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Hollywood cinematographer tells film students "it's all about who you know"

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“It all depends on who you know.” We’ve all heard this adage before. It has been repeated to college students in any area of study. And that’s the motto echoed by award-winning cinematographer Peter Deming, who has shot many acclaimed films and most recently worked on the set of Sam Raimi’s “Oz The Great and Powerful.”

College students who aspire to become Hollywood mainstays have their work cut out for them. Deming emphasized the importance of both passion and patience for college students looking to break into the film business.

“It’s going to take a lot of time,” Demin said. “It’s all about persistence. You have to really want it and there is going to be a lot of competition. When you’re first starting out, you basically shoot anything you can. I started out doing some short films while I was an undergrad and eventually applied to grad school.”

Deming graduated from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and began his career in the film industry. While he was working on projects from the get-go, he points at his first two feature-length films, “Hollywood Shuffle” and “Evil Dead 2,” as his big breaks.

“While ‘Hollywood Shuffle’ was being put together and getting finalized, I began shooting a film for Raimi called ‘Evil Dead 2,’” Deming said. “They both ended up coming out in theaters within a few weeks of each other.”

In 2002, Deming won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography for his work on the David Lynch film, “Mulholland Drive.”

While establishing himself in the industry, he has gotten the chance to work with many renowned actors and directors.

“I’d say Meryl Streep is my number one,” he said. “I’ve done films with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp. All are very professional and talented. For directors, obviously Sam [Raimi], then there’s David Lynch and Wes Craven.”

Deming has established a strong working relationship with Raimi, which has been extremely beneficial on his journey. Working with directors on multiple projects is key to landing and producing quality work, he said.

“You sort of have a head start and you know what they like and don’t like. It’s nice; you can start from the 20 or 30-yard line instead of the goal line. You can bypass the preliminary stuff and get to the creative stuff right away,” he added.

At this time, Deming’s future plans remain open. A few weeks ago, he shot a commercial for Dick’s Sporting Goods that was directed by “Blue Valentine” and “The Place Beyond the Pines” director Derek Cianfrance.

Deming never had any doubts about becoming a film cinematographer. His approach has been simple, yet sincere.

“I knew that I wanted to, at least, give it a good shot.” If anything ever got in the way of that, he said, “at least I know I tried.”


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