Approaching a SCREENPLAY from a CINEMATOGRAPHER’S POINT-OF-VIEW! An Interview w/ Jake Rose.

Screenplays and Cinematography | Screenwriting Staffing

(NOTE FROM SCREENWRITING STAFFING FOUNDER, JACOB N. STUART) The Cinematographer is in charge of making OUR screenplays come to life, giving it a seductive, alluring, and attractive look/feel. W/out them, our screenplays would only be worth reading… if that. While I don’t encourage writers to write a screenplay from a cinematographers (or filmmakers) perspective, I do believe all screenwriters should understand how a DP approaches a project/script. This may be the difference between having your script green-lighted or tossed. So I caught up with the award-winning DP/film-maker Jake Rose. He has over a decade of film production experience, w/ a highly impressive IMDb.


SCREENWRITING STAFFING: “As a cinematographer, would you consider the screenplay the most important aspect of film?” 

JAKE ROSE: “Yes, everything starts with the story. There are people who admire great looking projects that have bad scripts, but in the end, these typically do not stand the test of time. The best projects are the ones where the cinematography is “invisible,” the audience is simply sucked into the message.”

SCREENWRITING STAFFING: “When preparing for a film, what’s the first thing you do when you read the screenplay?” 

JAKE ROSE: “I always read the screenplay printed out on paper, with a pen in my hand. I make notes as I read it the very first time. Images will come to me as I read it and I always like to go with my first impression. It’s like reading a book and picturing the story, only this time I am getting the opportunity to make the images!”

SCREENWRITING STAFFING: “What part of the script is the most important and least important for a cinematographer?” 

JAKE ROSE: “The motivation of the characters and mood of the story is the most important. There really isn’t an unimportant part…even notes about the sound design can help guide the cinematography and camera work. In the end, you’re making stuff up. Making up where the light is coming from, making up how to move the camera, and the more you can use the script as a starting point, the more focused and clear the project will be.”

SCREENWRITING STAFFING: “What would you like to see more in screenplays from a film-making standpoint?” 

JAKE ROSE: “Less guns, less cussing, less stories about twenty something’s with guns who like to curse. Ha, I guess I am saying what I want to see less of. I’d like to see more stories about real people, more stories that give audiences a healthy catharsis that translates readily to their own lives.”

SCREENWRITING STAFFING: “As a DP, would you work on a script if you enjoyed the screenplay? On the flip side, would you decline a script based on its context?” 

JAKE ROSE: “I have declined projects in the past when it just seemed like another R rated action film being made on a budget. Stories with clear parallels to the human condition are the projects I am most drawn to.”

SCREENWRITING STAFFING: “What’s more exciting as a DP: a script w/ many visuals, or a script w/ lots of dialogue/convo? & why?” 

Jake Rose: “Both! You don’t want a bunch of talking heads, you want to keep things interesting. Many great visuals is going to make my job easy, if everything looks great to start with, than I just have to point the camera and shoot (I wish it was that easy). Great dialogue is awesome from a film nerd perspective, even though it might not be totally exciting for a DP, it can make for a great movie.”

SCREENWRITING STAFFING: “Any advice, thoughts, and/or suggestions for aspiring screenwriters who are looking to work with cinematographers?” 

Jake Rose: “Have a great story and don’t be afraid to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite! Also, finding typos is something that looks really bad, use spell-check. Even with a great script, have a clear idea of how you want your movie to look and be able to articulate that in a meeting. It sounds cliché, but I still really like hearing when a particular project is “this movie meets that movie.” It might make studio execs roll their eyes, but for me it at least puts everyone on the same page to start out.”


For more info on Jake Rose:

Official Page/Reel

Official LinkedIn

Interested in having Jake work on your next project? E-mail him today to discuss your next project: jake@jakerose.net