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Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

Why Have There Been No Great Women Cinematographers

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4 minutes ago, Richard Boddington said:

I am fine with it actually for three reasons, 1) I am not saying women can't apply or be hired. 2) I don't run a training school, and the lack of female applicants is quite frankly, not my problem. 3) No one complains when women dominate a dept in the film industry or other occupation.

R,

Sure, thats why its not a thing that can dealt with on an individual production. I don't disagree with you, on a producer level you just want to get your film made and hire the best people. As long as your hiring practices are merit based - its not your job to "fix" the industry. My own hiring practices are similar, I don't positively discriminate either. 

But if you look at the sector, maybe there's a structural issue that could be improved. Diversity needs to be supported by society as a whole, how children are taught, what they see in the media, the way benefits and child care are provided for. The hiring choices of an individual film producer can't rebalance that. 

Also gender roles can be really hard coded into society, with negative stereotypes re-enforced all the time. I have a 7 year old daughter and it's very upsetting when she comes home from school crying because she's been told she can't do X, because X is a boy thing and she's a girl.  Life choices are limited by stupid gender based peer pressure right from an early age.  My daughter right now wants to become Robot Scientist (shes 7), I hope that passion for science doesn't get lost in her teenage years, if peer pressure forces her to conform to gender stereotypes. I'm not even joking the amount of work I have to do on a weekly basis to try and debunk all these stupid peer (and teacher) generated life limiting gender stereotypes. Hopefully she is allowed to like Disney princesses, computer programming and robots. I'm shocked at how little progress has been made and she is already exposed to bullshit because she's a girl.

So my comments come as the parent of an awesome 7 year old girl - I don't want her life choices and dreams to be limited because of gender based discrimination that does exist in some sectors of employment. I'm also hoping she doesn't grow up in a Mad Max style dystopia either (more likely). I also understand that life isn't fair for anyone and success in many fields is now more related to your parents income then an individual's talent. 

But I agree its very difficult to resolve, society likes to categorize things and gender roles are pretty hard coded into humanity and males and females are biologically different. 

Personally I can't solve the world either but what I do try to do is:

- try to be fair when I hire people, look at the merit of their work and try very hard not to allow any of my personal biases come into play (maybe not always possible)

- I also teach film production, I try to mix up crew roles when I'm organising student productions and I screen examples of diverse filmmakers and I try to be equally demanding of all students. 

Things are hard. 

Maybe we should just argue about film vs digital, its less contentious. 

 

 

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48 minutes ago, aapo lettinen said:

I have understood that the best approach against both negative and positive discrimination is anonymous hiring where the applicant's background or gender cannot be seen so that it does not influence the hiring decisions. I don't know how possible that would be for HODs but it works very well in other industries so it is at least something to think about

 

I've been involved in hiring panels where we used anonymised CV's. I guess it can help on the first sift - although because the people applying had their credits listed on their CV's I could have jumped on IMDB to work out who they are (If I wanted to break the system).

When you interview people it's no longer anonymous, but for the first pass of looking through the applications and deciding who to invite to interview, there's no reason why the practice can't be done more. I found it really straightforward. The only issue is there is extra admin for the HR dept to clean up the CV's. Easier to do in big organisations with good HR. Film production is a bit slack on the HR front.

Other simple thing to do is have both men and women on the interview panel and score the candidates mathematically - helps cut down on any unintentional biases. Its human nature to hire people that reflect your self back to you, a cambridge grad will hire a cambridge grade because of common ground. If you have male white middle class HOD's even if they are well intentioned, they are more likely going to hire people similar to themselves which keeps everything the same.

Personally I don't think the diversity issue in film and TV production is mostly a gender issue. In the UK at least class is particularly toxic, the privately educated upper classes have big chunks of the entertainment industry sown up. Its very hard for us proles to break into the upper echelons, after all chucking Phoebe Waller Bridge a million awards/commissions does little for true diversity 

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Interestingly enough I look at these issue through the lens of the father of two teenage white males, and I realize that opportunities for them in every sphere are quickly drying up.  Their future in Canada is bleak to say the least.   I recently ordered a UK passport for my 16 year old, never hurts to have options in life.

I recently received a 20 page decision from the Canadian Human Rights Commission on my complaint against Telefilm Canada, wherein I allege gender discrimination against men for funding from Telefilm.  Telefilm admits the discrimination, and the Human Rights Commission decided that yes, it's legal to discriminate against men.  In spite of Canada's much vaunted human rights act which says the following:

“Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability."

 The Charter’s Section 28 underscores the importance of gender equality, stating, “Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.”

So what does this tell us?  Canada's laws are total bull sh*t, they mean nothing, anyone considering immigrating to this frozen hell hole should think again.  Can't wait for the day when my Canadian citizenship papers go into the shredder, luckily it's only a $100.00 fee! Thank the Lord I have my UK citizenship to fall back on!

R,

 

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7 minutes ago, Phil Connolly said:

Other simple thing to do is have both men and women on the interview panel and score the candidates mathematically - helps cut down on any unintentional biases. 

And yet.....most of the industrialized countries take the position that an employer can hire anyone they want, it's their company after all.  If someone doesn't hire you because you have green eyes instead of blue, what next? Lawsuit?

Hiring is never "fair," just by its very nature.

Next we'll be told, good looking people can't run for political office because that would give them an unfair advantage.

R,

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19 minutes ago, Phil Connolly said:

Also gender roles can be really hard coded into society, with negative stereotypes re-enforced all the time. I have a 7 year old daughter and it's very upsetting when she comes home from school crying because she's been told she can't do X, because X is a boy thing and she's a girl.  Life choices are limited by stupid gender based peer pressure right from an early age.  My daughter right now wants to become Robot Scientist (shes 7), I hope that passion for science doesn't get lost in her teenage years, if peer pressure forces her to conform to gender stereotypes. I'm not even joking the amount of work I have to do on a weekly basis to try and debunk all these stupid peer (and teacher) generated life limiting gender stereotypes. Hopefully she is allowed to like Disney princesses, computer programming and robots. I'm shocked at how little progress has been made and she is already exposed to bullshit because she's a girl.

So my comments come as the parent of an awesome 7 year old girl - I don't want her life choices and dreams to be limited because of gender based discrimination that does exist in some sectors of employment. I'm also hoping she doesn't grow up in a Mad Max style dystopia either (more likely). I also understand that life isn't fair for anyone and success in many fields is now more related to your parents income then an individual's talent. 

If she is interested in robots and programming it would be possible to start early on. Arduinos and similar microcontrollers are easy to learn for example (you will get results in couple of hours even) and one can do almost anything with them when being able to write one's own programs for them. It is best if you both learn to build and use them so that it is easy to resolve issues and learn faster

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I guess you can go too far in the other direction and I agree positive discrimination causes more problems than it fix's and patronising to the people it benefits. 

I guess the point I'm making is it's a good idea to have a system that gets the best person for the job is a good thing. If discrimination prevents that, then finding ways to reduce discrimination is a good thing. 

In the UK class based discrimination is quite a thing, most the senior BBC producers/execs are privately educated, my experiences are in the UK at least, the best person does not get the job, not in the media, it goes to Bunty/Tor/Topher/Alex the child of daddies friend at the club and that's why the bulk of the BBC's output is unwatchable. (bitter much?). Nepotism is a big an issue as gender based discrimination. 

Looking from the outside the US film industry seems a bit more "merit" based e.g if you good people will give you opportunities. My daughter is dual nationality with a US passport, so she has that option for the future. To be honest we'd have left for US already if American healthcare wasn't so precarious.  

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2 minutes ago, aapo lettinen said:

If she is interested in robots and programming it would be possible to start early on. Arduinos and similar microcontrollers are easy to learn for example (you will get results in couple of hours even) and one can do almost anything with them when being able to write one's own programs for them. It is best if you both learn to build and use them so that it is easy to resolve issues and learn faster

Yep I've been doing my best, we've done some "kit" robots and she goes to coding club. Right now shes good, but even at 7 years old, I've spotted her picking up on boy stuff/girl stuff negativity.  

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1 hour ago, Phil Connolly said:

Your not going to have a situation where David (or anyone) is or should going to step aside for a women

The problem is, Phil, that this is already happening constantly. Stuart mentioned on another thread how he'd been asked to apply for a job which he would never have done because they were looking for women and wanted to pad out the shortlist.

That's appalling, and it tacitly happens every time an event intended exclusively to help members of a minority group is mounted. Perhaps a white man wouldn't turn up to such an event, but if he did, he would be turned away for being a white man. I don't think it's very hard to understand the problem with that when it's stated in those terms.

I'll say it again: nobody should be unfairly prevented from doing anything they want to do, but the solution to that happening is to target the people responsible for the unfairness, not to engage in an obscene attempt to balance out the wrong done to various parties until everyone is equally pissed off.

 

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8 minutes ago, Phil Rhodes said:

I'll say it again: nobody should be unfairly prevented from doing anything they want to do, but the solution to that happening is to target the people responsible for the unfairness, not to engage in an obscene attempt to balance out the wrong done to various parties until everyone is equally pissed off.

 

I'll second that.

R,

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I think i was arguing against positive discrimination, that's not the fix and individual hires can't enforce balance. 

But in camera departments at least I don't think it's happening constantly. Stuart, not getting a role because he's male, is one singular incident - it's not enough statistical data to ascertain if it's an actual trend or perceived one.

I only have a my own perspective and I have been discriminated against for being male, and it totally sucks. But has it happened to me more in general then an average woman? I don't know - but I think we should be able to agree whatever the form discrimination shouldn't happen but it does. 

That's why I think education and training is ultimately the most sensible solution. Richard shouldn't be punished for not hiring a women DOP thats just going to piss him off, then he would sue Canada again or something, that solves nothing and might result in a Blue Brothers comeback film to pay the legal bills.

But doing nothing and accepting the Status Quo (except maybe Matchstick Men), we don't have to do that either.  We can all do small positive things to help encourage diversity when merited.  

And I say this as a person who has on occasion been sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, classist - its because know I'm a flawed person, with baggage and a ton of personal biases generated from my upbringing etc...  I know for a fact at times I've been part of the problem. The overall issues are societies to fix, as a small part of society I can try and act in a way that is good and fair and to be honest I'll probably fail, some random bit of bias will kick in and I'll be unfair. The idea that anyone can be truly "woke" i think is nonsense. So I reckon there is a problem because I'm part of the problem, we all are.    

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2 minutes ago, Phil Connolly said:

Richard shouldn't be punished for not hiring a women DOP

Again, I have zero issue with women working in any capacity on a film set.  A lady production designer literally saved my ass on two movies by working miracles and never once complaining.  She did that because she was smart, talented, and qualified.  No one did her any favours.

I only hire the DOP, production designer, UPM, and composer.  Once I'm shooting, I have no idea how the crew got there? A sheep could carry a light stand across the set, and I wouldn't notice.

R,

 

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2 minutes ago, Richard Boddington said:

Again, I have zero issue with women working in any capacity on a film set.  A lady production designer literally saved my ass on two movies by working miracles and never once complaining.  She did that because she was smart, talented, and qualified.  No one did her any favours.

I only hire the DOP, production designer, UPM, and composer.  Once I'm shooting, I have no idea how the crew got there? A sheep could carry a light stand across the set, and I wouldn't notice.

R,

 

I made the point badly, i wasn't making a personal criticism - you should be able to hire anyone you want.  Also right now even if you set out to hire a female dop it would be more difficult because there are vastly fewer to choose from. 

I also get the impression that your probably a cool and fair employer who isn't discriminating against people on gender grounds etc... but maybe your in the minority? I don't think my own productions have been too problematic either. But the industry as a whole potentially has issues. We can on our own productions try to do our best not to be a dick. But I think is wrong to assume because our experiences are X, that others are the same. 

I also don't know if its a problem or not, some industries are Male or Female dominated and that's fine. The nuance is crazy complex we are talking about things that very hard to define from our personal limited perspectives. 

Positive discrimination doesn't really work, at worst you risk inventing new resentments. I frequently get angry with the BFI, because I feel excluded by their fairly explicit biases that exclude me. And had I got an opportunity because I was in a specific ethnic group, I'd resent it because I'd feel like I hadn't earned it properly. It's totally not cool

Buuuuut if you did some research and got meaningful stats that said Women for reason X were being discriminated against, I don't think we (as a society) should do nothing either.  How that looks like would be complex and ideally more sophisticated than what some of the more clunky attempts to redress the balance look like now 

 

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We may not be able to agree on gender politics, but at least we can all agree that digital is better than film right? That's safer ground for discussion .... i'll get my coat

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Jordan Peterson has a LOT to say about all of this, and he's much smarter than either of us.  And hated by feminists globally! 🙂

R,

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I feel like still photography is a fairly neutral art form between Men and Women. (But I haven't done the research, so obviously I could be wrong) Point is, still photography is a basically a very low cost art form that most of us appreciate. Is there a statistic that says there are equal Women still photographers to Men still photographers? I'm guessing it's closer than cinematographers. 

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In the field in which I am most qualified and talented, I won't say what it is, and I don't want anyone to think I'm playing the world's smallest violin for sympathy: the field is now run by women. It's wall to wall women at all levels. In some workplaces where I live there are, in effect, almost no men who work in this field at all and if they do they are very fortunate. Maybe the boss at the top is a man but I've been in many workplaces where the boss and all her admin assistants etc are women too. It's not easy to find work in the field I should be working in. And yet in this field it was once men who were the dominant gender. Do I care about women trying to get more jobs that men do? Nope. My God, save your job and don't do anything rash like assume women need extra quotas. If you don't care about yourselves then care about the future of your sons, and the men that your daughters might one day hope to start a family with.

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It's the strange implosion of the western world. The new topsy-turvy world where men and women don't exist, and people don't have families, and it's all sort of old fashioned and uncool to point this out. We're not men and women anymore. We're cis-gendered or something. My care factor fell to zero on so-called political correctness a long time ago. Same with most people I know. A revolution in the west is coming and it's going to be really, really big.

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Stick around David! You're a really interesting person with a lot of talent and a proven very high artistic achievement in cinematography. You're contribution is very much needed. Stick around and fight for what you believe in. I don't trust all I read on the internet. For every political 'fact' on the internet there's often a challenge to it. Progressives want to change what was traditional. But are they making a better world? Is the truth difficult to face? I think it sucks that many men have been pushed out of a workplace that doesn't value them like it used to. That's a really serious problem. Why do so many people not like to face this really difficult fact? They deny it. They look up Wikipedia articles, like it was Scripture provided by God. But, you know, Wikipedia articles are just written by people. Fallible people.

Edited by Jon O'Brien

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I hope nothing I've said is too outrageous. I don't think it is. Jon, you should recognise that what you're saying is highly contentious - "men have been pushed out of a workplace that doesn't value them" - and that sort of claim requires evidence. 

As to pay, I think it's worth going over so that there is good information on this thread, for the benefit of everyone including future readers.

There is a pay differential between men and women that's probably down to prejudice at least in part, but it's nothing like as large as it is often claimed to be. Numbers approaching the high teens, up to 18 or 19% are sometimes claimed for western economies. These are invariably based on whole-life earnings, that is, not controlling for people's choices. We can illustrate that issue by considering a common and very reasonable concern, which is that women are typically burdened with childcare responsibilities at a greater level than men. Beyond biological necessities, which should of course be considered fairly, raising a family is a choice; a choice to do so or not, or a choice as to the division of the resulting labour. This is a discussion for the individuals in a childrearing relationship.

If one person in specifics is being unfair as regards, say, an agreement to share childcare responsibilities, then the injured party has my full support, but it's not hard to see why this doesn't justify arbitrarily trying to adjust the specifics in gestalt. Controlling for factors like these reduces the pay gap to well under 10%, perhaps under 5%, of which some part may be direct prejudice. That's not great, but it's also not a licence for the unrestricted positive discrimination (if there is such a thing) that is gradually becoming normal.

These are complex issues affected by many factors other than childrearing, but I think that illustrates why it's important not to drink the kool-aid on this topic because it is likely to cause serious unpleasantness in future.

P

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12 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

I have a 7 year old daughter and it's very upsetting when she comes home from school crying because she's been told she can't do X, because X is a boy thing and she's a girl.

Rotten as that is, who's telling her that? Not staff, I hope?

If it's any help, I once tried to do a basic makeup course, just enough to be able to powder down someone who was gleaming during an interview, and couldn't find one that would take a complete ab-initio on the basis that effectively 100% of their students were women and had at least some experience doing their own. I know how she feels.

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12 hours ago, Richard Boddington said:

A sheep could carry a light stand across the set, and I wouldn't notice.

 

Totally fine.. they would be earning their chops ..  whats the matter with you people !

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9 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

It’s been interesting... but I have to get back to the real world now where there is an undeniable pay gap between men and women.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_pay_gap_in_the_United_States

When this site wants to discuss cinematography, maybe I’ll come back.

I'm sorry to say this David, but when you make posts like this, I can't help but think you are lecturing the rest of us with an aura of superiority.  You've already admitted you didn't do a very good job hiring women on The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and the descriptive stats I posted bare that out. 

And I am certainly leaning more and more to the "I don't give a sh*t position," myself.  After all the Canadian government sent me a 20 page letter explaining why I have zero rights in Canada.  

R,

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