Significant changes in acting, directing & Outstanding British Film categories to be introduced from Film Awards 2021
BAFTA announced wide-ranging changes to its voting, membership and campaigning processes as it published the findings of its in-depth, independently verified seven-month Awards Review. The Review began as a direct response to the lack of diversity in the 2020 Film Awards nominations, but its remit soon expanded to encompass all aspects of BAFTA and its awards. The changes, which have been unanimously approved by the BAFTA Board, signal the beginning of a significant cultural shift in BAFTA and challenges the industry to address the serious lack of opportunity and equality.
BAFTA Chair Krishnendu Majumdar, said: “This is a watershed moment for BAFTA. The Academy has never opened itself up like this before. The sessions with contributors were tough, chastening, captivating and very moving. Many colleagues from under-represented groups bravely shared their experiences of racism and discrimination in their careers. They also shared their ideas and hopes for BAFTA’s future, which we have embraced. There is a real wish and support for BAFTA to continue to be an industry leader on diversity and other issues. Representation matters and we’ve all been starkly reminded of this with the rise of the global anti-racist movement. This creative renewal is not just about changes to the awards and membership – this is a reappraisal of our values and the culture of BAFTA. We want long term and sustainable change throughout the industry. We know how far we have to go and how difficult this is especially due to the profound impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our industry. Today’s announcement marks just the first phase of our process as we evolve as an Academy.”
BAFTA Film Committee Chair Marc Samuelson said: “It became very clear during the Review how vital it is to level the playing field across all that we do as an organisation, not just the awards. One of the key issues raised time and time again throughout the process was that too much deserving work was not being seen. The changes we are implementing are designed to ensure these films are seen and judged on merit alone. The ambition is for BAFTA to evolve into a more inclusive organisation, one representing and celebrating the full breadth of talent in our industries.”
BAFTA Chief Executive Amanda Berry OBE said: “I am incredibly grateful to the vast number of people who have given their time and shared their wisdom and experiences throughout the Review to help us determine what we can do better as an organisation. The ongoing passion and expertise of our members is the lifeblood of BAFTA and I am constantly inspired by their incredible contribution. The first phase of findings in our Review gives us a fantastic opportunity to build on BAFTA’s strong foundation, as we look to make substantial cultural and organisational change.”
In all, over 120 key changes are being introduced including increasing the Best Film category to 10 nominees, the acting categories to six and bringing back the longlists.
BAFTA is implementing a series of steps to ensure a more representative and inclusive membership that reflects today’s British society.
The Steering Group has identified this as necessary for the long-term success and relevance of BAFTA as a leading industry body as it continues to drive change across the industry.
At least 1,000 new voting members will be added over the next two years. There will be a strong focus on recruiting from under-represented groups.
A Future Membership Group will be established – to be comprised of current BAFTA members from a variety of backgrounds. This group will be focussed solely on identifying future members from underrepresented groups.
All members will now be required to respond to a survey to allow BAFTA further to address all areas of current underrepresentation. This survey will be sent to members later this month and BAFTA will publish results and proposed targets later this year.
A completed survey is required for Film Awards voting.
This survey will be repeated on a regular basis to ensure BAFTA is progressing towards its set targets.
Diversity of Membership
To continue to increase the diversity of BAFTA’s membership, targets will be introduced and published based on the findings of the Membership Survey to continue to focus on addressing underrepresented groups.
BAFTA are introducing a range of measures to address financial issues surrounding membership fees for both new applicants and existing members.
Changes will be made to enable members with disabilities greater access and ability to attend screenings and events.
Conscious voter training
BAFTA is introducing conscious voter training, which is required for all voting members.
This specially designed bespoke training will help voters navigate and recognise the wider societal influences that can impact the voting process.
This training will be rolled out in advance of Round 1 voting for the 2021 Film Awards.
BAFTA’s Film Awards celebrate excellence in film. In order to aid members, conscious voter training will include broader advice on what excellence means to BAFTA.
All longlisting and nominating jury chairs and members will undergo the same training.
Significant changes to Film Awards voting have been implemented across all categories. A key aim is to expand the viewership of all entered films, ensuring members consider more films, and create a level playing field for all entrants.
All Film Awards voting will now consist of three rounds. This is to allow members a longer period to watch all films; as well as allowing for additional specialist chapter and jury voting. A table outlining voting by round in each category can be found below.
Voting Rounds and Mandatory Viewing
Round One Longlisting. This is a new voting round across all categories to allow members a longer time period to watch all entered films. Members rank their top 15 films in this round.
From this year members can begin viewing films on the BAFTA View, the new online portal, from late September. All films MUST be on the portal by the date Round 1 voting opens.
This represents significantly more access to ALL films to enable members to watch as many as possible during awards season.
In addition to better access, at the start of voting, alongside access as usual to all films, Members will now each be assigned a sample of 15 films as mandatory viewing for Round One voting. This will ensure all entered films are viewed by a minimum number of voters to level the playing field with films that have a higher profile or marketing budget.
As always, BAFTA members are encouraged to watch as many films as possible in addition to this mandatory list.
Round Two: Nominations – Members will be required to watch all the longlisted films before voting. Members rank their top five films in this round (and Juries will rank their top six in the Acting and Directing categories) to create the nominations.
Round Three: Winners: All members vote to choose winner from the nominations and must view all nominated films.
In order to align the acting category to all other craft categories, voting in the four acting categories will now move to Chapter voting.
Round One: The acting chapter will rank their top 15, with the top 12 longlisted. A specially convened longlisting jury will select the final three based on the performances placed 13-22 of the chapter vote to ensure intersectional diversity on the acting longlists.
Round Two: Voting: a nominating Jury for each acting category will consider the 15 longlisted and vote for six performances to be nominated (this is an increase from five from previous years). The increase from five to six has been implemented to allow for a broader representation in nominees.
Round Three: Winners. All members vote to choose the winners from final nominations.
All acting entrants must now decide whether to submit for lead or supporting actor/actress categories, whereas previously all acting entrants were entered in both categories. This is to allow for a broader range of performances to be considered and to provide greater clarity for voting members so they can focus solely on the calibre of the performance. In Round One, actors cannot be longlisted more than once in one acting category, but can appear in separate categories for separate performances.
To redress the lack of female representation in the directing category as well as under-representation in all areas, two major changes are being implemented in the directing category: there will now be six nominations in this category, and Round One will produce a longlist of 20.
Round One: Longlisting. The directing chapter will rank the top 20. The top eight female and top eight male directors progress directly to the longlist. A specially convened longlisting jury will then select the final four directors – two female and two male (from the next 10 ranked respectively) – for a final longlist of 20.
Round Two: Nominations. A nominating jury will then select the top six directors to be nominated.
Round Three: Winner. All members vote to choose the winner from a final six, and must view all films.
Outstanding British Film Category
To celebrate BAFTA’s point of difference from other awards bodies, shine a spotlight on homegrown talent, and continue our support of the British film industry, the Outstanding British Film category will now increase the number of nominations from six to 10.
The Review highlighted the need for BAFTA to do more to champion the vast pool of multicultural British talent in its awards ceremonies. As a result, the 10 nominated films will each be showcased during BAFTA’s annual Film Awards ceremony.
For 2021 BAFTA’s Film Committee has approved the introduction of Standard C of the BFI Diversity Standards as compulsory to qualify for Outstanding British and Outstanding Debut. Standard C is the BFI standard about training and opportunity.
Round Three voting in Outstanding British Film will now be an all member vote to ensure the widest possible viewership for these films. (Previously an opt-in chapter selected the winner).
A recurring theme from Review discussions has been the lack of a level playing field in awards campaigning. Campaigns with larger budgets tend to dominate the conversation from very early in the season, which can negatively affect viewing of smaller and more diverse films. As a result, BAFTA is implementing several changes.
For the past three years, BAFTA has been developing BAFTA View, a unique and inclusive platform which is affordable for all filmmakers and studios to securely present their films online to voting members. BAFTA View will launch for the 2021 Awards season. All films for the Film Awards in 2021 will be available on the BAFTA View. DVD screeners will be discontinued by 2022.
Distributor communications related to film screenings, Q&As and other campaign events will now be further limited per title. This is to ensure smaller films are not left out of the conversation and have as much visibility with members as films with larger campaign budgets. Members will also be invited to opt-in to receive DVDs, be invited to attend distributors screenings, and to receive trade publications during awards season.
Significant changes to the Television Awards will also be announced next month, and separate Games and Children’s Awards Reviews are being conducted later this year.