It's trivia time. Of all the roles associated with making a movie, guess which one has the smallest amount of female representation? If you said directors, you'd be close (but wrong). Female directors made up of six percent of the total directors who worked on the top 250 grossing films of 2013. If you said sound designers, you'd be closer. They weigh in at 4 percent. The answer is cinematographers.
Women make up only two percent of the cinematography workforce, and that's something a new grant hopes to change.
Five women were recently selected as the inaugural recipients of the Digital Bolex Grant for Women Cinematographers. The grant, spearheaded by camera and equipment maker Digital Bolex, provides each recipient with $10,000 to spend on camera gear and accessories from Digital Bolex, Hive Lighting, Hot Rod Cameras, and similar companies. For a full list of this inaugural round of winners click here.
The goal of the grant is twofold. One, most obviously, is to address the gaping discrepancy in female representation in the cinematography field. Digital Bolex provides a seperate web page listing close to a dozen corroborating statistics, including the fact that, as of 2014, 14 of 374 members of the American Society of Cinematographers are women, just 3.7 percent.
Secondly, the grant seeks to bridge any technical gaps that may exist by providing winners with access to state-of-the-art equipment. As Digital Bolex creative director Elle Schneider notes, "With so many independent films, the traditional training ground for new talent behind the lens, hiring cinematographers based on the equipment they already own and can bring to the table, this is an important initiative to give women the tools they need to compete professionally."
Digital Bolex began accepting applications in September 2014 and will offer future grants on a rolling basis. Details of how to apply can be found on the Digital Bolex website, and prospective applicants are encouraged to apply at least six weeks prior to their start date.
This grant comes at time when larger foundations are also striving to diversify the traditionally white-and-male cinematic landscape. For a closer look at the MacArthur Foundation's efforts to boost diversity in documentary filmmaking, click here.