Thank you for inviting me to attend the IMAGO, IAGA General conference 26th of April in Delphi 2014. Its taken me longer to write the report than the time spent at the conference but I hope it sheds some light on the work of the IMAGO and the atmosphere of the room. Like many large gatherings the potential for waffle and the need by some to be frequently heard was outweighed by the amount of work gone through and many of the fascinating discussions. Particularly the issue of recognition of “being the AUTHOR of the moving image”.
The Statutes: Perhaps the most boring and litigious part of the 2 days. Hours spent pouring over every word and definition.
The big issue was agreeing to shift the financial year from a Jan - Dec financial accounting year. The purpose of this is that financial year report needs to be approved by the IAGA collective assembly. If the reporting stayed the same it was not possible to host the IAGA at one of the main cinematography festivals as they happen mainly in Autumn. After much discussion the date was shifted Sep -Aug Financial year so that it will be possible to have delegates go to the general assembly and be present at say “Cameraimage".
It was interesting to see how passionately this issue was disused as Austria, Holland and Denmark felt that the work of IMAGO was too important to be distracted by a festival. A good compromise in now reached where it is possible to combine festival and IAGA but does not necessarily have to happen.
New Members making the the IMAGO a global cinematography Society. One of the major achievements of the conference was that the associate members of Israel,Japan,Australia, New Zealand and Canada were voted in as full members of IMAGO The pride in the new member societies was obvious as they were fulfilling their ambition to be part of a global cinematography movement. For me it cementing the concept that our issues are common and global.
Conflict Resolution. The Italian society proposed a conflict resolution group or person to intervene in IMAGO conflict's which the board couldn't resolve. This concept is particularly important due to the loss of the French society from the IMAGO. As representative of the ISC I supported this concept forwarded by the Italians for a conflict resolution person however through discussion the larger group felt that the Board had enough talent and wisdom to resolve issues as they arose.
Recognition as Authors of the Moving Image The most interesting and significant issue is IMAGO’s efforts for all members to be recognised as the "authors of the moving image”. It was quite surprising to realise that many countries from the EAST in particular the Polish society already have this recognition. In discussion with the Anglo societies Australia, BSC, CSC, NZ it is obvious we lack the established awareness of our eastern brothers but we also seem to lack the confidence to chase after the due recognition. A good starting point was proposed that we jointly start to adopt the language of being “authors of the moving image” and present ourselves to the world in this way. Its a long process but I think the mind set of being a visual author will slowly bring a change of attitude in ourselves and in the collaborators we work with.
Financial Rights Follow. Where Cinematographers are recognised as Authors they are able to seek on going residual payments in countries that recognise these rights. Collection agencies can and are being used to go and seek funds on behalf of the cinematographers. In the last year and a half to BSC have used a collection rights company to collect 1.5 million Pounds of cinematographers residuals. So we as members of the ISC should seek to join a working rights collection company and collect residuals for films and televised programmes in jurisdictions that actually pay the rights money.
Digital Restoration Archiving, Rights and Fees The Czech ACK proposal regarding the development Digital Restoration Committee.
"The cinematographer certainly has the expertise needed for the restoration of all old films. Restoration does not only involve removing scratches and spots it involves work with brightness, contrast, grain and the colour in images. Cinematographers made those films, when archivist tells us "we don't want you to teach us about restoration because we don't teach you how to shoot films.” We cannot nod our heads in agreement.”
"In many countries the profession to restore has emerged from the profession of the cinematographer. To us it seems natural that the author of the image should exercise control in its restoration. The Czech Association of cinematographers has opened a research program about certification methods of digitisation for its national film fund. Our aim is to share experiences and make new contacts with professional colleagues who have the same interests as we do. We would like to establish a digital restoration authorisation group.
What is behind the Czech proposal is that they believe restoration should be guided by the cinematographer and they are establishing that in the Czech republic. However in the process they have met with the EU Archivists alongside Christian Busch the IMAGO lawyer in Brussels to discuss this relationship.The archivist leader has completely rejected the claims of the Czech cinematographers and wants no part in encouraging the cinematographers role in restoration.
It was revealed at the meeting – that the EU have benchmarked 1.5 billion of EU funds to established a film restoration project !!! Many of Europe's quality cultural films are to be preserved into the future for our children.
It's obvious in situations like this where money is involved there is a form of land grab. The Archivists believe they have the sole responsibility and skills to persevere old films. They realise there are large funds available through the EU for archiving and they do not wish than anybody else will participate in that. On the flip side there are so many positives examples where the cinematographer is invited to be involved in the restoration of their old film and this was explained by other delegates. i.e. Poland
The Czech’s motivation is a good one but it seems they “demanded” to be collaborators rather than gently persuaded the the Archival group. Due to this clash its been decided that the main IMAGO board will now interact directly with the Archivists to repair relations and guide this issue into the future.
Note on above: A follow on from this is the Christina Busch (EU Lawyer) believes if its accepted by the EU that the Cinematographer is the "Author or the moving image" then these conflicts and our involvement in restoration is more easily resolved.
Workshops Prior to the IAGA conference in Greece 300 people attended an Imago masterclass sponsored by Sony in Athens. This was a huge success and its an area the IMAGO want to develop.
The “Inspiration” branded series is a large scale IMAGO masterclass held every two years in a different EU country. In 2013 Austria hosted in Vienna @ a cost of 115,000 EU. The budget was made up of money from the Film Funds, 90 paid subscribers and some sponsorship
The next “ Inspiration" masterclass will be held in Holland in 2015.
I proposed Ireland to host a masterclass either as part of the “ inspiration” series although that would mean waiting till 2017 ! or IMAGO are happy for us to host a specific class at any point with their stamp of approval. Through our links with Screen Training Ireland this would be a good way to establish ourselves as quality players in film industry education.
Education It was accepted to create an education committee.
I abstained on one vote as the committee wanted an open time period to develop policy but the Polish and the ISC felt they should have a 6 month period to develop concepts quickly rather than over a year. The year time period was agreed.
A point of interest on education is that in Sweden there is a 2 year college course for camera assistants. There is similar system in Japan but directly connected to the society and I students get paid to go to assistant film school. IMAGO want to improve the relationship with Film schools so that the students coming from colleges have a better understanding of the real working conditions and what's expected of them in the working environment and develop their appreciation for real world wages..
Metadata Barry Ackroyd of the BSC asked that the new issue be highlighted with regard to metadata. Following the completion of a project Barry shot the post house took the original metadata and applied it to another project. There by giving the second film the Barry Ackroyd look !!
The Technical committee was interesting and are trying to develop a 4 star rating system for screens in cinemas. This links the IMAGO directly to punters by establishing a rating system that viewers can use to determine best screens to view movies at. Its a major work in progress with links to manufacturers,ASC and all sorts of technical societies.
Legal Christina Busch the legal advisor spoke about the need to collaborate with other associations to establish the authorship rights of cinematographers. She is also to developing a contract that will reflect. -fair remuneration -social insurance -something back (residuals) -allowance of people to survive in a dignified manner Christina proposed to me that ISC develop a digitisation quality stamp of approval for archivists in Ireland. We could administer this certification free of charge but it starts establishing the ISC as the point of contact for quality.
Lobbiest IMAGO hired “Fritz" a lobbyist to work with Christina to help get more traction with politicians in the EU To specifically lobby politicians to recognise cinematographers rights being the same rights that photographers already enjoy.
Conversation around the dinner tables The BSC have a very good concept for growing the involvement of people who are not full members of the BSC they've created for the BSC club. Students or anybody involved in the film industry can join the BSC club @ 100 Stirling a year. The BSC have perhaps 4 events as part of the club and offer technical, teaching and Screening meetings. It's a good way forward to encourage students and people who may be on the margins of the business to join the ISC. We can become an enabler for people in the industry and allow people meet and mingle with professionals.
Ciaran Kavanagh ISC