Alan Heim, A.C.E. Calls Out the Academy for Insulting Movie-Making Craftspeople
Hollywood, California – In an email to the 8,100 members of the Motion Picture Editors Guild, Editors Guild President Alan Heim, A.C.E. voiced his union’s opposition to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ recently announced decision to present several of its awards during commercial breaks in the televised Oscars ceremony.
The Academy’s decision, announced Monday but reportedly made last summer, will affect the award for Best Film Editing, as well as the awards for two crafts represented by sister IATSE locals: Cinematography and Makeup and Hairstyling.
In calling for a reexamination of the announced changes to the Oscar program, Heim asserted that “The very idea” of shortchanging particular crafts “is anathema to the collaborative nature of film making.” Heim adds his voice and the voices of his members to a growing number of Hollywood luminaries who have spoken out in response to the Academy’s decision.
Heim himself has previously been recognized by the Academy. Twice nominated, he won the award for Best Film Editing in 1980 for All That Jazz.
Asked for further comment, Heim stated, “I have tremendous respect for the Academy’s Board of Governors. I know they never intended any disrespect to the ‘below the line’ crafts. And as editors we understand the value of effective, concise storytelling. But, when a change is so difficult to explain to the audience, perhaps it just isn’t a good idea.”
The full text of Heim’s letter to Editors Guild members appears below.
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
The Motion Picture Editors Guild is Local 700 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). Established in 1937, the Guild now represents roughly 8,100 postproduction professionals working nationwide in live-action and animated television, features, and new media.