For the fourth time, the HPA held its annual Awards event at the Skirball Center in the Santa Monica mountains above Los Angeles. Having attended all of the HPA Awards events, I can say without reservation that the event has truly come of age. With a sold-out auditorium, a long list of high profile presenters (including director  J.J. Abrams), a very well written script and a flawlessly run production, the HPA Awards has clearly arrived on the Hollywood scene.

J.J. Abrams and Ben Burtt/HPA Awards

J.J. Abrams and Ben Burtt/HPA Awards

Also notable was a new alliance with the American Society of Cinematographers. Past ASC president Daryn Okada and current president Michael Goi both presented the final awards of the evening for Best Color Correction, including Best DI for a feature film. Given the history of controversy in the cinematographer community over the DI process, this very appropriate alliance is both a coup for HPA and a reflection of the evolution of the production and post industries as a whole. Also available for attendees was a handsome souvenir book detailing the finalists and the event.

Event co-founder Carolyn Giardina noted that, given the dire state of the economy, some had suggested that this year’s awards be given over martinis at Lola’s, a popular bar where HPA networking events meet. That, she said, would have been HPA Awards, the Recession Version. But, she added, the HPA Board of Directors decided to push ahead with the event as it has been done in the past three years.

Special awards included the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was given to Paul Haggar, who rose through the Paramount Studio ranks from the mailroom to become Executive VP of Post Production for Feature Films, a role he held for 20 years. A legend in the Hollywood post industry, Haggar’s credits include Love Story, Chinatown, The Godfather and many more. A building on the Paramount lot is named for him. Haggar accepted his award to a standing ovation and charmed the crowd with some of his reminiscences, including a meeting with Cecil B. DeMille when he was a young man.

Another special award, the Charles S. Swartz Award for outstanding contribution in the field of post production went to Ben Burtt, who was the Sound Designer for the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series and has been nominated for 12 Academy Awards for sound effects work and won four Oscars. Burtt was introduced by Star Trek director J.J. Abrams who told a story about how Burtt had rescued the sound design for that movie.

The Engineering Excellence Awards were given to Signiant for content distribution management (CDM) software; DVS Digital Video Systems for CLIPSTER; and S.two Corporation for OB-1. The awards were presented by the comedic duo of Jerry Pierce, technology consultant, and Howard Lukk, the “chief dork” at Pixar Animation Studio. Pierce and Lukk came down the two aisles of the theater like the ghosts of Christmas past, dragging chains and chanting, “3D will save our industry, 3D will save our industry.” At one point, Lukk delcared that “BluRay will save our industry” and Pierce reprimanded him that “BluRay was two years ago.”

The event was a true celebration of the Hollywood post industry, full of the personalities and in-jokes of a community that has evolved together. As nearly everyone said that evening, “We are family.” I look forward to the next HPA Awards event, which most likely will take place in a larger venue.

The following are the awards of the evening:

Outstanding Color Grading Feature Film in a DI Process

“Julie & Julia”

Steven J. Scott // EFilm

Outstanding Color Grading – Television

“Yankee Stadium Tribute – Yogi’s Bronx”

Siggy Ferstl // Company 3

Outstanding Color Grading – Commercial

Pepsi “Pass”

Stefan Sonnenfeld // Company 3

Outstanding Editing – Feature Film

“Slumdog Millionaire”

Chris Dickens, A.C.E.

Outstanding Editing- Television

“Breaking Bad – ABQ”

Lynne Willingham, A.C.E. // Sony Pictures Entertainment

Outstanding Editing- Commercial

Jaguar “XF/XK”

Neil Gust // Outside Editorial

Outstanding Audio Post- Feature Film


Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montano, Scott Hecker and Eric Norris // Universal Studios Sound

Outstanding Audio Post- Television

“Fringe – Unleashed”

Thomas Harris, Michael Ferdie, Chris Reeves, Mark Fleming and Tom Dahl // Walt Disney Studio Post Production Services

Outstanding Audio Post- Commercial

Honda Civic “Grooves”

Nathan Dubin // Margarita Mix Santa Monica

Outstanding Compositing – Feature Film

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

Nelson Sepulveda, Ben O’Brien, Matthew Brumit and Robert Hoffmeister // Industrial Light & Magic

Outstanding Compositing – Television

“Krupp – Eine Deutsche Familie”

Thomas Tannenberger, Olcun Tan, Shane Cook and Josiah Howison // Gradient Effects

Outstanding Compositing – Commercial

Toyota “Ninja Kittens”

Colin Renshaw // Animal Logic