March 28, 2024

Dynamics of a Working Camera Department with Greg Irwin, SOC

Gregory Irwin is an extremely experienced A Camera First AC who first got into the business 44 years ago. He received a 2016 Society of Camera Operators Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions as Camera Technician. His most recent project is the Joker sequel Joker: Folie à Deux coming soon.

Greg frequently gives talks on the importance of character and credibility in the camera department. The camera department is in a leadership role on any production. There’s always going to be challenges on set, but it’s important to remember that if the camera department seems like they’re panicking, it affects the rest of the production. A good camera department is always helpful, no matter what department needs it. Never be rude or show panic, even when things aren’t going to plan. Greg says, “I want my team to know everything at all times, and I want them to be better than me. If I can develop a young camera person into a rock solid, good human being as well as a good camera technician then I’ve done my job.”

Greg discusses:

Character and credibility in the camera department-remembering you are in a leadership role
Taking a business approach to the camera department
Interacting with the director, cinematographer, producers and showrunners
How to hire others in the camera department- be sure to vet your camera crew before hiring them
Be a “one minute manager”- choose people you don’t have to micromanage
Handling the first phone calls with the filmmakers and producers: save talk about rates, money, deals until about the 4th phone call so you can get to know the person who you’re negotiating with
Generally talk rates/business aspects for your camera team as well
Prep for the camera prep day: prep should already be done ahead, including what you need for your camera package
Prep and budget: build everything you need for prep based on meetings with the filmmakers & DP, timestamp prep lists to keep track of everything. By draft 10, you should be clear on what’s needed and camera budget should be very clear at that point
Look the part- better to dress like a professional
Be organized and don’t have a sense of entitlement
How to get noticed and move up in the camera department

Find Greg Irwin:

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March 13, 2024

House of Ninjas showrunner and executive producer Dave Boyle

The Netflix series House of Ninjas has become a hit show, rising to #1 in the streaming service’s top 10 list. The story follows the Tawara family, who have been ninjas, or shinobi, for generations. Tragically, the oldest son and brother disappeared six years before in a battle with their rivals, leading the Tawaras to stop being ninjas. But the family must fight together again as the rival clan gets more powerful and threatens the entire country.

Showrunner Dave Boyle was first brought on as showrunner for House of Ninjas by an executive at Netflix Japan, who knew he was familiar with the culture. Dave’s second language is Japanese, which he studied as a Mormon missionary in Australia. He had written and directed a few independent Japanese American and Japanese language films, such as Man from Reno, Daylight Savings and Surrogate Valentine, which all took place in the U.S. This was his first experience with shooting anything in Japan. He was drawn to the tone of House of Ninjas, which combines both drama, action and violence with comedy and warmhearted playfulness. “Tone was the reason why we all wanted to make this project. It’s more than the plot mechanics and the story. It was all about creating this atmosphere, this tone that an audience could sink into and enjoy for many, many episodes. And so I think that tone was something that we were talking about from the very, very get-go and something that we really wanted to nail and get right.”

Once he was on board, Dave began working on the preproduction and show bible for House of Ninjas. The show bible had to be written in three weeks, which is a very fast process, especially since Dave knew the show’s foundation required a deep understanding of shinobi culture and history. He found the preproduction process in Japan to be much different from the U.S., with casting happening even before the show’s scripts were written. The script format in Japan read from right to left, and the top half of the page is left blank for the director to draw storyboards and a shotlist, as a clear way for the director to show what they’re planning to do.

House of Ninjas is available on Netflix.

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The Cinematography Podcast website:
Facebook: @cinepod
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Twitter: @ShortEndz

June 21, 2020

BONUS Episode: Alexandra Cunningham, showrunner of Dirty John on adapting the popular podcast into a television series

The Cinematography Podcast Bonus Episode: Alexandra Cunningham

Showrunner Alexandra Cunningham talks about season one of her hit series Dirty John with producer Alana Kode at the 2019 Produced By conference. She tells the story of adapting the podcast for television and explains her role as the showrunner, executive producer and writer on the series. Alexandra hadn’t listened to a podcast prior to hearing the Dirty John podcast, and she developed an instant love for the podcasting medium. As a showrunner, she sees a great future in adapting podcasts into television shows and loves the crossover partnership of shows such as HBO’s Chernobyl and Watchmen that included a weekly podcast in addition to the TV show.

You can watch season two of Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story right now on the USA Network:

Hear the companion podcast, Dirty John Season 2: The Podcast.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links:

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Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz