Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences News

Yesterday AMPAS published a press release that is causing waves all over the net, as even do was just announcing the Key Dates for the 85th Academy Awards, news below the dates plus having the Awards Nominations five (5) days before the previously announced date generated multiple reactions.

Last night when I saw that the new nominations date is January 10th, 2013 had the spontaneously reaction to believe is great, as for me the sooner I learn nominations the better, so the guessing game is over sooner. But then started to read what was below the dates announcement and some concerns started to emerge; still, decided to not comment yesterday but leave it for today, when my mind is fresher.

My first concern came to figure out when they are going to publish the shortlist of 9 films in the foreign language category as usually they do it about a week before the nominations. If they keep the tradition then they will announce them on Thursday, January 3. What? Not likely, as according to the key dates, January 3rd is when Nominations ends at 5:00 pm Pacific Time. So then maybe Friday? Also not likely as no matter what they do is not possible to announce results within 24 hours of voting closing. I have no idea when they will announce the shortlist, but according to category rules at official site, second print from shortlisted films is due by 5pm on Thursday, January 10, 2013.

G. Countries whose motion pictures are shortlisted will be required to provide a second English-language subtitled print or DCP of the film to facilitate voting screenings. This second print or DCP is due at the Academy by 5 p.m. PT on Thursday, January 10, 2013.

Probably they haven't changed the date yet as seems not logical to have second print due in the same day where the five (5) nominees were announced at 5am. Nevertheless let's hope soon they will clarify this situation that seems will be complex due to season holidays where "everybody" takes days off since December 21st up to January 2nd. Maybe some will have to work during holidays, lol, which seems highly unlikely.

Second concern: The voting. This will be the first time the Academy will provide its membership the opportunity to vote electronically. Maybe I'll sound harsh but due to Academy members average age I suspect that not many are tech savvy and perhaps that's why still this year there will be several voting resources, including the installation of assisted voting stations in Los Angeles, New York and London plus a 24-hour telephone help line during voting period and -nonetheless- paper ballots. I know change is not easy and probably transition will not be smooth, but a little bird tells me that voting could be confusing, not for us outsiders, but for Academy members, organizers and last, but not least, auditors (PricewaterhouseCoopers). Ha.

There is more about the voting. In the pre-Nominations phase, members will continue to vote via paper ballot in eight categories due to specialized screening schedules and processes. Those categories are Animated Feature Film, Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, Foreign Language Film, Makeup and Hairstyling and Visual Effects. This means that Academy members that vote in those categories -not all members vote- still will use paper; which makes me wonder if organizers haven't heard about mobile apps? Bet you many have at least a smartphone. All right I'm being sarcastic. Somehow this year voting process is sounding to me more and more like the infamous Florida case in a previous presidential election. Yes, still being sarcastic.

Nevertheless the voting process could give us unexpected surprises, which is not bad news IF results (i.e. nominees) are worthy.

Third concern. The reason to advance the nominations announcement is the following:

In an effort to provide members and the public a longer period of time to see the nominated films, the Academy will reveal the 85th Academy Awards nominations on January 10, five days earlier than previously announced.

True, now there will be more time to see films between the nominations and the award ceremony for us outsiders and also for Academy members as final voting ends at 5pm PT on Tuesday, February 19, 2013. But while they widen this window they shorten the other window where there are many more films to watch. Yes, they shorten the time to see films in voting phase one, where Academy members decide the finalists. Now films that can afford to spend Big Money surely will have better chances -than those that don't- to be finalists, as surely most Academy members will not be able to watch the many deserving smaller films that do not generate much buzz.

There are more implications. Some studios and distributors are today surely scrambling their heads to find how to fit their own plans with such "short" notice. See, most top contenders plan releases during the holidays hoping to get more audiences and yes, Academy members going to regular theater screenings. But seems this year, thanks to voting beginning on Monday, December 17, 2012, they will have to do something that they do not like to do, send out screeners and/or stream their films BEFORE they release them, as like someone says: "private viewings exponentially increase the risk of someone pirating the film". There are about a dozen BIG films that will have to do this as their theatrical release is scheduled between December 14 and December 25.

Another implication is based on an speculative reason to advance the nominations date. Some renown cinema journalists are claiming that the Academy did it to get back more of the attention "stolen" from the other award shows. I don't know if they're right but I certainly hope is not one of the reasons, as we outsiders and cinema lovers, enjoy all the hype from the so-called "awards season". Me, I highly enjoy the hype of the World awards season that begins around the same time as the American season but ends a few months later.

But from what I read, there was one comment that made me think could be a more "realistic" possible reason; the Academy will advance the awards ceremony even further - maybe January?- next year. Who knows, I don't, if something like this could happen, but if announced with enough time, the American Cinema Industry will have more time to move their huge machinery and be ready to do what they always have done during the American award season. They also don't like much change and they always go back to their "usual" ways, sooner or later.

So an apparently routine press release has generated much buzz and no doubt noise will continue for more days. Noise is so loud, that today is not easy to find foreign language submissions as most searches -in many languages- bring back news about this press release and nothing else. Sigh. Hope noise goes away fast as there is nothing we -and everyone else- can do. The Academy has spoken and now is the "law"... okay, the rules. Ha.

Now, let see: What do you think, does the changes matter to you?

The following are the key dates and to check the complete press release go here.

The key dates are:
Friday, November 30, 2012: Official Screen Credits due
Saturday, December 1, 2012: Governors Awards presentation
Monday, December 17, 2012: Nominations voting begins
Thursday, January 3, 2013: Nominations voting ends 5 p.m. PT
Thursday, January 10, 2013: Nominations announced 5:30 a.m. PT, Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater
Monday, February 4, 2013: Nominees Luncheon
Friday, February 8, 2013: Final voting begins
Saturday, February 9, 2013: Scientific and Technical Awards presentation
Tuesday, February 19, 2013: Final voting ends 5 p.m. PT
Sunday, February 24, 2013: 85th Academy Awards presentation

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