About 2 percent of the 2013’s top 250 top-grossing films were shot by female directors of photography. The fact that many readers probably don’t know whether that’s high or low speaks to a real problem in the film industry. To that point, Vulture recently published a compilation interview with three of the most respected women cinematographers currently working, and it’s packed with more insights than an average frame of The Neon Demon is with glittery luminescence.
French DP Maryse Alberti (Creed, Velvet Goldmine) on dealing with male producers and crew members:
I remember the producer asking me, “Can you handle the big lights?” And I thought, Do I want to be sarcastic, or do I want the job? So I said, “I don’t handle the big lights, I just tell big men where to put the big lights and they do it.” … Male crews know that women cinematographers are here to stay, and there will be more of us. If they’re professionals, they behave as such. But maybe five years ago, I would interview a gaffer and he’d be like, Don’t worry, little lady, I’ll take care of it. Okay, you’re dismissed!
Argentinian DP Natasha Braier (The Neon Demon, The Rover) on the price women pay to get a foothold in the film industry:
If your personal life includes having children, you don’t have a lot of time, which means you have to make choices. By the time you get established and you can relax a bit more and you can take more time off, maybe you’re in your 40s, like me. I always decided I had such an exciting life and career and that was always the priority for me, and it’s only now that I’m 40 and have a great career that I could afford to have kids and take a sabbatical and then come back and keep doing the kind of work that I want to do with the same artistic and economic quality. But it took so much work to get to this point and have that luxury. And compared to a lot of other women, I arrived here relatively faster, so what happens if it takes you five or ten more years? Then you can’t have a family.
Rachel Morrison (DP on Fruitvale Station and Dope) on being on the small side of a lopsided ratio:
I mean, yes, I found that I was the exception, not the rule. But I have to say that for a long time I felt like that was actually kind of a good thing, because I stood out. I really never saw it as a deficit—I always saw it as a positive, in a way. In an industry that’s so oversaturated, being different is usually a good thing. … I do feel incredibly optimistic that that shift is taking place, and that it really is just a matter of time. I think people like to have role models and they like to see that it’s a path they can take, since a lot of us didn’t necessarily have that. We just sort of had to forge our own way. But there was a time when you said the word doctor and people pictured a man, and that just isn’t the case anymore. Hopefully within ten years, when you say DP, there’s not this assumption that that means a burly dude.