Meet Scott Regan (Filmmaker Q&A Series)
An accomplished cinematographer, photographer and all-around image-maker and storyteller: Scott Regan has worked on numerous independent films, commercials, music videos and regularly shoots various promos and events for Red Bull. We got a chance to ask him a few questions about his thoughts on digital cinema and it’s impact on modern independent filmmaking.
C-U FILM SOCIETY: Tell us a little about yourself (mini-bio), and how did you find your way into the world of filmmaking?
SCOTT REGAN: I’m 25, and I originally moved to Chicago to go to school for Cinematography at Columbia College. I’ve always been into creating images whether it be drawing, painting, stills, or motion. I found I had an easier time expressing myself with film and photo, both were more social and collaborative outlets as well. I started getting work by getting all my materials together (short films, personal projects, etc) and selling my business as a success before I had a single client. I invested in the website (and other marketing) my successful business should have, rather than cut corners and build it up slowly. People I met saw this and trusted me with their assignments, and it’s expanded based on word of mouth since then.
CUFS: How has digital acquisition transformed the way you shoot? How has it transformed your business?
SR: Digital is the absolute democratization of filmmaking. It has allowed a whole new type of market (both clients and product manufacturers) to emerge, and has allowed many people to create imagery nearly identical to incredibly expensive film rigs at a fraction of the price. I’ve used cheap DSLRs on TV shows, commercials, films, music videos, and more. It frees up the budget to create more compelling images, add lighting, crew, faster turnaround, and for beginners – cut the learning curve down nearly instantly. Things that were of a large concern with film are now easily dealt with in the digital realm, and you can create a duplicate of your footage on set, preventing disaster. There are infinite advantages to digital that crush the “film vs digital” debate for anyone not nostalgic about the physical process of film as a recording medium.
CUFS: You seem to really have fused photography and cinematography as a unified service. What kind of importance do you feel photography plays in cinematography, or even to the average indie-filmmaker?
SR: Photography and Cinematography are both extremely exciting to me, and I couldn’t see myself doing just one or the other. I think cinematography has influenced my photography rather than the other way around. The focus placed on lighting and storytelling was much stronger in any discussion or lesson about cinematography. Recently, at the advent of the HDSLR, the line between the two fields is blurring. It is an exciting but volatile time to be in either profession, and I think it is important that people don’t lose their heads in debating gear, tech specs, and tools, and rather focus on technique, lighting, movement and purpose in your filmmaking to tell a story. Ultimately, a camera is a camera is a camera, and a skilled DP can make an iPhone look better than a gear blinded one with a RED or Alexa.
CUFS: What kind of advice do you have for young filmmakers looking to get into the filmmaking both as a hobby and as a profession?
SR: Career Wise: You must level with yourself before you commit to this that you are not in this for the money or fame. I’ve found that I may not have the bank account of a lawyer, engineer, etc., but in my mind I have a much more satisfying career, and a higher quality of life. I never have to answer to anyone but myself, which can be a good and bad thing. I can never clock out, because I can always be creating, learning, or marketing. The only person to blame for a lack of progress is me, and for some, that may be too much of a burden with no direction or guarantee. It worked for me so far, and I can only tell you what my experiences have been. Don’t dilute the market and take low paying work because of inexperience or some other BS excuse. You are worth the price you charge, and if you charge less than is feasible to make a living, what are you saying about yourself and other hardworking shooters?
Creativity Wise: Don’t steal other’s work, be inspired by it. You can only be the best you, and the 2nd best someone else. Don’t get caught up in gear tech specs, you will make much better films learning to work with what you have. Shoot for fun, money, and reel/portfolio. If at least 2 of those 3 aren’t there I don’t sign on to do a job, because this career has the potential – just like any other – to become just a job that you hate.
Scott’s work can be seen at his website, www.scottreganphoto.com. You can also view his 2011 reel below: