Some people start shooting as soon as they get out of film school and five years later they might be a professional DP (in my opinion, a pro is someone who makes a living with their craft).
You will need an incident light meter (I recommend the Sekonic L398 for the beginner) and a spot meter (Minolta F or M). Also handy, working knowledge of various cameras, which means understanding depth of field, circle of confusion, camera operating and learn a feel and understanding of lighting which means an understanding of color temperature, gels, diffusions, bounces etc, etc..
Advice on volunteers…
People volunteer on shoots for three reasons:
1. To gain experience or upgrade.
2. To make contacts.
3. as a favor to someone whom they work with a lot.
Getting volunteers on a feature is very difficult because no one can really afford