DGA Announces Special Award Winners For 65th Annual DGA Awards

65th DGA Awards Special Awards

December 5, 2012

Los Angeles – Directors Guild of America President Taylor Hackford today announced the recipients of four special DGA Awards recognizing lifetime career achievement and extraordinary contribution to the Guild: Michael Apted, Eric Shapiro, Susan Zwerman and Dency Nelson will be honored at the 65th Annual DGA Awards on Saturday, February 2, 2013.

Michael Apted will receive the DGA’s 2013 Robert B. Aldrich Award, for extraordinary service to the Directors Guild of America and to its membership.

Eric Shapiro will receive the DGA’s 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award in News Direction, for distinguished achievement in News Direction.

Susan Zwerman will receive the DGA’s 2013 Frank Capra Achievement Award, which is given to an Assistant Director or Unit Production Manager in recognition of career achievement in the industry and service to the Directors Guild of America.

Dency Nelson will receive the DGA’s 2013 Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award, which is given to an Associate Director or Stage Manager in recognition of service to the industry and to the Directors Guild of America.

“The service and dedication of our members is our Guild’s greatest strength, and no one embodies these qualities more than Michael Apted,” said Hackford.  “Michael has packed more Guild service into the 15 years since he was first elected to the Western Directors Council than most can do in an entire career.  He is unflagging in his leadership and steadfast in his devotion to our Guild, and we are proud to honor him, through this award, for the extraordinary commitment and service he has graced us with these many years.”

“When we honor lifetime achievement and outstanding dedication and contribution to the Guild, we pay homage to the qualities upon which our Guild was founded – distinguished craftsmanship and service,” Hackford continued.  “Eric Shapiro’s lifetime of excellence in news direction began when he joined the DGA as a young production associate in 1965, and nearly 50 years later, it is our pleasure to recognize the man who has directed the coverage of every major news event of our generation.  Susan Zwerman and Dency Nelson represent the highest examples of Guild service through their dedication, advocacy and representation on behalf of their fellow members, all while maintaining active, successful careers in their chosen fields.  We are privileged to benefit from their service.”

Filmmaker Milos Forman was previously announced as the recipient of the DGA’s 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award in Motion Picture Direction.  All five special awards will be presented at the 65th Annual DGA Awards Dinner on Saturday, February 2, 2013 in the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles.   

Michael Apted

Michael Apted

Michael Apted served as DGA President for three terms from 2003-2009, the longest consecutive presidential service since George Sidney in the 1960s.  During his tenure, he oversaw collective bargaining negotiations for the Basic Agreement and FLTTA (including the 2004 round that successfully protected health benefits and the 2007 round that established jurisdiction and compensation formulas in new media); an increased focus on research; a new emphasis on reality television, including the formation of the DGA Reality Television Committee and the organization of nearly 350 shows in this genre; the development of the DGA Quarterly in 2005 to focus on the craft of directing and the DGA Monthly in 2004 to keep members informed about Guild news and events; and the Guild’s fight against digital theft.

Apted joined the DGA in 1978 and became active in Guild service in 1997, when he was first elected to the Western Directors Council.  In 2001, he was elected to the National Board and became fifth vice president the following year.  He also helped found the Guild’s Independent Directors Committee in 1998 and served as chair until he was elected president of the Guild.  Even though he stepped down as president in 2009, Apted has remained extremely involved in Guild service, continuing to serve on the National Board including his current position as Secretary-Treasurer, as well as co-chairing of the Political Action Committee’s Leadership Council and shepherding the Guild’s year-long celebration of its 75th anniversary in 2011 as chair of the 75th Anniversary Advisory Committee. 

A veteran feature, documentary and television director, Apted got his start in England at Granada Television as a researcher on the original 7 UP documentary. Apted went on to direct the internationally-acclaimed, multi-award winning sequels 7 Plus 7, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49 UP and 56 UP. His feature film credits include Gorillas in the Mist, Coalminer's Daughter, The World is Not Enough, Gorky Park, Thunderheart, Nell, Enigma, Amazing Grace, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. In addition to his documentary and feature work, Apted has worked extensively in television, including directing the first three episodes of HBO’s epic series Rome.

He has received numerous awards and nominations for his body of work, including a DGA Award, a Grammy, a British Academy Award, and the International Documentary Association’s Career Achievement Award.  By the order of Queen Elizabeth II, Mr. Apted was made a Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George for his work in the film and television industries. 

Eric Shapiro

Eric Shapiro

Eric Shapiro rose from the CBS mailroom to become one of the top directors in network television news, directing coverage of every major news event of the past half century and overseeing and adapting to innovations in the way television presented the news – especially live, breaking stories – that transformed the news business.  He has been instrumental in the evolution and modernization of CBS News production and newsgathering techniques, including the transition from black and white to color, film to video and most recently from standard to high definition.

Shapiro became a DGA member in 1965 as a production associate.  Starting with his first directing assignment in 1969 at the CBS flagship station in New York, Shapiro directed virtually all of the regularly-scheduled news, sports and public affairs broadcasts, and countless political specials, debates and election broadcasts for WCBS TV.

In 1978, CBS News recruited Shapiro to develop and direct an innovative new national Monday - Friday morning news program in tandem with the launch and sharing elements of Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt.  In the decades that followed, Shapiro directed and oversaw the design and redesign of most of the programs on the CBS News schedule, including The Early Show, Face the Nation, 48 Hours, America Tonight and CBS Evening News.

Through that time, Shapiro directed coverage of the election of six U.S. presidents, three popes, the democracy showdown in Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall and two Gulf Wars.  He has attended every political convention since 1972 and directed all of CBS News’ political coverage since 1992.  On September 11th, 2001, Shapiro spent 16 hours in the director’s chair for CBS News live coverage of the terrorist attack.

Shapiro has been honored with Emmy Awards for his work on the first Gulf War and for his innovative use of virtual set technology on the CBS News People of the Century Millennium series.   

Susan Zwerman

Susan Zwerman

Susan Zwerman joined the DGA in 1980 and almost immediately became active in Guild service by being elected to the Eastern AD/UPM Council in 1982 and serving as a member of the Negotiations Committee in 1984.  She became active on the Western AD/UPM Council after moving to Los Angeles, serving multiple terms as 1st Vice Chair, 2nd Vice Chair and Secretary-Treasurer.  She has also served as a delegate to the DGA Biennial Convention.

A specialist in visual effects, Zwerman chairs the DGA’s AD/UPM VFX/Digital Technology Committee and has planned  and organized more than three dozen technology and visual effects seminars for the DGA membership, including multiple Digital Day panels, Training Plan sessions, and special events like “Inside the Virtual Technology of Avatar;” “Science Fiction In The Future – Spectacular Visual Effects From Script to Screen on Star Trek and 2012,” “3D – What’s New?,” two DGA 75th Anniversary Events, “From Tron to Tron: Legacy” and “Game Changers in Visual Effects,” and most recently, “Non-Human Characters: Creating Creatures: Physical or Digital.”

As a Unit Production Manager and Assistant Director, Zwerman’s credits appear on dozens of major films, including The Guardian, Around the World in 80 Days, Men of Honor, Jane Austen's Mafia!, Alien Resurrection, Broken Arrow, Tall Tale and Fire Birds. As a location manager, she worked on films including Wise Guys, The Flamingo Kid, Scarface, Hanky Panky, Nightshift, and Paternity, with additional credits as visual effects producer on Vamps and Fat Albert.  Zwerman teaches visual effects techniques in the entertainment field at university seminars and has co-authored a book on producing visual effects, The Visual Effects Producer: Understanding the Art and Business of VFX.

Dency Nelson

Dency Nelson

Dency Nelson began his entertainment career nearly 40 years ago as the driver and mail clerk for the American Film Institute.  Among his eclectic early jobs, Nelson was the “cue card guy” for Merv Griffin, Saturday Night Live and the morning David Letterman Show, and eventually became the very first stage manager for MTV in 1981, becoming a DGA member later that year. 

Since then, Nelson has been a stage manager for almost every major awards and event show, including 24 Academy Awards telecasts, more than a dozen Grammys and Emmys telecasts, and two dozen Kennedy Center Honors.  He also stage managed special events including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, the 1996 and 2000 Democratic National Conventions and President Barack Obama’s “We Are One” Inaugural event, in addition to special live broadcasts of ER, Fail Safe, On Golden Pond and The Drew Carey Show.  He has been part of the directorial team for award and event shows that have been nominated 31 times and won seven times for the DGA Award for Musical Variety.

Nelson became active in Guild service more than a decade ago, when he first joined the AD/SM/PA Council West as an alternate.  He eventually served several terms as 2nd Vice Chair, a position he currently holds, and is the Council’s representative to the DGA Political Action Committee as well as the Council’s Membership Chair.  He also served on multiple Negotiations Committees and as a delegate to the DGA Biennial Conventions.  In 2011, Nelson moderated the DGA’s 75th Anniversary special event, “Variety Game-Changers: The People Who Make TV ‘Special.’”

The five Feature Film nominees for the 65th Annual DGA Awards will be announced on Tuesday, January 8, 2013.  All Television and Commercials nominees will be announced on Wednesday, January 9, 2013.  Documentary nominees will be announced on Monday, January 14, 2013. 


Past recipients of the DGA Robert B. Aldrich Award
  • William M. Brady (2009)
  • Paris Barclay (2007)
  • Taylor Hackford (2007)
  • Jeremy Kagan (2004)
  • Jud Taylor (2003)
  • Edwin Sherin (2002)
  • Robert Butler (2001)
  • Tom Donovan (2001)
  • Arthur Hiller (1999)
  • Martha Coolidge (1998)
  • Delbert Mann (1997)
  • Daniel Petrie (1996)
  • Max A. Schindler (1995)
  • Burt Bluestein (1994)
  • Gene Reynolds (1993)
  • John Rich (1993)
  • Jack Shea (1992)
  • Larry Auerbach (1991)
  • Milt Felsen (1991)
  • George L. Schaefer (1990)
  • Gilbert Cates (1989)
  • Sheldon Leonard (1988)
  • George Sidney (1986)
  • Elliot Silverstein (1985)
  • Robert E. Wise (1984)

Past recipients of the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award in News Direction
  • Roger Goodman (2010)
  • George Paul (2007)
  • Richard B. Armstrong (1999)
  • Robert E. Vitarelli (1997)
  • Max A. Schindler (1996)
  • Arthur Bloom (1995)

Past recipients of the DGA Frank Capra Achievement Award
  • Katy E. Garretson (2012)
  • Cleve Landsberg (2010)
  • Kim Kurumada (2009)
  • Liz Ryan (2008)
  • Jerry H. Ziesmer (2006)
  • Herb Adelman (2005)
  • Stephen Glanzrock (2004)
  • Yudi Bennett (2003)
  • Burt Bluestein (2002)
  • Cheryl R. Downey (2000)
  • Tom Joyner (1999)
  • Bob Jeffords (1998)
  • Peter A. Runfolo (1994)
  • Willard H. Sheldon (1993)
  • Howard W. Koch (1991)
  • Stanley Ackerman (1990)
  • Alex Hapsas (1988)
  • Henry E. “Bud” Brill (1987)
  • Jane Schimel (1985)
  • Abby Singer (1985)
  • William Beaudine Jr. (1983)
  • William C. Gerrity (1983)
  • Wallace Worsley (1982)
  • David Golden (1982)
  • Francisco “Chico” Day (1981)
  • Emmett Emerson (1980)

Past recipients of the DGA Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award
  • Dennis W. Mazzocco (2012)
  • Maria Jimenez Henley (2010)
  • Scott Berger (2009)
  • Barbara J. Roche (2008)
  • Terry Benson (2007)
  • Donald E. Jacob (2006)
  • Stanley Faer (2005)
  • Peery Forbis (2004)
  • Esperanza “Candy” Martinez (2003)
  • Anita Cooper-Avrick (2002)
  • Robert N. Van Ry (2001)
  • Scott L. Rindenow (2000)
  • Robert Caminiti (1999)
  • C.J. Rapp-Pittman (1998)
  • Joseph L. Dicso (1997)
  • Don Lewis Barnhart (1996)
  • Larry Carl (1995)
  • James E. Wall (1994)
  • James “Woody” Woodworth (1993)
  • Marilyn Jacobs-Furey (1992)
  • Chester O’Brien (1991)
  • Mortimer O’Brien (1991)
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