Sunday, January 3, 2021

Diversity.


One of these things is not like the other.

 


"So how did you end up working with the Gaffer?"

I was helping a day player button up his condor for the night when he asked me this question. I had been with this particular crew for some time now, but this was the guy's first day with us so our conversations were peppered with getting-to-know-you questions.

"Oh, I did a pilot with him a while back."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. One of his guys threw my name in the hat because production wanted more diversity in their crew and apparently I was the only option available," I said, adding a slight chuckle at the end of my reply. I thought back to how on my first day with them, I was expecting to see different genders and ethnicities peppered into the crew but when I showed up, my entire department was made up of white males with the exception of me. "Three years later and I'm still here."

"Oh, yeah," the guy replied, though he didn't seem to find the humor in my answer, "My usual Gaffer ended up doing a show like that. We had to let go of a few of our regular guys." The way he said it made it clear that he wasn't happy about that. 

Nor do I really blame him. I like most of the people I work with and am always sad when I no longer get to work with any one of them, but at the same time, he didn't seem to see what his comment was implying: that his usual crew was made up entirely of white, straight, males. And in addition, it didn't seem like he saw any problem with that. 

As more and more shows are pushing for diversity and gender parity, and that's a great thing, I will say that I don't always agree with their tactics. (But that's a much longer post for another time.) And while it has happened more than a few times now, I'm not exactly thrilled that the only reason why I'm on a crew is because "production made them hire" me. I'm a set lighting tech, not a human prop. But in all the times I've been hired in the name of "diversity" I've never once not been called back to work with a crew, even when they move on to shows without a quota requirement. So while they probably would have never hired me on their own to begin with, I'm obviously good enough to keep around when given the chance. 

I'm not saying that any "diversity hire" my day playing colleague's Gaffer had to bring on is any better than any of the guys he had to let go, but the fact that there wasn't someone already in his repertoire shows that he doesn't really give a shot to those who don't come with a certain type of privilege to begin with. And that's a problem. If there was any diversity in his crew at all, their unit would still be intact.   

The conversation died and we packed up the rest of the gear in silence. Then he headed in one direction while I headed in another.



1 comment :

Anonymous said...

As a white female AC, I never considered myself "diverse" but this has started happening to me often. I recently found out at the end of a show that the DP had been forced to fire his go-to AC last minute to hire me - an AC he'd never met and didn't yet trust. It explained a lot about the unspoken dynamics that I had no way of knowing about. The minute I stepped on that set I was at an automatic disadvantage, joining an all-male crew who looked at me as the one who got their buddy kicked out.

Hiring more diverse crews is a great priority and long overdue. But in the shady and often last-minute way production handles this goal, all the pressure gets put on below-the-line crew. There has to be a better way...right?

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