It is film awards season, and with it comes the annual frustration of the continued lack of nominations for women filmmakers. This 2019 Oscar lineup contains a predicable lack of women in certain categories, including zero women up for Directing, Cinematography, Editing and Original Score.
The Oscars are one of the most main-stream, distinguished film awards shows in the world. Whenever I tell a family member or friend that I am a filmmaker, they instantly dream up a scenario where I am up for a nomination and they get to be my date. And aside from this being nearly impossible as an experimental independent filmmaker, it is sadly even more unimaginable because of my gender.
Aside from directing my own films, I also work as a cinematographer for my filmmaking colleagues. As a cinematographer, I help to create the director’s vision for the film through camera and lighting choices. I am knowledgeable about the craft and good at my job. I also personally know many other skillful women cinematographers both at the local and international scales.
Yet, we still don’t see women cinematographers gaining the same recognition and opportunities of their men counter-parts. When I was in film school, I saw all too often the struggles women students faced gaining access into the “boys club” of cinematography where most of the knowledge, connections and privileges lie. Men had their hands on the cameras, they shared with each other insider knowledge, and they boosted each other up.
So we know there are a few problems: less women being able to work and be recognized as cinematographers, and the lack of spaces for women to learn the trade. These problems suck, and I want to try to fix them!
Thus why I created a Cinematography Workshop for Women with VIVO Media Arts Centre here in Vancouver. I wasn’t seeing a space for women to come together to learn about cinematography, so I created one!
That “boys club” vibe makes it hard to feel comfortable asking technical questions as a women because you might be seen as unintelligent. With my workshop, all forms of questions will be encouraged and no one will be shamed. I want to introduce to the attendees about the fundamentals of cinematography so they can walk on to set with confidence.
The workshop will also explain the historical reasoning behind sexism within the industry and with our cinematography choices. Did you know that from the dawn of filmmaking we have been lighting women in very different ways then men? And that those techniques still crop up in contemporary films? Crazy, I know.
This workshop is my way of trying to combat sexism within the industry, and is open to all self-identified women and non-binary folks. Basically, anyone whose gender made it harder for them to learn about cinematography.
I am really proud about this workshop, and I hope the attendees gain a lot of useful knowledge, exiting with a sense of confidence and community. If you want to learn more about the workshop, go on ahead to the VIVO Event page for more information.