Sir Roger Deakins CBE BSC ASC and others confront Hollywood over cinematographers’ long workdays

Aug 24, 2021

Hollywood cinematographers have signed a letter urging the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to address “the hazards of unsafe working hours” that have plagued the industry for decades.

Among the many signatories are Emmanuel Lubezki ASC AMC (Gravity), John Toll ASC (Braveheart), Sir Roger Deakins CBE BSC ASC (1917), and Erik Messerschmidt ASC (Mank), as well as Rodrigo Prieto (Brokeback Mountain).

Also signed by John Lindley, president of the International Cinematographers Guild, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 600, the letter asks producers “to create meaningful change” now.

The letter was obtained by Deadline and written ahead of Tuesday’s contract talks between IATSE and the Producers alliance. The letter notes that “drowsy driving after workdays that can last 14 hours or more have contributed to numerous auto accidents over the years, including one that occurred just before the contract talks began in May.”

Discussions over how to solve the issueof “drowsy driving,” and why Hollywood productions have swept it under the rug, gained public attention back in 2018 when Riverdale star KJ Apa crashed into a pole after a long day of shooting.

Per the letter, “We are Local 600 Directors of Photography who are writing to express our ongoing concern about the hazards of unsafe working hours, a practice that continues despite all the medical and indisputable evidence of the harm caused by fatigue. Most notable are the numerous car accidents our colleagues have suffered in recent years, including the weekend before we entered these negotiations.

“This past year has shown that when employers and craftspeople work together to confront a world-wide safety threat, it is possible to both protect everyone on our sets and successfully complete the most ambitious projects,” the letter adds. “It is past time to use that same intelligence and resources, now proven to be available, to increase daily rest periods and implement weekend rest periods to ensure the physical and mental health of every member of the crew. The time to create meaningful change is now.”

The full list of signatories is as followS:

John Toll ASC
Sir Roger Deakins CBE BSC ASC
Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki ASC AMC
Erik Messerschmidt ASC
John Lindley ASC
Paul Cameron ASC
Jim Denault ASC
Ellen Kuras ASC
Donald A. Morgan ASC
Rodrigo Prieto ASC AMC
Eric Steelberg ASC
Amy Vincent ASC
Mandy Walker AM ASC ACS
Robert Yeoman ASC

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