When you hear the word ‘DIT’ (Digital Imaging Technician), what comes to mind? If you’re drawing a blank, you’re not alone.
Even Ingrid Civet, Training & Development Liaison at Mission Digital, had to google the role when she first started working in production. So, what does a DIT do? Well, this type of work is so fluid in its nature that a one-size-fits-all definition doesn’t quite cut it. From devising workflow for production and post-production crews to managing data to working closely with the DP before and during production – the itinerary is endless and constantly changing depending on the project. It’s no wonder that DIT freelancer Lucy Keal says that being an “all-rounder is a huge advantage” to anyone considering this line of work. One thing is for certain though: DIT’s are a crucial part of helping the DP achieve their artistic vision. We spoke to Lucy and Ingrid (Training and Development Liaison) about all things DIT, freelancing life, access to the role and, for Lucy, being one of the only female DIT’s in the business. Lucy, how did you get into freelancing? I was the go-to editor at university, and I guess DIT work was sewn into that. I soon started getting involved in professional editing and DIT work – eventually projects were coming thick and fast! Freelancing with Mission Digital has been such a breath of fresh air and has made me feel so much more secure – instead of relying on a laptop, a charger and a dream, I now have kit and robust support networks in place. What’s it like being one of the only female DIT’s in the industry? On jobs, people have commented how strange it is to see a female DIT, so I feel like a strange novelty act. I think one of the biggest problems women have in the industry is imposter syndrome – feeling like not knowing everything means you’re not right for the job. DIT’s are expected to know everything to do with the camera and everything to do with post and colour grade, as well as having to keep everything organised, so there really is a lot of responsibility. When it comes to overcoming imposter syndrome, it’s so important to have a support system that you can lean on. That’s where Ingrid comes in! Ingrid, could you tell us about your role and how you support freelancers like Lucy? Working in the production department at Mission Digital means that collaborating with freelancers like Lucy is a given. Having said that, the more we grew as a company, the more I realised that there needed to be a focus on training to ensure talents are well looked after, especially because the role can be quite hard and lonely sometimes. Creating a safe and accessible space in which they can talk and develop their skills was needed.
Do you think roles like yours will eventually become more commonplace? There are a lot of resources for directors, cinematographers etc. but I hope that DIT support is something that will keep growing. Having people that look after DITs and their development will be rewarding for everyone involved - I hope that’s something we can continue to create at Mission Digital. Lucy, how important is Ingrid’s role to you? She’s been a life saver! When Ingrid sat me down and asked me what I needed to thrive, it took a lot of pressure off. The job is stressful enough on set, without having to think about the networking and everything around it – so having someone there to help is a huge relief. How can access to the role of DIT be improved? Lucy: It’s starting to happen – Mission Digital have opened the dialogue with people interested in learning. It’s not really presented as a job option at film school, because it seems way too niche. Having a training scheme in place just shows how much progress is being made.
Ingrid: I came from a production background and had to learn what a DIT was through Wikipedia because I’d never heard of the role. It’s so much more than just copy and pasting! It’s such a diverse job and it’s developed so much during the digital age so it’s really important for freelancers and companies like Mission Digital to take a step back and start by educating people first. Do you think the pandemic will help spark more interest in this line of work? Lucy: If my friends are anything to go by, yes! A lot of them started off with the 9-5 set-up and either realised they couldn’t do it anymore or had been let go by their company. So yeah, more and more creatives are looking at freelance work as a credible source of income. The volume of jobs out there has also significantly increased – there are so many productions that need people.
Ingrid: After the five-month blackout, all the major distributors like Netflix and Amazon needed content ASAP. Honestly, the winter after the first lockdown was absolute madness – there was such a boom in the industry that we didn’t even have time to do short-forms. Whilst it’s slowly getting back to normal in terms of busy periods, the need for content is still really high and people are stepping up to the plate so quickly. Companies are also working hard to make sure rates are monitored, so freelancers can take the risk with more peace of mind. We need to find ways to standardise training across the country - this will hopefully encourage more women to take the risk. That’s what I’m hoping for. What would be your advice to anyone considering work as a DIT and what skillset would benefit a potential DIT? Lucy: Being a bit of an all-rounder is a huge advantage. Understanding cameras and post production also helps, because the DIT is the liaison between those two departments. It’s a case of the more knowledge you have on a floor level, the better. If you enjoy part of being on set but also part of being away from set, working as a DIT strikes the perfect balance. Follow Lucy and Ingrid on LinkedIn. Learn more about Mission Digital.
Republished from the Summer Edition 2022 of Cinegirl magazine. Article by Louise Howland