Protect the Position of the Local 600 Digital Imaging Technician

Protect the Position of the Local 600 Digital Imaging Technician (DIT)

I'm a Digital Imaging Technician and a proud member of International Cinematographer's Guild Local 600. If you follow this site it's highly likely that you are as well. Or possibly you're a cameraperson who works with DIT's and values our contribution to the cinematography process. I have not been writing about it on my site but there has been substantial discussion on social media about the continual erosion of our position on movie and television productions. We as DIT's have basically reached our "do or die" moment and are now asking not just our IATSE brothers and sisters, but anyone who values our craft for their support. If the position is to have a long-term future on motion picture sets, it will only be because the International (IATSE) gets behind it. We as cameramen and women need to alert them as to the urgency of this situation so kindly take a moment and sign the petition.

New York City based DIT, Tiffany Armour-Tejada, is the key orchestrator of this effort so her passion and tenacity are to be commended. Many others in our community were instrumental in forming the language of this petition and outlining its ramifications. They have my gratitude as well. I'm currently taking a long-term sabbatical in Asia so have not been nearly as involved in this as I would have liked to have been. Fellow DIT's, you have my sincere apologies.


Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan, China

Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan, China

Yunnan Province is a remarkable place. Sandwiched between Vietnam, Laos, and Burma; in many ways it has more in common with its Southeast Asian neighbors than the rest of China. You find incredible diversity everywhere here with the variety of people, language, food, landscape, climate, flora and fauna. While many in the west associate China with crowds and massive, polluted cities it's also a country of staggering natural beauty and unique geology. Tiger Leaping Gorge is a massively deep river canyon in a remote part of western Yunnan near the Tibetan border. In contrast with many other places in China, here the air is clean, crisp, and invigorating. After spending two weeks in Beijing when there was record high pollution, I have a new found appreciation for air quality. Additionally at this high altitude, the quality of light and cloud is almost painterly. Yunnan is the only Chinese province where ethnic minorities outnumber Han people. In and around Tiger Leaping Gorge has been inhabited since antiquity by Naxi, Bai, and Tibetan people which adds another interesting layer to the region. 

The main trail trough the gorge is an 18 mile two day trek climbing over 9,000 feet. 

Naxi guides on hand to prevent any oblivious photographers from taking a spill off the cliff. 

Many thousands of feet below is the river that over eons cut its path deep through these mountains. 

Where the path summits there are hundreds of beautiful, wind-worn Tibetan prayer flags. Most of the people in this region are Buddhist and there are many incredible temples throughout. 

A virtually inaccessible Naxi village along the trail. And a great place to spend the night!

Outside the villages there is some evidence of environmental abuse. Here, there's some kind of mining happening upstream that's depositing salt ad sand all over this ravine. China has a ways to go with the whole "stewardship" concept. As does the United States for that matter. I'm cautiously optimistic progress is being made in both countries. At least there's increased awareness.

Not too far from the gorge is Shibao Mountain featuring many ancient Buddhist temples like Baoxiang, some of which are carved directly out of the rock face.

Stunningly beautiful Bai Buddhist artworks.

1200 years ago the Goddess, Guanyin, was carved directly out of the side of the cliff. The hole in her chest is she reached in and pulled out her own heart to show her devotion to the Buddha. 

This region is also home to one the most entertaining and bravely curious creatures, wild macaques!

Chinese Megascale

Chinese Megascale

The Chinese have always had a knack for projects that should be completely implausible. Like building a 5,500 mile long brick wall. In the 15th century no less! Or displacing millions of people to dam one of the world's most treacherous rivers creating enough energy every day to power two New York City's. It seems no matter how preposterous the idea and however high the human and environmental cost may be, things happen in this country on an absolutely massive scale. 

I saw the Three Gorges Dam in Hubei Province first and then a few weeks later saw the Great Wall at Mutianyu. I connected the two immediately. These are human endeavors the scale of which you really can't get your head around. Even seeing in person, they leave you somewhat in disbelief. What both have in common is an absolutely enormous human cost. In China the Confucian value of society before the individual is deeply ingrained and national development and progress will cost what they cost. The evidence of this is virtually everywhere here in 2014 with four megacities whose populations grew to over 20 million in the past thirty years, 160 more with populations over 1 million, air you can barely breathe in some places, water you can't drink without boiling, and innumerable scarred landscapes. I find it all to be equally inspiring and terrifying. 

View of the locks at the Three Gorges Dam. From this altitude you really feel the industrial haze that hangs over much of central and northern China. You also get a sense of how vast areas of the natural landscape here have been radically altered by this project.

Pixel level of the previous shot. For scale, in the center you can see three men standing where the Yangtze river meets the lock.