ADG Perspective

November-December 2015

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4 P E R S P E C T I V E | N OV E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 editorial A HOLLYWOOD TRADITION by Michael Baugh, Editor It seems like just yesterday that we all got dressed up in our evening finery (black tie was optional that night, but many of the celebrants wore tuxedos and long gowns anyway). It wasn't the fanciest hotel in town—the Sheraton Universal—and it wasn't a banquet, just cocktails and limited hors d'oeuvres, but there was excitement in the air nonetheless as the Society of Motion Picture and Television Art Directors (it wouldn't be the ADG for another six years) gathered to celebrate the arts and crafts we all practice. The Society had held fancy gatherings before, stretching back to the 1930s, but this one was destined to be different from all the others. It was the First Annual Awards, as we—using grammar incorrectly—called it then, somehow knowing that the tradition started that evening would continue. Production Designer Jim Bissell was the chair of the Awards Committee and, rather than spend money or effort on above-the-line talent, he also served as host, presenter and master of ceremonies. A five-piece group of musicians played on the small riser in the middle of the ballroom, and people mingled, enjoying the opportunity to reconnect in an upscale environment with friends they otherwise only saw walking through the mill or hunched over a drawing board. The Awards themselves were pretty rudimentary by today's standards: one award for television (Herman Zimmerman for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), one for feature films (Stuart Craig for The English Patient), cinematographer Allen Daviau was given the first Cinematic Imagery Award, Gene Allen got a Special Achievement Award for his long service to the Society, and Bob Boyle was chosen to receive the very first Lifetime Achievement Award. The whole presentation was over in less than a half an hour, but everyone there could see this was something that would last. The following year, the Awards became a banquet, this time at the Bowl on the lower level of the Biltmore Hotel downtown. People dressed to the nines once more, and Johnny Crawford and his orchestra played the first of his seventeen straight years with the ceremony. There was still only one feature film category, but television split into three, echoing the Emmys ® of that era. Norman Jewison showed up to accept the Cinematic Imagery Award, and Henry Bumstead became the second Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. The third Awards, with Jim Bissell in charge once more, stepped everything up a notch by moving the event to the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where it has remained ever since. The room has a stage so, like all good designers should, we built a set for the event, stylishly designed by Roy Christopher. It was also the first foray into the world of film clips: film editors Michael Sheridan and Jack Tucker edited clips for the five feature film nominees, and gave birth to a process that has become ever more complicated year by year. This January 31 will mark the twentieth time we will gather in our evening clothes to see if we recognize each other without our normal layer of sawdust and paint overspray. There are now eight television categories and three for feature films, and every nominee—more than one hundred of them—is honored with film clips of their work. Comedian Owen Benjamin will host the ceremonies for the third time, film columnist and Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne will be given the first William Cameron Menzies Award for championing visual entertainment, and Patrizia von Brandenstein will receive the Guild's twentieth Lifetime Achievement Award. Most importantly, the Art Directors Guild Awards have become recognized by the studios and the industry press the same way they recognize awards given by our friends in the Directors, Writers and Screen Actors Guilds. They are a Hollywood tradition.

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