What it means to be a Director of Photography is changing. As I’ve discussed in previous posts, I no longer see myself as a DoP in the traditional sense, but rather as the principle visual designer of the projects I work on. I’ve noticed that as makers continue to push the boundaries of our work, the roles of visual designer and creative producer have begun to coalesce. This is a very exciting evolution in the creative industries.
15 years ago I remember seeing new visual work that inspired me about once a week, perhaps a bit more often when I was in film school. 200 years ago it might have been once a year for someone like me, or once every five years. But today, when the barriers to production and distribution are falling away so rapidly, I see new and powerful content every day. I wish I could track the rate which I have added visual material to my reference archive over the years—today I add four or five samples of imagery or motion content every 24 hours. The best aspect of this phenomenon is that the more work we see that inspires us, the more work we will produce that has the potential to inspire others. This cycle has a name: innovation.
We have entered an age where the technological and social barriers of content creation are falling away at a remarkable rate. I’ve read some opinions recently suggesting that the real battle now isn’t in creating strong content, but rather in marketing: getting as many eyeballs as possible in front of what you produce. There is some truth here, but I don’t agree with this entirely. Marketing is important, of course, and I’ll even concede that in some limited circumstances savvy promotion can compensate for weak content. But at the end of the day it is the cocktail of fearless innovation and judicious promotion that separates great work from the ocean of mediocrity. Though the amount of work we produce is increasing, the standards will always rise proportionally: no matter how much material we create, only the top percentage will be work that people can’t wait to watch. Put differently, it will always be only the best work that gives our audiences goosebumps. And this is what we aspire to deliver.
The view from Kostava Street: new friends, new ideas, and the low rumble of coming change.