“License to Thrill”

If you work in the world of movies, television, commercials and new media, do you have a job or a career? In my experience, there’s no one I know in this industry who doesn’t approach the work he or she does with the passion and intensity of a lifelong avocation, a forever career. We all come into this pursuit of making global entertainment with the idea that our contributions are much bigger than ourselves. Of course not every project feels that way. But the majority do, and that’s really what sustains us.

Along those lines, everyone in our industry is doing some kind of continuing education. And while doctors, dentists, psychologists and many other professions must provide evidence of continuing education to maintain a license – board examinations, for instance – this industry has no such certification program, or even a process to license our practitioners. The phrase “You’re only as good as your last job” is the de facto way the entertainment business allows its members to keep working. Hard work, timely and safe delivery of the product, in a way that recognizes one’s key contribution to the creative process, will always result in your license being “renewed.”

Knowing how to work within a system that produces new technologies – for capture, workflow, image creation – is challenging, because there’s a new learning curve nearly every week! What I’ve found is that we absorb and implement those new systems very quickly, simply because we have to. What is out there to help us maintain our continuing education? Extensive training programs across the nation are provided to this membership by its Union, of course. Beyond that are many annual events – like this month’s NAB in Las Vegas – that help sustain education for industry professionals. NAB is a massive enterprise of new technology, equipment and seminars of what’s coming next. Each year I’ve gone, I encounter fellow ICG members on the show floor asking, “What’s new?” and “What have you seen?”

The family-style affair that is Cine Gear, on the heels of NAB in early June, is specifically targeted toward our production community. Over those few days at Paramount Studios, I see more camera team members, the vendors that serve them, and technologists than at any other time in this industry. And, of course, we talk, which is a fabulous education! A few months before NAB is a terrific event in Atlanta with a name to match: Technical Visual Effects Showcase of Cinematic Innovation, sponsored by PRG and Paskal Lighting. There’s also NAB New York, IBC Amsterdam, Cinec Munich, AFC’s Micro Salon in Paris and BSC Expo London, all aimed at educating our global tribe in the many new rapidly developing technologies thrust upon us. Along with our union training classes, attendance at these events is the best form of continuing education we have in this industry.

Additionally, when a member reads our weekly ICG newsletter, they’re made aware of the many vendor-specific events that occur throughout the year centered on new technology training and education. Typically, this amounts to no fewer than 10 learning events each week available across the country. There are also smaller expo-type events worth attending, where a single facility will combine a group of different manufacturers to showcase their latest products. Three that come to mind are: J.L. Fisher’s barbecue, just before summer starts in late May, which brings members of the ICG, SOC and ASC together for a relaxed and informative mixer; Tiffen’s Open House, including the Steadicam Guild’s Stabilizer Gear Expo, which is typically a few weeks later and includes moving camera systems from across the spectrum; and Band Pro’s One World Open House, an annual winter holiday gathering in Burbank that brings many diverse production-centric vendors together for an entire day and evening.

These are just a few of the ways that our industry colleagues are providing ICG members with a platform to expand their technological knowledge base, helping to renew our “license to thrill” in this fast-paced and ever-changing industry.


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

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