On Saturday morning the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosted an All-Member Meeting at the Academy’s Museum in Los Angeles and virtually for members worldwide. New measures were announced to move past last year’s disastrous ceremony, engage the growing international membership contingency, and incorporate craft categories into the broadcast after their exclusion last year.
Overall, the occasion was meant to put new Academy CEO Bill Kramer and newly elected President Janet Yang face-to-face with as many members as possible to share their vision and mission for the Academy “to recognize and uphold excellence in the motion picture arts and sciences, inspire imagination, and connect the world through the medium of motion pictures.”
To start, Kramer acknowledged how this year’s 94th Oscars fell short of that.
Not only did its approval rating take a 40% nosedive from how members rated the 92nd Oscars, but only 17% of members approved of the pre-recorded awards, and 2% approved of the Fan Favorite segment. “Clearly, there is a need to reinvigorate the show and we are hard at work with our great partners at Disney-ABC on this,” he said.
In order to restore the Oscars to a place of “power, honorability, and importance,” Kramer and Yang laid out an eight-point plan to get there: They were working on creating an emotional investment in the nominees, exploring extensions of the show on streaming, continuing the theatrical requirement for eligibility, making the red carpet an event, creating a dedicated team within the Academy solely focused on the Awards, bringing on producing teams like that of newly appointed 95th Oscars executive producers Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner, and — most crucially — determining how to best honor all craft categories during the broadcast.
The pair did not outright commit to adding the eight categories (Film Editing, Production Design, Original Score, Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound, and the three short film awards) back into the telecast the same way they were in years prior. However, Kramer acknowledged the volume of feedback from members, shut down the notion of moving the short film categories to the Governors Awards, and said that the show’s producers are still negotiating with Disney-ABC on how best to broadcast those specific awards to the live audience at home.
“We are a members-first organization; members are our superpower, and we are prioritizing the needs of our Academy Members,” said Yang. Adding to their commitment to transparency, they shared the most up-to-date data on the 10,627 members around the world who make up the Academy: 34% identify as women, 19% are from underrepresented ethnic and racial communities, and 23% reside in countries or territories outside of the US.
The latter point hits on one of Kramer and Yang’s main areas of focus with members. In addition to prioritizing their relationship with international members and others who live outside Los Angeles, they are also aiming to highlight leadership eligibility roles for those interested in participating. Yang also announced the hiring of former Sundance and LACMA programmer Dilcia Barrera as SVP of Academy Member Relations and Awards to oversee questions pertaining to the International Feature category. One pain point for some members is that category’s requirement for countries to submit movies in a foreign language even if its national language is English, such as Nigeria. When asked about this situation by a Nigerian member, Kramer said they were aware of the issue, and were in the process of rethinking the qualifications for International Feature.
As the Academy becomes a more global organization, there is also a focus on building a more diverse, inclusive, accessible, and sustainable industry. While their Academy Aperture program encompasses things like Employee Resource Groups, Member Affinity Groups, and talent development programs meant to bring members together, it also incorporates the Inclusion Standards that has faced a divisive reaction from members.
Kramer and Yang addressed the new standards for what can be nominated for Best Picture. “It has been a collaborative process with the industry and we’ve had widespread support from our partners – studios, distributors, and filmmakers – support that began even before the standards were announced and continues today,” Kramer said. “Our goal is not to disqualify any films, rather to celebrate and encourage our collective progress towards greater representation and inclusion in the industry. We want people to make the films they want to make. Given the tremendous efforts of the industry, for the past Oscars, all of the Best Picture nominees qualified and would have met the standards.”
The meeting also touched on efforts to diversify revenue streams for the organization, including the expansion of our Academy Screening Room platform, which 90 percent of Academy survey respondents say they now use. That increase will play an even greater role in this year’s Oscar season, as IndieWire previously reported. The nonprofit organization is also looking way for ways of furthering the Academy’s mission to greater understanding and preservation of cinema. “The world turns to us to learn about the history and legacy of our treasured art form – this is our responsibility and duty as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,” said Yang.
Additional reporting by Eric Kohn.