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Filmmakers Academy

September 7, 2022

Emmy-nominated cinematographer Nicole Hirsch Whitaker is a graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts and has worked in the industry for decades. Filmmakers Academy sat down with Nicole while in the middle of filming the live-action Netflix adaptation of One Piece, an extraordinarily popular manga, and anime series.

If Nicole Hirsch Whitaker had to do things differently, looking back, she would have started in narrative much sooner. However, at the time, with kids, commercials were easier to manage. Although, if she had not had kids when she was younger, she would have liked to shoot more stories – even if they were just shorts to learn the craft.

Commercials are very “sexy” and you can make more money, recalls Nicole, and she even took a pay cut with narrative. You can get caught up doing one thing in this business and it becomes easy. “It’s what you do [versus] what you love, but just for me personally, I wish I had been down more of a narrative track from the beginning. Then again, it’s like, I’m still so happy with what I did. I got to travel and see everything.”

Nicole encourages upcoming filmmakers to know themselves and what they want to do. For example, Nicole knows that she wouldn’t be a very good documentary DP. She knows that she is too particular and cannot deal with on-the-spot moments.

Ultimately, Nicole’s advice for filmmakers is to try a little of everything. Because you’re going to learn something new from every medium.

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