The HPA’s Tribute to Post Short Film Shines Light on the Post-Production Community
2023 marked a year of immense challenge for the entertainment industry. The WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes impacted not only writers, actors, and those on the production side of the industry, but every individual involved in the movie and television making process. The post-production community was no exception, and was often overlooked in terms of government aid and assistance.
Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) President Seth Hallen details, “This last year was incredibly challenging. Anyone who touched any part of the content creation pipeline was impacted by the strikes. The HPA primarily represents the post-production side of the entertainment industry and we recognized pretty quickly during the summer how impacted the tens of thousands of post-production workers were going to be. We started to realize that creating awareness about post-production was important. One of the first things we did was issue an open letter, not to take sides on the situation, but to raise awareness that while negotiations were happening, there were many important people in the content creation pipeline being impacted. And, that the pipeline itself could be in danger.”
Each year, the HPA gives a special award – a Lifetime Achievement Award or the Charles S. Schwartz Award – which recognizes an individual that has made an outstanding impact on the entertainment industry. Because 2023 was an unprecedented year for the industry, HPA opted to scrap the idea of honoring any one person, and instead honor everyone within the post-production community. The creation of the film titled Tribute to Post paid homage to its own. Hallen adds, “This year, the HPA wanted to recognize our community in the best way that we can, and that’s what inspired this video.”
The concept behind the film is to celebrate the talent, passion, and resilience of the post-production community. Each individual spanning picture editors, sound engineers, colorists, VFX artists, and beyond are an essential part of creating the greatest stories on-screen.
Tribute to Post was directed by Clyde Bessey, who, along with his company Origin Point, have a successful relationship with the HPA. The former RED Digital Cinema in-house production team is the creative and technical force behind producing and directing this and previous years’ HPA Awards ceremonies, among other HPA content, so it was a natural fit for them to take the lead on this piece.
Tribute to Post features interviews with artists, technologists, and executives across all aspects of the post-production community including Wendy Aylsworth, Jill Bogdanowicz, Mike Brodersen, Larry Chernoff, Michael Cioni, Carolyn Giardina, Seth Hallen, Nikki Jee, Rob Legato, ASC, Loren Nielsen, Sabrina Plisco, ACE, Leon Silverman, and Mandy Walker, ASC-ACS. Explains Hallen, “We wanted to find a group of recognizable professionals, hear their perspectives, and put together a nice piece that really paid tribute to the amazing people and community of post-production.”
While a few of the interviews were conducted virtually due to location, the majority were shot in a single day at the Hollywood American Legion. Explains Bessey, “It was definitely an exercise in efficiency and timing. Each interview was only about 20 minutes with five-minute breaks in-between. What I loved about this was cracking people’s shells, getting into their mindset, trying to understand what makes them tick, and what really drives them. Getting to the bottom of why do you do what you do? What motivates you to do this? And that translated easily into the video.”
Tribute to Post was filmed on both the 5K RED Gemini and the 8K RED Monstro, the latter which provided a full frame in order to display the scope and the scale of the theater in which it was shot. A full frame sensor was used in order to achieve the wide angle to highlight both the location and the person within the frame. The production team used both Angénieux and Capital lenses to provide a soft, organic look to the subjects’ faces. Working alongside Bessey was cinematographer Eric Soboleski and camera operator Tyler Heckerman. Light Iron colorist Ethan Schwartz provided the color grade, helping to elevate the interviews which were intercut with clips from many of the most iconic and recognizable films ever made.
Ranging from The Wizard of Oz to Star Wars to A Clockwork Orange and beyond, Bessey felt the pressure of having to make decisions on which clips to incorporate. He laughs, “Oh, you can pull from anything? Where to start? We began with films that were widely recognized, then from there, chose a moment or scene that told a story within itself that could tie into what the interviewees were talking about. It was really fun as a filmmaker to get a chance to touch all of these famous clips and put them into new montages.”
The video ends with an emotional speech from HPA founder, Leon Silverman. The video premiered at the ceremony to delighted audiences who felt the power of the words spoken by their colleagues on-screen.
Concludes Bessey, “What I’ve learned after talking to these people and hearing their stories, is that what drives them most is a form of connection, either on the artist side or the viewer side. The reason they are making this art is because they want to explore other perspectives, other stories, and perhaps find something that people can relate to in some form or another. The reason they want to go through the struggle and difficulty of doing this work, and the beauty of it all, is to ultimately share those stories. I think that’s what feeds the souls of many of these artists.”
Tribute to Post is available to stream here.