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Emmanuel Lubezki, Roger Deakins, and More DPs Urge Hollywood to Address Hazards of Long Workdays

Top cinematographers are asking producers to address unsafe working hours that have led to accidents.

LAST DAYS IN THE DESERT, right: cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki on location, 2015. ph: Francois Duhamel/©Broad Green Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

Emmanuel Lubezki (right)

Courtesy Everett Collection

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 signatories are Academy Award winners Emmanuel Lubezki (“Gravity”), John Toll (“Braveheart”), Roger Deakins (“1917”), and Erik Messerschmidt (“Mank”), as well as Oscar nominee 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 negotiations 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 problem of “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.”

Here’s the full list of signatories:

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”)

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