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Camera: Through their Eyes

Die deutsche Fassung dieses Textes über Kamerafrauen ist am 20. Dezember erschienen.

When people speak of the Female Gaze they very often refer to women directors. I find this a bit strange as my first association with gaze would be the camera. This often neglected team position – director of photography – should be regarded as part of a creative triumvirate, alongside the director and writer/s. More so than the producers. But strangely enough, often only the director, writer and producer will be included. There is a type of film we casually call „Bügelfilme“ in German (and I don‘t know the English expression for that. It‘s films that don‘t need to be seen in order to be understood, so you can do your ironing while you listen to the dialogue and the music, which will tell you everything that you need to know. If there is an English expression for these types of films, please tell me in the comments section, tnx.). So aside from these Bügelfilme, the vast majority of films will be characterized GEPRÄGT by their visual side and thus by the camera department quite considerably. Who is with me on this? The ARD (German public broadcaster / channel one)! On their TATORT pages (CRIME SCENE, the German top cop drama, 90 min. films on most Sunday nights) they name the TRIUMVIRAT and the composer – in the same ordcer as in the end titles of a film: music / composer, DoP, writer, director. The German TV awards Grimme-Preis list the author, director, DoP and head of sound for the nominated films.
We see this phenomenon internationally as well. There are these really remarkable, profound statistics from the British Film Institue BFI for roughly 200 UK films per year from 2003 to 2013, they publish information on the involved countries, production companies, directors, writers, list up to 7 actiers per film – but no word on the DoP. Sehr bedauerlich!

Make That Three

In Germany there are two unions for camera people, the German Society of Cinematographers BVK Berufsverband Kamera and the Berufsverband der Fernsehkameraleute / Union of Television Camera Operators.

  • The German Society of Cinematographers (BVK) is the official reprensentation of Directors of Photography in germany and other members of camera-crews. (taken from the English version of their website)
  • The Union of Television Camera Operators – BVFK – is an independent organization of TV cameramen and -women, promoting the interests of camera related professions such as directors of photography, camera assistants, panning assistants and camera remote operators among TV channels, production companies and politicians. (translated by SchspIN)

On top of this, a third association has recently been emerging, a network of German camera women. It started with their frist meeting in April, half a year they dedided to call themselves Cinematographers XX Germany and set up a website showcasing female directors of photography from German speaking countries. So complaints like „“Oh but there hardly are any female DoP‘s!“ should soon become a thing of the past.
In addition to this, a third association has recently been emerging, a network of German camera women. It started with their frist meeting in April, half a year they dedided to call themselves Cinematographers XX Germany and set up a website showcasing female directors of photography from German speaking countries. So complaints like „“Oh but there hardly are any female DoP‘s!“ should soon become a thing of the past.

CINEMATOGRAPHERSXX GERMANY is a group of women Directors of Photography working internationally across all genres: narrative, documentary, commercials as well as music videos. We are based in Germany and have a minimum of five years professional industry experience, many of us considerably more.
CINEMATOGRAPHERSXX RISING highlights upcoming cinematographers at the beginning of their careers.

That was a quote from their bilingual website (yes! it’s in German and English), I like the idea that the more experienced DoP want to encourage and inspire the aspiring younger camerawomen, which is a lovely promise of networking and possibly even mentoring.

At present the website showcases 63 DoPs (19 of them in the RISING section), with short CVs and contact details. More will follow, some 120 female cinematographers from all ages are subscribed to the network, the majority coming from the 30 to 40-years age slot. Every camerawoman who has worked professionally for at least five years can get herself be added to the main section of the database.

Pro Quote Kamera (pro quota camera) can be seen as the political arm of the organized female cinematographers‘ network. More on [Weiterlesen – Read On]

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