“Shout Out Loud”
How often do we hear, “We couldn’t do it without them”? But, in certain cases, like those of unit publicists and unit still photographers, it really is true, and many of us don’t realize it.
And I’m talking about much more than just selling a movie.
The importance of the publicity team, often less heralded as a result of their innate modesty and professionalism, is crucial to safeguarding productions from outside influences. Publicists monitor the set for unauthorized cameras, and spend countless hours on the Internet tracking and trying to remove images that can potentially deflate a film’s box office. That’s a vital service, because the only point of view that should be seen (prior to a film or series release) is that captured by our unit still photographers at the behest of their employers – studios, networks, producers, corporate marketing departments, etc. Local 600 unit photographers are best qualified to capture still images that drive worldwide publicity campaigns, and that’s why they’re hired for that job.
There is more that a Guild’s publicity team does that is not readily apparent, even to other departments on the set: helping to promote the sale of tickets, serving as the point of contact for product placement and themed merchandise operations, managing on-set press visits, coordinating EPKs, and delivering production notes after a project wraps. Not only do publicists and unit still photographers deserve proper recognition, but their overall worth in our industry needs to be elevated beyond the current level, even if many of these individuals are too humble to scream that fact out themselves.
To whit, the ICG has a terrific celebration the Friday before the Oscars: a relaxed and enjoyable luncheon where everyone takes a breath (from the vigor and gusto expended during awards season) to see their peers being recognized, as well as those who make this work possible, i.e., show runners, executive producers and network and studio executives. This is the 51st year for the Publicists Awards, and it continues to provide a much-needed industry forum to honor their tireless efforts.
Unfortunately, this past year saw the loss of two Guild publicists whose careers were so long-lived, they had already blossomed before these awards began in the early 1950s. When A.C. Lyles, a founding member of the Publicists Guild, passed away last September at the age of 95, his was the longest tenure of any Paramount Pictures employee in the history of the company. A.C. started in the mailroom at 10 years old, when Adolph Zukor ran the studio!
Our dear friend Julian Myers also left us late last year at the age of 95. Anyone who met Julian fell in love with his infectious optimism. Julian never missed a Guild meeting. He had been an active participant in this union for as long as I’ve been here (and, I’m certain, well before I came along). Both departures are a huge loss; I will personally miss Julian’s thoughtful letters that arrived in my office after each meeting, reviewing what had happened from his experienced (and always enthusiastic) perspective.
It’s members like A.C. Lyles and Julian Myers who stand for the very best of what the craft of film and television publicity represents. So let us take inspiration from their work and memories to launch this industry toward new heights of respect and recognition.
Let us shout out loud the merits of Local 600 publicity members.
Steven Poster, ASC
International Cinematographers Guild
IATSE Local 600