How do I become a Cameraman?
What type of education does a Cameraman need?
Many Cameramen have some form of formal training but this is not always the case. The main thing to posses is a great attitude and the eagerness to learn. A natural talent and ability will also give you a great head start in this industry.
You do have a number of options open to you as there is no formal education required to follow this career; it is a matter of personal choice. As such, you don’t necessarily need any formal qualification or training, although some people do choose to go to film school or do a degree in a related topic.
Some people choose to go to college/University and do a course related to photography or media. If you do choose the college route, then majoring in Film and Television Production could be useful. If you take this route, then gaining work experience at the same time is very useful. You can do this by working on college films or for a local TV station.
Another option is to go to film school where you will learn specifics about the film and television industry, equipment, practices and the specifics about becoming a Cameraman and working in the industry.
Short courses are also available at many film schools. This is a good option for many people who want to get started quickly, as it lets them improve their skills and meet people to develop relationships.
If you would rather go straight to work and don’t want to follow the college or film school route then there are many other options available. One good place to start is to contact independent filmmakers, small production companies and local news stations and find out whether they need any help… offer to make the tea! Work experience is a fantastic opportunity to learn and make contacts.
Getting your training from a crewing agency can also be a great route in to the industry. This is a great way to gain valuable experience and you will have more chance of getting a job more quickly.
Another route into this industry is getting a mentor. This is actually very important and something you should always look for when you’re getting started. With a mentor you can avoid many of the pitfalls and quickly rise to the top. Ask them questions, ask for advice and listen. There are great cameramen out there who are happy to share their tips and secrets, so in today’s world of social media, follow them on twitter, join their Facebook page and ask questions, give comments and see what they are doing and saying. Find a successful Cameraman and look at their showreel, find out how they shot a scene and absorb as much information as you can – this is the best education you will get.
Many people are only willing to share their hard earned information if they deem you worthy of the knowledge, so you need to show them that you are determined, honest and trustworthy.
You need to physically get behind the camera so the best education is to practice, practice, practice! Learn about different types of cameras and practice shooting in different situations. You will learn as you go along, but the key is to get behind the lens and just start shooting. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes – Remember: The person who makes no mistakes, makes nothing! The time to make mistakes is when you are practicing. Learning from your own mistakes is an education in itself.
Remember that a Cameraman should be continuously developing his craft and always learning about new equipment and technology. There are many types of education you can find but never stop learning. Some people like a more formal route, while others prefer to jump in at the deep end. No way is right or wrong, it will depend on your life plans and individuality.