The Hollywood Reporter reports that the cast of this years indie critical darling Beasts of the Southern Wild, which Fox Searchlight has been positioning as an awards season contender, has been ruled ineligible for the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards.
Why? This is something all you indie filmmakers probably should be aware of, for future reference (if awards are of importance to you anyway); the film has been ruled ineligible because it wasn't made under the terms of the SAG Low Budget Feature Agreement, which mandates the use of professional actors.
The stars of Beasts Of The Southern Wild (a $1.3 million film) were all non-professional – local New Orleans folks who'd never acted before being cast in that film.
However, this may not mean as much as you might think, because, while the SAG awards are certainly important, and SAG awards nominees and winners sometimes mirror the Academy Award's selections, there have been many instances in which actors haven't made SAG short lists, but have gone on to receive Academy Award nominations.
It's also worth noting that Quvenzhané Wallis is likely the only actor in the film with a chance at a nomination in any acting category, whether at the SAG, or the Oscars. And many prognosticators have her definitely in the mix for Best Actress – maybe not a win, but a nomination at least.
Although some do say Dwight Henry might sneak his way into the Best Supporting Actor category for the Academy Awards.
What are their chances? Your guess is as good as mine. There are still a number of films to be released this fall with performances that will likely figure into the various category races.
But we do know that they won't be in the mix for SAG awards. Although, as THR notes…
It is theoretically possible to retroactively bring a film into compliance with SAG's Low Budget Feature Agreement, but doing so for Beasts would require that not only its domestic distributor, Fox Searchlight, provide additional payment to the film's actors but also that all of the various other companies that are distributing the film internationally do the same.
And the likelihood of all that happening is slim to none – certainly not solely to secure a SAG award nomination.
No comment from the actors themselves, although director Benh Zeitlin had this to say in response to today's news:
"Against all logic and planning, two incredible first-time actors won the lead roles in Beasts… I'm positive they both have long and amazing acting careers in front of them."
Let's hope so.
Both will next be seen in Steve McQueen's screen adaptation of Twelve Years A Slave, which will be released in early 2013, and will likely be an awards contender during the 2014 Oscars; and, as was recently announced, director Zeitlin hopes to bring them both back for his next film, which he plans to shoot during the latter half of 2013.