Letter From the Editor
1st Qtr, 2019
Honorary societies in the motion picture industry such as American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE), Casting Society of America (CSA) and, of course, ACE are mostly known to the public by the acronym that they allow their members to carry after their name. Just like M.D. or Ph.D., these acronyms reflect experience and professionalism. Films and TV series earn a badge of distinction when they can show off these acronyms in their credits and promotional materials. When directors, producers and studios are assembling their crews, having one of these acronyms after your name, gives you a leg up.
Unfortunately, it’s recently come to ACE’s attention that certain productions do not want to include the ACE acronym in the credits. The main reason seems to be that they are confusing these honorary acronyms with an affiliation to a union. Since the ‘closed shop’ mandate was abolished from motion picture productions, the usually low-budget, independent, non-union productions were gaining more and more terrain because it meant a substantial savings to the bottom line when union benefits could be evaded. It became a standard procedure for even higher-budget productions to start nonunion and hope that the crew they hired would not have too many union members who could organize and turn it into a unionized one. Because usually most writers, producers and directors are members of the Writers Guild, Producers Guild and Directors Guild, which are actual independent unions that allow their members to use union acronyms like WGA, PGA and DGA after their name, a lot of confusion seems to exist about how to differentiate the honorary and union acronyms. So the easy way out was to just deny honoring the use of any acronym.
Even though the WGA, PGA and DGA acronyms also carry a legitimacy of the professionals who use them, they are mainly based on work on official union productions while the honorary societies base their acronyms not only on the over-time accrued experience of an individual but even more on the creative, artistic and innovative accomplishments. Documentary and independent feature film editors who almost exclusively work on non-union productions, are eligible to earn the ACE acronym if the quality of their work meets the high standards set for active membership.
While most editors have a contractual agreement that determines the size, placement, spelling and use of the acronym, it all too often escapes the ability to enforce this promise. In the last year we have received many complaints from ACE members who were denied the use of the ACE acronym in credits or promotional materials. This is unfair to the editor and ACE.
We want members to know that the ACE Board of Directors has opened up lines of communication with other honorary societies to plan to work together to ensure that our acronyms are used to identify our professional members in the film business. –Edgar Burcksen, ACE