60 Seconds with ACO Camera Operator Agnieszka Szeliga on Women Behind The Camera & how we can continue to bring gender balance and positive change to our industry

Community September 5, 2022

How will WBTC continue to bring gender balance and positive change to our industry?  

Visibility is a first step towards equality. We at WBTC will continue to encourage each other to be more visible via our platform, and to make sure our voices are heard through participating in industry discussion. If women find themselves in a hiring position, they can of course consider hiring women.  

 We can take part in the female-centred training days and tailored workshops, which help us to gain more skills. To have hands-on experience with a crane, geared head or a Steadicam for a day (all free!), tutored in a relaxed and safe environment by the best operators is a unique, confidence-boosting experience.  


And what does it need from the industry in order to promote change? 

It seems that in recent years a great many people have registered their strong desire to change our industry for the better. As a result, collective responsibility and diversity have been accelerated to the ‘front page’.  

Balance is good and is an ideal for which we should all be striving! I feel that the perception of diversity and inclusion has improved and that opportunities are ever increasing, which can only serve to strengthen and refresh our industry. That change comes from individuals in positions of leadership who have taken the responsibility to hire with diversity in mind. 

If Camera Women are to have similar opportunities to their male counterparts, and if film sets are one day to be a truly mixed workplace, we need help from HOD’s, studios and productions to make this work.  

We really need industry bodies to begin to challenge the existence of all-male departments. And for everyone in a hiring position – Focus Pullers hiring Loaders, Operators hiring Focus Pullers, DOP’s hiring Operators, studios and productions hiring DOP’s – please remember that there are women available, and that by considering them as well as men for the job, you are becoming, as they say, part of the solution. 

We must all work together, as even with the best intentions and greatest efforts, we cannot achieve a balanced, mixed-gender camera department without everyone else being on our side. A mixed crew functions better overall and helps to create a positive experience for crew members, not to mention those who are in front of the camera. 

How is WBTC helping the shift towards gender equality on set and are you noticing one?  

Since launching Women Behind The Camera (WBTC), a database of women in the Camera, Lighting, Video and Grip departments, we have been seeing a change in attitude towards recruiting more women into our area of the industry. Through increased visibility, many experienced women have begun to be hired on major productions, including women working in senior roles (Camera Operators, 1st ACs) in the Camera Department.  

I have seen a shift in my and my female peers’ working lives, which makes this a really exciting time! A woman with my level of experience (junior Camera Operator) would never have been considered for larger productions a few years back, yet in the past year or so, not only have I been invited to interviews, but I have found myself on set shooting with some lovely crews. I have had great learning experiences and a huge opportunity to utilise my existing skills and prove my worth. 

Looking at the industry as a whole, advances of this kind have meant more visibility for women on set. Each time a woman is employed as a DOP, an Operator or a Focus Puller, the Trainees, Producers, Directors and Actors all get to see that this female workforce does exist! 

In support of our community, the WBTC team organised four webinars last Summer, with its own members discussing the role of each grade from Trainee to Camera Operators. We also had a visiting guest, DoP and a director Reed Morano, talking about her work. And for fun, we managed to organise a socially-distanced picnic in between lockdowns, attended by 25 women.  

About WBTC

Women Behind The Camera (WBTC) is a platform showcasing the skills of women working in the camera, lighting, grip, DIT and Video departments of the UK film and TV industry. Created by three ACO camera operators – Lucy Bristow, Agnieszka Szeliga and Ilana Garrard – it currently has a database of over 230 names and contact details, covering every grade in those departments. WBTC is about community, visibility – both to potential employers and collaborators, and to other women within or starting out in the industry – and encourages up-skilling and networking through the organisation of regular workshops.

“Women Behind The Camera has given me so much emotional support by connecting with other women doing the same job and facing the same issues as me within this industry, makes you feel less lonely. I also loved all the webinars during last year when I was at home feeling lonely and demotivated.” Alexandra Madeville, 2nd AC

You can learn more about Women Behind The Camera via their website.