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Academy announces new Production and Technology branch, could a stunt category finally be in reach?

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The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced the creation of the Production and Technology Branch, comprising approximately 400 individuals previously classified as Members-at-Large. The new branch represents members working in key technical and production positions in all phases of filmmaking, from pre- to post-production. 

The new branch, the first since the creation of the Casting Directors branch in 2013, will include chief technology officers, senior department heads in technology and creative services, and preservation and restoration specialists. In addition, credited production roles, including stunt coordinators, script supervisors, choreographers, music supervisors, colorists, line producers and associate producers. The number of creatives that will make up the new branch is not yet known.

The news comes after Friday’s annual post-Oscars meeting of the 54-person Board of Governors that discusses everything from how to improve future ceremonies, adding or amending Academy rules to the creation of new branches, categories (or a reduction in them) and more. During the 95th Oscars cycle, the controversy over the campaign tactics used that ultimately earned Andrea Riseborough a Best Actress nomination for the indie film To Leslie, the Academy said they that “components of the regulations must be clarified to help create a better framework for respectful, inclusive and unbiased campaigning.

One thing not mentioned or revealed today was the rumor from Matt Belloni and Puck News that the Academy is considering a new theatrical requirement for feature films and their Best Picture eligibility. Currently, a film needs to screen for at least one week in one of the six major markets in the United States (Los Angeles County; the City of New York; the San Francisco Bay Area; Chicago, Illinois; Miami, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia) but the rumored proposal, which was said to be supported by new Academy CEO Bill Kramer, would increase that to 15 or 20 of the top 50 U.S. markets, a move that would put the screws to streamers like Netflix, who have screened their films within the existing guidelines but rarely on a scale outside of that. Amazon and Apple, on the other hand, have already begun moves to distribute their awards-friendly films on a much wider scale than ever before. Amazon is set to release Ben Affleck’s latest directorial effort Air to wide release and Apple has both Ridley Scott’s Napoleon and Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon ready for large bows. Both studios have committed to spend over a billion dollars apiece on upcoming theatrical efforts. Netflix, as they do any given year, has a wealth of power players this season including Bradley Cooper’s Maestro and David Fincher’s The Killer. But it’s not simply Netflix that would be impacted by this possible new rule; many indie films don’t manage to hit 15-20 of the major markets in the U.S. and have relied often on word of mouth or discovery in the screener/screening process. This requirement would be as difficult a hurdle for those studios as it would be for a billion dollar corporation like Netflix.

The Production and Technology Branch brings the Academy to 18 branches representing all facets of the film industry. One branch member will be elected to the Board of Governors for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. With the inclusion of stunt coordinators and choreographers/movement directors as potential members of the new branch, the reality of a new stunt category at the Oscars may be closer than it’s ever has been, with the demand for one by industry professionals as well as Oscar enthusiasts growing louder each year. Attempts to establish a stunt category have been rejected every year from 1991 to 2012. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) created a stunt ensemble category for feature films in 2007. Not counting the merging of categories, the film academy hasn’t created an entirely new category since Best Animated Feature in 2001.

Academy membership requirements to be considered for invitation to the Production and Technology Branch can be found below. 

From Academy Bylaws:
Article III, Section 1. Membership shall be by invitation of the Board of Governors.
Invitations to active membership shall be limited to those persons active in the motion
picture arts and sciences, or credited with screen achievements, or who have otherwise
achieved distinction in the motion picture arts and sciences and who, in the opinion of the
Board, are qualified for membership.
To be considered for invitation to membership in the Production and Technology Branch of the
Academy, a candidate must:
(a) have been actively engaged for the past eight years in the theatrical motion picture arts
and sciences in a key creative or technical position, and meet criteria in one of the following
two classifications.
(a.i) Production
• Have credited roles on at least eight theatrical feature films which, in the opinion of the
executive committee, reflect the high standards of the Academy, in the following roles:
o Stunt Coordinator
o Script Supervisor
o Choreographer/Movement Director
o Music Supervisor
o Line Producer
o Colorist (lead only if multiple colorists)
o Associate Producer responsible for post, or
• have served for five consecutive years in a Head Production position such as:
o Head of Visual Effects Production
o Head of Post-Production
o Head of Virtual Production
o Head of Music
o Head of Sound
o Head of Editorial
o Head of Production Services
o Head of Title Design
o CEO or Head of product development in key industry supplier companies, or
(a.ii) Technology
• Have served for five consecutive years in a Head Technical position such as:
• Head of Preservation and/or Restoration
• Head of Technology
• Chief Technical Officer, or
• have made scientific and/or technological contributions which produced leading creative
tools and/or systems for the crafts involved in the creation of the theatrical motion picture
experience, or
• have received an Academy Scientific and Technical Award, or
• have had direct involvement in the last eight years, not solely in an administrative position,
in the preservation and/or restoration of legacy and current content of the moving image
and/or recorded sound, or
(b) have, in the judgment of the Production and Technology Executive Committee,
achieved unique distinction, earned special merit, or made an outstanding contribution to
the arts or sciences of motion pictures in the above described areas.
Proposals must be accompanied by a letter from each sponsor which addresses, as specifically as
possible, how the candidate meets one or another of the requirements above.

Erik Anderson

Erik Anderson is the founder/owner and Editor-in-Chief of AwardsWatch and has always loved all things Oscar, having watched the Academy Awards since he was in single digits; making lists, rankings and predictions throughout the show. This led him down the path to obsessing about awards. Much later, he found himself in film school and the film forums of GoldDerby, and then migrated over to the former Oscarwatch (now AwardsDaily), before breaking off to create AwardsWatch in 2013. He is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, accredited by the Cannes Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival and more, is a member of the International Cinephile Society (ICS), The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics (GALECA), Hollywood Critics Association (HCA) and the International Press Academy. Among his many achieved goals with AwardsWatch, he has given a platform to underrepresented writers and critics and supplied them with access to film festivals and the industry and calls the Bay Area his home where he lives with his husband and son.

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