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Cinematographers elect new leader online, as Hollywood unions look to avoid spread of coronavirus

John Lindley
John Lindley was elected elected national president of International Cinematographers Guild.
(Bonnie Osborne)

The International Cinematographers Guild, IATSE Local 600, elected Emmy-nominated John Lindley as president of the union in a special vote held online to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

Lindley, a cinematographer whose credits include the TV series “Castle Rock” and “Unbelievable,” took over from Lewis Rothenberg, who in February resigned from his position just eight months after being elected in a dispute over whether he met residency requirements.

Lindley, a 68-year-old New York native who now lives in Los Angeles, was elected with an overwhelming majority of the union’s national executive board, which has more than 90 members.

He will serve out the remainder of Rothenberg’s term, according to a statement from the guild. Local 600 did not disclose the actual vote results, saying that was standard practice in such special elections.

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“I am honored to be elected by the National Executive Board to serve the members of Local 600 as National President at this challenging time of change in the industry and our country,” said Lindley in the statement. Lindley has been a guild member for 32 years.

The leadership opted for the first time to have members cast their votes for a national executive officer online to avoid spreading the coronavirus, which has led to the cancellations of numerous concerts, sporting events and film and TV productions.

On Sunday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that events of 50 people or more not be held for about two months.

To address the safety concerns created by the outbreak of COVID-19, the union changed the original plans for an in-person meeting in L.A. and instead had held some regional meetings in Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York and Chicago, and ultimately online, using the videoconferencing platform Zoom and mobile voting company TrueBallot Inc. to complete the nominating and voting process.

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Local 600’s online election could give clues as to how other unions will conduct large meetings and votes as they also urge members to avoid groups and cancel congregations.

The union represents about 9,000 members who work in film, television and commercials as directors of photography, camera operators and digital imaging technicians. Since 2002, the ICG also has represented publicists nationwide as well as camera crews.

After Rothenberg had resigned, Dejan Georgevich, vice president of Local 600, became interim national president with the guild’s board committing to elect a successor within 30 days.

The guild also named Baird Steptoe Sr., a first assistant camera operator whose credits include “The Bodyguard,” as second national vice president in a separate election held to fill the vacancy created by the previous officeholder, Lindley.


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