Polich Tallix Inc., based in Rock Tavern, NY, couldn't be farther away from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. But the small business plays a major role in the industry's biggest night: It manufactures the Oscar statuettes for the Academy Awards.
The fine-art foundry has been around for 47 years, creating sculptures around the globe for famous artists including Jeff Koons and Ursula von Rydingsvard. It is making the Oscars for the second year running.
When the Academy set out to find a business able to cast the bronze-and-gold statuettes for its 2016 ceremony, Polich Tallix offered its services. Adam Demchak, executive vice president and general manager, says he was thrilled when he found out his business had landed the coveted account.
"It was a big deal and a surprise," Demchak recalls. "It was great to hear that the Academy was interested in what we do."
Manufacturing the statuettes for the Academy Awards only accounts for one percent of Polich Tallix's annual business, he says. They currently have 115 other projects in progress, some that can take up to a year to complete. Still, much in the way an Oscar win helps an actor, the job has raised the profile of the foundry.
"It's a big project for us, and it's fun and exciting. The Oscars bring us a lot of attention and press, but typically our role in projects where we are working for sculptors, we are behind the scenes," he says. "The Oscars are special because everyone now knows we are the ones who make it, and it goes directly from us to the Academy."
The statuettes recently shipped out for the ceremony. Production took three-and-a-half months, Demchak says. The statue itself goes through a twelve-step process, including a stint in Brooklyn, NY, where it is cast in gold by Epner Technology Inc., before returning to Polich Tallix for assembly.
Nearly every one of the company's more than 80 employees has a hand in creating the statuettes.
The business also creates name-tags for the nominees, who this year number more than 230, and ships those out to Los Angeles.
When winners receive their awards, the Oscar statuette is actually blank. At the Governor's Ball after the Oscar ceremony, winners have their name-tags affixed to their statuettes. Demchak will be on hand to help.
He admits that he got a bit star-struck last year when Best Actor winner Leonardo DiCaprio arrived to get his statue personalized.
Demchak says that it's witnessing people's reactions — those of artists, bankers, even this reporter — that make the job fun.
"The best part about doing this is seeing people, when they come in who don't know we produce the Oscars," he said. "We say, 'Hey, do you want to hold an Oscar?' And the change and obvious visible excitement that pops on their face when they understand we are making the actual Oscars, and they get to see one and hold one and see where it's being made — it changes the mood."