When Yifat Sela was hired to produce the Emunah Dance and Dramatic Arts
Festival, held in Givat Washington at end of October, she tried finding female
sound and lighting engineers.
“It was a women’s festival for religious
performers, and they didn’t want a man to watch them, especially because it’s
not just singing but also [married] women dancing without hair coverings,” she
The search was difficult, as most people that are trained in
this field are male. But she finally connected with EZsound, a Jerusalem-based
business that offers all-female crews for just such occasions. They sent her
Yael Hadrian, a photographer and cinematographer from Tel Aviv. The Emunah
festival was her first gig as a lighting technician.
“I do my own
lighting when I am shooting,” says Hadrian. “Then a friend of mine saw a post on
Facebook that EZsound was looking for a woman to do lighting for events, so I
EZsound was founded in 2004 by Ephraim Zuriel, now 24. He
built up the business slowly during his high-school years and brought in a
partner, Yitzchak Korchia, when he went into the army in 2007.
partners looked for a niche to differentiate EZsound from its competitors, and
that niche turned out to be female performers and productions. In 2009, they
became the permanent sound company for the religious women’s band Ashira and
picked up a few ulpanot and midrashot as clients. Several of these schools
expressed an interest in all-female crews, not only out of concern for men
seeing and hearing them perform at their productions but also because of the
physically close contact involved in tasks such as putting on microphones,
“I had a cousin at Emunah College [for women], which does
all sorts of performances, and I sent them a letter asking if anyone was
interested in learning this skill. I had dozens of replies – at least 50 – which
was mind-blowing. There was clearly a really strong demand for girls who had no
outlet for getting into this area. In the last few years, more and more
performances are female only, for a female-only crowd.
But the technical
side is lagging behind a bit,” he says.
EZsound now has several female
freelancers available on request, although it costs the client extra because a
male crew still is required to lug the gear.
“There’s really heavy
equipment, and you need upper body strength,” says Zuriel. “So we need a male
crew to set up the equipment even when we have a female to operate it. Some
clients are willing to pay more for this service, but it’s a difficult service
to offer in terms of staffing and fees. We try to find a balance so we don’t
need two full crews.”
Shlomit and Gadi Finegold have trained a few women
at the School of Sound Engineering and Music Production, part of their Pluto
Studios recording complex in Tel Aviv. Shlomit is the agent for the upand-
coming religious singer-songwriter Ruchama Ben-Yosef.
preferable to have a female sound engineer because when we do shows, there is a
certain atmosphere of only women in the audience. If a man is present, that
energy changes,” she says. “Sometimes we have no choice and have to hire a man,
so we ask him to make himself as inconspicuous as possible.”
Shlomit often needs to hire men just to convey the equipment.
“A lot of
these shows are not at regular music venues, so they don’t have their own sound
system and you have to bring it, and that requires men,” she explains. “If the
show is in an auditorium with a good sound system, all you need is somebody who
knows how to use the system.”
Gadi Finegold notes that there are usually
two women in each of the school’s groups of 19 students, but this year there are
“I think it is probably part of a trend because there are
more women artists performing only for women,” he says.
availability of female sound and lighting technicians is not widely
“Only several clients a year take advantage of this service,” says
Zuriel. “Because of the market, people don’t know to ask for a female crew. We
suggest it to many of our clients as a more suitable option. And if they’re
willing to pay more, they like this option.”
Sela says she checked with
many companies before finding what she sought through EZsound. Some of the
show’s organizers were skeptical about using Hadrian, whose prior experience was
in cinema, not dance.
“I saw that she is professional, and it worked out
nicely,” Sela says. “She helped out with the performers, and it was definitely
more comfortable for some of the groups of women who performed that night,” she