Ah, the movie business. Everyone wants to work in the movie business. Everyone wants to until they find out how much work is involved, that is. Omar Ragab can vouch for that. He has been in the industry for years working as a camera operator and cinematographer and the work is not always considered to be a walk in the park. It’s a lot of hard work and a job that requires constant learning and keeping up with the state of the art equipment and techniques.
Cinematographers like Omar Ragab know all of this through years of working with the best camera people and the best directors. Although Omar never takes a day off from learning something new about lighting, filters, new ways of moving the camera and a zillion other little things, he also understands that when he is on the set and behind the camera that he has to count on the homework he did the night before to anticipate any problems that might pop up in that day’s shooting. That way, he is assured of a mostly problem-free day of filming.
Omar has been the cameraman and cinematographer on countless projects and here are just a small number of them: Commercials (Lancome, Calvin Klein, Uber Eats, At&T), Music Videos (Manana No Hay, Saturday Night, Funky Fresco) Reality Shows (Cooking with Paris, Master Chef Season 11, Hype House) and numerous films such as Bedland, Spirit Animals, Harbinger’s Chant, Finding America and Banana Thugs, among many others. He has also he worked on projects for companies and networks like Netflix, Disney, Amazon and HBO Max to name a few.
What about the payoff? Cinematographers and camera operators get paid but they will never make the kind of money that Brad Pitt or Jennifer Lawrence take home. The real payoff for a cameraman is getting to be a part of creating something meaningful and beautiful, which is a part of the film business that a lot of people just don’t understand. It’s being able to contribute something truly important to a project that they believe in. It’s bringing all of their knowledge, which in Omar’s case, is years of behind the camera experience along with even more years of photographic study and experimentation. How do you get that kind of exposure using that particular camera and that kind of film? What “F” stop should be used under those klieg lights? Should a filter be used? What size lens should we use? There are hundreds of other questions that all come into play at one time or another during a cinematographer’s career. All of which means that he has to do his homework and he has to be completely prepared for the day’s shoot before the producer, director and actors come on the set. If he’s not prepared, he could cost the production thousands of dollars an hour in wasted time.