Sacks

“I don’t think that there is such thing, but if I had to pick something it would be a Cinesaddle or any DIY variation of it. It allows me to quickly get the camera into otherwise difficult placements and provides an excellent elbow rest for handheld work.”

David Stragmeister, DP, Intergalactic Samurai

Advice for Up-and-Comers

“Build your network early and make sure they are as like-minded as possible.”

Tommy Daguanno

“Take as much advice from as many people as possible. Listen to what people have to say, and understand that everybody has a different communication style, so you have to listen with more than just your ears. However, at the end of the day, trust your gut! Empower yourself to be great, and do not disrespect yourself by being derivative.”

Drew Dawson

“My advice to young artists would be to get out there and just do your art. You will get a lot further, a lot faster, if you just worry about doing the best you can do with whatever resources you do have. Don’t worry about what you don’t have. Also, always seek advice from people who are willing to give you honest feedback and try to collaborate with those people.”

T. Acton Fitzgerald

T. Acton Fitzgerald

T. Acton Fitzgerald

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way. The vast majority of cinematographers that I’ve worked with are happy to share their wisdom and experience with someone who is seeking to improve their craft.”

Clifford Jones

Clifford Jones (center) with cast and creative team for Baby Steps / Photo Courtesy of Karen Steyr Randolph

Clifford Jones (center) with cast and creative team for Baby Steps / Photo Courtesy of Karen Steyr Randolph

“Collaborate. Communicate. Give it your all. Sounds simple, but it’s hard to find. Being able to make a movie is an amazing opportunity on any level. Do not waste other people’s – or your own – time.”

Martin Moody

Goldblooded / DP Martin Moody

Goldblooded / DP Martin Moody

“Pay attention on set. You should treat every job as if it’s the greatest job in the world, because someone is always watching and taking note of your work ethic. You’d be surprised where your opportunities can come from, so be present, be attentive, and work hard at every job you do.”

Alicia Robbins, SOC

Internet Gangsters / DP Alicia Robbins, SOC

Internet Gangsters / DP Alicia Robbins, SOC

“A friend once told me that you are the curator of your work. I think it’s very true. Live simply so that you can be selective. Find the projects and the collaborations that are right for you.”

David Stragmeister

Intergalactic Samurai Shot by David Stragmeister

Intergalactic Samurai / DP David Stragmeister