What’s in a name?

I’m not sure how the rest of you feel about this but one thing that I always struggle with is that old question “what is it you do?”. Until recently I’ve been calling myself a videographer but according to Chris Fenwick that description needs to dissapear and be replaced by “digital filmmaker”.

I do like the sound of digital filmmaker but is that really what I do? So what’s wrong with videographer? The dictionaries explanation seems to add up…

See, that sounds pretty good to me. But for some the ‘video’ part is seen as a negative, wanting to move past the old dodgy quality tape days that are synonymous with that word. Then you start getting into the film crew crowd who like to break things down even further and define a specific role for you, something along the lines of Director of Photography! That sounds good, so maybe that’s what I am?

No that doesn’t really work for me. Sure I’ve taken that role a couple of times, but my work is way to varied to say that’s what I am, besides it sounds way to grand and the next time somebody says “occupation?” I’ve got no chance of saying Director of Photography without having to explain myself afterwards.

What about one of these…

No, and no. Both are part of what I do, but neither explain the whole of my role.

I think there’s only one description that really fits and it’s this one…

So what do you call yourself and why?

3 Responses

  1. Zan Shin says:

    I’m a digitographist.

  2. Brad Bell says:


    I don’t think we even need the ‘digital’ as inevitably it will disappear. No one is a ‘digital photographer.’

    I think if you are simulating film – using lens adaptors or a camera with a very big sensor – then you are a filmmaker. While technically you are shooting ‘video,’ not too many people will be able to tell it’s not film. It’s closer to a film image than video. Lots of feature films are shot this way.

    ‘Filmmaker’ is generic enough to include the entire process and specialisation involved in making a movie: marketing, concepts, scripts, shooting, editing, colour grading, music, and so on to delivery.

    ‘Filmmaker’ also has a craft-oriented kind of feeling, like ‘candlestick maker’ ;-) In many respects, computers and the internet push us away from Henry Ford specialisation – which dominates so much of what we collectively do – and into a more multidisciplinary approach, where integration sometimes trumps specialisation.

    What if you have a story to tell, but you are tiny. What if you *don’t* have a budget for a big crew of specialists? Traditionally, you just don’t make a video. You say ‘no’ to the most powerful medium known to man (and it’s free global distribution network). Or you hire a filmmaker.

    (I’m surprised how many creatives identify themselves as 3 different things, like writer, musician, and illustrator. I’m actually a graphic designer, web designer, musician, Mac IT geek, video editor, and filmmaker. But I just call myself a filmmaker.)

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