In any given month, the topic could be inclusion or safety on sets, high-flying drones or new frontiers in digital filmmaking. ICG Magazine readers may gain the unique perspectives from inside a huge Marvel feature, or the on-set partnership between a publicist and still photographer. To keep up with a dizzying array of projects, people, images and technology of an ever-evolving industry, and to fulfill its core mission of promoting the skills of its large and diverse membership, ICG Magazine has had to be as adaptable as the industry it covers.
“Change is the only constant in the world of entertainment,” observes Executive Editor David Geffner, “and this publication has always tried to mirror the members it represents through continual reeducation and a work ethic second to none.”
Since its inception as International Photographer in 1929, ICG Magazine has been the Guild’s primary vehicle for telling its members’ stories and illustrating to the industry the value and artistry of union camera teams. What originated as a member-targeted publication has grown and evolved through leadership changes, both at the Guild and within the magazine itself. In her tenure at ICG Magazine, including 15 years as its publisher, Teresa Munoz has worked with four editors and four art directors, all of whom have helped lay the foundation for the magazine to stand the test of time.
“Our goals have always been to serve Local 600’s membership by creating greater awareness and a deeper appreciation for the technical and creative expertise of the work of Local 600 members to the outside world,” Munoz shares.
Her long history with the magazine gives Munoz a unique view of ICG’s evolution. She joined the staff of ICG Magazine in 1995 as a receptionist and eventually took on other roles, working as a circulation/production coordinator. At that time, former Guild president George Spiro Dibie, ASC, was also Editor-in-Chief of the magazine, and he began taking Munoz to trade shows, trainings, and industry events, grooming her to ultimately become the magazine’s first publisher in 2006.
Dibie remembers Munoz’s early days at the magazine when she would come in on Saturdays to make improvements to the magazine’s library. “I realized that someone who comes in on weekends without pay and was willing to do something like that is someone who could be in charge of publishing,” Dibie says of Munoz. “It’s Teresa’s hard work and attitude that makes her so great. She’s the best there is.”
Munoz and Dibie pursued the shared mission of expanding the magazine’s reach. Even before she became publisher, Munoz developed a marketing plan designed to help expand the magazine’s readership and get it into the hands of industry professionals who were in a position to help members get work.
Cine Gear Atlanta. Photo by Tom Griscom.
“We realized that it was more important than ever to distribute the magazine at industry trade shows like NAB, Cine Gear, IBC, rental houses, film festivals and to studio executives to showcase the work of Guild members no matter the format. We wanted those with hiring power to understand the importance of securing union camera teams,” Munoz adds. “This outreach was instrumental in building relationships with industry leaders and specifically with those same vendors who later wanted to include Local 600 members in the development of equipment and wanted to be included in ICG’s training program.”
In recent years, the magazine has increased its industry profile as it has continued to evolve. Geffner, who took over from previous Executive Editor Neil Matsumoto, and working closely with long-time staff writer Pauline Rogers, revamped overall content to include more member-driven “front-of-the-book” stories, as well as an entire issue devoted to new products and technology. The goal of the “Product Guide” issue was, as Geffner notes, “to better help the magazine’s long-time outside ad sales team – Sharon Rombeau and Alan Braden – bring more revenue into the Guild and, with Teresa’s skill in marketing and vendor relationships, help keep the costs of the magazine down.” The publication launched a website in 2012, completely designed by Art Director Wes Driver, and added its own branded social media platforms, led and curated by Communications Coordinator Tyler Bourdeau, in early 2021. Munoz says ICG Magazine, in its current incarnation, serves many functions. “We’re a resume builder for ICG members to the wider world, a celebration of the art and craft of cinematography, and, quite often, a dynamic organizing tool.”
As Local 600 Western Region Business Representative Michael Chambliss observes of the magazine’s print edition: “When you go to the camera rental houses, odds are you’re going to see the magazine sitting on a table somewhere. The magazine’s presence in labor relations offices and studio management areas throughout the industry helps remind them about the artistry and impact of our members on their product and how essential our members are to the producers’ success.”
ICG Local 600 National President John Lindley adds that “in an era of instant communications limited to 240 characters, our magazine offers cover-to-cover, in-depth coverage of trends, techniques and, most importantly, the talented members whose skills and talents continue to create the highest standards of content that audiences demand.” And, as ICG Local 600 National Executive Director Rebecca Rhine shares, that coverage often helps to support many of the larger union goals.
“The magazine shines a spotlight on the amazing artistry and skill of our members,” Rhine notes. “In many ways underscoring the ongoing fight this union conducts for fair wages, sustainable benefits, a safe workplace and retirement with dignity. The incredible craftspeople in Local 600 deserve both recognition and protection from all corners of their union, and the magazine helps provide that.”
The Maggie Award-winning June/July 2019 issue. Photos from Big Little Lies by Jennifer Clasen, SMPSP.
ICG Magazine’s evolution has been driven by equal parts style and leading-edge content, both of which have earned publishing industry accolades. Due in large part to visual rebranding by Driver, the publication earned seven Maggie Awards for Best Overall Design, between 2012 and 2019. Other Maggies include a 2012 Trade Magazine of the Year, a 2015 Best Feature Article for Geffner for his story on Fox Searchlight Pictures’ Wild, and a 2012 Maggie for Rogers’ story “My Best Friend: The Camera,” a tribute to the late five-time Oscar-nominated director (and Rogers’ longtime friend) Sidney Lumet.
The publication’s many initiatives and accomplishments are a testament to a “lean and mean” team whose senior staff has been working together for more than a decade. Geffner and Driver joined in 2008, Geffner having written about union craftspeople for some 10 years prior in the IATSE Bulletin and DGA Magazine, and Driver, a still photographer who previously worked for an independent skate magazine. Driver’s work in overhauling the look of the magazine has included a greater emphasis on images, and prioritizing key visual elements, like the use of color and paper quality. Those moves have dovetailed with the magazine’s enhanced digital presence and website upgrades, which Driver has also overseen.
“Stylistically, there were a lot of similarities between myself and the previous art director, Stefan Viterstedt,” Driver recalls. “That’s part of why [Viterstedt] signed off on my coming in. I built on what Stefan had done, but also pushed toward bigger imagery, running things larger. We did a lot more spreads and special theme issues. Layout and design can be very-time consuming, and one of the best parts of this job has been working with people, like Teresa, David, Pauline and Tyler, who understand the process.”
Perhaps no one has a better long-term perspective than Rogers, who, at 32 years, is the longest currently-working member of Local 600’s staff. She’s worked with more than seven editors and interviewed countless Local 600 members. A former publicist for Merv Griffin, Rogers has amassed an enviable contact list that has allowed for “hard-to-get interviews” and facilitated a pipeline to members to better underscore the magazine’s core goals. Rogers handles the bulk of the specially-themed “Product Guide” issue, as well as much of the challenging “Interview” issue Geffner created in 2009 to better help members connect with other union craftspeople and industry experts.
One of Geffner’s achievements has been to create editorial content that gives voice to all camera classifications as well as unit still photographers and publicists. Additions, like the annual “Unscripted” issue added in 2017, help to highlight branches of the membership who have long been underserved in terms of industry exposure.
The “Snowdance” party at Sundance. Photos by Sara Terry.
But ICG Magazine’s reach is hardly limited to the stories and images found between its pages. The publication has hosted panels for ICG members at trade shows like NAB Show and Cine Gear; “Snowdance,” a party held every year at the Sundance Film Festival since 2009, attracts more than 150 attendees. “That gathering,” Munoz notes, “has been a valuable network and organizing tool for up-and-coming members, and those aspiring to join ICG’s ranks.” Events like “Snowdance” can often be the first connection new and aspiring members make with Local 600, serving as a foundation for Guild mentorship and activism for years to come.
One such example is Rachel Morrison, ASC, who formed a bond with the magazine’s staff at “Snowdance” gatherings early in her career. “Right after seeing Mudbound [at Sundance in 2017], I texted Rachel that she was going to get an Oscar nomination – her work was that stunning,” Geffner recalls. “The next year at Sundance, Teresa and I were in the press area with Rachel when she got notification that she’d become the first woman ever nominated for an Oscar for Best Cinematography. The feeling we all shared was exhilarating because we’d been there, supporting her evolution as a DP from the beginning.”
It’s by no means the first time ICG Magazine was on the scene to witness an exciting new voice. Geffner attended a Kodak event at Sundance with Director of Photography Lisa Wiegand, ASC, whose documentary Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade was at the festival. “Lisa had just gotten her first union job, and she was full of drive and excitement to be part of the Guild,” Geffner adds of Wiegand, who went on to helm multiple network TV series and become an outstanding mentor to other ICG members. “Rachel and Lisa are just two examples of the magazine connecting with members early in their careers,” Geffner continues. “They get an ownership feeling for the magazine that carries on down through their own success, as well as those whom they mentor.”
Nancy Schreiber, ASC, a two-time Best Cinematography winner at Sundance, adds that she’s always appreciated how “the magazine has had a special section highlighting our members with films at the Sundance Film Festival. Not only does it cover the popular titles with recognizable cast and crew, but you also get to learn about those smaller narrative and documentary projects, and read about up-and-coming cinematographers. Every year,” Schreiber continues, “except for 2021 when the festival was virtual, the magazine has held its annual party for ICG members [and colleagues] in Park City. That event, which started with, perhaps, 25 of us, blossomed into 200 attendees the last time I was at the festival in 2019.”
Look no further than the ICG Magazine’s June 2021 issue – themed around unit still photographers new to the Guild – to illustrate the many voices of ICG. Along with highlighting Director of Photography Alice Brooks’ work on In The Heights, as well as that of the film’s production designer Nelson Coates (now in his fifth consecutive year as president of IATSE Local 800 Art Directors Guild), the issue includes Driver’s trademark layout brilliance with text and imagery in the form of a Unit Stills Gallery, a feature the magazine has regularly included for more than a decade.
The December 2019 Generation Next spread. Portraits by Jeong Park and Elisabeth Caren.
As Munoz shares: “Each year in our Generation NEXT, Interview and issues with photo galleries, we try to give both new and established voices a platform. The goal is to not just reflect the diversity of this membership, in terms of race, gender, identity, etc., but also to mirror the many different types of productions they’re involved with.”
While Driver says themed issues have been “fun to execute,” he quickly learned after a few years it was difficult to come up with a design that could outshine the previous year’s presentation. “You think you’ve done your best work,” Driver smiles, “then a year later you’re tasked with one-upping it! You have to start from scratch, template-wise each time, and figuring out the typeface (s) takes a lot of time. I look all over the globe for type designers doing interesting things, especially for the [themed] issues.”
Early this year, the publication launched their social media platform (@theicgmag on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). Bourdeau, who joined Local 600 in 2017, coordinates the gathering of images from studios, networks, and streaming platforms for the magazine and its social media. He now curates and manages all of the social media platforms. “Building ICG Magazine’s social media has been a rewarding project,” Bourdeau describes. “It’s been a great vehicle to more directly interact with members and promote the great work they do. Getting their work and accomplishments recognized is what this endeavor has been all about.”
Yet another test to ICG Magazine’s adaptability was the industry shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. When production was halted in March of 2020, the magazine pivoted to an all-digital publication. With live events being on hold, ICG began a new online series of virtual Zoom panels known as “Deep Dive,” as well as the new-for-2021 Instagram Live series called “Short Take.” The Mandalorian “Deep Dive,” in December 2020, drew hundreds of attendees, who, Geffner says, “were naturally comprised of many ICG members, but also Star Wars fans who maybe didn’t know much about cinematography. They get a front-row seat with three DP’s, a director, and a VFX Supervisor, and suddenly connect the union’s involvement in this incredible product and the skills of those involved. That’s a great goal to keep striving for.”
The Mandalorian “Deep Dive” panel from December 2020.
One of those cinematographers on The Mandalorian “Deep Dive” panel, Matthew Jensen, ASC, says that the virtual panels in the “Deep Dive” series “have proven to be an informative way for Local 600 members to let you inside their process of making movies and TV shows. The panels skillfully weave between the intensely technical and the mystery of the creative process, as well as the practical realities that dictate and lead our decisions as image-makers,” Jensen describes. “What impresses me the most is how candid the members have been in sharing their doubts as well as their triumphs. Not only does it prove endearing, but also demonstrates that solutions are often the result of constant attention and collaboration. I’m glad that ICG Magazine has found a platform to make these stories available.”
Nearly a century after the publication of its first issue, ICG Magazine continues to “tell the many stories” of ICG members, amplifying the skills and dedication to craft of this one-of-a-kind union to a wider industry, while always remaining on the leading edge of key Local 600 initiatives like safety, inclusion, and new technology.
“The membership is very proud of this magazine, and rightly so,” Geffner concludes. “There’s no other union publication in the industry that puts this much time, energy and passion into content, layout, design, and photography, and the many other challenging intangibles that go into creating a monthly magazine. Our staff has long felt it’s one of the best hiring/organizing tools this organization has, and we hope the members feel the same.”