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    The Academy Announces New Inclusion, Representation Criteria for Oscar Eligibility

    Friday, September 11th



     

    For years, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has been forced to answer to its lack of representation and inclusion, both in terms of its membership and the movies and performances selected each year for Academy Awards.

    Last night, AMPAS made a groundbreaking, historic and somewhat surprising announcement about how it plans on dealing with the lack of inclusion and representation in the film industry by instilling a number of specific criteria a  movie needs to meet in order to be considered in the Best Picture category. These criteria, which will only go into effect for the 96th Oscars in 2024, were announced as part of the Academy Aperture 2025 equity and inclusion initiative led by governors DeVon Franklin and Jim Gianopulos that pledged to make much-needed changes within the entertainment industry to “increase representation within its membership and the greater film community.”

    According to the statement, “The standards are designed to encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience”  and were inspired by a template created by the British Film Institutes Diversity Standards for getting funding in the UK.

    In the two years leading up to the changes (the 94th Oscars in 2022 and 95th Oscars in 2023), productions would have to submit a  confidential “Academy Inclusion Standards” for Best Picture consideration, but in 2024, a film must meet two out of the following four standards to be deemed eligible in the category:

    STANDARD A: ON-SCREEN REPRESENTATION, THEMES AND NARRATIVES
    To achieve Standard A, the film must meet ONE of the following criteria:

    A1. Lead or significant supporting actors
    At least one of the lead actors or significant supporting actors is from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.
    • Asian
    • Hispanic/Latinx
    • Black/African American
    • Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
    • Middle Eastern/North African
    • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
    • Other underrepresented race or ethnicity

    A2. General ensemble cast
    At least 30% of all actors in secondary and more minor roles are from at least two of the following underrepresented groups:
    • Women
    • Racial or ethnic group
    • LGBTQ+
    • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

    A3. Main storyline/subject matter
    The main storyline(s), theme or narrative of the film is centered on an underrepresented group(s).
    • Women
    • Racial or ethnic group
    • LGBTQ+
    • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

    STANDARD B: CREATIVE LEADERSHIP AND PROJECT TEAM

    To achieve Standard B, the film must meet ONE of the criteria below:
    B1. Creative leadership and department heads
    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 the following underrepresented groups:
    • Women
    • Racial or ethnic group
    • LGBTQ+
    • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

    At least one of those positions must belong to the following underrepresented racial or ethnic group:
    • Asian
    • Hispanic/Latinx
    • Black/African American
    • Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
    • Middle Eastern/North African
    • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
    • Other underrepresented race or ethnicity

    B2. Other key roles
    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.

    B3. Overall crew composition
    At least 30% of the film’s crew is from the following underrepresented groups:
    • Women
    • Racial or ethnic group
    • LGBTQ+
    • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

    STANDARD C: INDUSTRY ACCESS AND OPPORTUNITIES
    To achieve Standard C, the film must meet BOTH criteria below:

    C1. Paid apprenticeship and internship opportunities
    The film’s distribution or financing company has paid apprenticeships or internships that are from the following underrepresented groups and satisfy the criteria below:
    • Women
    • Racial or ethnic group
    • LGBTQ+
    • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

    The major studios/distributors are required to have substantive, ongoing paid apprenticeships/internships inclusive of underrepresented groups (must also include racial or ethnic groups) in most of the following departments: production/development, physical production, post-production, music, VFX, acquisitions, business affairs, distribution, marketing and publicity.

    The mini-major or independent studios/distributors must have a minimum of two apprentices/interns from the above underrepresented groups (at least one from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group) in at least one of the following departments: production/development, physical production, post-production, music, VFX, acquisitions, business affairs, distribution, marketing and publicity.

    C2. Training opportunities and skills development (crew)
    The film’s production, distribution and/or financing company offers training and/or work opportunities for below-the-line skill development to people from the following underrepresented groups:
    • Women
    • Racial or ethnic group
    • LGBTQ+
    • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

    STANDARD D: AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT
    To achieve Standard D, the film must meet the criterion below:

    D1. Representation in marketing, publicity, and distribution
    The studio and/or film company has multiple in-house senior executives from among the following underrepresented groups (must include individuals from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups) on their marketing, publicity, and/or distribution teams.
    • Women
    • Racial or ethnic group:
    · Asian
    · Hispanic/Latinx
    · Black/African American
    · Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
    · Middle Eastern/North African
    · Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
    · Other underrepresented race or ethnicity
    • LGBTQ+
    • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

    The above criteria are only for Best Picture and films in specialty feature categories such as animated, documentary or international feature film that want to be considered for Best Picture will be addressed individually.

    Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson added this statement: “The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them. The Academy is committed to playing a vital role in helping make this a reality. We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry.”

    (Note: the following paragraph is opinion and not part of the initial AMPAS press release.)

    Although the announcement may have come as a surprise last night, it wasn’t particularly surprising, and to be honest, many of these criteria are not particularly difficult to meet and in fact have been met consistently by many Best Picture contenders for the past few years. Even a white male-dominated historic drama like Martin Scorsese‘s The Irishman would already be eligible due to the below the line work by Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto and Editor Thelma Schoonmaker, which would fulfill B1, and the publicity and marketing team at Netflix should be considered diverse enough to fulfill D1. The apprentice and training opportunities mentioned in category C should be happening anyway if the film industry is going to be more diverse and representative, so hopefully, productions will be looking into making that happen even if they’re not particularly concerned about possible Best Picture consideration.









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