ASC Continues Education and Outreach Efforts in Teaching and Motivating Young Filmmakers

The Society recently welcomed students in the film and media departments of San Francisco State University and Loyola Marymount University to the historic ASC Clubhouse in Hollywood for an educational panel to discuss the art, craft and business of motion imaging.

The event was part of the ASC’s longstanding educational panel series hosted by the Education & Outreach Committee. ASC members contribute to these discussions on a volunteer basis, and they share their experiences, inspirations and expertise in the business.

Panelists at the November 12 event included Charles Minsky, Donald M. Morgan, Patti Lee, Gregg Heschong and Nathaniel Goodman. The discussion was moderated by George Spiro Dibie.

These conversations are generated entirely by student questions. One student asked about how selective to be early in one’s career, and Goodman quickly responded, “Shoot as much as you can — because you’re going to learn.” Heschong agreed, adding that taking any project can give one the opportunity to become versatile, efficient and elegant. Minsky noted that a cinematographer develops an internal clock throughout a career of collaborators asking, “How long?” and that early careers offer the opportunity to learn how to use time in one’s favor. To this, Diebe quipped, “If you’re on time, you’re late!” and emphasized that “time is money. This is show business.” 

Another student asked how to best tell “true light” with the aid of a monitor when there are multiple options. Lee offered practical advice to test with waveforms and false colors. She stressed the importance of experimenting to find hot and dark spots. Heschong responded by reminding students that they should not rely on a piece of equipment for everything. “Train yourself to see what the camera is seeing,” he said. Goodman added that students should learn how to use a light meter and other fundamental tools of cinematography as well as to learn math.

Other questions that were asked involved making mistakes (to which Heschong replied, “Success is great, but failure is the best teacher. Don’t be afraid of messing up. Own up to it and move on.”) and how to work with collaborators who are not as interested in trying new things. Lee suggested bringing visual samples to show to collaborators who might not be able to imagine the vision, and Minsky added, “If the crew isn’t with you, it’s the wrong crew.”

Toward the end of the discussion, a student asked how a cinematographer is able to keep being excited by crafting the look of a multi-season television show. Morgan simply replied: “If you get bored, you should be doing something else. This is not a boring business.”  

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