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Meet Tyler Weinberger

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tyler Weinberger.

Tyler, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My interest in filmmaking started when I was a kid playing around with 35mm film photography and just constantly filming funny videos with my friends. My friends and I were a bunch of skaters in a small town outside Scranton, PA and I was the designated filmer. I was always obsessed with making my footage look like the professional skate videos that we loved. As I started seeing filmmaking as being a potential career, I started paying attention to details in actual movies and was always curious about what made them look the way they did.

After high school, I went to film school at Emerson College in Boston, and that’s where I really learned about lighting and how to tell stories visually. I was hooked and spent all my time focusing on cinematography and all the little tools and lighting fixtures. I had an amazing professor and mentor who is a retired Hollywood gaffer, C.E. Courtney, and he was so romantic about cinematography.

He taught me a lot about motivation, not just with lighting but with camera movement, lens choices, and just always thinking about the story first and how we can use our tools to create visual drama and enhance what our characters are feeling or to be more metaphorical. I think the audience should always understand a scene, or the emotion of it, with the volume off. If that comes through, you’re doing the story justice for the director.

When I moved to LA, I started shooting a lot of documentary films, which forces you to use the resources you have at hand, move quickly, and stick to your gut. The past year and a half I’ve been shooting mostly music videos, branded content, commercials, and short films which are more visual than a lot of the doc work I’ve done in the past, so it’s been a nice change of pace and more enjoyable from a visual point of view.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s most definitely not been a smooth road haha. I don’t come from a family of generations in the film industry, so I just came out to LA by myself with a passion to make films. I am lucky because a lot of people from my college also come to LA so having an immediate community of people you trust to work with helped a lot. I’ve had very busy times and very slow times, but when you’re freelance, you just have to trust that jobs will come.

I surf a lot in my spare time, so that helps give me something to do when things are slow. I love being on set and being around people who are all problem solving and are all working to bring a unified vision to life. That grind of meeting directors and getting people to trust you is definitely the hardest part about my job.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I’m a freelance cinematographer. My work experience spans scripted films, music videos, commercials, branded films, and documentaries. I think my strongest asset is that I like to be very involved in the projects I shoot and hold myself to a very high standard. From reading multiple drafts (and giving notes if asked) of scripts and giving to sitting in on the edit and giving my honest feedback when asked.

I think you’re doing any filmmaker or artist a disservice by giving them weak criticism if they ask you for it. Always tell the truth and always go with your gut. If you can make it better, you should take the extra effort to do that. And if you can’t, you should recognize your faults so you can learn from them on the next project.

One of my most proud moments is a project I shot for VICE called “Making The World’s First Male Sex Doll” which is VICE’s most viewed piece of content ever made. We were not expecting that, but it got the web series greenlit for a cable TV series called “Slutever” which I am also very proud of. But beyond that, it’s always the best feeling when you can accomplish the plan you set out to create.

When your whole team is working together, and you make all of your days on time without compromising on shots. I spend a lot of my time planning and testing, even if it’s unpaid, to make sure what we’re doing is going to work and we’re not wasting our time with everyone on set. I’ve been lucky enough to find a crew that supports me as well, and I owe a lot of gratitude to them for sticking with me on all kinds of projects.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
When I was really young I went to the Philadelphia Zoo with my dad, who was a bit of an amateur photographer. He let me shoot all day with his old Canon AE-1 35mm film camera. I just loved how it felt to click the shutter and rewind the film. I think the feeling got me hooked. I still shoot with that same exact camera today.

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