An interview with Devin Schiro

I had the pleasure of sending Filmmaker and Photographer Devin Schiro some questions…..

1. Tell us a bit about yourself…

My name is Devin Schiro.  I’ve been graduated for about a year now and just now figuring out what it is that I love and want to do with my life.

2. Which did you discover first, photography or film making?

I originally found film making first which led to photography.  I attended film school at Cal State University, Northridge where I learned the skills to become an editor.  While working as an editor for an exotic animal company, Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife, I was asked to start filming content for them.  After being provided with a DSLR for video, I eventually found my way to switch it onto the stills mode.

3. Did you study either subject or are you self-taught?

I’d say both.  I studied both film and photography in college, but to be honest, I don’t feel I really learned a thing until I took it upon myself to start experimenting on my own.

4. What are the advantages of filmmaking over photography and vice versa?

I don’t see any “advantages” to either, simply a different method to approaching creativity.  I would hope that any visual artist might experiment in both realms to see which brings them greater satisfaction.

5. I was told a few weeks ago that it is not enough nowadays for photographers to be able to take good photographs but that they have to know how to shoot a video to make it in the industry. Do you agree with this?

I feel like an understanding of each would be useful, but I actually couldn’t disagree with that statement more.  While I won’t name names, some of the best cinematographers I personally know cannot compose a still image to save their life, and some of the best photographers I know have put out terrible quality video projects.  Yet, when working in their respective mediums, they absolutely soar.  The difference between filmmaking and photography comes down to how you think about a story, in either frozen moments or sequences to be strung together in editing.  One of my own greatest challenges right now is in trying to determine whether I want to be a filmmaker who occasionally takes pictures or a photographer who occasionally makes films.  Because I believe that to truly excel in one field, you must focus on that and commit yourself to that one particular skill for a great period of time.  As the saying goes, “man who chases two rabbits catches none.”

6. Looking at your photography, your images seem quite conceptual, almost like dark fairy tales. What inspires you?

I’d say women and music.  Mostly women.

7. Is there a clear separation between your video and your photography or do you try and explore the characters you create through both mediums?

I’d say there is a clear separation at the current stage of my portfolio.  But as it progresses, I’d like there to be a little stronger connection.

8. What kind of music do you like and does it influence your work?

Frederic Chopin.  And yes.

9. Looking through your lengthy (and impressive) resume, I noticed how many clients you have worked for/with. Do you approach people or do they approach you?

They’ve mostly all approached me.  I’m working on going after the clients I really want though.  It took me a while before I felt confident enough.  It’s a process.

10. If you could shoot a film for anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

This is a very difficult question to answer at the moment.  Pass.

11. How do you market your work?

Passively.  I’m not the right one to ask about marketing, I’m still trying to figure this out.

12. How important is storytelling in your work?

Pretty important!

13. What is your favourite image and favourite film you have made and why? (Please include a link to the film so that I can embed it into the post and please attach the image as a jpeg. Thanks!)

I don’t know if I can pick just one favorite image, but two films that continue to inspire me are Perfume: The Story of a Murderer and Old Boy.  Both for the storytelling, as well as the masterful cinematography.

14. Do you think that education is important when choosing an artistic career?

I believe education is of supreme importance, but in terms of the traditionally designed formal education?  Not so much.  If I had to go back and do it all over again, I wouldn’t have gone to college, I’d have taken more time to work on projects, try to intern here and there and study the masterpieces on my own.

15. Can you talk a bit about the process you go through when making a film?

I still haven’t distilled this one yet, ask me later.

16. Do you think that the access to professional DSLR cameras with video capacity are a good thing or does it make people think that they are film makers when they’re not?

I think that having access to tools that are as remarkable and affordable as the ones we have today is only a good thing, and doesn’t really bare much impact because in the end, vision is key.  I have seen so much bad work come out of filmmakers who have the best and most expensive film tools.  I mean, they’re given thousands of dollars of equipment and resources and they go make awful looking pieces.  And then I’ll see new talent come on Vimeo who are making amazing work full of creativity and visually stunning imagery, and you’ll see the comments ask what equipment they have and they’re like “just the camera and a 50mm lens” or something equivalent.  Bottom line, just because the tools are available doesn’t mean the creator will stay in the game for long.  I’m sure we’ve all seen our friends get nice cameras, think they’re “professional photographers” now and put it down a few months later.  And yet, once in a while, someone keeps practicing until they become a master at their craft.  So it’s hard to say one way or another, but I only see good things in the future.

17. Are there any films (long or short) that you would recommend people to watch to get a good idea of storytelling?

Watch as many films as you can.  Long and short.  I try to watch one film a day and subscribe to Vimeo daily updates to be constantly watching new content coming out.  However, make sure you keep making things too.  For all the content you put into yourself, try as well to keep putting out content at a relative ratio.

18. Do you know of any photographers/filmmakers that you would recommend to be featured on this blog?

Not off the top of my head.

19. Do you have any advice for aspiring film makers/ photographers?

Make creation a habit.  If it becomes a habit, something you are drawn to instead of having to force yourself to do, a lot of the process will take care of itself.  I try to follow this advice myself.

 

To see some of Schiro’s work, go to his website:

http://www.devinschiro.com/

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