This weeks Social Media Follower is Los Angeles based DP Alexander Chinnici. His work encompasses a wide range of genres, from high level commercials through to narrative productions.
Alexander's work takes on a number of different styles, chameleon like to suit the type of production that he is working on. This means that he caters for bold, colourful, and brash cinematography as much as he does subtle, subdued dramatic styles. He says himself that he doesn't believe in individual cinematic styles because it could be limiting. Alexander kindly answered a few questions from us about his work.
Can you briefly describe yourself, your style and what you do?
My name is Alexander Chinnici and I am a Director of Photography. I have been fortunate to primarily shoot narrative features, commercials and music videos. I am originally from New York. and started my professional career there. I am now bi-coastal and mostly spending my time in Los Angeles. Fortunately a lot of the commercials have been in the automobile ad world which I absolutely love to do. With that said my heart is truly in features since storytelling is what matters most to me. In the end I love balancing all three and have been fortunate to keep that consistent for some time now. Stylistically? You’ll have to tell me.
The most consistent compliment has been that most folks call me a chameleon. I of course have my particular taste and opinion on the appropriate approach but before knowing what the director, producer and actors need, before knowing what the logistic constraints are, the budget and such can I make my decisions. I can easily tell you what I want to do, very quickly in fact. But my style adheres wholly to the project that I’m working on, the challenge at hand. It keeps it fresh and exciting. This isn’t about me, its about all of it. So a DP with a style is bit egotistical and bizarre to me. Maybe if you watch my material you can see a style, you are hiring me for my taste and my decision making but I always choose what is appropriate given all of the factors for the best possible outcome.
How did you get into the business?
I got into the business through film school in New York City. I studied Cinematography at the School of Visual Arts. I was actually one of those kids running around with my fathers family vacation video camera, making silly videos with my friends. The schools that I went to did not have any programs but I was lucky to find fellow students that we’re actually serious about making little short films. They are still in the industry to this day. So it really feels like forever for me, I’ve known from a very young age what I wanted to do. Once the real education started at SVA did I realize that a Director of Photography was exactly what I wanted and its been a journey ever since.
What piece of kit couldn't you live without?
For me, its all about the lenses. While I am admit that I am constantly reading and up to date on the latest tech and gear (I often get teased as a mega nerd) I do find that a lot of it does not matter. Now items that help my team and I move swiftly and smoothly? Of course. Some productions have enough of a budget that this doesn’t matter while others the items chosen can be very effective. With that said I am always building a package around the specifics. To pick one particular item would be silly since every single project would be different. With all of that said the most important single decision for me on any particular project when it comes to the equipment are the lenses. In my personal opinion they have the utmost impact on the image besides lighting, production design and color. But those are collaborations, discussions and decisions made with fellow artists. The lenses are a tool that must be chosen carefully between the director and I.
Is there any advice you'd give an aspiring filmmaker?
My advice to young filmmakers is more of a list of little things that truly add up: Shoot as much as humanly possible. Be on set whenever humanly possible (just soak it all up). Take care of yourself, be healthy! Always speak up if you feel unsafe on set. Look out for one another. Save your money! …Lastly, travel, live life, eat, sleep and drink filmmaking but never stop stepping out and experiencing as much as possible. You are hired for your point of view, taste, culture, opinion, etc. Build those elements up, be educated, interesting and worldly.
More information about Alexander can be found on his website, and if you want to follow him on social media check out;
Instagram: @Alexander Chinnici
Facebook: @Alexander Chinnici
Check out Alexander's excellent showreels below!