Credit Where Credit is Due
I saw a funny tweet this past week.
It read, “Thank rid got Editing award matter what Oscars god cares order.”
The post was in reference to the Oscars’ recent decision to not present the documentary short, film editing, makeup/hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short, live-action short and sound awards in front of a live audience. Instead, the Academy announced, the awards will “take place inside the Dolby Theater an hour before the live telecast commences, will be recorded and will then be edited into the subsequent live broadcast.”
For those unfamiliar, the Academy is a group of over 9,000 film professionals, and the Oscars are an annual awards ceremony it hosts, which are meant to honor achievements in the craft and are often considered the most prestigious awards in the film industry.
With that being said, I don’t particularly care about the Oscars. Anyone with knowledge of the industry knows that the ceremony is often not a recognition of the best films and best productions but a testament to powerful campaigns from production companies, which influence and push academy members to vote for their movies. Even though the awards are corrupted, mere nomination brings great acclaim to production companies, directors, actors and everyone else involved in a movie.
The decision to pre-record portions of the awards ceremony has had members of the Academy and its affiliates up in arms. The Board of Directors of the American Cinema Editors came out with a statement expressing their dissatisfaction with the Oscars decision. They wrote, “It sends a message that some creative disciplines are more vital than others. Nothing could be further from the truth and all who make movies know this. As a group of artists wholly dedicated to advancing the art and prestige of film editing, we passionately believe that editing –– and all other creative disciplines that are part of the collaborative art of filmmaking –– should be treated equally. Our contributions to that collaboration may sometimes appear invisible but they are undeniable.”
I recently wrote an article about the incredible amount of creativity and effort that goes into the production of a film. The common misconception that the Director is solely responsible for the overall look and feel of the movie originated during the French New Wave era of cinema with its promotion of “auteurism.” The French New Wave was an era in film which emerged in the 1950s and was characterized by the rejection of traditional techniques as well as experimentation with new approaches in film editing, visual style and narrative. It is considered one of the most influential eras in modern cinema. The idea of an “auteur,” or author, refers to a filmmaker with a distinct visual approach and unbounded control over the direction of a film. The filmography of an auteur can often be found to have recurring themes and preoccupations as they are manifestations of a sole author’s creativity. However, the idea that a director is the sole author and visionary behind a film is far from the truth.
The average movie-goer will often not ruminate about how a Spielberg movie may look and feel different depending upon the cinematographer or editor. “It’s a Spielberg movie,” they’ll say, and they’ll leave it at that. This attitude discredits the incredible amount of collaboration that is necessary for the completed product –– the movie –– ultimately projected in cinemas. I value the creativity and the efforts of all the artists involved and believe they deserve a great amount of credit.
The Academy should stop focusing on ratings and making drastic changes to increase viewership and should instead cater to the people who still do care about the awards. The Academy’s mission statement is to “recognize and uphold excellence in the motion picture arts and sciences” and it has lost sight of that goal. Its recent decision shows that it panders to networks, ratings and campaigners in production companies instead of actually recognizing excellence in film in all facets of production.
That’s why I loved the tweet. It highlighted the importance of something which might not seem necessary but is, in fact, crucial. Take away editing and you’ll have 10 hours of unpresentable film. Take away the score and your audience won’t feel the emotions as strongly as they could. Take away the script and you’re left with a silent, plot-less film.
The Academy should repeal its decision to pre-record some awards, not only because of the general public, but for the professionals as well; the professionals who spent months and years working tirelessly at their crafts so that we could have two hours of escape and introspection. Let them feel honored, live, in front of the audience their movies were made to entertain. The Oscars’ popularity is declining because the Academy has lost sight of the people who actually care about receiving the awards. It’s time to repeal those decisions, regain a sense of credibility in recognizing great films and honor the filmmakers who give a platform for this awards show to exist in the first place.
Photo Caption: The Oscars are considered the most prestigious and significant awards in the entertainment industry
Photo Credit: PxHere/ Robert Couse-Baker