IMAGO: Collaborative spirit

March 15, 2021

Our industry and particularly our field of cinematography is in a constant state of change. It begs the question, are we as cinematographers fully versed with what our role really is, given the range of new technologies? Has it become clouded and do people know and understand who or what the cinematographer is and what we do?

There is so much more for us, as cinematographers, to think about – new digital cameras and formats, lenses and the associated technologies, changing workflows, virtual production, and new philosophy and management styles affecting our crews. We are part of a global community and a global industry that continues to grow and change at an alarming rate. Are we keeping up and if not, why not?

I believe in some ways we can take a moment to step back, observe and then try things from another perspective. It’s what we’ve always done, but now we have to do it better and smarter. We have always been expected to achieve ‘more’ for ‘less’, but this has never been more evident than it is today. As cinematographers the final ‘look’ of the film is our responsibility, yet in some cases this is being compromised unnecessarily. Ultimately, we have to make sure we know and understand where cinematography and the associated technologies are heading, in order not to compromise the overall outcome of the production, and see our name attached to something that didn’t really end up being what was initially expected.

IMAGO has a deep seeded respect for the other societies worldwide, and the sharing of information is of great necessity to maintain a sustainable and beneficial industry.

There is no doubting that IMAGO is a true fraternity, where each and every member cares about their colleagues and their wellbeing, and respects the idea of a collaborative process.

To take it even further; The Cambridge dictionary describes “collaboration” as:

“The situation of two or more people working together to create or achieve the same thing.”

While simplistic in its description, collaboration is a universal undertaking, one that exemplifies the joining of cultures, artistic pursuits and indeed structure, to ensure that we at least have the common sense and the drive to want to collaborate in the first instance.

But collaboration goes much further. Within IMAGO we have learned, and we have encouraged the collaborative spirit, to ensure that our industry talks openly and honestly amongst itself, our Societies, funding bodies and individuals.

Without this collaborative spirit we will always simply remain a group of singular entities living in their own void, and not being prepared to experience and share as a collaborative community.

Do not be afraid to open up, reach out, share your thoughts and feelings. Your life and wellbeing, or those of a colleague or a loved one, could well depend on it.

Ron Johanson OAM ACS

Our industry, our community, experiences many highs and an equal number of lows. Those lows can prove to be difficult to deal with if the warning signs are often not recognised and dealt with in some way.

I can only speak personally about cinematographers, and what I have observed is a group of individuals, both male and female, who can be at the very top of their game in any genre one minute and then experiencing a dreadful low the next.

The causes are many, and simply wait for a trigger and then they manifest because of the phone not ringing for work, feeling unwanted or unappreciated, lack of confidence, getting older, relationship breakdowns, and financial concerns, to mention but a few.

The thing to remember and to try to understand is that there are many of our friends and colleagues within IMAGO battling these symptoms on a daily basis and managing to smile and laugh their way through what could eventually become tragic consequences. We cannot witness one of our own plunging headlong into something from which there can be no return without seeking the counsel of someone close. Do not be afraid to open up, reach out, share your thoughts and feelings. Your life and wellbeing, or those of a colleague or a loved one, could well depend on it.

Personally, I have experienced these moments, and if not for those close to me understanding and being there to just listen, who knows…

Cinematographers are like any creative person who subconsciously depends on an accolade, or positive feedback to give them re-assurance until that next booking. It’s a fine line, but people need to be aware that it’s not necessarily “what you say” it’s “how you say it”.

Let’s raise our awareness and look for the warning signs. Ask people how they are and if they need a hand, offer yours. It could be as simple as that!

Awareness is also paramount when it comes to on-set safety, so don’t let carelessness take place on any set, as again the consequences could be dire. It’s up to all of us to accept the responsibility of looking after everyone on a working set, and to be sure that we are not putting colleagues or ourselves at risk. We must always expect, and in fact demand, a safe and friendly environment in which to work.

This safety aspect also demands the need to embrace diversity, and challenge any on-set intimidation or bullying that we may experience or observe impacting others.

Do not cut corners, do not disrespect your fellow workers, and ensure that things are put in place that remove any danger or any negative element that could become a safety issue.

IMAGO feels very strongly about anything that could seriously affect the welfare of any cinematographer and all crew members working honestly and diligently to improve their future outcomes.

There is no question that there needs to be change, there needs to be fresh ideas and concepts, but having said that there are some things that should never change or be taken for granted – the friendship and camaraderie for which our industry is so renowned.

For updates on all IMAGO activities, please register for the IMAGO newsletter at www.imago.org

BY: Ron Johanson OAM ACS, INTERIM CHAIR, IMAGO

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