Difference between Cinematographer and Director: Who does what?

Filmmaking requires a whole bunch of passionate people to work together. But it’s the director and the cinematographer who play the major role. Apart from them, vision is the sole reason why a film becomes a super hit. But who does what?

Well, as the name suggests, the director directs everything on the set. From handling the crew to telling the actors how to perform. He manages every single thing on the set. He is the person who is indulged in all the three phases of a film:- pre-production, production, and post-production.

But all of the stuff he does starts from one thing. Vision. A good director always has a clear vision of how the film would look visually. He possesses notions about the way everything would be done, be it the story, the cuts, etc.

Cinematographer or Director Of Photography (DOP) has got something really different to do. A cinematographer is specialized in the technical aspects of different types of cameras, lenses, lightings, angles, etc. He has got assistants too to manage all of this stuff. He works on creating the visuals of a film. The cinematographer only works in the production phase.


But, can a cinematographer make a film on its own? Is it possible for him to shoot a film since he has got knowledge of camera techniques? Well, the answer is a big NO. What he lacks is HOW he would attempt. What he wants is somebody directing him what to exactly shoot and in what style & mood.

On the other hand, a director can’t make a film without a cinematographer. A director doesn’t know where and at what angle to put a camera to get his vision on the screen.
When a cinematographer and a director work together, what really happens is that the director tells the cinematographer about his vision behind the story.

The director knows exactly how the film would look on the big screen. He conveys his vision to the cinematographer to make him understand the right meaning of it in the best way possible.

Then it’s the cinematographer who after getting the vision decides which camera, lens, lightings to use to get the desired result. A good cinematographer always gets the vision right and uses multiple camera techniques to make what the director wants from the story.
A good director always knows the best way to convey his visions and has got great leadership skills to lead the whole filmmaking team.

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