The Cinematographers Guild’s officer and board elections are underway, and the group will have a new president in May, as incumbent John Lindley isn’t seeking re-election.
The election season kicks off today – the deadline for submission of written nominations – and the guild will hold a membership and nominations meeting on Sunday. Voting begins April 13 and ends May 12.
The guild, IATSE Local 600, is IATSE’s largest and one of three with national jurisdiction, along with the Editors Guild and the Art Directors Guild.
The guild’s previous election, held in May 2019, saw the defeat of four of the guild’s top incumbent officers, including longtime president Seven Poster, as well as its incumbent 1st national vice president, national secretary-treasurer, and assistant national secretary-treasurer.
Lewis Rothenberg, who defeated Poster for the presidency, quit the non-paying job after only nine months, however, citing “differences” with the senior staff. Upon his resignation, Rothenberg told members and staff that “that my vision for this union, as to who runs it and how it should be run, is not fully aligned with some of our senior staff and National Officers. While I truly believe everyone in the leadership of this Local has the members in mind, there are major ideological differences between some of us. I ran for this office to bring change, unite us, and increase activism. Regretfully I do not feel that I will be able to accomplish this with the vast differences of philosophy of the leadership team.”
Lindley, who had been 2nd national vice president, succeeded him by a vote of the national executive board on March 15, 2020 – taking office at the very beginning of the pandemic lockdown.
Lindley, announcing last month that he would not seek a second term, said: “I believe that the union is strongest when working members participate, and I am confident that the next generation of leaders is ready to step up. Leadership includes planning for the future and encouraging new voices to speak up. The work is demanding and the commitment is significant, but the opportunity to shape the future of our industry and our local is meaningful for those willing to put in the time and energy while also pursuing their careers.”
For Lindley, it’s been a historic two-year tenure. He and Rebecca Rhine, the guild’s national executive director, guided the guild through the pandemic shutdown and restart; championed a new film and TV contract and a first-ever strike authorization vote; and mourned the tragic death of one of their own members, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was accidentally shot and killed in October on the New Mexico set of Rust.
In the wake of Hutchins’ death, Lindley and Rhine flew to Albuquerque, met with the film’s camera crew and spoke at a candlelight vigil for her, then flew back to Los Angeles in time to attend a town hall meeting about IATSE’s tentative contract agreement. The guild also called for stricter on-set gun safety rules and urged members to exercise their right to demand that employers provide a safe workplace.
Read the guild’s “Safety Bill of Rights on Set” here.
Safety has always been a major and oft-contentious issue at the guild, especially as it relates to brutally long workdays, and Hutchins’ tragic death proved once again that cinematography – not stunts – is the deadliest job in the business.
Cinematography Is The Deadliest Job In Hollywood: Death Of ‘Rust’ Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins Puts Spotlight On Safety For Camera Crews
Navigating the pandemic and getting their members back to work has been a major accomplishment for Lindley and Rhine – and for leaders of all the other guilds and unions who worked closely with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers to come up with return-to-work protocols that actually work. Production has been at near-capacity for over a year now, and there have been relatively few on-set Covid outbreaks that shuttered filming. Hollywood’s unions were also among the first in the nation to allow employers to require vaccinations as a condition of employment.
How Unions Saved Hollywood During The Pandemic And What’s In Store For 2022
During last year’s contentious contract negotiations, Lindley and Rhine stood in solidarity with IATSE president Matthew Loeb and leaders of IATSE locals across the country in demanding shorter work weeks, a bigger share of streaming residuals and increased funding for their pension and health plan. They got a deal – which Loeb called “a Hollywood ending” – after a near-unanimous strike-authorization vote, the first in IATSE’s history.
Many members, energized by the strike-authorization campaign, were not happy with the final agreement, however, and came close to rejecting it. It passed by the narrowest of margins – and only then because of IATSE’s antiquated electoral college-style voting system, even though the majority of votes was against it. Five of the 13 West Coast locals covered by the pact voted against it, including the Cinematographers Guild.
IATSE Members Ratify New Film & TV Contracts; Rebuke To Union Leaders As L.A. Deal Loses Popular
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