MCD Industry research module

Following my passion, I chose to do more research on industry research which might bring my researched perspective to my future direction.

cinematographer or director of photography (sometimes shortened to DP or DOP) is the chief over the camera crews working on a film, television production or other live action piece and is responsible for making artistic and technical decisions related to the image. (Wikipedia)

Nowadays, film industry is kind of like a big boys club, and it’s hard for women to be taken seriously as cinematographers. Martha reports that only 2% films were shot by female cinematographers. Cinematographer is dominated by male.

Matthias – Cinematographer in Beijing film industry

The underrepresent of female cinematographer. Firstly, I think it’s because of nature. Females generally chose to do a more feminine job rather than holding a big camera. Pretty much women like high-hell shoes and in a pretty make-up, happy to hear some compliments like you so beautiful rather than ‘wow, you look so cool!’ By contrast, men enjoy something cool like motorbikes, cars and more curious about tools and parts. Basically, there are no too much women wish to do this job. … Actually, women did better job in writing, speaking and organising than doing technical stuffs… Many girls have become directors rather than cinematographers in China.

I completely agree with that. Through a small group survey I carried out in RMIT Master of Media. 16 out of 20 young women (8o%) dislike to be a cinematographer in the future. The reason why dislike they answered: ‘Too tired, it’s not suitable for girl.’ ‘Not interested in learning softwares and cameras’ ‘I don’t like to carry heavy equipment. It’s like a boy! I don’t wan to be like that.’ However, in these students 14 were Chinese.  Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 4.00.15 pm.png

Cinematographer Style, a documentary film by Jon Fauer, interviewed over a hundred cinematographers from around world about process and progress of filmmaking. In the documentary, Owen Roizman said ‘You have to light, you have to compose, you have to create movement. That’s the three elements of cinematography.’

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 12.37.25 am(Trailer was embedded at the bottom)

Obviously, people would say the camera is big and difficult to move for women which has formed a social norm in cinematographers societies that a cinematographer should be a man who can handle carrying heavy equipment.

Ical Tanjung – Malaysian cinematographer

The judgement exists. I know a lot of young women do producers, writers and production design, and a few women do directors and cinematographers. I know some girls do camera assistants and videographers but it is hard for females to be cinematographers here as I know. Physically, boy’s muscles are bigger than girl’s. That’s not easy for women to do camera movement.

This is a real story happened on me when I took the internship in Jiangxi Province Tv Station in China two years ago. Every times I followed mentors going outside to do interviews, they never allowed me to carry any heavy stuffs or even a tripod. They always ordered another male intern to do those things, and instead I was holding a mic phone interviewing people in front of a camera.  It is a psychological question that a male have a strong feeling (instinct) to protect the weaker one.The conventional mode of thought is still affecting people that men go out to fight and women weave at home which is incorrect and not suitable for me and some girls.(refer to social role theory)  I think this would be a potential factor of underrepresent of female cinematographer.

Some causes can be traced to human evolutionary history, especially the ways that the division of labor is influenced by biology and environments.A human universal–in all known societies–is a division of tasks so that men do some things in society and women do others. The specific activities in a society depend on what tasks can be performed most efficiently by each sex, given men’s greater size, strength, and speed and women’s bearing and nursing children. (Wood & Eagly, 2002)


Miranda Ralph – RMIT media student

I think women have emotional aspect that a lot of men don’t have. They can create a story and also get the emotion cross the screen and fully immerse audience.


Maya Bankovic – Female cinematographer in Toronto.

I am glade to hear from some girls who want to be cinematographer as it was considered not easy for female. Some students asked me same question about my experience in film industry as a female cinematographer when I was a tutor in Toronto Film School. I work alongside with male collaborators and I think there is no difference between male and female cinematographers. I always tell my students that don’t hold back due to physical aspect, gender and size is not an excuse to give up what you like to do. … Everyone have to pay something for their future and dream. Try to find out a way to build a body of work and insist your dream, and then you will find some professional people respect you and are willing to work with you. Over time, you will have a great number of works to support your capability of being a cinematographer.

Mixie Lin – Camera assistant in China

I like to take what someone else has written and make it visual. When people tell me stories, I can see visually and how it plays out in my head. It part of the reason why I choose to be a cinematographer. I know it is hard to be a cinematographer in China not just for female. Directors will work with the cinematographers they trust in, they won’t change their team very often. … I worked as camera assistant in film industry 6 years followed experienced cinematographers and directors for getting more experiences and hope one day I can have my team. … I can handle it. I don’t care about what other said. I think it’s cool and I enjoy it.


Overall, I think it would be more successful and happier for me if I am following my passion to do something I like rather than something I could do.


Wood, W., & Eagly, A. H. (2002). A cross-cultural analysis of the behavior of women and men: Implications for the origin of sex differences.Psychological Bulletin, 128, 699-727.



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