Below the Line: A Cut Above – Director of Photography Rachel Morrison

This Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting the oft unsung yet always vital contributions of those working below the line. Join NYWIFT blog contributors Kathryn O’Kane and Mellini Kantayya as they celebrate a few of the many women in history and making history—“Below the Line: A Cut Above.”

By Kathryn O’Kane

Rachel Morrison is an American cinematographer known for her arresting and haunting imagery. She created a name for herself in independent cinema with films like Fruitvale StationDope and Little Accidents. In 2018, she became the first woman DP nominated for an Academy Award for Mudbound.

Jason Mitchell in Mudbound (dir. Dee Rees, 2017)


“I’ve always liked very photorealistic photography, even in a very lit and collaborative film world,” Morrison says. “I try to see what is at the heart of the story and the character at a given moment, and let story and emotion be the factors that inform the technique. That’s almost an old-school philosophy at this point.”

Most recently, Morrison lensed the big budget superhero movie Black Panther, a film where many of the key positions were women, including the DP, first AD, Costume Designer, and Production Designer. When asked what it was like to work with so many strong women on the set, Morrison said “it was awesome. It was refreshing. You don’t realize what you’re missing until you have it…it felt so smooth and calm and I was like why isn’t every set like this?”

Director Ryan Coogler, Production Designer Hannah Beachler and DP Rachel Morrison on the set of Black Panther


Fun fact: I’ve worked with Rachel on two wildly different projects: an inspiring episode of Oprah’s Master Class featuring Sidney Poitier, and an over-the-top kitschy Vegas ping-pong tournament, which normally would be a footnote in our respective careers but for the fact that it was the day Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died.  


(Featured Image Photo Credit: rachelmorrison.com)



busyk Kathryn O'Kane is a producer/director with over fifteen years of diverse experience in television, advertising and web media. She is honored to serve on the NYWIFT Board of Directors, which supports the careers of women in the Entertainment Industry. Kathryn has crafted narratives as diverse as “Mission Juno,” which documents NASA’s probe to Jupiter, "Master Class," the award-winning10-part flagship series for the Oprah Winfrey Network OWN, and "San Quentin Film School," a six-part documentary series for Discovery Channel following nine prisoners during the first ever film production class in prison. Having started her career supporting democratic initiatives in Latin America, Kathryn has always maintained a love for international travel and politics, and she looks forward to bridging cultural differences through art and story telling. Learn more at www.busyk.com.

View all posts by busyk

Comments are closed

Related Posts

The Mole Agent: Highlights from the NYWIFT Goes to the Oscars Q&A with Maite Alberdi, Marcela Santibañez, Julie Goldman

The team behind The Mole Agent, Oscar-nominated for Best Documentary, discusses its powerful impact, and how they created a film both so visually stunning and rich with character that The New York Times review believed the film to be partly dramatized. It wasn’t!


NYWIFT Women’s History Month Spotlight: Janine McGoldrick

Janine McGoldrick is a veteran entertainment executive who has created and implemented strategic distribution and communications campaigns for television and film, including for the 2017 Academy Award-winner "The Salesman." She discusses her work on that campaign, her initial transition from politics to entertainment, and making her first documentary, about an invisible disease that confounds doctors.


Cynthia’s Picks: Women’s Soccer, Mulan Trailer, Invitation Parity

Women’s Soccer: The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team did more than just win the World Cup this weekend – they started a worldwide conversation about equal...


Cynthia’s Picks: Latinx Stars, Expanded Opportunities, Listen In

Latinx Stars: The Hollywood Reporter wisely points out…amid the call for diversity in entertainment, particularly inclusive casting, why don’t we have more Latinx movie stars?...