2014_0304_mvnc_inmemoriam Industry Insight

The Real Snubs of Awards Season


Recent headlines leading up to this past weekends Academy Awards were focused not on the races for the awards, but on the ‘In Memoriam’ segment – a memoir of industry leaders and celebrities who have passed away this year. This piece, during the Oscars and during other high profile events, was brought under new scrutiny with recent events.

These events were the tragic passing of legendary writer, producer, director and actor Harold Ramis and 27 year-old camera assistant, Sarah Jones, who now leaves a legendary reminder across the globe about the importance of set safety and production protocol. Tim Gray, from Variety, sums up the two situations as well as past controversies in this recent article Oscars In Memoriam: Recent Deaths Put Extra Pressure on Academy“. While we know that Sarah Jones was left out of the awards’  visual segment (unless you count the 5 second bumper you saw across your TV), Ramis was not.

While in previous years it may have been easy to overlook the ‘In Memoriam’, this year was different.  The public was left with several questions: How this piece is decided? Does it include all the deaths throughout the industry? Are they decided on by the Academy? Or is it just a popularity contest? Luckily, Anthony Breznican has already answered this for us in his article “EXPLAINER: How the Oscar ‘in memoriam’ segment is decided” in Entertainment Weekly. Breznican points out that a “committee made up from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences” decide on who is to be included from the submissions that they receive.

As a result, we typically only see the popular figures, while the below-line is skipped almost as easily fast forwarding through the credits.  Considering that an online petition for Sarah Jones managed to succeed at least in a 5 -second reminder, it took productions from across the globe to rally behind her symbolism and impact through the meme ‘Slates for Sarah‘ on the the true essence and dream that is filmmaking.  In the end, unfortunately, the perception of the ‘In Memoriam’ is simply a popularity contest.  (Or did we all forget that Samsung paid the Academy $20 Million so that Ellen could take a ‘selfie’ with a phone that no doubt could be considered part of the next year’s ‘In Memoriam’ when the next model comes out?)

Recent headlines leading up to this past weekends Academy Awards were focused not on the races for the awards, but on the ‘In Memoriam’ segment – a memoir of industry leaders and celebrities who have passed away this year. This piece, during the Oscars and during other high profile events, was brought under new scrutiny with recent events.

These events were the tragic passing of legendary writer, producer, director and actor Harold Ramis and 27 year-old camera assistant, Sarah Jones, who now leaves a legendary reminder across the globe about the importance of set safety and production protocol. Tim Gray, from Variety, sums up the two situations as well as past controversies in this recent article Oscars In Memoriam: Recent Deaths Put Extra Pressure on Academy“. While we know that Sarah Jones was left out of the awards’  visual segment (unless you count the 5 second bumper you saw across your TV), Ramis was not.

While in previous years it may have been easy to overlook the ‘In Memoriam’, this year was different.  The public was left with several questions: How this piece is decided? Does it include all the deaths throughout the industry? Are they decided on by the Academy? Or is it just a popularity contest? Luckily, Anthony Breznican has already answered this for us in his article “EXPLAINER: How the Oscar ‘in memoriam’ segment is decided” in Entertainment Weekly. Breznican points out that a “committee made up from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences” decide on who is to be included from the submissions that they receive.

As a result, we typically only see the popular figures, while the below-line is skipped almost as easily fast forwarding through the credits.  Considering that an online petition for Sarah Jones managed to succeed at least in a 5 -second reminder, it took productions from across the globe to rally behind her symbolism and impact through the meme ‘Slates for Sarah‘ on the the true essence and dream that is filmmaking.  In the end, unfortunately, the perception of the ‘In Memoriam’ is simply a popularity contest.  (Or did we all forget that Samsung paid the Academy $20 Million so that Ellen could take a ‘selfie’ with a phone that no doubt could be considered part of the next year’s ‘In Memoriam’ when the next model comes out?)

Ellen-Selfie

Source: @TheEllenShow

Still, it does not seem that anyone is presenting a good solution to this highly political issue. Countless hardworking people do not get their limelight. These unmentioned, forgotten, over- looked people have been very successful and have given their whole lives to the industry. Doesn’t that beg the question of why they get pushed to the side?

Let’s take this on a more personal level… My grandfather devoted his whole life to this industry. He was a fantastic editor (I am sure ABC would agree with me); his life was the business. He was in the industry during the editing-by-hand stage. His list of accomplishments is worthy of recognition; to name a few he received an Emmy for his work and was the president of the Editors Guild among others. He edited films that featured the greats in the business like Harrison Ford and Gene Wilder (The Frisco Kid). However, none of that earned him a spot in either the Emmy’s or Oscar’s ‘In Memoriam’ piece the year of his death in 2012.

So again, what is wrong with how people are picked to be featured in this segment? The answer is simple; there should be no criteria to be featured, only criteria to be featured with a photo or mini clip. That would be too long you say? Well,  the Academy could approach the time issue in a way that would only add another two to three minutes into the show. How, you say? We (as moviegoers) are used to seeing credits in movies, so it makes sense to do the same sort of thing at the end of the piece. It would include everyone and you can have it rolling while the performer is singing (I’m sure we have all heard a rendition Midler’s ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ by now).

It has been said that this ‘In Memoriam’ piece is for the viewers and not the industry. While the fact that it is for the viewers is true, however it is the industry’ biggest night, (second only to that of the Super Bowl). The Academy can still put the big names up on the screens that remember the public’s favorites over the years, while including a small ending for the rest.  Yes, we give credit to the Academy for its minor online recognition of the departed.  It’s a step in the right direction, but the group of people left out of this piece deserves more than just their name on a tombstone or a lonely profile link to IMDB.

Is there anyone that was left out in recent years that you knew? Let us know.

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