Editors Guild President: Academy’s Oscars Plan ‘Has Insulted All of Us’

Plan to exclude four awards from live broadcast has been widely criticized

Last Updated: February 14, 2019 @ 10:34 PM

In an email to members Thursday night, Motion Picture Editors Guild president Alan Heim called on the film Academy to cancel its plan to exclude four awards, including Best Film Editing, from the live Oscars broadcast.

“In its mandate to shorten the Academy Awards’ telecast, the Academy has insulted all of us who work ‘below the line,'” Heim wrote. “Many of our members and those of other IATSE Locals are understandably upset.”

On Monday, the Academy announced that in order to shorten the Oscars broadcast, the cinematography, film editing, live-action short film and makeup and hairstyling categories will be presented during commercial breaks. The full presentations will stream live on Oscar.com and on Academy social channels, but they’ll be shown later during the live show in edited form.

The decision was harshly criticized across Hollywood, notably in an open letter Wednesday night signed by Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, and others. The Academy is standing behind the decision so far, and has blamed “inaccurate reporting and social media posts” and “a chain of misinformation” for the uproar.

In the email, Heim argued that the Academy Awards ceremony should expose audiences to all film-making crafts, and that “the educational value may be even more important than the entertainment.”

Excluding any of the awards from the live broadcast is “anathema to the collaborative nature of filmmaking,” Heim continued. “We have always been told that the Academy honors the very best in filmmaking, but removing some categories from equal acknowledgement on the air seems to contradict that narrative.”

Heim ended the letter by urging people in the entertainment industry to “do everything we can to see that this demeaning experiment will not be repeated” if the Academy doesn’t reverse course.

Read the full letter below:

“Dear members,

In its mandate to shorten the Academy Awards’ telecast, the Academy has insulted all of us who work “below the line.” Many of our members and those of other IATSE Locals are understandably upset.

The people who watch the Awards across the nation and the world should be fully exposed to ALL of the crafts that go into the creation of a film. The Awards should be entertaining but they are also an opportunity to enrich the film-going experience of the audience by informing them of the creativity our crafts bring to every project. How many people over the years have been motivated to pursue careers in film after watching the Awards? The educational value may be even more important than the entertainment.

It doesn’t matter which categories are affected this year or next; none of them should be. The very idea is anathema to the collaborative nature of filmmaking. The Academy has historically honored ALL of the crafts involved in filmmaking and the search for better TV ratings shouldn’t affect that. We have always been told that the Academy honors the very best in filmmaking, but removing some categories from equal acknowledgement on the air seems to contradict that narrative.

There is much outcry for the Academy to reverse its decision, and the Motion Picture Editors Guild joins those voices. If it does not reverse its decision, let us all do everything we can to see that this demeaning experiment will not be repeated.

Yours in solidarity,

Alan Heim, ACE
President, Motion Picture Editors Guild IATSE Local 700”

Deadline first reported the email.