For a country that is one of the leading producers of feature films in the world, there are lots of career opportunities to be found in the world of cinema. One of the most important aspects of filmmaking is the role of a cinematographer who captures the 3D world aesthetically to give the best visual experience for the audience, on screen. Ace cinematographer and filmmaker Rajiv Menon shares some tips on what makes for good cinematography and screenwriting.
Skills to be a cinematographer
The technical aspects related to lens, lighting and composition are similar to what a still photographer would require, but the skill of a cinematographer lies in using all the available tools for a narrative format and he contributes to the story-telling process. So one of the most important things you must have is the passion for the story you are telling. Lighting, lens and taking pictures won’t necessarily help in becoming a successful cinematographer because beyond these things one has to realise he/she is part of a team that is telling a story.
A basic knowledge of the still camera is very important and the person must like seeing things through the lens. Another requisite skill for a cinematographer is communication as the story has to reach a large number of people who have varying capacities of understanding. It’s very important he/she convey things with clarity. A cinematographer has to keep his thirst for learning alive and keep learning about the latest trends in the business. There is so much to learn in terms of light and composition. One must try to develop ‘new skills for new opportunities’ to keep up with changing trends and be fearless to succeed.
This job also needs a lot of dedication and hard work. A person needs to work close to 15 hours every day for three years to reach some level of competence and it is very important to have complete focus.
When I started out there was huge clash of value system. People like me who came from the film institute were considered brash and arrogant because we came from an affluent background with formal education while the industry needed docile people. But today things have changed and people recognise the importance of formal education and training.
To be a good screenwriter one must have a good knowledge of the story. A person must be interested in reading and must a read a lot because when you read you internalise things. As a screenwriter you must be able to put pen to paper. One must have a lot of patience to spend time sitting with ideas and craft it properly. The ability to dissect things is also very important for a screenwriter and he/she must have a clear idea about the purpose of the film in terms of the emotion it tries to convey, be it laughter, anger or sorrow, and so on.