Spring 2015

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42 CINEMONTAGE / SPRING 2015 42 CINEMONTAGE / SPRING 2015 by Patrick Gregston portrait by Wm. Stetz I f asked about his career, Joseph A. Aredas will tell you it was not very interesting; "not exciting," he shrugs. And when queried about the steps that built his resume, which led to his becoming head of the West Coast IATSE office, his eyebrows and palms rise as his shoulders slump, and he says, "I didn't plan it." As if that somehow makes it less remarkable… But scratch a bit, dig a little deeper, and a far more textured and rich story emerges. Aredas' first industry job was as a cinetechnician, designing and fabricating camera and editorial equipment as a member of IATSE Local 789 (which eventually merged into Local 695, the Sound Technicians, part of which was later ceded over to Local 683, the Laboratory Film/Video Technicians and Cinetechnicians) at the MGM machine shop in April 1967. Laid off after seven months, he was brought almost immediately into Consolidated Film Industries (CFI) to be the first person of color in the machine shop. Hollywood was freshly under court-ordered (but industry-resented) racial discrimination adjustment, and the city was still rebuilding after the Watts riots, with white flight to the suburbs, war protests and the Summer of Love all part of the circumstances — a somewhat less than ideal circumstance for Aredas to be the new guy. Unlike the ubiquitous coffee-order-qualifying ritual of today, the new machinist — after a few simple assignments — was tasked with creating a complex, close-tolerance densitometer piece. He used calculations to establish the specification and parameters required before he committed to cutting any metal, and when he presented the part, his supervisor was dubious. "'How do you know this is right?' he asked me," Aredas recalls with a tilt to his head and a bit of a smile in his eyes. "I told him I knew. He asked me again, and I said, 'I just know.'" When the doubting supervisor tested the part, it performed flawlessly. "He then asked me, 'How did you do this?" Aredas continues. "And I responded, 'You don't know?' When he shook his head, I said, 'Well, you better keep me around.'" Aredas says he knew he had earned his peers' respect when he saw them suppressing their smiles and laughter as he returned to his bench. "They knew what I had done; they were watching." The new guy was OK. Working at MGM previously was an eye- opening experience for him as well. "I discovered that movies, which I had loved to watch, weren't made at all like I imagined," he confesses. "They were making Ice Station Zebra, a John Sturges- directed vehicle for stars Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine and Jim Brown." Aredas takes a moment to re-create what he saw in his mind; "And when I saw the gimble that they had the stage on, and how they moved the set, I was like, 'Oh that's what they do,'" smiling at the memory of his education. In addition to being one of the people literally making the gears of the industry of magic, he also had assignments that included props and staging equipment. >>> Joseph A. Aredas The Honorable Arbiter

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