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How to Become a Pro Cinematographer: Q&A With Jas Shelton

Caleb Ward

Professional director of photography Jas Shelton shares how he broke into the film industry and offers a few tips for aspiring filmmakers in this in-depth Q&A video series.

Image above from IMDB

Despite being a fairly new service in the video production and filmmaking world, ShareGrid has managed to create an impressive YouTube channel featuring interviews with industry professionals from a wide array of fields. If you haven’t seen the YouTube channel, we highly recommend checking it out. One specific video series that recently caught our attention was an interview with Jas Shelton, the DP of the film Keanu.

In the interview, Shelton shares all sorts of in-depth information about his experience as a director of photography. Specifically, he talks about the tools he uses to create his highly cinematic footage. If you’re an aspiring cinematographer or DP, these videos really are a must-watch.

1. Breaking Into the Industry

In this first video, Shelton shares how he got his start in the film industry. One interesting takeaway from this clip is the fact that he felt it necessary to move to Los Angeles in order to become an “above the line” artist. Another great point Shelton brings up is the importance of doing real-world work while in film school.

2. The Serendipitous Moment

Every great filmmaker has a moment where hard work and luck collide. Some call this a big break — Shelton calls this his serendipitous moment. In the next video, he explains how he landed a gig shooting Cyrus with Mark and Jay Duplass. One interesting thing that Shelton brings up is how he networked with the Duplass brothers in an organic way. Instead of viewing the filmmaking siblings as people to use, Shelton viewed them as fellow artists and it payed off big.

3. The Power of Being Nice

Unfortunately many film sets are littered with folks carrying around negative attitudes. Shelton speaks to this unfortunate reality and talks about why he tries to create a positive working environment on set.

If you’re creating an environment where you’re miserable and other people are miserable, what is the point? – Jas Shelton

This video is full of great advice if you want to become a leader on set.

4. Shooting Digital

Looking for some quick takeaways for your next production? This is the video to watch. In this video, Shelton talks about the intentionality of shooting on film versus shooting digitally. Specifically, he shares a few of his trade secrets for making his films look unique.

This interview series was created by the good folks over at ShareGrid, a peer-to-peer gear rental service. ShareGrid can be a great low-cost way to rent gear online. If you own equipment, it can also be an easy way to make money when you’re not using your equipment.

What did you think of these interviews? What was your favorite takeaway? Share in the comments below.