Cinematographer Shares her Experience as 'Woman Behind the Lens'

Photo of Cinematographer Kate Phelan speaking to students

The Media Innovation Center (MIC) and the Old Westbury Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Center recently hosted "Expanding Roles, Expanding Representation: Women Behind the Lens," a talk with Kate Phelan, a noted director and cinematographer.

Phelan met with the students, faculty and staff in attendance and shared her career trajectory in cinema and television, from her early days in the electric department on music videos to operating the camera for popular shows including "Orange is the New Black" and "Brittany Runs a Marathon." Phelan was recently asked by Academy Award-nominated director Julie Cohen to work on her documentary "Every Body," which shares the lives of three intersex individuals.

During the talk, Phelan shared how the industry has changed since she started, and how women have gained more support. “The sense of a community for people has really grown and changed the business,” she said. “There is so much room for more women, more people of color, that is what is going to make better, safer sets. It is totally within our reach; it will require us to mentor.” 

To achieve this, Phelan has worked with the group "600 Women" to help members gain experience with skilled camera and crane operation in film making. 

Phelan encouraged the Old Westbury audience to see jobs in the field: “I think the opportunity for you entering the film world is what you bring,” she said. “I would encourage you to try it out, the film business needs you, it needs your voices and point of view to make the business better.”

School of Arts and Sciences
American Studies