Stephen Glanzrock: 2004 Frank Capra Achievement Award Recipient

Mark Smith, Louisiana Governor's Office of Film and Television; Lisa Strout, New Mexico Film Office; Pat Swinney Kaufman, New York State Governor's office for Motion Picture and Television Development; and DGA director-member Christopher Coppola.

February 1, 2004

Stephen Glanzrock's passion about his profession and dedication to protecting and improving the rights of DGA members comes across plainly — in his voice, his beliefs and his record of work for the Guild. Both the work and the passion have resulted in Glanzrock being named this year's recipient of the Frank Capra Achievement Award which is presented to an Assistant Director or Unit Production Manager in recognition of career achievement in the industry and service to the DGA.

"The members of the Eastern AD/UPM Council are thrilled with Steve's selection for the Frank Capra Award," says AD/UPM Eastern Council Chair Mary Rae Thewlis. "Steve brings such insight and maturity to Council issues. We're also thrilled to have an East Coast person get this award. The East and the West Coast have been cooperating so well in the last couple of years, and Steve has been a big part of that. His selection is a great tribute to our working together as one unified organization."

That approach is also evident in Glanzrock's AD philosophy. Since being an AD boils down to managing large groups of people, Glanzrock has long lived by a simple rule: "Respect for everybody on the set. Treat other people the way you want to be treated."

"I don't like to yell and scream a lot –– it's not my way," he stated. "You hire the best people you can find, and you try to organize their work in a way that is efficient and harmonious. A great deal of an AD's work is providing information, which means you make sure that the department heads know what's coming and what's expected of them. It can be communicated very easily — it doesn't have to be shouted. I also see the AD's job as protecting the actor. If you do all of these things, then any director is well-served."

This philosophy was solidified early in Glanzrock's career. On one 1970s picture, for example, on which Glanzrock was working as a production assistant, it came time to shoot a dialogue scene between two actresses, a major star and a less major, but very well-respected one. Both were Academy Award winners. While shooting close-ups of the major star, the other actress stood off-camera, feeding her lines. But when it came time to switch places, the major star walked off to her trailer and left it to the script supervisor to feed the lines. Glanzrock recalled simply: "I was stunned."

Years later, when Glanzrock was working as a 2nd AD on the Emmy-nominated miniseries The Two Mrs. Grenvilles, he saw something quite different. At 4:30 a.m., near the end of a long day of shooting by the 59th Street Bridge in Manhattan, the crew set up a scene which called for star Ann-Margret to be harassed by a homeless man, played by an actor in a bit part. Ann-Margret's close-ups were shot first, after which she was offered the opportunity to go back to her trailer and call it a night. "And she didn't," Glanzrock remembered. "She stayed off-camera to give a fellow actor her reaction so he could give a better performance. It immediately reminded me of what I had seen a number of years before. This lady had class, absolutely. This was the kind of thing — the respect Ann-Margret showed for a fellow artist — that reinforced my philosophy and made it real. You're there for each other, and you take care of each other."

Glanzrock's career began in 1971 at public television station WMHT in Schenectady, N.Y., where he worked as a TV cameraman and 16mm film assistant. His salary was $2 an hour, and, according to Glanzrock, there was little hope of making more due to wage and price controls implemented under the Nixon administration. After a year, he moved to Manhattan, his mind now understandably focused on joining a union. "I just wanted to be respected and well-paid for the work that I did," he said. After being rebuffed by the IA camera local, Glanzrock was welcomed with open arms by the IA's rival union, AFC NABET Local 15. It was there that he learned all about 16mm and 35mm cameras, passed his test and became a full-fledged member of the camera department. "But I was new and work was sporadic." So he blanketed the town with resumes trying to find employment. "Then, one day, Barrie Osborne (who would go on to produce The Lord of the Rings) called and asked if I was available to work as a location scout on a commercial he was producing." Glanzrock seized the opportunity and before long he was working as a PA on major films such as For Pete's Sake, The Godfather Part II, Three Days of the Condor and King Kong.

All the while, he was trying hard to get into the Directors Guild. But this was in the days before the qualification lists and it wasn't easy. "I applied year after year. They commended me for a terrific resume but kept saying I needed 100 more days, or 50 more days, and so on." Finally, when the Dario Argento film Inferno (1980) came along, Glanzrock was working for the producer who was arranging the New York reshoots, and he asked for the job as 2nd AD. The producer agreed, and since it was a union picture, he would have to push Glanzrock's name on the DGA for admittance. It worked.

Upon entry into the Guild, Glanzrock immediately began to involve himself in Guild affairs. He attended regular meetings of the Eastern AD/UPM Council and was elected as an alternate in 1985. By 1991, he was Council Chair, a position he held for six years. He is now serving his seventh full term as a Council member. For the last three years he has also served as an Associate Member of the DGA's National Board where he finds the issues to be especially relevant on a broad social level. "Two of the Guild's most important issues are jobs and healthcare — major issues that face all of us — and the DGA is in the forefront. The problems of the DGA are really the problems of America."

Some of his proudest accomplishments, he said, came with his involvement in the 1984 and 2000 Commercial Agreements. A big problem in 1983 was that commercial companies were not required to hire 2nd ADs, an issue that affected Glanzrock directly. The 1984 Commercial Contract achieved the mandatory hiring of a 2nd AD on at least one day of every commercial shoot, a provision still enforced today.

The 1984 Agreement was a huge turning point not just for the DGA, but for Glanzrock's career, which took off because he was able to work more easily on commercials between AD jobs on features, miniseries, movies for television and episodics. It also showed him the importance of working members participating in Guild affairs and leadership.Soon, commercials became an important source of work for Glanzrock, which is one reason he became so involved in the 2000 Commercial Agreement negotiations which he describes as "a landmark in progress for the Guild." It introduced the Commercial Project Listing Form (CPLF), which the 1st AD, prior to the commencement of shooting on a commercial, must submit to the Guild.

"The CPLF lists the project, the DGA staff hired, where it's shooting and so forth," explained Glanzrock. "This enables the Guild to know where its members are working and to enforce the contract more uniformly. That was a real breakthrough. With the CPLF, the members and the jobs are much better protected." He added that the 2000 Commercial Agreement also included an important forward-thinking provision whereby internet commercials produced in ways that are typical of TV ads became covered by the full commercial contract.

For Glanzrock, the 2000 Agreement was just as important for the way in which DGA members came together to negotiate it. "In the past there'd been very little participation in the negotiations on the part of directors," he said. "That changed in 2000. We had award-winning director members on that committee — like Neal Tardio, Stu Hagmann and Vince Misiano — and we were really working together as a Guild. That was new. Ultimately, I feel that we're a more professional organization now, primarily due to the leadership in the National Office and a terrific staff here in New York. I've seen a real, positive change."

About being this year's recipient of the Capra Award, Glanzrock said, "You give anybody an award with Frank Capra's name on it and it means a lot. In 1936, Capra and 12 of his fellow directors came together to protect their working conditions and creative rights. They had a vision –– to protect everyone on the directing team — and I feel we all have an obligation to build on that, and to make sure that it's not carelessly lost or eroded. The bottom line is, we can't do it by ourselves. That's what a guild is for. You can achieve together what no person can do alone."