Skip to main content

photo & video

The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker

Lesson 9 of 17

Preproduction - Working with Your Cinematographer*

Francesca Gregorini

The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker

Francesca Gregorini

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

9. Preproduction - Working with Your Cinematographer*

Lesson Info

Preproduction - Working with Your Cinematographer*

Now first thing they want to talk about is cinematography, so I want to get your take francesca on how do you approach that collaboration with a cinematographer? Well, first of all, you have to find what's happening here building your team that means sort of, you know, you get a bunch of reels of cinematographers and you find the one seems to have the closest to your eye on dh, you know, I went through I don't know, I want to see like, one hundred reals like I'm really like it's worth taking the time in preproduction too find the right person because with the wrong person you will be spending so much time trying to communicate or get them to do what you want them to do and it's like you might as well find a person that's already doing kind of what you would do if you had their job. So I suggest spending, you know, ample ample, ample time going through all of that and you'll drive everyone nuts because you're like, really in fifty, rials you haven't seen anyone you like and you're just ...

like nope, I haven't, you know and you keep to the side the better ones in case that's a good as it's going to get but you just you just you know, dr yourself and everyone else crazy and you know, pick the right person but cinematography is one of my personal favorite departments just because I think if I wasn't directing and I was more technical it's what I would be doing s o you get to sit and choose lenses and talk about lights and, you know, hopefully you're working with the cinematographer that is generous with their information and it's just not like, you know, they're the magician of image making and you're just directing actors because you know, you're directing all the departments so you have to have someone open minded that is collaborative and that you're gonna sort of, you know, get along with and then you make the's mood boards, which is basically like, you know, someone that you can talk about the film to that's really interested in the story that you're trying to tell and you know, and what does this story feel like? You know? And if the story was a color, what would it b and like, you just get a specific and it's silly as humanly possible and you just start both of you going through photography books are just internet pin interest or whatever the hell you want to go through and you just both start pulling images, you know? And then together collectively you come together and you have used, you know, push out the images that are not telling your story or that they're not that and then you end up with a mood board you know that me I just you know, plastic in my dining room because when I'm making a movie that's all I'm doing I think there's going to be no dining experience is going on in my dining room that aren't about the movie because it just sort of you know is your life so you have no other social life so you know, the mood board becomes the art of the you know of your place and you take things off and put things on but it's really kind of this thing that you live with all the time that is speaking to you and changing and evolving as you think about your movie more and as you talk about with your different department heads and your actors and it just becomes this thing that sort of you know, feeds you and gets you kind of even in the right emotional space to tell your story location scouting is supercool it's not really something you do with your cinematographer you kind of do it with your location scout, but then you bring your cinematographer to this place and you might god this is the best place and this is and they look around and they're just like I can't shoot you shoot in this space is not gonna happen for reasons x y and z and things that you may not have thought about or it's super noisy outside and we're gonna have to overdub all the you know so it's like you know it's it's super helpful to bring them and then you have to find some other place and all that bit of business but it's like as all these pieces come together it you know it was it's exciting because you really start to see your movie sort of started to take shape more and more in your mind and then you know, shot listing is super important because you know and you hear this a lot on set and it's you know, one of the most important things which is making your days, which is like, you know, on this day we're shooting whatever it is eight pages, fifteen pages, two pages depending on your budget and you know all the rest of it how many days you have to shoot but you know, it's really important to take the time to, you know, shot list every single scene and you know what the bottom of it put the shots that you would like to get, but if the time doesn't allow, you're not going to get and you're seeing will still hold up kind of a scene but it's you know, it's really important for me I really if at all possible I'd like tio sort of acted out the scene in a location you know and kind of shot listed that way in this amy actual space that you're going to be shooting and taking photos just with your cellphone whatever there have some maps I think I have when you've been on my phone that's like you khun actually choose the lens choose the lenses so you can you know see, you know this shot you know, shot on the thirty five or whatever different lenses and you khun choose your lenses that way or you know in any case it's it's really important to do and you know, pre production is everything in my book and to do it thorough and to be you know and it's also the cheapest part of things because no one's really getting paid at that point really maybe your cinematographer maybe but it's like that's when you have that time to have the discussions and to take the time you know once you're shooting it's just like you know, every hour cost x number of dollars that you don't have um ok and this is something that I did with with my cinematographer polly morgan who shot emanuel whose great and his great fun it's also helpful tio hire someone in that post that you get on with personality wise you know, because you're really going to be in the trenches with them and, you know, having a similar sense of humor and attitude about things is helpful and I like to hire people who say yes and then figure out how they're going to do it later, you know, um and that's paulie's nature, you know, it's like, can you that she said, yeah, and then you just see her turn white panic and try to figure out how she's going to do it, but it's like that's the name of the game, and so this just helps this we just grafted the whole movie beginning to end just for our own edification because, like I said, when you're productions like being shot out of a cannon so you like you're jumping from, like, shooting this scene to that seen to this other scene and it's just helpful to quickly have your production book that's your directors book and be like, oh my god, this scene has got to be this level of tension and and have, you know, mood, board, photograph and just so quickly you can read, set your mind to what are we trying to capture now as we're being quickly moving to the scene that has nothing to do with the senior shot before because you need to be in that head space and know exactly what you're doing so you could disseminate that information to everyone as quickly as possible so you can keep, you know, keep rolling and then, you know, we just put on feeling words for, like, what is that scene again? Just like, a quick thing for yourself so that, you know, ok, now we're shooting scene. Is this going to stop? Sort of some points? Hey, this is kind of what it's like being inside it's, just like flying by you. Just, like, hold me on. But it's, you know, just like you know, what is the scene about? Quickly? Just two words, okay for giving us an acceptance. Okay, we're shooting for getting this is an acceptance and you know, so you just have that in your mind as that's what you gotta get that's, what you got to feel when you're washing the monitor coming across that you is that emotion and that feeling and that's just helpful for me. I just, like tio set myself up to win and set myself up to no what's going on on set because you cannot not know what's going on ted, because everyone's coming up to you and asking you questions about that scene with regards to their department, and you just have to know everything's gotta be be moving towards forgiveness and acceptance and from the lighting to the this to that to the other.

Class Description

Independent filmmakers are often called on to not only write and direct, but to produce their projects. Wearing all three “hats” can be a daunting, yet inspiring proposition. In The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker with Francesca Gregorini, you’ll learn easily-applied strategies for balancing the demands of doing all three very unique jobs.

Francesca’s work has been officially selected by the Toronto Film Festival and premiered in the US Dramatic Competition at Sundance. In this class, she’ll discuss both the advantages and challenges of producing a film you’ve written and will direct. 

You’ll learn:

  • How to decide when its ‘right’ to produce your script and when to develop it further
  • Which "hat" to wear at what time from start to finish
  • Personalized paths for fundraising, production, and distribution

Francesca will explore the processes of writing, directing, and producing and how leading the charge can make these three unique perspectives more efficient, productive, and artistic.

The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker will help you develop best practices for all aspects of indie film production and inspire you to take control of your own destiny as a filmmaker. 

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



I think there were TONS of marvelous takeaways, here, in this course. The examples she presented about Scene Cards, the hardships, and the beauties-- all of it was very beneficial information for aspiring filmmakers. However, the verbal hesitance; "um", "you know", "uh", "you know what I mean", "or whatever"-- that started to get really distracting really quickly. But the course and the overall purpose of the lessons, that was great!


The good - Lots of helpful info about pre-production, things to consider, and working with actors. The not-so-good - Not exactly self-sufficient. If you were to cut out all the " know..." clutter, the course would probably be about 30 minutes shorter.