How does the Academy voting work?

Oscars I just got an email from Derry at Network Ireland (who we are going to sign with to represent the film for sales). We have been discussing the Oscars tactics and here’s what he has come back with…

I have been doing business with another distributor who has had a few recent Academy Award nominees for the short films in his catalogue. He is personally based in L.A. so he knows the local scene well. I asked about a campaign to try to guarantee a nomination.   He said that it is extremely difficult to orchestrate as the film, generally, are selected on merit. He also clarified:

1. Between October and December the Academy holds in house weekly screenings to adjudicate on the short film nominees. There could be anything from 150-200 films eligible, that have been entered. The Academy won't provide outsiders with any details of how the selection process is conducted, what juries are involved etc. However, once they have selected a final short list of 10 films approximately in the Live Action category, soundings are made about the availability of a second print. The last 5 are ultimately informed.

2. The Academy hold a number of screenings for their members, to expose them to the short films nominated. There are a couple of theatrical screenings in L.A., one in New York and one in San Francisco.

3. The Academy don't send screeners of the shorts to their members for them to review.

4. Members have to attend the official screenings. There they review the films and are given the ballot papers on which they cast their votes. You have to be an Academy member to get into the screenings in the first place.

5. The Academy members (5-6,000 approx) are very much in the older age group, as a demographic. Some are not even in the industry any more or are retired.

I think the nostalgic theme of your film would be a big advantage from the point of view of the Academy members' age profile etc.

All good stuff… I also found this BBC interview with the guys who oversee the actual votes – you can read it here…

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

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