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Rachel Morrison 1.jpg

Hey Hollywood, Hire These Women Cinematographers

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Film | June 28, 2017 |

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Film | June 28, 2017 |

Did you know that no woman has ever been nominated for Best Cinematography at the Oscars? 80 years of the industry’s most coveted awards and no woman has ever even made the list of nominees for this one award. It’s depressing enough to know that there have only ever been four women nominated for Best Director, but that seems like a veritable feast in comparison to the field of cinematography. I brought up this fact during the 2016 Oscars and was immediately bombarded by inept buffoons who had gotten lost on their way to 4Chan but had plenty of time to read from the Handbook of Misogynistic Douchebag responses to Perfectly Reasonable Questions. Every attack appeared: Stop making this about gender; Maybe there just weren’t any worthy nominees; Women are too dumb to operate a camera; What if women just don’t want to do those jobs, and so on. Such nonsense rarely requires a proper response, but it only highlighted the problem at hand: Why, in 2017, are there so few women cinematographers in the film and TV industry?

Other than the obvious answer of “sexism”, there’s a major gap in the field regarding defined competence and the prevalent perceptions over who is best with technology. As described by cinematographer Elle Schneider in a piece for IndieWire in 2014, “because of reinforced gender biases in hiring practices at every level of our industry, men simply feel more comfortable entrusting technology to men.” With industry figures, as referenced in a 2016 Variety piece, showing film schools have student bodies of relatively equal gender balance, it only drives home industry discrimination harder when women make up about 3% of cinematographers in big budget films. A 2015 Deadline article reported that women make up less than 4% of the membership of the American Society of Cinematographers. The bias still remains that working with cameras and major technical equipment is something poor ladies just aren’t strong enough to deal with. In their eyes, women are too meek to work with handheld cameras for long periods of time. Access to the necessary equipment also seems to be a major barrier, as emphasised by Schneider: “Gear is money, and if there’s one thing we know about Hollywood, it’s that money talks.” In a risk averse industry, looking outside the box for rising talent is a no-go area, making the climb all the more difficult for women hoping to catch a break.

If film is the empathy machine as described by Roger Ebert, then cinematography is one of its most crucial, if under-discussed, aspects. The more inclusive your talent pool, the greater level of perspectives and skills available for use. It’s simply ridiculous to assume that an entire gender just aren’t good enough to do this job, or don’t want to. There are many wonderful women working in the cinematography world right now, putting their unique stamp on the field and collaborating with some of the top directors out there. These women aren’t hard to find either, but for those whose heads are still deep in the sand, I have handily provided a list of a few for them to check out.

Aimee Galicia Torres (The Full English)
Agnes Godard (Beau Travail, Let the Sunshine In)
Amy Vincent (Hustle & Flow, Claws)
Anna Foerster (Anonymous, White House Down)
Anne Etheridge (Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On)
Anne Misawa (All For Melissa, Jack & Diane)
Ari Wegner (The Kettering Incident, Lady Macbeth)
Ashley Connor (Funny Bunny, Tramps)
Autumn Durald (Palo Alto, Teen Spirit)
Bonnie Elliott (Hunters)
Céline Bozon (Exiles, Madame Hyde)
Charlotte Bruus Christensen ()
Charlotte Champetier (Holy Motors, Of Gods & Men)
Cinders Forshaw (Anita & Me, Poldark)
Claire Pijman (Good Morning Karachi, Echo the Now)
Claudia Raschke (Mad Hot Ballroom, Coup 53)
Cybel Martin (Queen of Glory)
Dagmar Weaver-Madsen (10,000km, High Maintenance)
Dana Kupper (Life Itself, Do No Harm)
Ellen Kuras (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
Jeanne Lapoirie (8 Femmes, 120 Beats Per Minute)
Joan Churchill (Shut Up and Sing, Last Days in Vietnam)
Kat Westergaard (Life is Hot in Cracktown, Love Song)
Kate Reid (Uncle, Trust Me)
Katie Milwright (Looking For Grace, Please Like Me)
Kira Kelly (13th, Queen Sugar)
Kirsten Johnson (Citizenfour, Cameraperson)
Lisa Rinzler (Menace II Society, Pollock)
Lynda Hall (The Imposter, Dreams of a Life)
Magela Crosignani (Hunky Dory, Savage Youth)
Mandy Walker (Truth, Hidden Figures)
Marianne Bakke (Turn Me On Dammit)
Maryse Alberti (Creed, The Wrestler)
Nancy Schreiber (The Comeback, Mapplethorpe)
Nanu Segal (Shrooms, The Levelling)
Natasha Braier (The Neon Demon, The Rover)
Nina Kellgren (Solomon and Gaenor, Wondrous Oblivion)
Polly Morgan (Call the Midwife, The A Word)
Rachel Morrison (Fruitvale Station, Black Panther)
Rain Li (Paranoid Park, Beijing, New York)
Reed Morano (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Sandi Sissel (Salaam Bombay, Karaoke Girl)
Sandra Valde-Hansen (White Bird in a Blizzard, Shotgun)
Sarah Cawley (Ringer, Salem)
Sarah Levy (The Office, The Peacemaker)
Sharon Calahan (A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo)
Sofia Oggioni (The Towrope, Anne)
Sue Gibson (The Forsyth Saga, Death in Paradise)
Svtelana Cvetko (Inside Job, The Architect)
Tami Reiker (Carnivàle, Beyond the Lights)
Tarin Anderson (Party Girl, XX)
Uta Briesewitz (Hung, Fresh off the Boat)
Valentina Caniglia (Mad Women, Umberto D.)
VanNessa Manlunas (Always Worthy)

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Kayleigh is a features writer for Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter or listen to her podcast, The Hollywood Read.