Why Awards Matter

Why are awards important? Why do we spend three months out of every year having industry media outlets screaming, “awards season has arrived”; obsessively watching them pick favorites, underdogs, and dark horses like it was opening day at Santa Anita? Why do awards matter and how do they benefit the members of Local 600?

I can say from personal experience that the most important aspect of any awards season is the word-of-mouth that’s created about the film, TV shows, live events, and work touched by this membership. Ever notice how busy commercial producers get in the lead-up to the Oscars®, Golden Globes®, People’s Choice Awards, helping to boost employment for ICG? Ultimately (and in ways that may not seem readily apparent when the envelopes are all finally opened), the nominations and awards given out to our members – publicists, still photographers, and those cinematographers who have an entire team behind them – help Union careers. If you are a camera loader who worked on an Oscar-nominated movie, that will help your career. If you are a publicist who worked on a Golden Globe-winning film, that will help your career. Awards illustrate the limitless possibilities of this industry – the smallest independent film can become an Oscar winner, while the big-budget films that are nominated or win help ensure more of their ilk will come along, creating hundreds, sometimes thousands, of IATSE jobs.

Right now is the heart of awards season and we’re seeing our industry going gaga for those films and TV shows at the front of the awards pack. But for us at ICG, the most exciting honor is the ASC Awards, as they are directly related to the art and craft of cinematography. This year’s winners – Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC (Lifetime Achievement Award), John Seale, ASC, ACS (International Award), and Michael O’Shea, ASC (Career Achievement in Television Award) – are being recognized for their entire bodies of work. The ASCs are a sweeping endorsement, by their peers, of the many years these artisans have plied their trades, and they represent the accumulated contributions of the camera teams these greats worked with.

Awards for cinematography started rolling out last November at the Camerimage Festival in Poland, and stretched through January (Sundance) and now February (Independent Spirit Awards), leading up to Oscar Night®, on the last Sunday of the month. Throughout this stretch, the industry has been honoring our members in various media outlets – magazine, newspapers, online – that help to reveal who they are as people. This year’s Oscar nominations (not announced at press time) will likely include work done in every medium possible: from Super 16mm to an all-digital workflow that includes new tools like the RED M-X and color grading previews on an iPad™. The broad range of work being honored only shows that it’s not important what the images were created with, so much as the people – the filmic craftsmen and women responsible for the origination of that imagery. Every Union crewmember, from the loader to the director of photography, benefits from recognition bestowed by industry peers. That’s why awards season, even with all the attendant hype and glamour, will always matter to this membership.

Fraternally,

Steven Poster, ASC
National President
International Cinematographers Guild
IATSE Local 600