The Reel: LB/OC is insensitive to film community

Dear Abby: It is very admirable of Leo Burnett to work with the Olympic Committee to help bring the 2016 Summer Games to Chicago, a civic endeavor subsidized by many businesses and individuals who share your enthusiasm for the event.

I was also glad to hear from you, since your Email is the first response to the many phone calls I placed to your agency and to the Olympic Committee. Had anyone for whom I left detailed messages returned my calls, my story could have included more details.

But Abby, I maintain my story is neither inaccurate nor misleading as you charge.

It is a fact that at least seven fully paid out-of-state persons were flown in to work on the bid film. It is also a fact that you contend 15 out of towners were hired for last week’s shoot.

My story also accurately states that certain vendors were prevailed upon to donate equipment and material free, or at low rates. Some of these vendors felt put upon, since they do very little business with Leo Burnett, unlike RSA which is a frequent recipient of Burnett’s big budget spots.

I am sorry to dispute this, Abby, but Chicago companies WERE bypassed for the job. Four of the seven director/shooters were imported. That’s a fact. Since the OC, as you pointed out, made the final hiring decisions, undoubtedly guided by the agency’s recommendations, surely they could have tapped four additional other local companies. (By the way, Janusz Kaminski is not a Chicagoan; his connection is having attended college here.)

If Burnett ? I mean, the OC ? were unaware of existing talent, the local business managers of the Directors Guild of America and the Cameraman’s Local 600 could have provided names. The Creative Directory and the Illinois Film Office Production Guide are other sources.

Furthermore, there was nothing “misleading” about the fact that these out-of-towners brought with them at least fully paid technicians, three first camera assistants, two camera operators and two gaffers.

You might want to confirm exactly how many paid positions altogether were brought in. Or how many positions were paid among the infinite number of persons whose civic pride was prevailed upon to work for nothing or low rates.

The point the story made was that those PAID JOBS could and should have been filled by Chicago crew people, especially now when work is scarce, and there was no reason NOT to hire locally.

Bringing in those director/shooters was insensitive and demeaning towards an industry that has been withering from neglect by Burnett and other big agencies that have eschewed Chicago talent for glitzy names in sunny climes.

For the past 30 years I have chronicled Chicago’s visual media industry, including many years of coverage of local agency production. In fact, my earlier publication was cited for having contributed to the growth and prosperity of the film industry, to which I am still committed.

Ruth L Ratny

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