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HomeNewsSteve Poster Runs for ICG President

Steve Poster Runs for ICG President

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A closely split national executive board of the International Cinematographers Guild narrowly elected director of photography Steven Poster as president to serve out the remainder of the term of Gary Dunham, who was impeached and removed from office as president of IATSE Local 600 in early July.Poster—president of the American Society of Cinematographers in 2002–2003 and a former ICG VP—defeated ICG national vice president Tom Weston by a single vote at a special meeting of Local 600’s governing body held on August 5 to select a successor to Dunham.The final tally was 29 for Poster and 28 for Weston, accounting for 57 of the 65 members on Local 600’s executive board. The meeting was anchored at the Los Angeles headquarters of Local 600, but teleconferencing made it possible for ICG board members in New York, Chicago and Orlando to attend—and vote.Dunham had been ousted by the ICG’s national executive board following a two-day trial in early July on charges he had exceeded his authority while in office—most of which boiled down to allegations of incompetence in performing his job.Poster’s mini-term runs until May 2007. That’s when the 5,700-member guild concludes its next general election for officers. Reached in Japan where he was on a speaking engagement, Poster told Below the Line that he was “delighted to be chosen to help our union grow stronger during these difficult times.” He said he had “not given a thought yet” to possibly running for a full term as ICG president.A vocal critic of Dunham’s leadership and one of the prosecutors at Dunham’s trial, Poster said he wanted to “bring all sections and regions of the membership together for the common good.”The close vote reflected the deep divisions that have wracked the union ever since 2004 when Dunham, running on a “Coalition for a Democratic Union” reform platform, won a surprise victory.Dunham’s backing of federal trade sanctions to curb runaway production put him at odds with International Alliance of Theatrical & Stage Employees president Tom Short and also led to accusations Dunham had hijacked the guild’s agenda, neglecting issues of more importance to members. Meanwhile, the controversial negotiating role Dunham played in arriving at a new four-year Hollywood Basic Agreement that eliminated a longstanding provision calling for mandatory staffing of camera operators convulsed the membership of Local 600, which wound up turning down the contract.Weston, who had been serving as interim president of IATSE Local 600 in the wake of Dunham’s ouster, said he reluctantly stepped forward to oppose Poster when no other candidates emerged. Director of photography Haskell Wexler, the ICG’s 2nd national VP, was also nominated, but he asked for his name to be withdrawn.“The most important thing now is to come together,” said Weston. He was surprised at the closeness of the final tally, and expressed hope that the almost evenly split vote won’t lead to further dissension, but “pushes us towards making decisions by consensus, because clearly there’s no strong mandate that anybody can claim.”“We’ve been suffering through a period of not getting anything accomplished because of the partisan politics that have occupied us for the last few years,” Weston added. “Unless we get past that, we’ll continue doing our membership a disservice, at a time when we need to confront all sorts of things such as changing technologies and the training requirements needed to meet them.”Poster seemed to be on the same page. “My immediate goal is to focus on jobs for our members and to address the emerging technology in our industry,” he declared. “Our first responsiblity is to our members.”The new Basic Agreement went into effect August 1 and the impact on DPs and camera operators so far has been minimal, according to Dave Frederick, head of the West Coast Society of Camera Operators. But the situation is being monitored closely for any adverse impact on Local 600 members. Poster said he plans to get together with the ICG leadership to discuss the camera operators manning issue “so we can begin to plan for the future.”Poster has been a member of IATSE since 1969, and was recently nominated for a best cinematography Emmy for Mrs. Harris, an HBO film starring Ben Kingsley and Annette Bening. His director of photography credits include work on director Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko and soon-to-be released Southland Tales, Stuart Little 2, Daddy Day Care, Life Stinks and Big Top Pee-Wee. In 1988, Poster received an ASC nomination for best cinematography on a feature film for Someone to Watch Over Me, directed by Ridley Scott.CORRECTION: In an article in the previous issue, Tom Weston was incorrectly identified as head of the East Coast branch of the Society of Camera Operators. Weston, though a camera operator, is not a member of the SOC. Below the Line regrets the error.

Written by Jack Egan

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