Aly is a NY-based filmmaker, particularly focused in fiction and commercial directing. Through Migliori | Fife, an award-winning production company, she works on curated content for startups and businesses. She is currently in development on the feature film expansion of her short film, KNIGHTSVILLE, which premiered at Atlanta Film Festival, where Aly was nominated a “Filmmaker to Watch.”
KitSplit: You were the first woman in NYC to try the female-designed Easyrig. For someone who’s not familiar with Easyrig, can you describe what it is?
Aly: Easyrig is a camera support system that reduces the static load on the neck and shoulder muscles, and distributes it to other parts of the body that are more capable of handling it. The Easyrig is a handheld support system that helps the operator’s shooting endurance while also achieving steady shots from the shoulder, the hip, or even at knee level. The rig’s tension smoothes the handheld and allows for beautiful angles that are not easily achievable when unassisted.
K: What was your experience using earlier versions of the Easyrig?
A: I’ve been using Easyrigs for some time and never was happy how my body felt while shooting or afterwards. Easyrigs are meant to take the static weight of the camera and distribute it across the body. This means that the weight that would usually rest in your forearms and neck now rests on your hips and shoulders. This can only work as planned if the easyrig fits correctly.
Previously, with other Easyrig models (made for men / larger frames), I found that the weight was not evenly distributed; the rig would take the weight from my neck and arms and place it solely on my hips. When I heard that they have developed a female easyrig vest, I immediately reached out to Johan Hellsten, the inventor, to become a NY ambassador. I thought the rig was a great step forward for women operators, and I wanted to share it with female filmmakers in NYC!
K: So….how do you like the new vest?
After the first shoot, I was immediately floored by the ergonomic difference between this and the other Easyrig vests I have used in the past. This new vest has a support system that snugly fits my upper body, crossing across the chest rather than using simple shoulder straps. This accommodation, plus a more slim overall build, creates the snug feeling of a supported camera. With the Cinema Flex vest for women, I can now feel the true power of the proper weight distribution.
K: What’s different about this rig specifically? Why is is better for women? Would it also work for men?
A: The Cinema Flex Vest is made with smaller frames and women in mind. It has extra support around the chest; the Cinema Flex is fully adjustable along the torso region to fit a variety of body shapes. This ensures the rig fits correctly to support the weight of camera. The vest also sits higher on the waist than most other rigs, accounting for shorter people (like me!). The weight can now be properly distributed on my hips rather than pulling down past them and causing discomfort.
K: What have you made with the Easyrig?
A: Every one of my gear orders incorporates an Easyrig. If I’m required to be handheld, then I require an easyrig!!! It immeasurably assists you during a 12 hour day of handheld. It’s also a great backup when you’re low on time and need to get through closeups and inserts efficiently.
K: What tips would you give to filmmakers just getting started with the Easyrig?
A: First, make sure the vest isn’t too loose. There are a multitude of straps and strings for adjustments, take the time to make sure it fits snug and safe. Second, always put the vest on before you attach the camera and take the camera off before you land it on sticks. Finally, good luck figuring out how it fits in the bag .
K: What other gear do you use it with?
A: Universal handgrips, rod supports, and a dionic battery or something similar for weight behind the camera. Any camera from any brand is compatible with EasyRig as long as it has a top handle — my rig in particular is weighted for a 15 – 20LB camera, but there are other arms out there.
K: That sounds like a huge difference! Since cinematography and the film industry at large is largely dominated by men, do you think that most gear is engineered and marketed with a male demographic in mind?
A: It’s no secret that cinematography is a male-dominated profession – in 2015, only 6% of the Cinematographers who shot the 250 top grossing films were women (according to the Celluloid Ceiling Study). Supply and demand would imply that gear’s sizes and shapes are standardized for a different build than my own. The original Easyrigs are an easy example, as are the broad-shouldered Movi or Ronin.
However, the engineering is often more subtle than that. For instance, I’ve recently acquired new universal handgrips and the grips are slightly larger than what would be a comfortable hold for me. To be clear, I’m not complaining about gear being too heavy or unmanageable – we all know and love the physicality behind this artform. But not all operators are built the same way, and I’m excited that Easyrig recognizes this!
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