Local 800 is a local union of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE). The "IA", as it is commonly known, is an international union, which exclusively represents employees in the entertainment industry, spanning the United States and Canada with more than 104,000 members. Local 800 is comprised of Art Directors, Graphic Artists, Illustrators, Matte Artists, Model Makers, Scenic Artists, Set Designers and Title Artists.
I. Art Directors
While the craft of production design and art direction dates back 100 years to the very beginning of filmmaking, it wasn't until 1924 that 63 of the top men and women pursuing that craft formed the Cinemagundi Club (named after New York's club for artists, the Salmagundi Club), a casual organization that met mainly for socializing at a Hollywood restaurant.
Through the years the Cinemagundi Club developed into a forum for Production Designers and Art Directors to exchange views and to discuss problems. In 1937, the Club transformed itself into the Society of Motion Picture Art Directors. Television was added to its name 30 years later and in January of 2000, it became the Art Directors Guild.
The 1930s were bleak times, however, for Art Directors and other industry craft artists who were not being given proper credit for the important creative contributions they made to the art of filmmaking. That attitude dramatically changed in 1939 with Gone With the Wind, when producer David O. Selznick agreed to give the new credit of Production Designer to William Cameron Menzies for his brilliant work on the classic film. Menzies (the dean of U.S. film art direction at the time) produced scene-by-scene storyboards and illustrations for GWTW that revolutionized the film industry. They demonstrated the vital role that production design plays in the overall look of a theatrical motion picture, establishing practices still in use today.
After the Second World War, many below the line industry labor organizations, including the Art Directors Guild, signed on with the powerful International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) for overall union representation. The Guild became more active, grew in membership, and expanded opportunities as television developed.
In January 2003, the 900 members of ADG merged with the 700-member Scenic, Title and Graphic Artists to form Art Directors Guild & Scenic, Title and Graphic Artists, IATSE Local 800. In 2008, IATSE Locals 790 and 847, representing Set Designers, Model Makers, Illustrators and Matte Artists, merged into the Guild. The total ADG membership now numbers 2,000. Its ongoing activities include a Film Society, an Annual Awards banquet, technology conference (5D: The Immersive Design conference), an annual art show (Art Unites, an exhibition of members’ personal artwork), the publication of an annual Membership Directory, a bi-monthly craft magazine (Perspective), an extensive technology-training program, creative workshops and craft exhibitions.
II. Scenic, Title and Graphic Artists
The creation of its own local (formerly known as Local 816) in March of 1949 marked the first time the Hollywood Scenic Artists and Title Artists had its own local representing its unique needs. Previously, the members were part of Local 644 of the Conference of Studio Unions (CSU) working in film and theater. The overwhelming majority of Local 644's membership, however, had been made up of set painters and paperhangers and included set designers as well. It was not until the dissolution of the CSU after a long series of bitterly contested strikes that the scenic artists were able to organize exclusively. Those artists had been pioneers in their field, responsible for devising and developing the methods used to create representational scenery unsurpassed anywhere in the world.
The size and strength of the local grew with the inclusion of television contracts in the early 1950s. Television, at that time, was in effect an extension of live theater and required a lot of painted two-dimensional scenery instead of the three-dimensional sets used in film. As the nature of television scenery changed, the responsibilities of the television scenic artist broadened to include those of the set painter. Local 816 was the only local in the entertainment industry that worked in all three major areas of the business: film, television and theater.
As noted above, in January, 2003, the 850 members of ADG merged with the 650 member Scenic, Title and Graphic Artists to form the Art Directors Guild & Scenic, Title and Graphic Artists.
III. Illustrators and Matte Artists
Formerly known as Local 790
IV. Set Designers and Model Makers
Formerly known as Local 847