A Day in the Life

Lighting Cameraman / Director of Photography

Casual meeting after breakfast to go through technical set up of cameras, to make sure all our pictures look the same. 11:30
I go to location to meet the electrician. We have already recce’d the site, a mansion, and hired lights and a generator to cover our requirements. As the action all takes place on one night we need to light many areas at once. They are the driveway, the front of house, the terrace at the rear, the reception room and staircase, another interior room with plasma screen, and two interview areas somewhere else on the property, and the sea off the terrace, and the ability to shoot anywhere else the director requires. Fortunately we’d been able to pre-rig much of this so today it’s making sure it all works and everyone is happy with where we’re shooting. 13:00
Lunch….and the director is keen to shoot the opening sequences. 14:00
All crews start shooting in different locations , some with the girls getting ready, myself and another crew interviewing the bachelor to learn a little about him and his expectations. 15:00
We relocate to the balcony for presenter links, These are unplanned at this location and I bring in some daylight HMI’lights as we’re now shooting against the sun. The other crew rigs onto the crane for more shots of the mansion. 16:00
We have to derig some of the lights and pull back cables to clear the shot for the crane. Sometimes a director likes to keep the shooting fluid and adapt ideas as we go. It’s my job to support him to get the best results. 16:45
Supper break, I can’t eat and do a final check on lights as it starts to get dark. 17:45
The sun is setting but we’re waiting for the sky to get a darker blue before we go with the first limousine down the driveway. I know this will look alright as we did some pre-shooting with the cars the night before. 18:08
We call the first car forward but there is a delay. I keep an eye on the sky and think we might have blown it - the light's going to go! 18:10
The limo arrives and thee cameras cover the first girl getting out of the limo, she meets the bachelor at the entrance. Another crew follows her through the mansion and onto the terrace where she is interviewed by the fifth crew about her first impressions. This is repeated with each of the girls and four more cars. 20:00
Myself and another cameraman settle into cross-shooting conversations between the bachelor and the girls. They can go almost anywhere and I get caught out in a seating area lit for background only that suddenly becomes a major area for chat. We do a quick relight and as this part of the shoot is “actuality” and we get away with it. 20:45
One of the cameramen is unsure of their exposure and I try to sort the problem and reassure them that it’ll be ok. I wonder if I got it wrong, and haven’t got enough light in some areas. We find the problem and carry on. I hope the rest of the team are managing to shoot without seeing too many lamps! 22:00
The bachelor retires to revue his options whilst the girls assemble in the mansion for the ceremony where they’ll be invited to stay. I quickly check their positions and go to the interview room for more filming. 22:50
The ceremony is about to start with the bachelor’s walk down the stairs but there’s a slight problem with his final position for one of the cameramen and I need to reset a lamp. A short delay and filming restarts. 23:00
The ceremony is tense, the girls who are to stay return to the terrace, those who’ve been rejected are interviewed in front of the mansion. 24:20
A “wrap” is called and we finish filming for the night. The production are very pleased with the way everything’s gone but I’ll wait ‘till I see some of the rushes on a colour monitor tomorrow morning. The generator is powered down and everything made safe. 24:45
00:45! Back to the hotel where, over a beer, I discuss which lamps can be derigged. I need to keep the area for the rose ceremony for a further two ceremonies lit, and the terrace, but need to take lights for one of the dates when the bachelor takes five girls to a sandy cove. There’s a Bedouin tent to be lit and a beach BBQ. I’ve seen the bay but there’s no time to pre-rig lights so we’ll be making it up a little as we go……..but that’s another day!!

What you do: The range of the job?

The Lighting Cameraman or D.O.P. will be working with the director and the designer (on a drama) from the early stages of a production to give it a certain look. On the shoot, the DOP is responsible for all aspects of the lighting and the photography.

Qualities: What you need to be able to do the job?

Considerable experience as a camera operator, depth of experience in lighting and the ability to anticipate the camera and lighting equipment that might be needed, ahead of time. Creative and management skills.

Career path: How you start and where you can go with it?

You?ll be lighting films or taking photographs before you start as a camera assistant and make camera operator. You may them progress to DOP. A DOP in a drama or a commercial will be looking after a much larger crew, generally, than a Lighting Cameraman on say a factual TV programme.

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