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New Academy Rules

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New Academy Rules

Post by Admin on Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:06 pm

http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/article/big-fish-eat-fish-academy-oscar-campaign-rules-change-landscape

Big Fish Eat Little Fish: New Academy Oscar Campaign Rules Change the Landscape

Academy members are now game
By: Brad Brevet
Published: Wednesday, September 21st 2011 at 4:30 PM

Living in Seattle I'm not witness to as much of the Hollywood hobnobbing many of the writers in Los Angeles are privy to. I'm just sitting here with dark skies hoping to catch a large enough whiff of what's happening down south to make a some Oscar predictions and enjoy the ride. That said, the Academy issued today some rule changes to the way studios may market their Oscar contending films to Academy members and at first glance it certainly appears the right thing is being done in trying to set things up so Academy members see the majority of the year's films in theaters rather than in their home watching a studio supplied screener, but some details have been brought to my attention that change things a bit.

Before I go much further let me offer up the meat of the release for you to digest:

Prior to the nominations announcement (January 24, 2012), there are no restrictions on screening events to which Academy members may be invited. These events may include the live participation of individuals involved with the film (Q&A panel discussions, etc.) as well as receptions with food and beverage. After the nominations have been announced, Academy members may continue be invited to screenings that have filmmaker participation elements but receptions are not permitted. While there is no restriction on the total number of screenings of a particular movie, no one individual from the film can participate in more than two panel discussions. Previously, Academy members could not be invited to any screening event that included live participation of the filmmaker(s) or a reception either before or after the nominations had been announced.

Reading that I simply see what it says and take nothing more away from it, but Greg Ellwood and Kris Tapley at HitFIx point out a rather large point of emphasis in the first sentence where it says "there are no restrictions on screening events to which Academy members may be invited." As I didn't catch this nugget and wasn't fully aware of the rules before I will let Elwood's description of the matter give you an idea of what this means:

The fact that studios can now hold their own screening events not under the guise of guild screenings or by third parties is pretty substantial. They can clearly go after just Academy voters if they want and, moreover, can drop having to participate in third party screening series such as the Variety or Envelope staples (ouch). Chances are they won't, but those series are certainly no longer mandatory to try and get at voters. Additionally, the "no restrictions" part of the screening events is quite extraordinary. Does that mean DreamWorks can hold an Academy screening of War Horse at the Walt Disney Concert Hall? Can The Weinstein Company have an Academy screening of The Iron Lady at the United Nations in New York? Could a studio buyout the Landmark or the Arclight for a week before nominations for non-stop Q&A's and screenings for their potential films? According the new rules, yes, yes they can…if the studios want to spend that money.

The fact special screenings can now be set up by that can strictly target Academy members and don't have to do so under the guise of an event or guild screening is quite massive, especially when you consider the amount of money the larger studios will be able to spend compared to lower level distributors. If you thought it was a big win when Oscilloscope was able to land Woody Harrelson a nomination for The Messenger in 2010 it would be even an even larger victory this year. Tapley makes a Moneyball comparison in his piece writing: "poor teams [now face] the 'pocket book reality' of rich teams."

After the nominations are announced things change a bit as "members may not be invited to or attend any non-screening event that promotes or honors a nominated movie or individual nominee. Nominees themselves are also prohibited from attending such events. Academy-sanctioned events and awards ceremonies presented by the various guilds, critics groups and other organizations are exempt."

There are a couple of outs in that statement including the "non-screening event" portion and the entirety of the last sentence and with awards campaigning gaining larger online awareness each and every year I'm sure scrutinizing eyes will be watching.

There is also an emphasis on negative campaigning in Rule #16 stating:

Ads, mailings, websites, social media (e.g., Facebook and Twitter) or any other forms of public communication by anyone directly associated with an eligible film attempting to promote a particular film or achievement by casting a negative or derogatory light on a competing film or achievement will not be tolerated. In particular, any tactic that singles out "the competition" by name or title is expressly forbidden. Academy members that violate this Rule 16 will be subject to a one-year suspension of membership for first-time violations, and expulsion for any subsequent violations.

Ellwood is sure to point out in his piece Rule #14, Telephone Lobbying, in which it states "Contacting Academy members by telephone to promote a film or achievement is expressly forbidden, even if such contact is in the guise of checking to make sure a screener was received."

Ellwood notes, "It's been banned for sometime, but with the stakes so high with the new 5% rule to land a best picture nominations, it's going to be hard for some members, campaigners and filmmakers to control themselves."

If you're interested, you can check out the complete list of Campaign Regulations right here. And just note, the information Ellwood and Tapley provided is why you will note the Blog Roll on my Oscar Contenders homepage, a bit of new light shines every day thanks to informed folks around the web.
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