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Cinematographers Urge Studios to Reduce Workday Hours in Talks With IATSE

Letter from International Cinematographers Guild warns that 14-hour workdays on set are leading to preventable accidents

A letter from International Cinematographers Guild President John Lindley and 13 other top cinematographers was sent to Hollywood studios urging them to reduce excessively long workday hours on film sets as they resumed talks with IATSE on Tuesday on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Along with Lindley, the letter was signed by four Oscar-winning cinematographers, including Roger A. Deakins (“1917,” “Blade Runner 2049”), Emmanuel Lubezki (“The Revenant”), Erik Messerschmidt (“Mank”) and John Toll (“Braveheart”).

“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,” their letter says. “Most notable are the numerous car accidents our colleagues have suffered in recent years, including the weekend before we entered these negotiations.”

Workday hours have been established by IATSE locals as a major talking point heading into this round of talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the studios. Shoot days can regularly last as long as 14 hours and can extend into weekends, which IATSE locals warn has regularly led to severe mental and physical stress and higher health costs for their members.

To that end, the locals are demanding “real and meaningful” rest periods in between work hours and during weekends, along with penalties for studios that continue to push film shoots into weekends.

“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 are below. The letter was first reported by Deadline.

  • John Toll, two-time Oscar winner for “Braveheart” and “Legends of the Fall”
  • Roger Deakins, two-time Oscar winner for “1917” and “Blade Runner 2049”
  • Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, three-time Oscar winner for “Birdman,” “Gravity,” and “The Revenant”
  • Erik Messerschmidt, Oscar winner for “Mank”
  • John Lindley, president of the Cinematographers Guild (“Your Honor,” “Manhunt”)
  • Paul Cameron (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” “Total Recall”)
  • Jim Denault (“Yellowstone,” “Law & Order: Organized Crime”)
  • Ellen Kuras (“Pretend It’s a City,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”)
  • Donald A. Morgan (“The Connors,” “Last Man Standing”)
  • Rodrigo Prieto (“The Irishman,” “Brokeback Mountain”)
  • Eric Steelberg (“Juno,” “Dolemite Is My Name”)
  • Amy Vincent (“Eve’s Bayou,” “Hustle & Flow”)
  • Mandy Walker (“Mulan,” “Hidden Figures”)
  • Robert Yeoman (“Bridesmaids,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel”)