The stars of Hollywood’s post community gathered Nov. 10 at the Skirball Cultural Center for the sixth annual Hollywood Post Alliance Awards, which celebrate outstanding talent and achievement across a number of post disciplines. The judges included ASC President Michael Goi; Society members Frederic Goodich, Daryn Okada and Robert Primes; and associate members Lou Levinson, Leon Silverman (president of the HPA) and Garrett Smith.
One of the evening’s themes was the ever-changing post landscape. “You could say there have been some pretty turbulent and challenging times in postproduction these days, and there’s no doubt that there are changes and challenges ahead,” mused Silverman, the general manager of digital studio for Walt Disney Studios, who served as host of the ceremony. “But it is this community that has always led through change.
“Our industry demands a fleetness of mind and spirit that allows us to survive and sometimes even thrive in times of radical change,” Silverman continued. “We have truly gone from the cutting block to the clouds, and I’m looking forward to where we go next together.”
Journalist and HPA Awards Committee Chair Carolyn Giardina joined Okada onstage to present the HPA Judges Awards, which recognize creativity and innovation in post. One award was presented to Testronic Laboratories for the File-Based QC Lab, and the other was presented to ASC associate Steven J. Scott of EFilm for the digital-intermediate environment employed on Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (AC Aug. ’11). Accepting the award, Scott noted, “I remember the first time I sat in a theater and was even aware of cinematography. It was at the Fox Village in Westwood, and the movie was Days of Heaven. I was dazzled. To think that someday I would have a part in helping that director realize his artistic vision onscreen is still hard for me to grasp, but I’m very, very grateful.
“Most of all, thanks to the cinematographer, [Emmanuel] ‘Chivo’ Lubezki [ASC, AMC], for caring so much about his work and the work of everyone around him,” Scott continued. “He lifts us all with his unyielding quest for beauty, authenticity and truth in the images he [shoots].”
The NAB Show sponsored the Engineering Excellence Award, which, Silverman explained, “is a celebration of the increasing role of technology and its impact on the creative process.” Awards in this category were presented to four companies: Dolby Laboratories won one for the Dolby PRM-4200 Professional Reference Monitor, which is capable of displaying the full dynamic range, contrast ratio and color gamut of film stocks and professional digital cameras; Sony Professional Solutions of America won for its Organic Light-Emitting Diode technology for reference monitors; IBM won for the Linear Tape File System, which provides a simple and cost-efficient method for managing large-scale data archives; and Lightcraft Technology earned an award for Previzion, the company’s real-time on-set compositing system.
Goi presented the awards for Outstanding Color Grading with producer Todd London. “Today more than ever,” said Goi, “the collaboration and cooperation between preproduction, production and postproduction is vital in our industry. In fact, cinematographers are spending so much time in postproduction you would almost think we were getting paid for that time.”
The awards for color grading were presented to Steven J. Scott of EFilm, for The Help; Tim Vincent of LaserPacific, for Mad Men, “Blowing Smoke”; and Siggy Ferstl of Company 3, for Nissan, “Zero.” Ferstl was also nominated for ESPN, “Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.”
“My biggest thanks … must go to Stephen Goldblatt [ASC, BSC],” said Scott. “His raw footage was my greatest inspiration. His cinematic accomplishments are obvious enough on the screen, but I’m particularly grateful for the man behind the camera.”
Also nominated for Outstanding Color Grading were ASC associate Stefan Sonnenfeld of Company 3, for Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Sucker Punch and Jameson, “Fire”; ASC associate Dave Cole of LaserPacific, for Tron: Legacy; Natasha Leonnet of EFilm, for Love and Other Drugs; Kevin O’Connor of Deluxe Media Services, for Too Big to Fail; Tom Sartori of FotoKem, for Breaking Bad, “Box Cutter”; Aidan Farrell of The Farm Group for Carnival Film & Television, for Downton Abbey, “Series 1 Episode 1”; Sean Coleman of Company 3, for Nike, “Chosen”; Tom Poole of Company 3 NY, for Jack Daniels, “As American As”; Chris Ryan of Nice Shoes, for American Express, “Curtain”; and Tim Masick of Company 3 NY, for Converse, “The Procession.”
Outstanding Editing awards, sponsored by Avid Technology, were presented to Angus Wall, ACE and Kirk Baxter, ACE, for The Social Network; John Wilson, ACE of Carnival Film & Television, for Downton Abbey, “Series 1 Episode 1”; and Chris Franklin of Big Sky Editorial, for American Express, “Curtain.”
Outstanding Sound awards were presented to John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Rick Kline of Warner Bros. Post Production Services and Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers of Soundelux, for Green Lantern; Brad North, Joe DeAngelis, Luis Galdames and Jackie Oster of Universal Studios Sound, for House, “Bombshells”; and David Brolin of Universal Studios Sound and Bill Neil of Buddha Jones Trailers, for Dream House, “Trailer #1.”
Outstanding Compositing awards were presented to Jeff Sutherland, Jason Billington, Chris Balog and Ben O’Brien of Industrial Light & Magic, for Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Paul Graff, Brian Sales, Merysa Nichols and Jesse Siglow of Crazy Horse Effects, Inc., for Boardwalk Empire, “Boardwalk Empire”; and Dan Glass, Gabby Gourrier, Chris Bankoff and Jeff Willette of Method Studios, for Jameson, “Fire.”
The show culminated in the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to ASC associate Cyril Drabinsky, president and CEO of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, Inc. Drabinsky’s career in the industry began at Cineplex Odeon Corp., where he served as senior vice president of distribution and affairs. In 1987, he became president of the Cineplex Odeon-owned Film House laboratories in Toronto, which was purchased by the Rank Organization in 1990, the same year Rank bought Deluxe Laboratories from 20th Century Fox. Drabinsky transitioned into operations for Deluxe, and in 1995 he was named president of Deluxe Laboratories North America. In 2001, Drabinsky was named president of Deluxe Laboratories Worldwide. In 2006, MacAndrews & Forbes acquired Deluxe, and Drabinsky was appointed to his current position.
Silverman kicked off the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award, noting Drabinsky’s ties to the late Burton “Bud” Stone, a former president of Deluxe. “Following in the hard-to-fill shoes of one of my own heroes, and one of those truly larger-than-life industry legends, the incomparable Bud Stone, Cyril took the reins at Deluxe and not only made the role his own, but [also] set our entire industry on its path to the future,” said Silverman. “Over the course of his career, Cyril has earned the respect and admiration of his peers, competitors, clients and employees.”
The sentiment was echoed by Tom Sherak, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Ted Gagliano, president of feature postproduction at 20th Century Fox. “In a business where it’s an Olympic sport to talk dirt about people, I could not find an unclean word spoken about Cyril,” said Gagliano.
Addressing Drabinsky directly, Gagliano continued, “I honestly can say I could not do my job without you. And this room is filled with people from every studio and every film company who feel the same way. You’re too young to get a lifetime achievement award, so let’s just call this a pit stop and let’s recommit ourselves to another 20 years together in what is still the best damn business in the world.”
Ronald Perelman, chairman and CEO of MacAndrews & Forbes, offered a few prerecorded remarks before Barry Schwartz, MacAndrews & Forbes’ executive vice chairman and chief administrative officer, stepped to the microphone. “I have seen [Drabinsky’s] vision and his determination transform Deluxe from its role [as a] film processor to a postproduction juggernaut,” said Schwartz. “Cyril has also surrounded himself with a team that reflects their leader: confident, inspired and loyal to each other and the industry they serve so well.”
“One of Cyril’s many, many, many qualities is his ability to be so incredibly humble about his achievements,” added Warren Stein, COO of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group. “In all the year’s I’ve known Cyril, I’ve never heard him start a sentence with the words ‘I did this’ or ‘I did that’ or ‘Look what I’ve done.’ It’s always ‘we.’”
“He understands the pressure that he puts on us, but he also understands that we are human beings,” enthused ASC associate Beverly Wood, executive vice president of technical services and client relations for Deluxe’s EFilm. “A boss like Cyril sets an example for an entire organization.”
“Lifetime achievement,” marveled Drabinsky when he stepped to the stage. “That’s something that can give you pause, in part because you feel like you’re just getting started, and in part because it makes you look back on how everything’s changed — and keeps changing. That’s what I love about this business: it changes every day. You never sit still; you manage your risk and keep moving forward.
“There are times I wonder what Bud Stone would say if he’d seen our transformation,” Drabinsky continued. “If not for Bud, I wouldn’t be standing here…. He taught me the Hollywood film industry, and nobody understood it like him, because he knew what it comes down to is communicating with the customer on a personal level.
“The industry is in constant change, and nothing changes faster than technology,” he said. “At the end of the day, we try to remember that these are just tools. The job every day is to make our clients’ vision connect. I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of this fascinating business.”