One of the reasons the Academy is so eager to get good ratings at the Oscars is that the ad revenue that they raise that night funds all their ongoing activity, from exhibitions and programming to the Academy Library. They also back film scholarship and the high-profile Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship competition, which is now accepting entries for 2011. The Academy will award up to five $30,000 fellowships in November. Last year’s competition drew 6,304 entries; since 1985, the Academy has awarded 118 fellowships, which function as a gateway to the industry.
Congrats to Cari Beauchamp and Patrick Keating, who have been named Academy Scholars by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Historian and author Beauchamp writes about Hollywood for Vanity Fair (I still want her Hollywood trade story to see the light of day); she now will pursue her long-held wish to write a comprehensive biography of the late great silent star Gloria Swanson, who is featured in Beauchamp’s 2009 book, Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Years, which was also supported by an Academy grant. In the book A Dynamic Frame: Camera Movement in Classic Hollywood Film, Keating will focus on camera movement in classic Hollywood cinema. He is an assistant professor of communication at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.
As much as I would like to read these books, they aren’t the sort of thing that generate handsome book advances these days, so kudos to the Academy’s Institutional Grants Committee for using $50,000 of that Oscar money to support film scholarship. Both submitted book proposals and will receive $25,000 to research and write their projects in two installments, before and after completion of the manuscripts.
The career of Swanson (1899–1983) spanned silent films through television and her Oscar®-nominated performance as Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Blvd. Beauchamp plans to “explore the actress and producer’s influence on film production and the culture at large, as well as her off-camera life as a mother of three who was married six times.”
Keating will “offer a detailed account of how Hollywood filmmakers adopted and transformed the tools of the moving camera during the classical era. He will explore the influences of German cinema in the 1920s, the challenges of the transition to sound, the standardization of studio styles during the 1930s and the innovations of major filmmakers like Max Ophuls and Samuel Fuller in the 1940s and ’50s, explaining how camera movement gave filmmakers new resources for the representation of contemporary space.”
Established in 1999, the Academy Film Scholars program is designed to “stimulate and support the creation of new and significant works of film scholarship about aesthetic, cultural, educational, historical, theoretical or scientific aspects of theatrical motion pictures.”
Fourteen other Academy Film Scholars are currently working on projects:
John Belton, Rutgers University; Donald Crafton, University of Notre Dame; Peter Decherney, University of Pennsylvania; Jane Gaines, Duke University; Jan-Christopher Horak, University of California, Los Angeles; David E. James, University of Southern California; Richard B. Jewell, University of Southern California; Peter Lev, Towson University; Stuart Liebman, Queens College of the City University of New York; Charles Musser, Yale University; Harlow Robinson, Northeastern University; Steven J. Ross, University of Southern California; Shelley Stamp, University of California, Santa Cruz; and Emily Thompson, Princeton University. Anne Friedberg of the University of Southern California passed away before significant progress could be made on her project.
Completed projects include Tino Balio, University of Wisconsin–Madison; Beauchamp; Thomas Doherty, Brandeis University; Dana Polan, New York University; and David Rodowick, Harvard University.