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Home » Featured Film Career for October 2023: Camera Operator/1st Assistant Camera
Featured Career Oct 2023

Featured Film Career for October 2023: Camera Operator/1st Assistant Camera

Based in Oklahoma City, Jeff Marks has worked in the film industry in the camera department since 2010. Credits include “Fairwood,” “Reagan,” “13 Minutes,” “Ike Boys” and many others. Marks was interviewed for episode 13 of the podcast “Focus Puller at Work.”

How did you get started in the film industry?

I had spent five years working at a bank, and it was…yeah, less than fulfilling. I had been making short films with some friends in my spare time, one of which made it into a festival. Then, one day a man named Sean Lynch came into my office to open an account for a film he was producing. We got to talking, and he said I should tour the studio at Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC). So, I did, and the next day put in my two-week notice at the bank and enrolled in their film program. The film he opened the account for was the first film I worked on.

Did you have any formal education or training related to the film industry before starting?

I did the film program at Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC).

Did you have any formal education or training related to your specific department on-set?

The only department specific education I’ve had came from OCCC and on the job training. Although my father was a photographer, so I may have gotten my “eye” from him.

What are some of your most recent successes (credits or accolades) related to your career in the industry?

Recent credits include: “Fairwood” (A Cam Operator); “Untitled Seeker Documentary” (Director of Photography); “Harvest Moon” (1st AC); “Wildlife”( 2nd AC) “Rudderless” (2nd AC).

What has your career in the state’s film industry taught you?

Freelancing in Oklahoma has taught me how to navigate being an independent contractor in ways of marketing myself and learning how to manage my money. Because even for the busiest of us, there are slow seasons and knowing how to budget is an extremely important thing.

What is the highlight of your career thus far?

I can’t point to one single highlight. But, I can say that getting to work with people like William H. Macy, Jake Gyllenhaal, Laurence Fishburne and crew members from all over the country and world is a pretty cool thing.

What is your favorite aspect of working in Oklahoma’s film and television industry?

I’d say my favorite thing about working in Oklahoma is that it truly feels like a community and family. I get to work with my friends on a regular basis, and welcome new friends as the community here grows. You don’t get that as much in bigger markets like LA or NYC.

What’s the best piece of advice you have for someone starting their career in Oklahoma’s film industry?

For someone new to film, the best thing I did for myself starting out was working on as many student films as I possibly could when I was in school. It really helped to get my name out there and jump start my career. Also, if you’re not sure what you want to do in film, try out different departments until you find one that you like.

How does someone in your field/department best promote/market themselves to those hiring in your industry?

The best ways to promote yourself I think are just getting out and showing your face by going to festivals, industry meetups, things like that. Also, the OF+MO’s crew list is a great resource. And, of course, all the social medias.

Are there any local film organizations, resources or events that have been beneficial to you in your career?

OCCC, OF+MO, film festivals like deadCenter.

What’s the one item you can’t live without on-set, and why?

Can’t live without my Robo Cup. Need coffee and water within arm’s reach at all times.

Where do you see yourself – AND – Oklahoma’s film industry in the next five years?

I expect our film industry to grow quite a bit over the next five years. Which is why we need more crew! And for myself, I’d like to mainly be an operator and director of photography.

What are you working on now or next?

Right now I’m the A camera operator on “Fairwood.”

Each featured individual or business is given the provided questions to answer in their own voice. Other than formatting and grammar, the answers are personal to each featured voice, and are not provided by the Oklahoma Film + Music Office.

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