2008 Behind the Camera Awards

It’s one of the entertainment industry’s cruel realities that fame and recognition should fall almost entirely on the people who stand in front of the camera. As soon as a movie ends, people get out of their seats and make for the exits as the names writ large of the scores of people who made the movie possible scroll by. Even the Academy Awards relegates the more technical roles to a separate ceremony, which is just barely recapped at the main event. “It’s not that these people are unsung heroes,” one host for the evening said, “it’s that they’re not sung [about] enough.”

The Behind the Camera Awards looks to change that, at least on a small scale. Jointly presented by Hamilton Watches and Hollywood Life, this annual event recognizes the key people in the film industry that don’t get the recognition they deserve. The 2008 Behind the Camera Awards took place on the top level of the Hollywood & Highland Center in the swank night club The Highlands. With the Kodak Theater just around the corner, it doesn’t get more “Hollywood” than this, but the awards ceremony was surprisingly low-key.

Intimacy and brevity set the mood and pace for the evening. To kick off the awards, Matthias Breschan, the president of Hamilton International Ltd., delivered a short introduction and quoted Alfred Hitchcock. “‘The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder,'” hesaid. Then Breschan added, “I think the same goes for speeches.” Afterwards, he relinquished the stage to Ben Lyons, who keptthe ceremony upbeat and light, and even made a few self-effacing jabs about “coming from a dubious cable program” and regrettably “not being Ryan Seacrest.” The audience, numbering upwards 100 people on the generous side and composed mainly of friends and family, definitely had a good time.

The stars came out to honor their friends and colleagues – in that order – and displayed a level of naked tenderness that isn’t always apparent at larger functions. Celebrities included Harrison Ford, Ryan Phillippe,Anne Hathaway, and more. While presenters brought notes which they folded out in front of them, the celebrities often strayed from them to recount a personal anecdote. Lucy Liu lauded Russell Bobbit – Property Master on Iron Man –– for his ability to find the perfect prop, even when it dashed her inventor aspirations. Christopher Nolan shared a pet phrase regarding his long-time cinematographer Wally Pfister, threatening to “send him back to the honey wagon to cry.” Pfister jokingly acquiesced in his acceptance speech.

A few of the attendees became the highlights of the event. The best presenter of the evening was definitely Jonah Hill, who chided Hollywood Life for their supposed decision not to play music while people walked on and off stage. “It’s great that you can hear everyone walk around and breathe.” Then, in a departure from standard presentation speeches, Hill simply recycled a speech he wrote and dedicated to his grandmother for his bar mitzvah, but edited Super Producer Shauna Robertson’s name in place of his grandmother’s. It was the perfect comedic relief for the mid-ceremony slump. The best recipient was unequivocally Stop-Loss True Grit Director Kimberly Peirce, whose politically charged acceptance had the crowd hooting and hollering. “How crazy is it to actually like your president?” she exclaimed. Afterwards, celebrities and media guests adjourned upstairs for an open-air dinner catered by Wolfgang Puck.

In a fair world, the honorees at the Behind the Camera Awards would command the same gravitas their front-of-the-camera counterparts wield. They’d be appreciated by moviegoers and their names would be enough to convince people to watch their films. Until that time, they’ll have to be satisfied with evenings like this and the undeniable heartfelt thanks of their friends and colleagues – in that order.

The Complete List of Honorees

Russell Bobbitt, Property Master, Iron Man

Martin Laing, Production Designer, City of Ember

Jenny Lumet, Screenwriter, Rachel Getting Married

DRAC Studios, Achievement in Special Make Up Effects

Albert Wolsky, Costume Designer, Revolutionary Road

Shauna Robertson, Super Producer, Pineapple Express

Jim Page, Film Editor, Eagle Eye

Kimberly Peirce, True Grit Director, Stop-Loss

Wally Pfister, Cinematographer, The Dark Knight

Doug Coleman, Stunt Choreographer, Get Smart