Tired of seeing his friends and fellow film crewmembers abused with frequent excessive work days and insufficient turnaround, aware of the ongoing plight of film makers such as Conrad Hall, ASC, and being a bit of a naïve idealist, cinematographer Roderick E. Stevens grew determined to work on correcting the situation. “T-Shirts!” he yelled! “I came to realize that a collective voice would be necessary, since individuals are nearly powerless against the trundling beasts of economics and history, and I formed a very hopeful image of entire film crews dressed in T-shirts emblazoned with the 12on/12off logo and the three rules on the back.”
In September 2003, www.12on12off.org was launched to begin disbursing information and the now infamous T-shirts. Word quickly spread throughout the industry and got the attention of some high profile individuals, including John Lindley, ASC, Roy Wagner, ASC, and Haskell Wexler, ASC, all of them long-time advocates for more reasonable working conditions.
Haskell contacted Roderick one day after the launch of the website, explaining that he was in mid-production of a documentary about the effects of sleep deprivation on the work force, and wanted to speak to him further about his 12on/12off mission, incorporating support for the cause and the issue of chronic long hours into “Who Needs Sleep?”
Our mission is not to create undue tension and confrontation. In fact if anything we have a sense of humor about it.