What’s A DP In Film?

What's A DP In Film

There are basic career paths or professions that one could choose in the film industry and one of them is known as a DP.

In this article therefore, we are going to look at the meaning of a DP, the difference between a cinematographer and DP, how a DP works as well as how to become a DP. And without wasting anytime, let us get started with it

What’s a DP in film?

A DP in film is an acronym for the term Director of Photography, often referred to as the DOP, and it is the person who oversees the visual and sometimes the sound recording of a film.

A DP is also known as a cinematographer and he must ensure the various camera movements, shots, and angles are recorded in a way that will create feelings and emotions that will help to properly interpret the writer’s vision in a storyline or movie script.

The difference between a cinematographer and DP.

There is no difference between a cinematographer and a DP because a cinematographer is another name for a DP which is an acronym for the word Director of Photography.

How a DP works.

The DP works directly with the director and gaffer to determine the camera movements, shots, angles and the lighting condition that will be appropriate for every movie scenes.

For example, the above mentioned movie professionals can choose to use a blue lighting background in a romance scene or a reddish background in a murder or horror scene..

However, I’ve seen several movie scripts that were written with instructions on how a camera should move or which angle a shot should be taken from. But it is worth to note that the DP might choose to alter the shot and take a different perspective if he feels the one being described in the script is not a better fit for the scene.

How to become a DP in film.

You can become a DP in film by simply learning and mastering how to operate a camera as well as the basic movements, shots, and angles that fit what is going on in a particular movie scene.

As I said earlier, I have seen several scripts that were written with camera directions, but you need to understand that it is your duty as a DP to alter any camera description that will not fit what is happening in a particular scene of a movie.

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to become a DP in film:

  1. College degree.
  2. Apprenticeship.
  3. Online tutorship.
  4. Taking on the role of an assistant DP.

1. College degree.

One of the ways to become a DP in film is to get a college degree. While there is no certification or degree requirement for one to become a DP, passing a film school that will help you take on a course in cinematography is a path to gaining cinematographic skills.

Thus, you must scout for either online or offline institutions that offer a major course on cinematographer and start your journey on learning how to become a DP in film.

2. Apprenticeship.

Being an apprentice under a professional cinematographer is another great way you can become a DP in film.

One of the benefits of apprenticeship is that it will avail you the opportunity of watching your master or other apprentice handle the camera and asking questions on things that you are unable to understand.

3. Online tutorship.

Online courses, webinars, blog articles, YouTube tutorials podcasts etc. are great ways you can use online tutorship to learn how to become a DP in film.

This is how I personally learned how to become a DP, but the best way to learn faster is if you can invest in a cheap camera you will use to practice what you are learning online because practice they say makes perfect..

4. Taking on the role of an assistant DP.

Another way to become a DP in film in taking on the role of an assistant DP in any film production that will give you such opportunity.

While the main DP will not allow you to handle the camera much, you can seize every opportunity to watch closely how he is manipulating the camera to record every given scene of the movie script.

How to get DP jobs.

As with every other area of the entertainment industry, making a living from filmmaking as a DP requires promotion, hard work and networking. Below are the ways to find DP jobs:

  1. Build your personal portfolio.
  2. Become a freelancer.
  3. Network a lot.

1. Build your personal portfolio.

You can get DP jobs by building your personal portfolio where you can showcase your body of work, especially as trailers.

While doing this, ensure you organize your sample of works based on project types. For example, trailers of feature films, short films, comedy skits etc.

You can check out my personal portfolio on this website via the link below.


2. Become a freelancer.

Freelancing will offer you a great opportunity to find jobs as a DP, all you have to do is to sign up for an account in any freelancing platform like Freelancer, Upwork etc.

These platforms will help you to meet potential clients who might offer you the opportunity of working as a DP in their next film project.

3. Network a lot.

Building connections with potential collaborators is very essential for one to get jobs as a DP in film, and how do you do this?

The key is to join online communities like LinkedIn, Facebook, Reddit, etc. where industry professionals are using to network with each other.

In addition, social media platforms will also give you the opportunity of uploading your body of works and showcasing them where others can review and discover your expertise in the chosen field. This can in turn create open doors for you to get jobs as a DP in the film industry.

Last thoughts.

No that you’ve learnt a lot about a DP in film, what else is keeping you from taking a shot at this career type in the filmmaking industry.

Good luck!