Cinematographer Roberto Schaefer ASC AIC recently wrote in from the US to share his thoughts on Barry Ackroyd BSC’s President’s Perspective column in the March 2016 issue of British Cinematographer Magazine.
“I am moved to write to you to comment on the bravura of Barry Ackroyd BSC. I find it rare in these days of PC and fear-mongering that someone in a position like Barry has the courage to actually write what he believes and pulls no punches.
The business is so lopsided and getting even more so every day. Much of the above-the-line attitude towards the cinematographer and other below-the-line crew is obscene. I have been lucky to be even paid only a reduced rate for the recent DIs that I worked on and gave my all to. Ever since the DI became the post standard there is more need for us to be in the suite and to make sure that the original intent, or a collaborative change with the director, is properly implemented. There are also many times when there is no time on-set to do lighting, or shadowing adjustments, and we are encouraged to fix it in post. But if we aren’t there to follow-through, then who will? I was even asked on one film to do up to six weeks of DI work in a foreign country and be given only per diem, hotel and flights, but no pay!
I’m sure that if some of the recent award-winning movies hadn’t had the cinematographer completing their work in the DI suite, that there would be very different final products, and different awards as a result.
I wish that other magazines that represent our industry would have the cojones to express themselves as honestly and bravely as Barry does in his column. In every issue of British Cinematographer Magazine I have read with pleasure his calling-out of the injustices of an unbalanced system in which we are all working. Certainly there are exceptions, and not all productions treat us this way, or worse, but it has become more the norm nowadays.
I have the greatest respect for all the cinematographers around the world who strive to help tell the stories that are the movies we make, and their dedication to seeing it through to the final release print. That work is part of the job and should be respected and treated as such.
Thank you Barry for continually speaking out and being frank and open in your important column.
Sincerely, Roberto Schaefer ASC AIC IMAGO.”