The discussion around gender based pay disparity, especially for the film industry is not new at all. However, it is the women behind the camera who are rarely talked about. Many directors and producers are hailed as flag-bearers of gender equality. But the editors, writers, photographers and technicians are almost never mentioned while discussing inadequate payment and other difficulties they face, simply because of their gender.
On this International Women’s Day, here’s taking a look at the major challenges that women working behind the lenses, women who make things and people beautiful on the camera, face in their professional lives.
Women working behind the camera are never trusted with the same kind of confidence in their work as their male counterparts. Video editor Alisha Nazareth says, “ There is more confidence in a male technician than a woman technician. As a video editor, there were instances when a freelance director/technician who did not know my work well questioned my intelligence and discouraged me and I would breakdown in such situations.”
Cinematographer Sukhada Kshirsagar explains with an example, “In my experience, I was not treated equally nearly 60% of the times. There was one project I was assisting on, when the DoP had to give orders regarding lighting. He would always call my male co-worker and when he wasn’t around for some reason and I approached him, I was asked to get my male co-worker. This happened when we were both equally qualified and experienced.”
Writer-producer Mrinal Jha believes the industry is on the right path to achieve gender equality. “You wouldn’t see women super-achievers like Ekta Kapoor had equality not existed. Of course, there could be instances where the women are not treated properly, but with increased gender sensitization, they have more reasons to call out such behavior without bothering about the implications. I was also fortunate enough to have colleagues who were more empowering than ‘eliminating.’”
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Gender Pay Disparity
Unlike the women actors, pay disparity is minimal when it comes to female technicians, many believe. Director of Photography Pooja Gupte says, “After getting a decent pay cheque as a student, I was lucky to work under DoP Kiran Deohans. He always made sure that all his assistants are paid properly. People who work with women in film industry are not biased, the problem really lies with those who prefer not working with women.”
Cinematographer and campaign photographer Pratha Narang agrees and adds, “Gender pay disparity has started thinning down considerably over the years. Quality scores higher than anything else. Yet, there are a few industry professionals who indulge in gender pay disparity. And this is visible at various levels, from artists to technical professionals. I haven’t faced this inequality recently, as I work independently and not through an agency or on payroll.”
On the sets of film or show, directors and writers face comparatively lesser harassment and their fight lies somewhere else, but the technicians really bear brunt everywhere. Filmmaker Madhureeta Anand says, “The wonderful thing is that there are more women directors and writers in the film industry now. But the truth is, they are still too few, and the system prefers men helming projects. Directors may not face the harassment because of the power we hold on sets, but the discrimination remains. For us, it is about how prolific we are allowed to be.”
She adds, “I have made two feature films, many documentaries and written so many feature films. If a man had done this volume of work, he would get many more offers than I do. If you’re a woman creator in Bollywood, your chances exponentially go up if there is a man from the industry who can back you up, like, if you are someone’s sister or wife.”
Celeb photographer Aesana Bhuta says, “Men are believed to have the strength to carry on physical work for longer duration but the counter-view also exists. The one which believes women can shape things better with a patient approach.”
Filmmaker Radhika Lavu adds, “Film making is about exploring the beautiful imaginary worlds within us, but it is hardly the ideal professional landscape for women. I believe the aspect of equality should translate into equal pay checks but it does not happen too often. No matter what a woman brings to the table, there is an inherent difference in the earnings, which unfortunately holds true for even the biggest female superstars. We do not want to glorify equality, we want to normalize it.”
We may have come a long way in terms of the tokenism for gender equality. A lot of work remains to be done to change the attitude towards women achievers and those who seek to explore and chart out their own path.
Source: Forbes – Business