The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the largest union representing behind-the-scenes workers in North America, has joined the growing number of critics expressing their disapproval of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ decision to pre-record eight craft categories at the Oscars.
The eight categories to be aired retroactively as part of the awards broadcast on March 27 include film editing, make-up and hairstyling, production design, animated short and sound.
The statement released by IATSE President Matthew Loeb said, “By the nature of our jobs, behind the scenes, workers get little recognition as is, despite being the backbone of every production. The Academy Awards has been virtually the only venue where the very best on and off the big screen, above and below the line gather to honor each other’s incredible contributions through their crafts, inspiring millions who tune into the TV Broadcast in the process. We believe a deviation for some crafts and categories but not others is detrimental to this fundamental purpose. While the Academy made accommodations to include these categories in the broadcast, our position remains that the awards should put all the positions that make pictures possible on equal footing. If the winners walk away with the same trophy, then the winners deserve the same recognition. I urge the Academy to reconsider.”
Last month, it was announced that in efforts to create a more television-friendly broadcast, the Academy would not present every category live on air. Instead, it would hand the awards out an hour before the live telecast and weave them into the broadcast.
During an interview with Variety, Will Packer, who is producing the telecast this year, stood by the call, saying, “I think it was the right decision. We have to understand that the Academy Awards show as we know it is at an inflection point. The next coming years, especially this year, are going to be a harbinger for what this show will become.”
However, the reaction to the Oscars’ new format was met with strong reactions from the industry. Additionally, Guillermo Del Toro and Jane Campion have both spoken out about the decision.
In Variety’s special Artisans report, former winners and current nominees joined senior artisans editor Jazz Tangcay to express the shared sentiment that their work wasn’t feeling as valued. Tangcay was joined by Randy Thom; editor Myron Kerstein, nominated this year for “Tick, Tick … Boom!”; hair department head Mia Neal, an Oscar winner for 2020’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”; editor and composer John Ottman, who won for editing for 2019’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”; and director Ben Proudfoot, nominated for documentary short subject for “The Queen of Basketball.”
“What offends me is that somebody in the Academy would claim to or imply that they know which crafts are more important and more deserving of respect than time than other crafts,” said Thom.