How to become TOP DOP in Thailand

Being a professional DOP  is a highly skilled job requiring many qualities. Even working DOP in such tropical paradise as Thailand, filming in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Samui being a professional cinematographer is not just a case of looking into the viewfinder and taking pictures. The following recommendations are the result of many years of filming as Director of Photography (DOP) practice at Bangkok , one of the biggest city and a center of filming industry in South East Asia. So if you are really serious about reaching the pinnacle of your career please read on.

That article also for all of you, producers, directors and camera operators, I hope that it will be very useful for everyone crew on set.

At Bangkok, as in any other big city in South-East Asia (as Hong Kong , Singapore, etc) a filmmakers community is honestly always full of mediocre filmmakers – be outstanding!

You are a professional DOP and make it a part of your personality, be proud of it. Find out everything you can about your craft and master it, I mean really mastery in your craft. Become a recognized expert and you will always be in demand.

There is nothing worse than just standing behind the camera in anticipation to say what to do, this is simply not enough. Producers and directors need your creative input; they need enthusiasm and endless suggestions on how something can be done, improved and improved so that it significantly exceeds their original concept. This is part of your work, so always provide a ton of creative input.

If you are already working as DOP on set – your job is to go further and further. Even if your position: camera assistant, focus puller, second assistant, even you are vdoman on a film set – there the most important thing: DO NOT BE LAZY. Filming first time here in Thailand, if you re foreigner filmmaker, be sure you are and will have a misunderstanding with a thai crew, sometimes feeling some of them are lazy and some of them too much worry about meals on time at location 🙂

If you already work on film set, please make great efforts, even if you working without a break for all 12 hours, find something in yourself to make additional efforts, follow to filmmakers professional standards, do everything possible to get the best possible results that you can.

If you’re pretending to be a professional DOP – don’t do foolish on set. I’ve worked with that local Directors in Thailand who going for fun and then that production always went to OT. Spending precious production time which cost money it totally looks completely unprofessional.  Even my thai assistants might think that I’m an old grumpy bastard coz I don’t care about having fun, especially if you work for many hours, but PLEASE understand this. You are DOP and you are responsible for shipping, don’t screw it up. In this game you can work hard and play hard, SO KEEP the two things clearly SEPARATED.

DOP should be calmly confident in his abilities. Director, Producers and other people trust you very much, and they need to know that you are completely up to date with your game. You do not need to tell people how good you are, just demonstrate it by showing them that you are in control of the situation and will cope with any situation that arises.

Do not be grumpy, no one wants to work with unhappy people. Even if you do not feel so good, do not show it. It’s IMPORTANT FOR ANYONE ON SET. I understand that most of you guys working as a freelance, and this shooting may be just another day of filming for you, but for producer or director it is their child, they probably planned and waited months for this day, so try not to spoil it, being unhappy and depressing. Always be cheerful and optimistic.

And for the end, any film production doesn’t always go according to production brief. Especially when you filming in Thailand on Isle as Krabi or Phuket, Similan or somewhere – the rain, storm or bad weather in a few hours can totally change production schedule. Then cost overcosts, clients with producer changing his minds, and many other things can turn a well-planned day into a nightmare!

And this is where your flexibility and versatility manifest. Just because you took the time and energy to prepare the sequence does not give you any license to provoke hysteria if the plan changes, and you need to move on to shoot something completely different.

You are professional DOP and your mission is to calmly adapt to the situation and be an expert. The hype just shows people that you are not flexible and adaptable in the film industries.

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