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Editors Guild President Alan Heim has joined the chorus of dissent to the Academy’s plans to present four Oscar categories during commercial breaks and air the moments in condensed form later in the telecast.

In an email sent Thursday night to the 8,100 members of the Motion Picture Editors Guild, Heim voiced his union’s opposition to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ decision, which will affect the awards for best film editing, cinematography, live-action short, and makeup and hairstyling when those are presented on Feb. 24. He asked AMPAS to reverse its decision, which was announced on Feb. 11.

“It doesn’t matter which categories are affected this year or next; none of them should be,” he said. “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.”

Heim won the Academy Award for best film editing in 1980 for “All That Jazz” and was nominated in the category in 1977 for “Network.”

“I have tremendous respect for the Academy’s Board of Governors,” he added. “I know they never intended any disrespect to the ‘below the line’ crafts. And as editors we understand the value of effective, concise storytelling. But, when a change is so difficult to explain to the audience, perhaps it just isn’t a good idea.”

The Intl. Cinematographers Guild, the American Society of Cinematographers and the American Cinema Editors have also voiced opposition to the plan, along with numerous directors such as Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan and Spike Lee and actors including Brad Pitt, Emma Stone and George Clooney.

The full text of Heim’s letter to Editors Guild members appears 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