In July 2013, former LMGA president and founding member, Lori Balton, was invited to join the Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), having qualified for membership within the Designers Branch. This reflects the Academy’s determination that Balton “has achieved unique distinction, earned special merit or made an outstanding contribution within his or her field of endeavors” having worked on a variety of films such as Heat, Memoirs of a Geisha, Seabiscuit, Pearl Harbor, A River Runs Through It, Inception, We Bought A Zoo, Pirates Of The Caribbean 4 & 5, and Argo.
In 1927, Louis B Mayer of MGM invited 36 industry members to a formal banquet at the Ambassador Hotel and presented his vision for the Academy. Everyone invited became founders of the Academy, representing actors, writers, directors, producers, and technicians, the original five branches. Today, AMPAS consists of 17 branches, having recently granted the casting directors their own branch after 30 years of membership in the “members-at-large” category (which also includes stunt coordinators and production).
The Designers branch is a logical place for locations pros, as their primary job is to find settings that best represent the visual concept of the producer, director, and production designer, all performed through research, scouting, and photography. The creative dimension of this work assumes an advanced level of visual and aesthetic sophistication and a blend of intuition and knowledge (especially in architectural design) to help determine which locations best advance and enhance story and character development.
The Location Managers Guild of America congratulates Lori Balton as the first member of the Academy from our ranks. We applaud the Academy’s recognition of the vital contributions made by location professionals to filmmaking.
“It is a door that has opened,” says Balton. “It’s my strongest hope that others will now follow.”
by Marie Healy
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