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Local Camera Professionals Share Their Career Experience at Through the Lens: Careers in Cinematography

From left to right: Dejan Georgevich, Nancy Schreiber, Quenell Jones, Angelo DiGiacomo,and moderator Sal Petrosino.
February 18, 2011 - A full house was on hand to listen to personal accounts from talented camera professionals working in film, television and online production at Through the Lens: Careers in Cinematography. The free panel, which was presented by the Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, International Cinematographers Guild Local 600 IATSE and Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, took place at the School of Visual Arts and featured members of Local 600 IATSE, the labor union that represents camera professionals and publicists, as they discussed their careers.

The evening also included a recruitment session for the next cycle of the “Made in NY” Production Crafts Training Program, which will focus on Film and Digital Loaders in the camera department. Participants in the program, which aims to help women, minority and struggling New Yorkers prepare for advanced careers in film and television production, will be taught technical skills associated with Film and Digital Loaders by members of Local 600 and taught production basics and job readiness skills by Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, the non-profit organization that administers the program.

Additional recruitment events for the “Made in NY” Production Crafts Training Program are scheduled for Wednesday, March 2 and Monday, March 14 at 10am at Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, 621 Degraw Street, Brooklyn between 3rd and 4th Avenues. For more information: 718-237-2017 ext. 166 or

The discussion took place at the School of Visual Arts.
Moderator Sal Petrosino, the Director of Operations of the Film, Video and Animation department at SVA, got the discussion started by introducing clips from each of the panelists’ reels and then asking panelists about how they got started in the industry.

Dejan Georgevich, whose credits includes numerous film and television productions and nearly 1,000 commercials, started out sweeping floors at a studio, but he used the opportunity to meet the cinematographers who worked there and kept a production notebook, recording who was working on which commercial and the choices that they made. Three years later, he was shooting and directing commercials himself.

Angelo DiGiacomo, a camera assistant who began his career in an equipment rental house, has been a member of Local 600 for 33 years and an executive board member for sixteen years and is now in the process of retiring and moving into teaching. His career has taken him around the globe from Argentina to Malaysia.

Quenell Jones attended the School of Visual Arts and worked as a gaffer and a grip along with a host of other positions in order to “see what I wanted to do.” After earning his masters degree in England, he eventually joined IATSE and worked his way up from film loader to camera operator.

When asked if she thought it’s harder for a woman to be a cinematographer, award-wining director of photography Nancy Schreiber said, “I think it can be challenging for everyone, man or woman. If you have a thin skin, this is not the industry for you.”

Following the panel discussion, a Q&A took place.
Georgevich explained the process of how a cinematographer gets involved in a project. A producer will line up five or six candidates. Who gets chosen is based on trust and on relationships. “Once I get hired, I see my role as the guardian of the image,” he said. “I have to get the image of what the director wants across on film and communicate that vision to the other departments.”

“During pre-production, I try to figure out what the director’s strengths are and what his style is,” said Schreiber.

“When I’m in a camera operator position, I consider myself the ears and eyes of the director of photography when they’re not there,” said Jones.

DiGiacomo explained how his role differs from the others. “If you’re the camera assistant, you run the technical part of the department,” he said.

Back row, from left to right: Dejan Georgevich, Angelo DiGiacomo, Sal Petrosino, BWI's Katy Finch and
Local 600's David Blake. Front row, OFTB's Julianne Cho, Nancy Schreiber, Quenell Jones, and Local 600's
Chaim Kantor. Photo courtesy of Hassan Heyward, OFTB. 

Questions from the audience elicited views from the panelists about ever-changing camera technology.

“Film has been here for a hundred years,” said Georgevich. “The tools will change. The techniques will evolve, but the bottom line is we’re storytellers.” He went on to explain that Local 600 works to keep its members ahead of the changes by offering workshops and seminars in technology like 3-D cameras.

One audience member asked the panelists what their favorite piece of equipment was. The answers drew laughs from the crowd: “My eyes (Georgevich), “my mind” (Jones), “my heart” (Schreiber) and “my tape measure” (DiGiacomo).

Schreiber told the audience that it’s “a great time for all of you [to become cinematographers] with all the equipment that’s out there.” Cameras have become more affordable, she said, allowing you to shoot something and see it through to post-production.

“Knock on as many doors as you can,” said DiGiacomo. “Whichever one opens, that’s the one you take.”
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