Editor's pick

FILMMAKER PROFILE: JOANN WONG

Did you know that between 2016 and 2018 there were about 265 films produced in America? That’s a lot of movies and a lot of work opportunities for Cinematographers (Director of Photography), Camera Operators, Gaffers (electricians), Best Boy Electrical (Assistant to the gaffer), Key Grip (lighting and rigging), Best Boy Grip (assistant to the Key Grip) and many others. Interestingly enough, however, out of all those films and all those behind the scenes job opportunities there were only 8 female Cinematographers, 5 female Camera Operators no female Gaffers, 1 female Best Boy Electrical, 4 female Key Grips and 8 female Best Boy Grips. The numbers speak volumes of the imbalanced ratio of men vs. women working in the film industry. 

Joann Wong, the filmmaker from Malaysia who specializes in all things cinematography, lighting, rigging and electrical in the context of making movies, is changing that. When she sets foot on a set or location production employees mistake her for someone who is an actress or a woman hired to do makeup or style hair or do something that for almost a hundred years has been a traditional “woman’s job.” 

Fortunately, she has all the expertise she needs to demonstrate quickly that she is there to set up the lighting or the electrical or to run the camera. She has gone through extensive hands-on training in all aspects of filmmaking but she chose the path of lighting and cinematography. Everyone in that business has to prove themselves capable and willing to do the job they are assigned to but with Joann and women in general, she had more obstacles thrown in front of her than most men have. She plowed right through though, and she has been a Gaffer on the feature film Selfie Dad, a Key Grip on the motion pictures Bloody Eyes and Acts of Desperation, and Best Boy Electric on the film The F Happened. 

She also showed people that she could be a great Gaffer on some big name commercials with high production values. She was Best Boy Electric on The fader (Jack Daniels) and Absolut Vodka. She was Key Grip on Golden Road Brewing (Def Leopard) and Grip on Wienerschnitzel (Burger and Hot Dog) and Gaffer on San Diego Gas & Electric Co. She also worked on music videos by Magic & Rudy Mancuso & Maia Mitchell, Taste & Ty Segall, Coco Soundtrack Remember Me and many more. Joann Wong is one of those highly intelligent and extremely well educated and experienced people who can do anything in the movie world, especially cinematography and lighting.

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