Topics

locked "Shooters" Debate on Glass Thread

Jen White
 

This is in response to a recent discussion in the glass thread regarding the use of the term “shooter” in reference to DP’s/Cinematographers/Camera Operators. While I understand that everyone seems to want to put this thread away, I feel the need to chime in and request that you hear me out. 

I will preface this by saying that in my experience at least a majority of people (women do this too) are not aware until it is pointed out, so I am willing to give a certain amount of benefit of the doubt here and hope that to be the case here as well. 

The offense taken to being called “shooters” by several members on the thread wasn’t so much the problem. Rather it was the responses. 

“respect the position not the man”

“craftsmen”

“cameraman” was used repeatedly and in most of the replies. Including a response stressing that “words matter - terminology matters”. 

There is no inherent gender bias in “shooter” so even though I don’t like it, I would much prefer that to the myriad of nonsense I and my female colleagues get called on a regular basis. “Young Lady Cameraman” is perhaps my most eye-roll worthy title to date. I have lost track of how many times I’ve been called a “camera girl” or simply “girl”, or when I'm on a crew where the DP or TD refers to all the operators as “cameramen” with no consideration of the fact that I am not a man. And I am almost always the only woman on the crew on jobs that I am not the DP. When I request that Camera Operator be used instead I’m usually told that it’s too long to say on comms. 

So hopefully you can imagine why I find it hypocritical to express outrage at being called a “shooter” while actively using male pronouns and job titles with a gender bias. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: gender has nothing to do with anyone’s ability to operate a camera, light, or run a crew. A penis is not a job requirement for anyone outside of the porn industry. 

Every time I bring this up on CML I get multiple direct replies from other women on the forum who thank me for being brave enough to speak up. I request that you consider this and perhaps take a moment to reflect on the language you use (i.e. “cameraman”) while demanding others do the same (i.e. “shooter”).

I’m also rather curious about the “Queen of Cinematography” title bestowed upon Roy Wagner- was this intended to be an insult of some kind? That certainly seems to be the case and I hope I don’t need to explain why that is problematic. 

So, if this forum is indeed “run on professionalism and mutual respect” then I feel there’s room for improvement regarding the female members who have just as much right to it. 

Thank you all for your consideration. 

Jen



Jen White
ICG Local 600 DP
Los Angeles (currently in Austin, Texas)
jen@...
323-540-0659

Mitch Gross
 

“Every time I bring this up on CML I get multiple direct replies from other women on the forum who thank me for being brave enough to speak up.”

From a guy: thank you. 


Mitch Gross
Cinema Product Manager 
Panasonic Media Entertainment Company
New York

On Mar 10, 2018, at 11:42 PM, Jen White <imajen@...> wrote:

This is in response to a recent discussion in the glass thread regarding the use of the term “shooter” in reference to DP’s/Cinematographers/Camera Operators. While I understand that everyone seems to want to put this thread away, I feel the need to chime in and request that you hear me out. 

I will preface this by saying that in my experience at least a majority of people (women do this too) are not aware until it is pointed out, so I am willing to give a certain amount of benefit of the doubt here and hope that to be the case here as well. 

The offense taken to being called “shooters” by several members on the thread wasn’t so much the problem. Rather it was the responses. 

“respect the position not the man”

“craftsmen”

“cameraman” was used repeatedly and in most of the replies. Including a response stressing that “words matter - terminology matters”. 

There is no inherent gender bias in “shooter” so even though I don’t like it, I would much prefer that to the myriad of nonsense I and my female colleagues get called on a regular basis. “Young Lady Cameraman” is perhaps my most eye-roll worthy title to date. I have lost track of how many times I’ve been called a “camera girl” or simply “girl”, or when I'm on a crew where the DP or TD refers to all the operators as “cameramen” with no consideration of the fact that I am not a man. And I am almost always the only woman on the crew on jobs that I am not the DP. When I request that Camera Operator be used instead I’m usually told that it’s too long to say on comms. 

So hopefully you can imagine why I find it hypocritical to express outrage at being called a “shooter” while actively using male pronouns and job titles with a gender bias. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: gender has nothing to do with anyone’s ability to operate a camera, light, or run a crew. A penis is not a job requirement for anyone outside of the porn industry. 

Every time I bring this up on CML I get multiple direct replies from other women on the forum who thank me for being brave enough to speak up. I request that you consider this and perhaps take a moment to reflect on the language you use (i.e. “cameraman”) while demanding others do the same (i.e. “shooter”).

I’m also rather curious about the “Queen of Cinematography” title bestowed upon Roy Wagner- was this intended to be an insult of some kind? That certainly seems to be the case and I hope I don’t need to explain why that is problematic. 

So, if this forum is indeed “run on professionalism and mutual respect” then I feel there’s room for improvement regarding the female members who have just as much right to it. 

Thank you all for your consideration. 

Jen



Jen White
ICG Local 600 DP
Los Angeles (currently in Austin, Texas)
jen@...
323-540-0659

Franz Salvatierra
 

Having totally missed the referenced discussion, I wanted to say that I can sympathize with the feeling of marginalization. For me, this is actually about dealing with clients who undermine the value of creative choices and development. The idea that "camera operator" is too long for comms is a bs excuse as it has a great short form of "camera op." the real issue there is people who don't want to change their ways for the comfort of others.

Words and meaning are fluid in nature so I don't put too much weight on this issue. As for my preferred title, I take the path of least resistance. This usually means cinematographer or shooter since director of photography is a mouthful and the abbreviation is too much of an insider term (e.g you would only hear the abbreviation E.P. in a trade article or production meeting but when discussed in broader mediums, the role is referred as executive producer.)

Nothing is more important than what is assumed. With that in mind, I fully support the idea of foregoing gender-specific terms so that we(our co-workers across departments) can focus on the work at hand.


-Franz Salvatierra
Cinematographer
 
www.franzsalvatierra.com | contact@... | 323.825.1507

Steven Morton
 

Thanks Jen, great post :-)

Steve Morton FRPS
Scientific Imaging
Monash Universty
Melbourne
Australia

Geoff Boyle
 

Jen,

 

You are absolutely correct, I plead guilty to using traditional titles like cameraman, I think this is so engrained into my brain I’ll probably keep doing it without thinking. That’s not an excuse, it’s just a reality.

I think cameraperson is really uncomfortable, maybe we should stick to titles like cinematographer which is inherently gender non-specific. Operator, AC, 2AC all are simple and non-offensive.

Of course one of the biggest issues is one that doesn’t directly affect men.

One of my AC’s then operators who went to cinematographer had the problem of taking 5 years off to have children and then restart her career.

 

 

Cheers

 

Geoff Boyle NSC FBKS

Cinematographer

Zoetermeer

www.gboyle.co.uk

+31 (0) 637 155 076

 

From: cml-general@... <cml-general@...> On Behalf Of Jen White
Sent: 11 March 2018 05:42
To: cml-general@...
Subject: Re: [general] "Shooters" Debate on Glass Thread

 

This is in response to a recent discussion in the glass thread regarding the use of the term “shooter” in reference to DP’s/Cinematographers/Camera Operators. While I understand that everyone seems to want to put this thread away, I feel the need to chime in and request that you hear me out. 

I will preface this by saying that in my experience at least a majority of people (women do this too) are not aware until it is pointed out, so I am willing to give a certain amount of benefit of the doubt here and hope that to be the case here as well. 

The offense taken to being called “shooters” by several members on the thread wasn’t so much the problem. Rather it was the responses. 

“respect the position not the man”

“craftsmen”

“cameraman” was used repeatedly and in most of the replies. Including a response stressing that “words matter - terminology matters”. 

There is no inherent gender bias in “shooter” so even though I don’t like it, I would much prefer that to the myriad of nonsense I and my female colleagues get called on a regular basis. “Young Lady Cameraman” is perhaps my most eye-roll worthy title to date. I have lost track of how many times I’ve been called a “camera girl” or simply “girl”, or when I'm on a crew where the DP or TD refers to all the operators as “cameramen” with no consideration of the fact that I am not a man. And I am almost always the only woman on the crew on jobs that I am not the DP. When I request that Camera Operator be used instead I’m usually told that it’s too long to say on comms. 

So hopefully you can imagine why I find it hypocritical to express outrage at being called a “shooter” while actively using male pronouns and job titles with a gender bias. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: gender has nothing to do with anyone’s ability to operate a camera, light, or run a crew. A penis is not a job requirement for anyone outside of the porn industry. 

Every time I bring this up on CML I get multiple direct replies from other women on the forum who thank me for being brave enough to speak up. I request that you consider this and perhaps take a moment to reflect on the language you use (i.e. “cameraman”) while demanding others do the same (i.e. “shooter”).

I’m also rather curious about the “Queen of Cinematography” title bestowed upon Roy Wagner- was this intended to be an insult of some kind? That certainly seems to be the case and I hope I don’t need to explain why that is problematic. 

So, if this forum is indeed “run on professionalism and mutual respect” then I feel there’s room for improvement regarding the female members who have just as much right to it. 

Thank you all for your consideration. 

Jen

 

 

Jen White
ICG Local 600 DP
Los Angeles (currently in Austin, Texas)
jen@...
323-540-0659

Christopher Mosio
 

Jen, for enduring being called, “Young Lady Cameraman”, let me apologize for the entirety of men on the planet.  And please come on up to Seattle, where we put the archaic and unimaginative term "cameraman" to rest at the turn of the century. Really, brothers, this ship is going to sail without you, if you don't step on board.

-Mosio
Cinematographer / Seattle

Steven Gruen
 

I operate a camera. I don't shoot anyone.

The first time I was called a shooter it was by someone inquiring about hiring me for television sports work. I had never heard the term before. Seems to have come about sometime in the late 1980s or 1990s. By that time the number of mass shootings was frequent enough that my immediate thought was that this person was boxing me into the same category as an enraged, obsessional, psychopathic murderer.

Bravo to Jen for speaking out and reminding the guys how we can be blind to our own biases.

Steven Gruen
Camera Operator/Director

 
Edited

Jen
 
Interestingly I have had this debate quite a few times now across a number of forums.  
 
I must confess in the past I called myself a cameraman, but as I have got older, wiser and become a father to an awesome girl (and an equally awesome son) I have become much more aware of the impact of a simple title.
 
What is interesting is how upset some male colleagues get about losing the term cameraman, not because they are sexist but because they cannot let go of the idea that they are not worthy of the title of Cinematographer or Director of Photography.
 
My argument is simply this:  Annie Leibovitz is a photographer - so is the person who comes into a school to take pictures of kids.   Both do the same job but at different levels.
 
Cinematographer is the dictionary definition of someone who makes moving pictures so why can’t we all move to that?  If you are operating the camera under someone else direction then you are a camera operator.  Its not that hard really.

As to the gender inequality. I do feel things are changing.  In the UK we have female heads of the London Metropolitan police and the London Fire Brigade, as well as a female Prime Minister.  Children are far more exposed to seeing women in powerful positions - and in all walks of life - so hopefully they will become to see it as the norm.  
 
We hope.

Michael Sanders
London Based Cinematographer/DP.
 
+ 44 (0) 7976 269818
 
 

On 11 Mar 2018, at 04:42, Jen White <imajen@...> wrote:

So hopefully you can imagine why I find it hypocritical to express outrage at being called a “shooter” while actively using male pronouns and job titles with a gender bias. 

ian@...
 

I hesitate to comment on this topic as I fear the medium is unsuited to nuanced discussions, but knowing that Geoff has championed a "gathering at the pub" atmosphere here on the forum I'll take a stab at this.

First off, the camera department has had challenges recruiting and holding onto female members.  Geoff's mention of the AC who's career suffered after she took time to raise kids is a prime example. I think that issue and the lack of a healthy work/ life balance within the film industry as a whole is a far more problematic issue than gendered language but much tougher to address.  Perhaps we gravitate to low-hanging fruit like the term "Cameraman" which generate a lot of sound and fury in forums but don't address the big issues that need to be tackled.

An additional problem with this debate is the meaning of the words "man" and "girl" is context-dependant and very subject to nuanced usage and possible mis-understanding.  These misunderstanding can quickly gets out of hand and emotional but I would suggest that it's useful to consider the intent and the benefits of allowing people to express themselves as freely as possible.  There is a cost to suppressing the ability of allowing people to express themselves in a respectful manner and the election of DJT should be seen partially as a result of that.

My mother would bristle at been referred to as a "girl" in almost any context besides a team one (e.g. in a dragon-boat "come on girls!".  My mother-in-law might might, however, appreciate to with the term "girl" and could even consider it complementary.  I hesitate to use the term "girl" to refer to any woman but I was raised by a feminist- a person (male or female) with a more "traditional" upbringing might consider the term "woman" as stiff and perhaps even slightly derogatory in some circumstances.

But why are some men holding onto the term "Cameraman'?  For some men, the suffix "man" is a subtle honorific indicating "an adult status", while perhaps women hear "male".  Lots has been written about the need for young males to achieve the feeling of adulthood so let's not dwell on it, but suffice it to say that it might indicate some of the subtle reasons why some men might want to hold onto the term- It's not about gender to the men, but it is to the women and that disconnect is then framed in a male vs female conflict, when some compassion on both sides might be more useful.

"Best Boy" is a term I've seen used quite a bit for members of both sexes and nobody seems to have an issue with that one.   Correct me if you disagree- perhaps Vancouver is different that way.

I don't know this history behind the "queen" line but to me it's not a degradation of a Queen as a women as much as a description of someone attempting a regal or pompous-like appearance that's incongruous with their actual presentation.  But as a Canadian I'm defacto a loyal subject of the queen so...

Personally, I use the terms DP and Cam Op most of the time, Cinematographer when I feel fancy, but still slip into Cameraman and Shooter when speaking with people from my past in the broadcast world.  I also use Cameraman when speaking with Joe or Jane Public who stare at me blankly when I tell them I'm a DP.

I love women- married one in fact and have wonderful daughter.  I love working with women and men together in a crew that turns into a family.  If we want to recruit and hold onto the best and brightest people then lets please focus on making the career one that is more family and life-friendly.  In the meantime, I'll try to use the term "Cameraman" less but if I do please forgive me and know that we're on the same side in the big battle.

Ian Kerr csc
Cinematographer
Vancouver, Canada







Brian Heller
 

Ian, 

This is undoubtedly the best commentary on the subject I have ever read.  I will be saving it.

Thank you,

Brian Heller 
IA 600 DP


On Mar 11, 2018, at 4:07 PM, ian@... wrote:

I hesitate to comment on this topic as I fear the medium is unsuited to nuanced discussions, but knowing that Geoff has championed a "gathering at the pub" atmosphere here on the forum I'll take a stab at this.

First off, the camera department has had challenges recruiting and holding onto female members.  Geoff's mention of the AC who's career suffered after she took time to raise kids is a prime example. I think that issue and the lack of a healthy work/ life balance within the film industry as a whole is a far more problematic issue than gendered language but much tougher to address.  Perhaps we gravitate to low-hanging fruit like the term "Cameraman" which generate a lot of sound and fury in forums but don't address the big issues that need to be tackled.

An additional problem with this debate is the meaning of the words "man" and "girl" is context-dependant and very subject to nuanced usage and possible mis-understanding.  These misunderstanding can quickly gets out of hand and emotional but I would suggest that it's useful to consider the intent and the benefits of allowing people to express themselves as freely as possible.  There is a cost to suppressing the ability of allowing people to express themselves in a respectful manner and the election of DJT should be seen partially as a result of that.

My mother would bristle at been referred to as a "girl" in almost any context besides a team one (e.g. in a dragon-boat "come on girls!".  My mother-in-law might might, however, appreciate to with the term "girl" and could even consider it complementary.  I hesitate to use the term "girl" to refer to any woman but I was raised by a feminist- a person (male or female) with a more "traditional" upbringing might consider the term "woman" as stiff and perhaps even slightly derogatory in some circumstances.

But why are some men holding onto the term "Cameraman'?  For some men, the suffix "man" is a subtle honorific indicating "an adult status", while perhaps women hear "male".  Lots has been written about the need for young males to achieve the feeling of adulthood so let's not dwell on it, but suffice it to say that it might indicate some of the subtle reasons why some men might want to hold onto the term- It's not about gender to the men, but it is to the women and that disconnect is then framed in a male vs female conflict, when some compassion on both sides might be more useful.

"Best Boy" is a term I've seen used quite a bit for members of both sexes and nobody seems to have an issue with that one.   Correct me if you disagree- perhaps Vancouver is different that way.

I don't know this history behind the "queen" line but to me it's not a degradation of a Queen as a women as much as a description of someone attempting a regal or pompous-like appearance that's incongruous with their actual presentation.  But as a Canadian I'm defacto a loyal subject of the queen so...

Personally, I use the terms DP and Cam Op most of the time, Cinematographer when I feel fancy, but still slip into Cameraman and Shooter when speaking with people from my past in the broadcast world.  I also use Cameraman when speaking with Joe or Jane Public who stare at me blankly when I tell them I'm a DP.

I love women- married one in fact and have wonderful daughter.  I love working with women and men together in a crew that turns into a family.  If we want to recruit and hold onto the best and brightest people then lets please focus on making the career one that is more family and life-friendly.  In the meantime, I'll try to use the term "Cameraman" less but if I do please forgive me and know that we're on the same side in the big battle.

Ian Kerr csc
Cinematographer
Vancouver, Canada







Jan Klier
 

The danger in this conversation, however well meaning, is that it is still a lot of male opinions debating how women may or may not feel about that and what the solutions may be. That furthers the problem rather than lessening it. 

We should acknowledge that it is a legitimate problem as perceived by women, and then we should listen rather than offer solutions from our side. As the solutions evolve from the ongoing conversation there will be ample time to support and adopt them. It may be as simple as starting to adopt terms suggested by the female members like Jen in your everyday vocabulary and not overcomplicate it. Just do it.


Regarding the term ‘shooter’, it’s very ingrained. For several years I’ve now tried to eliminate it from my vocabulary but found it challenging. And it’s not just the noun, but also the verb ‘shooting’. While Annie Leibovitz may be thought of as a photographer, the word shoot or shooting is even more prevalent in the still world, where you spend all day long on photo shoots.

I dislike the word because of the ambiguity with the aggressive alternate meaning, but also because it puts the person into a dominant and aggressive stance relative to the set, when in fact the best work happens as a multi-directional team effort to capture a slice in time. A lot of the #metoo moment wasn’t just about female roles but uncalled for aggression and abuse of power.

Cinematographer is a fine, accurate, and gender neutral term. It doesn’t quite flow of the tongue or keyboard, and it sounds a bit antique. But it distinguishes well from the camera operator, it separates reasonably from the videographer who does the more corporate or life event work but is another ugly word. DP is often also used as more contemporary, though few outside the direct industry know what it means. Yet that solves only the noun. I guess ‘filming’ is an appropriate verb to pair with?

Jan Klier
DP NYC


On Mar 11, 2018, at 4:24 PM, Brian Heller <brianheller1@...> wrote:

This is undoubtedly the best commentary on the subject I have ever read.  I will be saving it.

For some men, the suffix "man" is a subtle honorific indicating "an adult status", while perhaps women hear "male". 

Colin Elves
 

Did her partner also take 5 years off to have children? Or was it just her? Did her partner also work in the industry? 

I’m sure I’m not the only father on CML - but I wonder how many of us took years out of our careers to have kids? And how were we seen if we did.

The issue is not just that woman ‘need’ to take time off to have kids - it’s also the assumption that it’s only them that should do so.

To be honest. Childcare is the biggest problem and the U.K. is shit at it. Here in Berlin it’s free from, I think, 1 year old. And all you need to do is say you’re a freelancer and  you need more than 7 hours a day childcare and you get it. And this includes before and after school care. Plus parental leave can be shared. 

The U.K. is a good 10 years behind much of the rest of Europe on this (just as we’re about to sheer ourselves off). Sad to say the US is even more backward by the sounds of it - as far as I’m aware most mothers have to use up their ‘sick days’ if they want to have any time off post birth (because giving birth is obviously a sickness - and a human being is only capable of being sick for a limited number of days in a year, obviously).

Colin Elves
Director of Photography/Father of 3
Berlin/London



On 11 Mar 2018, at 07:45, Geoff Boyle <geoff.cml@...> wrote:


Of course one of the biggest issues is one that doesn’t directly affect men.

One of my AC’s then operators who went to cinematographer had the problem of taking 5 years off to have children and then restart her career.

 

Daniel Drasin
 

The English language (and the belief systems it frames and perpetuates, in its role as our de-facto international language) can be a damn tough nut to crack.  Its social, contextual and pronunciation-related underpinnings all interact in so many ways. A coveted title in one context may be misleading or completely meaningless in another; maybe even insulting or obscene! A socially respectful term this year may be radically offensive the next. An otherwise ideal term may be clumsy or unpronounceable and is therefore unlikely to be used in practice. An insider's term of convenience ("shooter") could get you busted at airport security. Neutral terms of art ("crush the blacks") can easily be taken as expressions of hostility, and so forth. A traditional acronym (SOC?) may seem awkward or stubbornly archaic until it's changed (SCO?)...

Sometimes we just have to do our best. A good example in English might be "they" in place of "he or she." At first the pedants screamed "but 'they' must always be plural!" Their screams were drowned in the rapid acceptance of this imperfect but best-available solution.

In parts of the US we've replaced "waitress" and "actress" with "waiter" and "actor." To some, this seems respectfully gender-neutral. To others it's disrespectfully masculinizing. (Should we make a distinction between a "shooter" and a "shootress?" -- I'm joking here, to make a point...). 

Gender and minority bias have been deeply rooted in most human cultures and languages for a very long time. But as we ourselves become less biased, our language will tend to evolve naturally. Meanwhile, for starters, we need to respect whatever terms people prefer to apply to themselves

Ladies and gentlemen, ;-) we, our languages and our favorite industry (OMG...) have a lot of catching-up to do. 

Dan Drasin
Director of Photography/Cinematographer/Shooter/Cameraperson/Lenser/Photographer/Filmmaker/Philosopher/Occasional Pedant...
Marin County CA



CYNTHIA M PUSHECK
 

Jen  - Big clap on the back for such a wonderfully written post!
You stated exactly what I was thinking while I was reading the first thread, but I just didn’t have the energy to jump into it!

So, thanks for reminding everyone, again, that words matter and that unconscious gender bias in camera is still a problem.  Things are certainly much better then they used to be, though.  And based on the feedback you’ve gotten so far from male cinematographers, I’m very hopeful that there is real change happening in this regard.

Cheers!

Cynthia Pusheck, ASC
Los Angeles…   (but currently in Vancouver)

Co-Chair ASC Vision Committee 
#ASCVision

Alex Payne
 

I'm a father who's taken off the past year and a half, and will likely take more (preschool starts here at 4 years old), to care for my son.

I was still young in my career when my son was born, but now I feel my career in cinematography is effectively dead. Without the chance to actively use it, the new tech has already begun passing me by, and being this long out of regular practice has already taken a hit on my skills. I can feel it on the very few jobs that do still come my way and align with my schedule.

But it's not really about that. I can get back into practice, I can relearn the new tech. Might be a few opportunities missed, but I'd be able to get back there without much trouble when the time comes. 

The real problem is, once you start saying no to everyone who has an opportunity for you, once you start telling them your schedule is essentially shut down, for long enough... They start calling other people. Very few of my connections still consider me for jobs and, I imagine, would be hesitant to put me at the top of their list once I told them I was "back" . They'd have a new favorite cinematographer, a new person they've developed trust with. And I can't imagine anyone would get too excited hiring me with a big blank spot of a few years on my credits list.

Maybe I'm just looking at the worst case scenario, and I'll be warmly welcomed back when I'm ready and able to do so, but it does feel like I'd have to essentially start over, and I don't know if that's the right choice for me. Maybe if I had been further along, with stronger credits attached to my name, it'd have been a bit different. 

As for how it was seen by others, I've received nothing but excitement, encouragement and praise. Everyone is very happy for me and my blessing. Not enough to bend their schedules around mine, but happy nonetheless. 

Anyway. This may be a bit disappointing in some regards, but I'll continue to see what path ends up being the right one for me. Maybe it will still be cinematography. 

I'm not sure what exactly I expect to contribute to this discussion, but... You asked, so here's one father's experience. 

Alex Payne
(Former?) dp/camera op
Nyc


On Mar 11, 2018 5:12 PM, "Colin Elves" <colin@...> wrote:

I’m sure I’m not the only father on CML - but I wonder how many of us took years out of our careers to have kids? And how were we seen if we did.

Mitch Gross
 

On Mar 11, 2018, at 4:36 PM, Daniel Drasin <danieldrasin@...> wrote:

Sometimes we just have to do our best. A good example in English might be "they" in place of "he or she." At first the pedants screamed "but 'they' must always be plural!" Their screams were drowned in the rapid acceptance of this imperfect but best-available solution.

It is even more complicated than that. As the father of a child who has found an identity in the term “they” in part out of gender identity and in part out of sexuality — yes, those are two different things — I can tell you that this is an emotional minefield. It’s one that many people are just starting to discover, and the LGBTQ community has been struggling with it for some time. The idea that there are only two gender identities (male or female) is only a fairly recent history one. I won’t go into a dissertation on the matter and frankly I’m still learning much myself so don’t feel qualified. For instance Facebook now delineates 71 discreet gender identities, and this is just one example. 

There is a vast research base on the use of language in societies to pigeonhole people into certain roles in many ways. This can be gender, race, religion, sexuality, and a host of other ways people can be separated, collated, and ultimately marginalized. 

Words do matter. It is how we form governments and societies and how civilizations are organized. It’s fine to note that there are other issues of importance, but it not appropriate to deem one of greater value and then dismiss the question of terminology. Battles can be fought on multiple fronts and it does not have to be either/or. 

For some people this issue negates their perceived value as a human being. That’s desperately important. 


Mitch Gross
Cinema Product Manager 
Panasonic Media Entertainment Company
New York


Geoff Boyle
 

There is an inherent problem in the PC approach.

 

Men cannot have children.

 

It’s really simple!

 

Therefore no matter how hard people may try to balance the situation it is always going to be skewed to some extent.

 

Cheers

 

Geoff Boyle NSC FBKS

Cinematographer

Zoetermeer

www.gboyle.co.uk

+31 (0) 637 155 076

 

From: cml-general@... <cml-general@...> On Behalf Of Colin Elves
Sent: 11 March 2018 22:12
To: cml-general@...
Subject: Re: [general] "Shooters" Debate on Glass Thread

 

Did her partner also take 5 years off to have children? Or was it just her? Did her partner also work in the industry? 

 

I’m sure I’m not the only father on CML - but I wonder how many of us took years out of our careers to have kids? And how were we seen if we did.

 

The issue is not just that woman ‘need’ to take time off to have kids - it’s also the assumption that it’s only them that should do so.

 

To be honest. Childcare is the biggest problem and the U.K. is shit at it. Here in Berlin it’s free from, I think, 1 year old. And all you need to do is say you’re a freelancer and  you need more than 7 hours a day childcare and you get it. And this includes before and after school care. Plus parental leave can be shared. 

 

The U.K. is a good 10 years behind much of the rest of Europe on this (just as we’re about to sheer ourselves off). Sad to say the US is even more backward by the sounds of it - as far as I’m aware most mothers have to use up their ‘sick days’ if they want to have any time off post birth (because giving birth is obviously a sickness - and a human being is only capable of being sick for a limited number of days in a year, obviously).

 

Colin Elves

Director of Photography/Father of 3

Berlin/London

 

 


On 11 Mar 2018, at 07:45, Geoff Boyle <geoff.cml@...> wrote:

 

Of course one of the biggest issues is one that doesn’t directly affect men.

One of my AC’s then operators who went to cinematographer had the problem of taking 5 years off to have children and then restart her career.

 

Colin Elves
 

You do realise that woman are biologically capable of working while pregnant and that men are biologically capable of looking after babies, right? 

So once you take out the 8 weeks per pregnancy when a mother physically is recovering from birth  (16 weeks out of a career spanning 40 years plus for the average number of babies per woman in most developed economies) 

How much of a ‘skew’ do you think can be accounted for purely by biology?

Colin Elves
Director of Photography
Berlin, London.

Jen White
 


On Mar 11, 2018, at 12:45 AM, Geoff Boyle <geoff.cml@...> wrote:

Jen,
 
You are absolutely correct, I plead guilty to using traditional titles like cameraman, I think this is so engrained into my brain I’ll probably keep doing it without thinking. That’s not an excuse, it’s just a reality.
I think cameraperson is really uncomfortable, maybe we should stick to titles like cinematographer which is inherently gender non-specific. Operator, AC, 2AC all are simple and non-offensive.
Of course one of the biggest issues is one that doesn’t directly affect men.
One of my AC’s then operators who went to cinematographer had the problem of taking 5 years off to have children and then restart her career.

_._,_._,_
First off, thank you to everyone who is participating in this discussion. You’re giving me hope that things can change, and hopefully are changing. I posted something similar a few years back and it did not go over quite as well ;) I remember several of you having my back on that one too and I’m grateful- looking at you in particular, Cynthia Pusheck :)

So I’m not drowning all of your inboxes, I’ll reply to Geoff’s response as a catch-all, and then add specific responses when needed. 

It is absolutely engrained. So much so that Angelina Jolie said “cameraman” in her speech at the ASC awards a few weeks back and you could tell she realized it right after. Women say it, men say it, and I know multiple cinematographers who still list it as their job title on their business cards, websites, etc.  And there are constantly people using only “he” when referring to DP’s, ops, grips, electrics, assistants, and directors. When you become aware of it and can’t ignore it any more it just become exhausting and a perpetual source of frustration. As Mitch said, it can affect someone’s perceived value as a human being. As a woman, I have spent most of my career feeling invisible because for years and years no one ever said “she”. It’s a seemingly small and simple thing that has a huge impact. Which is why I was literally sobbing while watching Wonder Woman, why Black Panther has taken over the world- representation is critical and it’s not “just a word”. 

If it were then all the men would be fine with being called a “camerawoman” the same way they expect me to be okay with “cameraman”. But it never goes that way does it? ;)

I’m now at the point where I automatically correct people - I try to be polite about it and don’t always manage - and most people don’t even realize they’re doing it. A good majority of them vow to pay attention and correct it. I know there’s a certain percentage that I’m annoying with it, but I just can’t believe this far into my career I’m still having to do this, so it’s all or nothing. 

My hope is that now that (at least in the States) the union has adopted Director of Photography, Camera Operator, and Assistant Camera as the official classifications, and the SOC, which was until a few years ago the Society of Operating Cameramen, has now become the Society of Camera Operators, that there’s a chance it will be less automatic.  Our electric union in Los Angeles has replaced Gaffer (which means Godfather) with Chief Lighting Technician, and Best Boy Electric with Assistant CLT, which is also progress.

However, we are still dealing with Best Boy Grip with the Grip side, and I’ve been engaged in a healthy debate with all my grip brothers and sisters about what to change it to. No consensus has been reached.  “Best Boy” has bothered me since film school 20 years back and I’m determined to see it go. 

We also still have our Contract Services office, which handles the safety training for the studios, listing AC’s as “Assistant Cameraman” on their cards. My 1st is female and it makes her crazy. Rightly so. 

My main thing is that all other industries use gender neutral job titles and I want the film industry to catch up. Our bits and piece have nothing to do with our jobs, so neither should our job titles. 

(Dan Drasin- loved your commentary on this. Spot on. A friend of mine calls me “CameraChickMaiden” just to mess with me.)

I’m glad Geoff brought up the having children issue. It’s a big one, and complicated. Child care for a 12 hour day, plus commute, plus potential overtime can completely wipe out an AC’s day rate after taxes. Getting someone to watch your kids on that schedule is next to impossible. I have two single mom friends that work in production and I’ve seen this first hand. It’s insane trying to juggle it all.

I know several AC’s who couldn’t get hired back by their regular DP’s after giving birth because they requested breaks to pump breast milk. 

There are people who won’t hire pregnant women.  Hell, I’ve even heard chatter about not hiring women because they COULD get pregnant.  

All women are not necessarily able to work throughout their pregnancy and may also need more time to recover after. 

And even if her recovery is quick it doesn’t guarantee there will be work for her. 

AND don’t get me started on the whole losing your union healthcare because you didn’t bank enough hours while you were creating a human being situation. This happens constantly. 

The only people I know who “easily"/successfully have kids and are in the industry either have a full time nanny, a grandparent who essentially is a full time nanny, or their partner is a stay at home mom or dad. 

If I had counted the number of hours I have spent trying to figure out how to minimize the damage to my career if I have a kid it would be in the hundreds if not thousands. 

When Reed Morano spoke at the ASC a while back one of the questions she was asked was about how she manages being a mother and a DP. Not once have any of the men been asked that question even though most of them are fathers. She rightfully called the moderator out on that, which was amazing.  So the perception of duty is more heavily placed on women, and they are also physically taxed by the pregnancy, recovery, and breast feeding if they choose to go that route.  And I could go on for days about the debate around a photo of Reed operating handheld while she was pregnant. The judgement was through the roof and everyone seemed to have an opinion on why that was bad and wrong.  To Colin Elves point, the assumption is that it’s the woman’s responsibility, AND they want to reserve the right to judge her choices. Even asking Reed that question is in a subtle way, a judgement, precisely because men are never asked that question.  

Ian Kerr wrote "Perhaps we gravitate to low-hanging fruit like the term "Cameraman" which generate a lot of sound and fury in forums but don't address the big issues that need to be tackled.”

I think you nailed it, Ian. The job titles are a scratch on the surface, so I think sometimes where I am coming from is a place of “Can I just bloody be called a gender neutral job title whilst I’m being sexually harassed?”

The list is long, but I’ve been flashed, groped, grabbed by male producers from behind to “position my camera” instead of them communicating over the walkie, boob grazes “by accident”, sexual jokes directed at me when I was the single woman on the crew, mansplaining (oh, the mansplaining), having to work for men with 10+ years less experience than me, men taking credit for my work…  and in just the last year I’ve had multiple female assistant reach out to me about sexual comments and one who was assaulted by a grip. This is not a thing of the past. 

Jan Klier said "The danger in this conversation, however well meaning, is that it is still a lot of male opinions debating how women may or may not feel about that and what the solutions may be. That furthers the problem rather than lessening it. “

I see Jan's point, though I will say that just the fact that the debate is happening is progress. Questions are being asked and it feels like a new opening for progress. And perhaps some of the other female members of CML who are reading might feel more open to joining the discussion. 

And on that note, I’ll offer up some ideas for action and things to consider based on my personal experience: 

Use gender neutral job titles and either he/she, (s)he, or they etc. and ask others around you to do so as well.  Know that if you’re vocal about it as a man, and particularly an experienced older man, your input is probably going to be better received than a woman’s. 

If you have a crew member who is pregnant or breast feeding ask them how you can support them and let them know they don’t need to hide it or give up breast feeding so they can go back to work.  I believe it is possible to get this industry into a state of family friendliness. We shouldn’t need to choose between careers and kids in 2018. And that applies to fathers too- Alex shouldn’t have to sacrifice his career because he wanted to spend time with his son, but the nature of the business is eventually they stop calling. I have no clue how to remedy that. 

Hire women. And not just a token female. Hire minorities. Make sure you’re not just interviewing white dudes. Try to check yourself on any hidden bias you might have when seeing a name on a resume that is clearly female or a person of color.  

As DP’s let your crew know that discrimination and sexual harassment are not cool, and that you are available to report incidents to. There’s nothing worse than mustering up the courage to tell your department head that something happened and then they don’t care or tell you you’re being “too sensitive” or to “toughen up”. 

Watch out for labeling women as “emotional”, “crazy”, “hormonal” etc. if they are upset about something. Ask yourself if you’d have the same reaction if a man said the same words in the same way. 

Same thing applies to assumptions about ability. If you wouldn’t ask a male crew member if something is too heavy for them then same goes for her. “Are you sure you don’t need an EZ Rig?” etc. are not as subtle as you might think. Instead of micromanaging, ask “do you have everything you need?” or “let me know if you need support.” and trust them to ask for help if they need it. 

Don’t touch female cam ops. This happens CONSTANTLY. When I am operating a camera it’s like my shoulders are a magnet for male hands. This has happened to me as a DP as well. It’s creepy and uncomfortable and blows your shot 100% of the time. If you see a producer or director doing it to one of your ops, say something.  Other than that, keep it professional- I personally don’t mind a hand on the shoulder to get my attention if need be, but if I’m on a walkie that is always preferred. 

For any AC’s that might be reading this, use our names on the slate. Instead of “J. White” write out Jen. We need more visibility and that’s one way to make it happen. 

Don’t assume I’m an AC because I’m a woman. This has happened to me way more times than I would like. Granted, I look younger than I am, but still: assumptions.  It’s subtle messaging not unlike the male job titles and pronouns. 


That’s everything my tired brain can think of, and this post has gotten ridiculously long already so I’ll sign off for now.  I’m attaching a transcript of Alan Caso’s speech from the ASC awards in case any of you didn’t see/read it. It seems appropriate for this discussion and I’m also excited about getting to finally attach photos ;) 


Again, THANK YOU for being open and generous with this conversation. I pretty much want to hug all of you right now. 

Jen



Jen “Please ignore typos because I’ve barely slept" White
ICG Local 600 DP
Los Angeles (currently in Austin, Texas)
323-540-0659










martyna K
 

I have been reading these recent posts by Jen with a sheer interest. The word shooter is not being used much at all in UK, unless someone is fishing for finding out if you can do a job for a lower rate. I also have never had a problem with asking people to call me a camerawoman, or people generally thinking twice before calling me a cameramen. Perhaps I just generally meet very thoughtful people.

The recognition of a correct title comes with the recognition as a dop - when you manage over 40 lighting and camera crew (with a strong Polish) accent they dont ever dream of not calling you a "camerawoman" or whatever else we all decide fits. I also dont see why I would need to not correct people politely at parties, when introducing me to others as a cameraman - i just smile and correct them.
Every time.

I have never been called "a girl" or "that girl" since i stepped up to DP'ing, at least not in my face - perhaps thats just a privilege of living in the UK, politest of countries, where most of the people wouldn't call any female professional "a girl".

What weird me out the most are those big BSC equipment shows or similar. Any typical film market all over the world have pretty much high number of female producers running around the stalls, pitching etc.
Yet at the equipment shows I feel so overwhelmed. It really strikes me how much men do this job.

I never have people rubbing shoulders with me, grabbing or any other horrific grip humour stuff which happened to me as a camera trainee 10 years ago. The everyday life of a female AC - a sad group subject for another day.

Perhaps acknowledging that the problem of using correct names exists is the biggest challenge for many of our male colleagues. I have heard more than ones this year at BSC show jokes about "why ladies are ganging up" and "why boys should be ganging up as well instead". Why do we make a big deal out of such a simple thing. Supporting female cinematographers and filmmakers supporting each other is what makes this job more interesting, and advances our whole industry.

Calling a professional woman - a camerawoman surely should not be more difficult than just stating a fact.

Martyna Knitter
Cinematographer, DP, Camerawoman

Martynaknitter.com

Ps. Woman cannot get pregnant on her own... There is always a man involved. Thats why people say nowadays "we are having a baby". I presume if you take time off as a mum, or you take time off as a dad, it's entirely up to what you actually decide on.
At least in XXI-st century I would think thats a norm? ;)

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