Hollywood post facility
provides editorial and other services for some of the most popular awards shows
on TV, including the Academy Awards, The Kennedy Center Honors and the Golden

LOS ANGELES—The arrival of the New Year marks the start of Awards Season
in Hollywood as various groups and organizations gear up to honor the best
achievements of the previous year. It’s a busy time for many companies in the
industry, from caterers and fashion designers to talent agencies and publicity
firms. Among those most caught up in the frenzy is Chainsaw. The post production
facility, a division of The SIM Group, provides creative editorial and other
post production services for many of the season’s most popular awards shows,
including the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards.

“I love this time of year,” says Chainsaw co-founder Mike
Polito, a 5-time Emmy Award-winner (and 29-time nominee), who’s been editing
awards shows for more than 25 years. “Awards shows combine creativity,
storytelling and live TV. What could be better than that?”
Mike Polito
With a viewership of
more than 40 million people, the annual Academy Awards broadcast is both the
most watched awards show on television and the most demanding to produce. For
more than a decade, Chainsaw has been responsible for preparing many of the
pre-recorded segments featured on the show, including packages for nominee,
winners and special awards.
“We spend months preparing for the Oscars,” notes Polito.
“And, a lot of people may not realize it, but as much as 70 percent of the work
that we do never makes it to air. We make long, short and medium packages for
some nominee categories…what gets used is contingent on the constricted
timeline of live television. We produce winner packages for all of the
nominees—that’s well over 100 packages—but only 15, max, will actually play
Polito’s role with the Academy Awards has grown over time.
For the past several years, he has enjoyed an associate director’s credit on
the show (while more of the editorial duties have been taken on by a team of Chainsaw
editors including Tim Schultz and Ray Artis). That means that he is involved
through the actual broadcast and is responsible for ensuring that the right
clips get to air. “It’s very different from what most editors do,” he says.
“That’s why I love it so much; it’s an adrenalin rush.”
The Academy Awards have also grown more technically
sophisticated. In recent years, Chainsaw has set up a microwave connection
between its facility and production trucks parked outside the Dolby Theatre, where
the live show takes place. “There is no tape, no drives,” Polito explains. “We
playback a segment at our facility and 20-seconds later it is available on the
truck and ready to go to air.”
Although the first months of the year are especially busy,
Awards Season never really ends at Chainsaw. The facility services a dozen or
more awards shows sprinkled throughout the calendar year. They run the gamut
from celebrity-studded events such as The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The
Kennedy Center Honors and The American Music Awards, to the Breakthrough Prize
Ceremony, which honors achievements in fundamental physics, life sciences and
The Breakthrough Prize Ceremony presents unique challenges
to Chainsaw editors. Polito points out that because the winners are scientists
who work outside the public eye, it must be edited in a way that is both
entertaining and informative. “Everyone knows who Angelina Jolie is, but how
many people know Saul Perlmutter?” (Perlmutter won a 2015 Breakthrough Prize in
Fundamental Physics as part of a team that discovered that the expansion of the
universe is accelerating).
Polito is especially inspired by the creative challenge
presented by The Kennedy Center Honors, a show that he has been editing for
more than two decades and one that has brought him three Emmy Awards. Produced
by George Stevens Jr and Michael Stevens, the show is recorded live in Washington
DC in mid-December and broadcast two weeks later.
“It’s the most challenging show I edit all year, because
there is so much great material,” Polito observes. “It’s produced for the live
house, and our role is to make it feel like a seamless, live broadcast.”
Polito is quick to point out that each of these awards shows
is the product of the work of hundreds of individuals. Editorial is only one
aspect of what it takes to turn a public event into a few hours of compelling
television. One thing is certain, however; Chainsaw has learned to do its part
with consistent excellence.
“We have the horsepower,” Polito says. “Awards shows have
real deadlines and we have plenty of resources and talent. We can apply as many
editors to the task as needed to get the job done on time.”
“We’ve also developed a staff with the creative skills
required by these shows,” he adds. “No matter whom we assign to the project,
there is no falloff in talent. It’s something we’ve built from the ground up.
Many of our staff began as interns and our insistence on excellence has been
ingrained in them.”
About The SIM Group
Backed by Toronto-based investment firm Granite
Partners, The SIM Group is a leading supplier of technology to the film and
television industry. Its operating units, SIM Digital, Bling Digital, PS
Production Services and Chainsaw, maintain offices across the USA, Canada and
China. SIM Digital is a world-class rental facility specializing in digital
production equipment and workflow services. SIM Digital offers one of the
largest and most diverse inventories of the latest digital cinematography tools
from top manufacturers including ARRI, Sony, RED, Panasonic, Canon, Fujinon,
Angenieux, Zeiss, Cooke. In tandem with its innovative Bling Digital division,
the company offers the industry’s most comprehensive workflow solutions for
feature and television production, encompassing cameras, data, dailies, offline
editorial, finishing and archiving. PS Production Services is a rental supplier
of lighting, grip, generators and dolly equipment. Chainsaw is a full-service
post-production facility based in Hollywood. It provides color grading,
editorial finishing, visual effects and related services for television, motion
pictures and other media. For more information, visit simgroup.com
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