Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Voice Of The Crew - Since 2002

Los Angeles, California

HomeColumnsI Walk the Line

I Walk the Line


This time of year I look in my closet and say a silent thank you that the tuxedo remains impervious to changes in the fashion world. Slight tweaks have occurred in regard to ties and accessories but all the suit has needed was a good pressing.
The more significant celebration wedded to the monkey suit relates to the art and craft of filmmaking. Between January and March guilds, organizations and critics’ groups of every stripe dole out honors to the “chosen.” If your contribution happens to be below the line, the frequency of such occasions—and the wear and tear on tuxedos and gowns —occurs less often and at events that tend to have a lower media profile.
No one can argue about scrolls, plaques and trophies being a nice adjunct to hard and inspired work. Whether the most lasting and influential achievement ultimately takes home the glory is another question. Again, there’s ample example of organic, near perfect contributions that are not quite as appreciated in the rush to judgment as the obvious, attention-getting endeavors in the movies.
The fact is that these events shine a light on all the sweat and toil that goes into an art form meant to entertain and enlighten. It’s also an increasing part of the biz in showbiz—a marketing tool to encourage moviegoers to buy several $10 tickets and buckets of popcorn and spend two hours in the dark. High-profile trophies translate into better pay and better gigs above the line and generally some of the latter for the below the liners.
Most of the televised award shows with the exception of the Oscars stay clear of below the line categories. The Golden Globes include music and song categories and the Independent Spirit Awards have a prize for cinematography. Still, in the rare instances of a category for “the little people,” we all know what will be cut first should the broadcast be required to conform to a time slot.
And while it’s fresh in the mind, I have to say that the increasing tendency toward “Bar Mitzvah” acceptance speeches has robbed these exercises of emotion and transplanted that energy with laundry lists. However, if that were to be the direction of the future, I would encourage winners, particularly actors, to consider a note of praise to the cameraman in charge of the masterful lighting or an editor that gave shape to a performance rather than the pandering acknowledgements presently given agents, managers and lawyers.
All that said I believe it’s time for the assorted craft guilds and unions to take a more proactive stance when it comes to highlighting the achievement of members. One night a year to single out annual honors in a variety of categories and perhaps an additional spotlight for a career prize lasts but a few hours and cannot begin to fully appreciate the artistic contributions of members.
On all too rare occasions, production and costume designers or cinematographers will receive showcases of their work at a small gallery or in the lobby of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. These events sometimes appear to have evolved out of happenstance though it’s hard to imagine that considerable time and politicking wasn’t involved in the process.
Regardless it’s great to see these artists receive exposure and this sort of focus ought to occur on a more regular and systematic basis. It’s time for the officers and staff of the craft organizations to sit down and consider the outreach programs and activities it wants to develop and promote. Those that presently do not have a special evening for career achievement honorees should consider beginning one with one of the city’s cultural organizations and establishing on-going relationships with museums and galleries.
There’s truly no good reason not to have touring programs, seminars and educational activities. In an industry prone to clobber those who toil below the line, it’s simply not enough to have one evening when the iron fist is thrust into the velvet glove. The time has come for those behind the camera beside the director to be given a face—it’s good for morale; it’s good for (show)business.

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