CAREER TIPS FROM CINEMATOGRAPHER ANATOLY IVANOV


Facing your fear of rejection, reaching your potential, finding a workflow that works for you – what is the winning formula behind setting professional goals and achieving them?

Anatoly Ivanov is an award-winning cinematographer and camera operator who lives in Los Angeles. He’s worked with some of the most prestigious brands, has made a name for himself in the world of sports and has many narrative film projects under his belt. Cinematographers and camera operators’ responsibilities go beyond filming and using a camera. A cinematographer, along with a director and other department sets the tone and builds the visual world of the film. In an industry that is very competitive, one must learn to stay dedicated and disciplined. We asked a few questions to Anatoly to understand his career path and the philosophy behind it. Today he shares a few lessons that he has learned over the years. How do you follow your passion and dreams while remaining true to yourself and overcoming challenges? Anatoly has a few useful tips.

TAKE RISKS AND FOLLOW YOUR GUT: THERE IS NO SET PATH

Anatoly had a successful career in his native country, Russia. It all started with a risk he took.  Passionate about sports, he loved watching documentaries featuring athletes. He heard of Extreme Marathon, a video competition for sports – he had to send a proposal for a video. Anatoly decided to sign up, even though he wasn’t a pro camera operator at the time and the competition was high. His motivation pushed him to try his best, and he obtained first position in the extreme sports category. One thing led to another, and he was invited to shoot the Russian Olympic athletes. It all started with a desire to push himself and potentially fail. There is no “right” first step. Motivation and consistency will always bring results.


SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE YOU ADMIRE

Anatoly recommends networking. This might seem obvious, but prioritizing learning from your peers will allow you to step outside of your comfort zone. Anatoly moved to Los Angeles a few years ago to extend his network and have access to new opportunities. It was a bold move, full of uncertainty but in the end, it paid off. He recently traveled to Utah to film bronze medalist Yulia Galysheva in partnership with the RedBull project. Anatoly went from knowing no one in this new city to working with high end clients. He insists that generosity, good communication and an open mind can go a long way. You never know who you are going to meet. Self-branding is important too, especially if you are your own product like Anatoly is. By attending sports events and sharing his passion with athletes he admires, Anatoly widened his network. He has become an expert in his field and built a solid reputation for himself. In December 2021, Anatoly was invited to work as a camera operator for the Kanye West and Drake Concert in It was sponsored by Amazon and considered an historical event. This was a huge milestone for Anatoly: it was the combination of years of hard work and dedication to his craft. To go for the job you want, look around you, observe the people who are in the position you want to be. Look for connections, ask questions, give back when you can. This is what Anatoly is doing. After becoming an expert in a very niche field, he is now offering masterclasses to teach the new generation.

HOW TO FACE PRESSURE AND REJECTION: PREP WORK

When he was filming Olympic bronze medalist and skier Yulia Galysheva, Anatoly confessed that he had felt a lot of pressure. The shot was delicate and because Yulia was in recovery after an injury, she couldn’t go many takes. Her trick was very hard as well, so Anatoly had to get the shot right on the first take. He was afraid to fail and potentially tarnish his reputation. He has also experienced this kind of pressure when working for big television commercials, like the ones he shot for the automobile companies Lada, Toyota, and Michelin. There will always come a moment when you feel like you are not good enough. Not good enough for the promotion, the move across the world or the career change. Preparation is key. Emotional stress and performance anxiety never completely go away. But there are many parameters you can control in your preparation and planning. Ultimately your talent exists and develops in that space. Preparation allows you to trust yourself and get out of your head on the day off. Want to ask for a promotion or have a big pitch in front of your board of directors? Ask for help to practice, do your research. You deserve to be successful and reach your goals. It is normal to be afraid of rejection. Fear can be used as a motivator. You are unique, and this is what will make you stand out. For Anatoly that meant also finding his niche in the world of sport and getting noticed for that. In the end, Anatoly’s shoot went very well, and he is proud to have worked with a prestigious brand like Red Bull.

FIND THE ROUTINE THAT WORKS FOR YOU

Consistency and discipline are the springboard of your goals. But what does it mean to be disciplined? The answers are different for everybody. Get to know yourself first. How do you respond to accountability? Are you the type of person who is self-sufficient when it comes to deadlines and goal setting, or do you need extra help? Do you need to have a set routine in the morning or are you someone who enjoys spontaneity? Don’t beat yourself up if you cannot wake up at 5 am every day. Guilt is never a good thing. A routine is here to help you get a sense of control, feel your best and go for what you want. For Anatoly, doing yoga every morning and going on frequent hikes helps him clear his mind. He also enjoys doing core and balance training – not only does it help him when holding a camera in an intense action sequence, but it also grounds him. He’s also made learning part of his routine: For him that means keeping up with the latest technology in camera gear but also reading and watching documentaries featuring people that inspire him. A routine that works for you will help you reach your potential.

COMMUNICATION: CONSTANTLY WORKING ON YOUR LEADERSHIP SKILLS

A cinematographer is responsible for their team. Misunderstandings or poor communication can cost you a lot of time, money or worse. Good communication doesn’t only involve sharing your creative vision effectively, it also implies emotional intelligence and validating your collaborators. Anatoly recommends learning and educating oneself around the different styles of communications and the defense mechanisms people might have. Some collaborators are more independent than others. Good leadership comes with empathic and listening skills. Being able to navigate difficult conversations and resolve conflicts will help you immensely in your career. Anatoly is a perfectionist and is always looking for a good critique. It helps him improve. He is very clear on the feedback he is looking for when speaking to a director or producer. Showing that he is open to constructive criticism allows him to be a good team player. It also makes your collaborators comfortable. Stating that you are open to criticism makes collaborators feel at ease. In return asking if a collaborator is looking for feedback is a way to lower their defense mechanisms. You are equal. Anatoly also advises to make a list of what you would like to achieve before engaging in a difficult conversation.

We hope these tips from Anatoly were helpful to you. Anatoly has a lot of upcoming work including a feature film, TEMPORARILY, and a commercial for Nike. Check out https://www.tolyivanov.com/ for his latest career updates and let us know if any of these pointers were helpful to you!



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