The Academy has rolled out new rules for Best Picture nominations that are aimed at long-term and lasting change.
For more than a decade the general thought has been that the Oscars are out of touch with the times and the regular moviegoer, as well as poorly represented by diversity.
Well, in recent years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has taken steps to prove that its not set in its ways, totally averse to changing its ways. It took the first step on the issue of diversity a few years ago, shifting its membership rules to tackle the problem of equal representation. And now, it’s taking more major steps.
The global pandemic that wreaked havoc on society and industries around the world, including the film industry, has forced the Oscars to make organizational and procedural changes.
To begin with, the 93rd Academy Awards were pushed back to April 25th, 2021, two months after the original date of February 28. The uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and the impact that it has had on the film industry made rescheduling the Oscars inevitable.
In accordance with the new date, eligibility deadlines were also pushed back, and with a view to the fact that the pandemic prevented studios’ releasing otherwise-eligible films in theatres, the Oscars relaxed qualification criteria for Oscar consideration as well.
Last week, however, the Oscars announced their boldest initiatives to promote change and diversity within its ranks: New eligibility guidelines for films hoping to be shortlisted for Best Picture nomination. Some of which could see movies propelled to the top of Oscars bets that may otherwise have been overlooked.
With the film academy’s announcement of new inclusion standards for the Oscars’ best picture category, reaction has been swift and intense. The Times spoke with four key academy leaders about the reasons behind their bold step. https://t.co/oLSoxjZPkt
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) September 9, 2020
For films to be deemed eligible they need to meet certain criteria, which can be boiled down to four standards (A,B,C & D), all of which involve criteria promoting more inclusive representation and standards promoting more inclusive employment.
In releasing these standards, the Academy hopes to spearhead change in the industry.
“We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry,” Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a joint statement.
Critics might point to these changes being five years too late, when the #OscarsSoWhite was trending on social media. But others might take a more positive spin, underscoring the fact that its better late than never.
According to the new rules outlined on the Oscars website, the first standard (Standard A) involves story and characters on the screen, which have to meet one of the following criteria:
- At least one of the lead actors or significant supporting actors is from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.
- At least 30% of all actors in secondary and more minor roles are from underrepresented groups.
- The main storyline(s), theme or narrative of the film is centered on an underrepresented group(s).
The second standard (Standard B) pertains to the creative team and production crew involved in the making of the film. To meet these standards, a film must satisfy one of the following:
- At least two of the following creative leadership positions and department heads—Casting Director, Cinematographer, Composer, Costume Designer, Director, Editor, Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Producer, Production Designer, Set Decorator, Sound, VFX Supervisor, Writer—are from underrepresented groups.
- At least six other crew/team and technical positions (excluding Production Assistants) are from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group. These positions include but are not limited to First AD, Gaffer, Script Supervisor, etc.
- At least 30 percent of the crew are from an underrepresented identity group.
The third standard (Standard C) deals with apprenticeships and internships and require both criteria to be met, which are as follows:
- The film’s distribution or financing company has paid apprenticeships or internships that are from underrepresented groups.
- The film’s production, distribution and/or financing company offers training and/or work opportunities for below-the-line skill development to people from underrepresented groups.
The final standard (Standard D) deals with representation in marketing, publicity and distribution and films must meet the following criteria:
- The studio and/or film company has multiple in-house senior executives from underrepresented groups (must include individuals from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups) on their marketing, publicity, and/or distribution teams.