Sure, we've probably all had this thought before: Can I wear this to work? But when Refinery29 wrote an article about dressing for the job you want and also had a suggestion for film directors, a lot of female directors weren't exactly happy with their recommendation. Members of Film Fatales responded in an article of Filmmaker Magazine. #girlcrew's Steffie also has a thing or two to say about what to wear while working on set.
It started early, when I was an intern at a local broadcaster and hasn't stopped since: people commenting on my outfits in relation to the work I do. Anyone who knows me will tell you; I like to dress up. Meaning, I wear a lot of dresses and skirts. To put it more strongly, I only own one pair of pants (yoga pants not included). That is simply my style. People often ask me if I'm going on a date, or have an important meeting, when I'm just dressed to go into work or run around town. I am fine with that.
What I am not fine with however, is constantly getting questions about my outfits when I am in the field working as a documentarian, producer or video journalist. "I always see you around here in dresses and such. But uh, how can you work in that? What if you have to run or something?" a male co-worker asked me during my first internship at a local broadcaster. He asked me this question in all earnest as if my work was that of a war correspondent, requiring me to run for my life at any moment, instead of my actual position as a local news reporter. "I can run in this" is all I said, while pointing at my sandals (it was summer) and long dress.
I'm not about to change the way I look and dress because I am shooting. Will I think carefully about what to wear before I go out on a shoot? Of course. But if I don't have a problem with running around in heeled boots, they are actually often helpful because they make me a bit taller, then someone else definitely shouldn't have a problem with me wearing them. My boots are comfortable on long shoots. The jumpsuit I'm wearing in the photo? It has pockets I can put batteries or SD cards in, the same goes for the faux leather jacket. Yes, I did think that outfit through.
That also applied for all the times I had to crew on someone else's film as a sound recordist. For that very special occasion I bring out the pants, as I can keep the cables together with the help of the belt loops. If I'm shooting outside in 32 degree (0 celsius) weather? I layer up on the leggings underneath my skirt and add some fingerless gloves. That one time I had to walk and film a 17 mile march in 77 degrees (25 celsius)? I switched out my heeled boots for my running shoes combined with some yoga pants, a sports bra and tank top. Filming at a gala? A long flowy dress that makes it very easy to move around in. I could go on and on. It's not that I am trying to dress up for the job, but that I refuse to dress down who I am.
Instead of asking me if I can film (or run) like this, just assume I'm professional enough to take that in consideration before I head out in the morning. After all, nobody asks a male camera operator or director if his jeans are too tight to do his job. If I ever miss capturing an important moment because my outfit gets in the way, then we can talk. But so far nobody has ever asked me what I was wearing after seeing my work.