Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Professional Practice - a camera operator's view

Contacts and networking are at the heart of professional practice. This was a key theme in the interview with Anna Valdez Hanks in Middlesex University’s School of Arts & Education today. Anna Valdez Hanks’ path into camerawork began in Medical School when she started studying Ethics as part of her course. As a result of this she changed her mind about becoming a doctor and graduated in Medical Ethics instead. She desperately wanted to make a film about to communicate as idea but did not have the technical know how. So Anna went off to college and did a BTec in Film Making.

Her career started at the bottom when a BBC crew went to her college and she offered to help them out. She got talking to a producer and subsequently e-mailed him. This led to more unpaid roles but very useful experience which was a valuable learning opportunity. Eventually, Anna found herself an unofficial mentor who helped develop her skills as well as her paid work. She is now working freelance as a camera assistant and has built up a wealth of experience since that. She has won a short film competition in the Straight 8 competition,(Looking for Marilyn)(see below) worked on Endgame for Channel 4, as well as ad shoots.

The topics covered in the interview were wide ranging with some of the focus on the technical aspects of filmmaking with the move from film to digital as a recording tool. Anna also discussed the relationship between cinematographer and director which can be challenging at times when interpretations over style and voice are at a variance.

Other parts of her interview clearly showed that in order to be a Professional Practitioner she needs skills, technical knowledge as well as negotiating skills. She has used competitions as a way of developing her knowledge in addition to her career.

As a freelancer Anna talked of the difficulties of time management in between jobs but with experience and more resources she now uses her downtime to develop her own projects and collaborates on scripts with peers. She stressed the importance of maintaining contacts with various professional networks. The interview was punctuated with clips of her actual work. One of these was her show reel which she is a work in progress. She wants to do more work on it before she sends it out to agents. This is her potential calling card and Anna pointed out that she can she can see a development in her work and how it has improved.

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