Can I claim a cinematography credit?

My DOP has signed the DOP contract and I am the director, however 80% of all shots and lighting were my decision. He helped assist lighting and shot a lot on B-cam but the 'look' of the film is mine therefore I feel like I should claim credit for it with him. So both of us get Cinematography credit. Can I do this even though he is signed as Director of photography?

Thanks.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
My DOP has signed the DOP contract and I am the director, however 80% of all shots and lighting were my decision. He helped assist lighting and shot a lot on B-cam but the 'look' of the film is mine therefore I feel like I should claim credit for it with him. So both of us get Cinematography credit. Can I do this even though he is signed as Director of photography?

Thanks.

Can you? Yes you can. If the agreement does not include specifics on
screen credit you can do anything you want.

Should you?
 
Can you? Yes you can. If the agreement does not include specifics on
screen credit you can do anything you want.

Should you?

Well on one hand I am the director and I don't 'need' the credit but on the other I just feel a lot of credit will be given to the cinematography and I composed every frame, camera movement and even chose where lighting should go most of the time. For someone else to get total credit for something they didn't do just feels wrong.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
For someone else to get total credit for something they didn't do just feels wrong.
Ask your DP if it feels wrong to him. Do you think your DP would
prefer a shared credit? If the contract does not stipulate screen
credit then you can put any credit on your movie you want. Is a
shared credit overall the right thing to do? Not for you, not for
your feelings, but across-the-board?

This is a personal choice. Personally I wouldn't do it. As a director
I often rewrite much of the script - I do not take shared credit. As
a director I often do much of the editing - I do not take shared credit.
You need to choose what is the right thing to do.
 
I'll ask him as I'm sure he'll agree it is the right thing to do. I'll double check the contract too. I must include that I'm not greedy with credit and there are a lot of things I take background for but if, in your instance, you ended up re-writing the script and the screenwriter was there to format then you would have to take credit right? Well it's a similar thing.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
but if, in your instance, you ended up re-writing the script and the screenwriter was there to format then you would have to take credit right?
No. I would not take credit. As a director I have done extensive
rewriting of a script including format and I do not take a shared
credit. I have done rewrites with the writer there to format and
I do not take a shared credit. I once had a DP leave 4 days into a
7 day shoot. I shot the rest. I did not take shared credit.

It's a personal choice. If you feel it's important for you to take a
shared credit then do it. I wouldn't. That's MY personal choice.
You need to do what's right for you.
 
I'm the opposite. I feel credit where credit is due and I feel those who get credit when they don't deserve it just isn't right. I wouldn't want to take credit for someone elses work and I wouldn't approve if someone wanted credit for mine.

I recorded quite a bit of sound myself yet I won't take sound recordist credit because my input on sound was small in comparison to the workload and expertize of the sound recordist. It depends on who 'deserves' the credit.
 
Last edited:
See I thought filmmaking went like this - You as the director tell the DoP the feel you want for scenes and they will work on it and see if you like it. If not you ask for changes and they will light it more towards your brief. You as a director saying 'Oh yeah I want this, this and this' isnt the same as making light plans, noting kelvin ratings and making on set decisions about flags and blocks whilst the director is discussing the performance side and blocking with actors.

When you're in college or sixth form then credits that say 'I WROTE, DIRECTED, PRODUCED, LIT AND EDITED THIS' looks impressive if its a good piece of work. When you move onto more serious projects, then seeing the same name in the credits for most of the key roles communicate that - actually - you're not professional enough of a production to hire a bigger crew and you're spreading yourself thin by doing so many parts of the production.
 
When you're in college or sixth form then credits that say 'I WROTE, DIRECTED, PRODUCED, LIT AND EDITED THIS' looks impressive if its a good piece of work. When you move onto more serious projects, then seeing the same name in the credits for most of the key roles communicate that - actually - you're not professional enough of a production to hire a bigger crew and you're spreading yourself thin by doing so many parts of the production.

Funny you should mention this as this point is the only reason I would NOT add my name to DP credit. And by the way, there were no light readings, no flags set up, no light planning without my plans, no kelvin ratings (in fact he had the wrong white balance set on his B-cam for the first 3 days of shooting). No composition, planning, location scouting...

Some of his B-cam stuff was great though and really saved my butt sometimes in the cut. Being honest he was a B-cam operator, a best boy and key grip (an gave rigs and B-cam to the shoot). There were a couple of occasions when he set the room up with nice soft lighting but not very often. I guess because the shoot was on the fly I just knew what i wanted from each shot so he perhaps never really got time to have an input on composition.
 
Last edited:

jax_rox

Staff Member
Moderator
Sounds like he wasn't really th cinematographer then.

That said, it doesn't sound like you had a professional relationship where you were allowing him to be a Cinematographer.

If I got on set and the Director was telling me how to light, or lighting for me, there'd definitely be words had.
 
This may not be the right point of view on the topic, but I suspect it can depend on what you want to do in your future.

If you want to direct in the future, then you taking his credit shows (to me at least) poor decision making, thus poor directing on your part. A large part of the directors initial duties is putting together the correct creative team. If you choose a DOP and you end up doing their job, it can show that A). You chose poorly and B). You were unable to make the decision to replace that person and C). You didn't allocate your time resources effectively.

Adding your name to the DOP credit can indicate a problem that in the end was really your responsibility to resolve earlier. Is this the message you want to convey for the long term goals of your career?

Yes, it sounds like he wasn't a good DOP, but is that the point you really should be caring about? By the sound of it, you are also responsible for the situation. By putting it into the credits it puts it on your permanent record. Maybe you should ask, is the possibility of this interpretation something you want or do you think it's best to say lesson learned, credit the appropriate people and sound as professional as possible and move on?
 
My OP was to determine if I could legally change credit not if I should. Thank you for your feedback I will make a decision on the subject in due course.
 
I personally wouldn't have pushed this. As a guy that's not into filmmaking beyond "how's it done", it appears that Networking is a critical component. The people under your direction now, might be calling the shots in your future. Best of Luck~
 
Funny you should mention this as this point is the only reason I would NOT add my name to DP credit. And by the way, there were no light readings, no flags set up, no light planning without my plans << note - to be fair, the director is usually involved in this process during pre-production with the dp/gaffer working out the technical necessities to achieve the director's vision -- d >> , no kelvin ratings (in fact he had the wrong white balance set on his B-cam for the first 3 days of shooting). No composition, planning, location scouting...

Some of his B-cam stuff was great though and really saved my butt sometimes in the cut. Being honest he was a B-cam operator, a best boy and key grip (an gave rigs and B-cam to the shoot). There were a couple of occasions when he set the room up with nice soft lighting but not very often. I guess because the shoot was on the fly I just knew what i wanted from each shot so he perhaps never really got time to have an input on composition.

(Bold emphasis mine, <<comments in brackets>>)

TBH:

It sounds like you didn't have a director of photography at all. It sounds like your production workflow was such that you operated a camera, another person operated a camera, and - as director - you just bypassed having a cinematographer on set as a dedicated job function.

Frankly, no one should get a "director of photography" credit. At best you can pull a Shane Carruth and give yourself an operator credit along with a "cinematography by" credit as well. (see full credit listing for UC and probably Primer, iirc) Because let's be honest with each other - no one on your set was functioning as a director of photography or as a cinematographer. Creatively, you were acting as the director of the film - but practically (for whatever reason, choice, lack of resources, whatever, doesn't matter) you had to function as a camera operator, with a b camera operator by your side. "Director of Photography" is a job title though, and since no one was really doing that job (your creative leadership of the lighting, composition, etc in this instance falls under the auspices of your role as director) there's no point in using that specific credit at all.

It's just a different style of working, and if it works for you, then keep doing it and stop worrying so much about the various job titles. :D


Edit - I don't mean to imply that just because someone successful is doing something that you should mimic it, simply to state - by way of example - that there are alternative ways to dole out credit for work besides just using traditional titles where they don't necessarily fit.
 
Last edited:
My OP was to determine if I could legally change credit not if I should. Thank you for your feedback I will make a decision on the subject in due course.

Well, now it's a legal question as opposed to an opinion question. You'll need to provide the contract/deal memo specifics to determine what you're now asking and we might have an idea of whether you included the correct clauses to do this or included the incorrect wording that limits your actions.
 
Top