Article: An Open Letter to Cinematographers/D.O.Ps

An Open Letter on The Importance of Excellence.

This letter is going to be a short one, let’s just call it a straight to the point letter.

Let me start by ringing out how not easy your job is because it’s more mental draining than just holding the cameras and calling the shots, let’s not even talk about the strength it consumes. This is something some people don’t really understand hence their surprise reactions when you name your price.

The truth of the matter is that your job description is much more than calling the shots, it’s not just about hearing you say take 2 – action, Cut!!! or it’s a wrap.

Your job starts from the day you accept to direct/shoot that music video till the video is delivered to the person who contracted the job to you.

What am I saying? Everything from ideation till final product is your business and as such it’s expected that you leave no stone unturned during your production meeting.

Of what use really is having state of the heart equipments to shoot a video only for people to see the content and be wondering who shot/directed this video not because it is superb rather because of numerous shortcomings. Check these out:

How do you direct a music video where people are dancing already without a beat?

How do you shoot videos at locations having no correlation or representation with/in the song?

How would people play string instruments like the electric guitar, bass guitar or the keyboards by the lake or in forests without power connection or speakers? If it was a grand piano it could be easily overlooked.

Not on your watch should a music video be shot with the lead’s costume in direct contrast from that of BGVs (background vocals) or band, or do you think that isn’t your business ?

Gone are those days where people who cannot play certain music instruments are on set miming with such instruments, it shouldn’t be happening not in this century at all.

There is also the part of dance groups doing all manner of dance to a song that leaves the viewers wondering what their dance was all about.

The list of these shortcomings is endless, but my guess is you are getting the point already. I know you would want to push out some defence, so let me help you outline some of them as I have heard speaking with some D.O.Ps..

A lot of these artistes don’t like to spend money yet want quality, some even come with reference videos or samples yet come with budgets not enough to move you to location/set.

Some other artistes appear to know so much that they aren’t open to suggestions or ideas from others.

Some artistes come very rigid, there is something they have in mind and usually aren’t ready to hear contrary views.

Some artistes want to be both lead singer and D.O.P at the same time, all they want is you holding the camera and following their directives though they don’t say that outrightly lol…

A cinematographer said to me some time ago that before he discusses accepting a job or otherwise, he usually would first listen to the song as the content determines a whole lot about his decision, and he made sense when I heard that.

For you it’s much more than just getting paid and moving on, remember your brand name and logo would appear on that job so you should care about that seriously except you don’t intend to have your brand associated with the work, then you must be feared.

I know you have bills to pay so the money is important but much more important is your brand, so it’s not in the quantity of videos you shoot within a period of time but the quality. What you may need to know is that, quality or excellence would bring more jobs, as a matter of fact those who ordinarily may not the able to afford your expertise wouldn’t mind going extra mile to source for funds just to get the quality that your brand connotes.

You don’t have to work with that stiff- necked artistes if the outcome would dent your brand identity.

You probably may have to look into fashioning out a fair payment method that can afford artistes the luxury of working with you too.

Whatever the case, the crux of my letter to you is that your brand identity goes anywhere a job from your stable goes, so good or bad you would be referenced.

Think about it, What would you like to be referenced for?

Things can be better, truth is there is always  a better way of doing anything in the world. The change can start from you who just read this letter and it will continue to spread across borders.

Keep shooting with excellence in mind.


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Article: An Open Letter to Cinematographers/D.O.Ps

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