EXCLUSIVE: The Editors Guild has joined the tsunami of protests over the Film Academy’s decision to hand out four Oscars – including the one for Best Editing – during commercial breaks in the February 24 telecast on ABC. The Academy’s decision, which also relegates cinematographers, makeup artists and hairstylists and producers of live-action shorts to the back of the Oscar bus, is being widely viewed as a snub of below-the-line crafts – a charge the Academy vehemently disputes.
“In its mandate to shorten the Academy Awards’ telecast, the Academy has insulted all of us who work ‘below the line.’ Many of our members and those of other IATSE Locals are understandably upset,” Editors Guild president Alan Heim said tonight in an email to his members. Read the letter in full below.
Local 700’s letter follows a similar statement today by American Cinema Editors, the honor society. “Although we understand the tremendous pressure put on the Academy by the ABC Network to shorten the show to three hours,” ACE president Stephen Rivkin. wrote, “we cannot agree with any idea that diminishes the effort for which we have fought so hard: to promote and recognize film editing as the key creative position that it holds in the process of making a film.
“Compressing four categories and presenting them in a shortened version later during the Oscar telecast, will not amount to enough running time to save more than a handful of minutes,” Rivkin continued. “This is hardly enough to be worth the amount of negative sentiment expressed by our ACE membership and the industry as a whole. We respectfully ask that the Academy and ABC please consider an alternative to this decision and equally honor the people who actually make the movies.”
Others including the International Cinematographers Guild and IATSE president Matt Loeb also have weighed in, along with an open letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences signed by many dozens of high-profile filmmakers and others. All disagree with the plan to shorten the Oscars by cutting the four live awards presentations.
And earlier today, American Society of Cinematographers president Kees van Oostrum told Deadline exclusively that he has requested an urgent meeting with Academy CEO Dawn Hudson to discuss the matter.
Here is Heim’s letter in full:
In its mandate to shorten the Academy Awards’ telecast, the Academy has insulted all of us who work “below the line.” Many of our members and those of other IATSE Locals are understandably upset.
The people who watch the Awards across the nation and the world should be fully exposed to ALL of the crafts that go into the creation of a film. The Awards should be entertaining but they are also an opportunity to enrich the film-going experience of the audience by informing them of the creativity our crafts bring to every project. How many people over the years have been motivated to pursue careers in film after watching the Awards? The educational value may be even more important than the entertainment.
It doesn’t matter which categories are affected this year or next; none of them should be. The very idea is anathema to the collaborative nature of filmmaking. The Academy has historically honored ALL of the crafts involved in filmmaking and the search for better TV ratings shouldn’t affect that. We have always been told that the Academy honors the very best in filmmaking, but removing some categories from equal acknowledgement on the air seems to contradict that narrative.
There is much outcry for the Academy to reverse its decision, and the Motion Picture Editors Guild joins those voices. If it does not reverse its decision, let us all do everything we can to see that this demeaning experiment will not be repeated.
Yours in solidarity,
Alan Heim, ACE
President, Motion Picture Editors Guild IATSE Local 700