Film School Friday – Director versus DP

Director versus DP Episode Summary

In this episode of Film School Friday, Corey and Bill discuss the differences between a Director and a Director of Photography. Director versus DP, what do you think?

Director versus DP Episode Notes

In this episode of Film School Friday, Corey and Bill discuss the differences between a director and a director of photography. Sometimes on smaller projects this person is one and the same, but on larger projects these roles serve two very different functions.

“Please make sure you feed your crew.” – Corey Allen

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Director versus DP Transcript

Corey (00:00):

Welcome to film school Friday, I’m Corey.

Bill (00:13):

I’m bill,

Corey (00:13):

And together we host the InFocus podcast. Film School Friday is our special weekly episode where I get to quiz bill to see how much knowledge he retained from his years of film school. In this week’s episode, bill, I need you to help me understand one very important question.

Bill (00:28):

And that is.

Corey (00:29):

What is the difference between a director and a director of photography?

Bill (00:35):

Well, that’s a, it’s pretty simple. The director is, is the director. They’re the captain of the ship, they’re the head of the entire crew and the entire operation, they’re the ones that are working closely with the talent. They’re making sure the, the vision is, is happening and being executed. The director of photography also sometimes called the cinematographer is, is the eyes they’re the ones responsible for getting the director’s vision onscreen, essentially, they’re, they’re in charge of the lighting department, they’re in charge of the lenses and all of that sort of thing.

Corey (01:14):

Okay. That makes a lot of sense. Is there maybe an example of a decision that a director would make that maybe the director of photography would not be involved in?

Bill (01:26):

So I would say with something like that, it would probably be mostly around talent. The DP is not going to be talking to actors about their motivation and a scene or how they’re going to deliver a line that is solely the director’s job in their collaboration with the talent. When the DP works with the talent, it’s going to be around movement and hitting the Mark and, you know, general lighting matters ultimately. But yeah, when it comes to the real nitty gritty of delivering the right line and doing that sort of thing, that is

Corey (02:00):

Got it. So director is really focused on talent, focused on making sure the story is being presented appropriately and just kind of overall moving the project forward. Whereas the director of photography really focused on how all of that translates on camera, whether it’s from lighting camera moves, right, the right lens, the right filters, all those sorts of things and decisions. So, okay. That makes a lot of sense. Maybe another question is, is there a world where those two roles are potentially, you know, the same person?

Bill (02:28):

Yes. In fact, I’d say that’s happening more and more. As gear becomes a little more accessible, budgets are a lot smaller. You’ll a lot of times see directors and DPS being the exact same person. I’ve done that myself. Many times. I have different reasons of motivations for doing that. I personally do it because I love both jobs. And sometimes in my way of controlling things, I can’t give up control of either which, you know, I, I welcome a lot of stress into my life in that way, but yeah, a lot of people do prefer that. I can see how it cuts. Budget costs down. A lot of people like to wrangle their vision a little closely, if you’re me, for example.

Corey (03:14):

Right. I could definitely see where that would make sense and projects that maybe it is your own project where maybe you wrote a script, you wrote a screenplay where you have a ton of ownership and like commitment to telling that story like top to bottom. Yeah, I think, and I see that show up a lot in the music video world where oftentimes, whether it’s because of budget or because like you have the same person that pitches the treatment to the artist or to the label, and they’re able to see that through, from start to finish. Yeah. So yeah, that makes a lot of sense

Bill (03:47):

And it, and it works on something that’s maybe a smaller budgeted thing. That’s not that doesn’t have a lot of logistics involved in that sort of thing. Cause you have to remember when you’re a director, you’re doing all the things the director is doing when you’re in DP, you’re doing all the things that DP is doing when you’re doing both you’re com you are literally combining all of those responsibilities and putting them on one person yourself. And so the bigger the shoot is the more logistically complicated it is, the harder that’s going to be because you’re juggling talents. You’re juggling the vision, the script, the lenses, the lighting, the, you know, everything, the whole shebang is being carried on your back. So it’s you gotta be prepared to buckle up for that. If that’s what you want to do,

Corey (04:33):

Buckle up. That’s a lot of work.

Bill (04:35):

Oh yeah.

Corey (04:36):

All right. Now we’ll just have to decide which one of those two roles I want to do. So, yes. Great. All right, bill. Thanks. thanks again for sharing all your knowledge, this fine Friday. That’ll do it for film school Friday. Please make sure you feed your crew and we’ll catch you next time.

Bill (04:51):

See you later.

Corey (04:53):

We know you have a lot of podcast options. We appreciate you choosing us. Come back next week to hear me put bill to the test again, check us out And if you like what you heard today, could you do us a favor and rate our show? Wherever you consume your podcasts, it would help us out a ton.