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Motion Picture Academy Denies Stunt Performers, Makes Rule Changes

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted Tuesday night not to grant the request of a consortium of stunt performers’ organizations for an annual Academy Award category in their field.

Stunt performers had protested outside Oscar headquarters saying that their contributions to moviemaking should not be ignored.

“At a time when the Academy is trying to find ways to reduce the numbers of statuettes given out, and looks at categories with an eye more focused on reduction than addition,” said Academy President Frank Pierson, “the Board is simply not prepared to institute any new annual awards categories.”

“Stunt Coordinators have long deserved to be included in the Academy Awards,” said veteran stunt coordinator Jack Gill, who had spearheaded the campaign for a new Oscar. “Action in movies has been an integral part of the entertainment industry since its inception and has been growing steadily over the past 80 years,” he said.

“Can you imagine how different the opening of Saving Private Ryan would be without the spectacular stunt sequences, or Ben Hur without the chariot race?” said Brian Simpson with the International Stunt Association. “Action is not only fun to watch but is also a critical component in setting moods and defining characters. Stunt Coordinators are a crucial piece of that collaborative puzzle called ‘Film Making,’ and they deserve recognition for making the impossible, possible,” he said.

The last time a new category was voted by the Board was in 2000, when the Best Animated Feature Film Award was created.

The Academy also continued tightening restrictions on recipients in the Best Picture category, and establishing a cap for the first time in the Original Song category.

In the Best Picture category, the Board ruled that the Producers Branch Executive Committee will “designate the qualifying producer nominees for each of the nominated pictures.” This means the committee, rather than the producers of the films themselves, will decide who goes home with a golden statuette.

“What we’re doing is further reducing the possibility of someone receiving one of our highest awards without really having done the job of a producer,” said Pierson.

Under the 2005 rules, the “producer” credits of all contending pictures with more than one producer listed will be vetted for legitimacy.

Academy executive director Bruce Davis explained that the Academy will rely on the process recently instituted by the Producers Guild of America for validating producer credits. “Just as we have long relied on the decisions of the Writers Guild of America in determining the appropriate screenwriting credits on nominated films, we’ll now be relying on the PGA’s decisions on producer credits,” Davis said.

In the Original Song category the Academy capped the number of songwriters who can receive a statuette at three. The new rule specifies that “no more than two statuettes will normally be given,” but makes a provision for a third statuette “when there are three essentially equal contributors to a song.”

The Music Branch also upped the trigger point for qualifying submissions in any music category to nine. If fewer than nine qualifying submissions are received in a category, the executive committee may recommend to the board that no award be given that year in that category. In previous years, that number was four.

Rules are reviewed annually by branch and category committees. The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Academy’s Board of Governors.

Academy Award nominations will be announced in January at the Academy. The 78th Annual Academy Awards Presentation will be telecast live from the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland by the ABC Television Network at 5 p.m., Sunday, March 5, 2006.

About Eric Olsen

  • http://spaces.msn.com/members/dorksandlosers Tan The Man

    How could you even judge a stunt performer’s work? The end product is the finished film, and how could you even rate a stunt actor’s work in the short time that a scene is cut nowadays?

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    It would seem reasonable to give stunt coordinators an award. The Matrix simply wouldn’t be The Matrix without the extensive martial arts training and stunt coordination that went into it. The same is true for any decent action flick nowadays — where the bar keeps getting higher in pleasing an audience (and me!).

  • kacey

    “The end product is the finished film, and how could you even rate a stunt actor’s work in the short time that a scene is cut nowadays?”–Tan The Man

    If it’s seamless–then you KNOW it was perfect.

  • http://spaces.msn.com/members/dorksandlosers Tan The Man

    Alright, you got me on that one.

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    stunt performers should most certainly be up for recognition. take a look at Ong-Bak, for example (or even better, read The Duke’s incisive critique of said picture here on Blogcritics) and tell me the work of folks being flung around left and right doesn’t add to the picture.

    Ong-Bak may be a bad example, since in this case the lead actor does his own stunts, but the work of the thousands of folks being flung about in the background add immeasurably to the film.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Perhaps the stunt performers agree with Tan, and that could be why they advocate an award for the stunt coordinator. Coordinators are the ones responsible for creating the seamless overall effect of good stunt work. Their achievements could be judged by non-experts, more so than the work of any particular stunt performer.

  • http://spaces.msn.com/members/dorksandlosers Tan The Man

    In fairness, there is a stunt awards that I is broadcast on Fox. It isn’t huge, but then again the Oscars aren’t either.

  • Eric Olsen

    I would say the Oscars are pretty “huge” – if they are worried about hte length of the show, they could simply make it one of the off-the-air awards. I don’t see why they wouldn’t want to recognize these guys via the coordinator

  • Nancy

    The Oscars are the biggest self-congratulatory, self-aggrandizing lovefest of PR, greed, & ego currently existing in the world today outside of congress, for the benefit of the largest group of the most shameless, selfish, self-satisfied, self-centered, shallow, puerile, talentless, overpaid and overprivileged arrogant people outside of congress. This annual descent into a wallow of egos, preening, and breathless slobbering hyperventilating by syncophantic commentators is SO outdated and downright archaic, it should have died of its own weight and ennui years ago. The only thing keeping it alive is the huge amounts of money poured into it by the studios in the hope that the PR hype will entice the moviegoing public to fork out yet more to see the schlock the studios produce. It’s about time for the Oscars, like the dinosaurs they’ve come to resemble, to die.

  • Eric Olsen

    I was right with you until the end: Oscar thrives organically because it is one of the few rallying points remaining for the entire entertainment industry that still captures the public imagination. Oscar rules!

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Well, I’m not the kind to kiss and tell, But I’ve been seen with Farrah.
    I’ve never been with anything less than a nine, so fine.
    I’ve been on fire with Sally Field, gone fast with a girl named Bo.
    But somehow they just don’t end up as mine…
    It’s a death-defying life I lead, I’ll take my chances.
    I’ve died for a living in the movies and tv.
    But the hardest thing I’ll ever do is watch my leading ladies,
    Kiss some other guy while I’m bandaging my knee.

    I might fall from a tall building, I might roll a brand-new car,
    ‘Cause I’m the unknown stuntman that made Redford such a star.

    I’ve never spent much time in school, but I taught ladies plenty.
    It’s true I hire my body out for pay, hey hey!
    I’ve gotten burned over Cheryl Tiegs, blown up over Rachel Welch
    But when I wind up in the hay, it’s only hay, hey hey!
    I might jump an open drawbridge, or Tarzan from a vine,
    ‘Cause I’m the unknown stuntman, that makes Eastwood look so fine.

    They’ll never make me president, but I got the best first ladies
    Someday´s I got´em as far as the eye can see – ouee
    A morning dove with Jacky Smith, a crash in the night with Cheryl
    But in the end they never stay with me
    On my fall from the Tower Building, so Burt Reynolds don’t get hurt
    I might leap the mighty Canyon, so he can kiss and flirt
    Well, that smooth talker’s kissing my girl – I’m just kissing dirt
    Yes, I’m the lonely stuntman, that made a lover out of Burt

    Who remembers where it’s from?. Here’s the audio file (2.4MB).

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Well of course we all know where the song’s from – but who wrote and performed it. That’s the real stumper.

    Dave

  • sonny mcdon-w

    my opinion as a film maker based in africa about the staunt impact in a movie might be economically low rated to earn award but that is been selfish because most of our films are basically story base films where little or no staunt impact is required but to discard a staunt impact in films like matrix and reload will be very discrimating to be civil with language , so my candid view is that staunt actors no mater how minute their act seems to affect a story line should be aplauded abd give right position in honour seat in every movie or film industry. i hope my opinion will be respected. thanks.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Sonny

  • http://www.biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    It’s the stunt actor or stunt coordinator that usually makes the headline actor look good in action films. They deserve the respect and recognition of the academy as much as costume designers, make-up artists and writers.

    Nancy is right about the love-fest, though. Hollywood has made Oscar THE event of the season. I’d much rather watch the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Golden Globes or Independent Spirit Awards. Hollywood has forgotten the value of art in favor of the quick buck. Had Michaelangelo and Shakespeare been driven by cash we wouldn’t have the Sistene Chapel or Othello.

  • Nancy

    I don’t mind award shows – I just prefer REAL award shows instead of pre-determined set-ups. The People’s Choice (assuming the winners are indeed the peoples’ choices) are far more fascinating to me. The Oscars are nothing more than who was able to bribe enough of the Official Voters to make the win. Even the nominations are rigged. There’s nothing original or honest about Oscar, and hasn’t been for years. The whole thing is an immense fake. The only interesting part of it for me were the Billy Crystal jokes. The rest of it was (and from what I hear, still is) gawd-awful, long, and BO-RING as all get-out. Did I mention long?

    I will admit the Parade of Dresses in Bad Taste can also be fun. I did enjoy shots of that J-Lo non-dress fastened at the crotch, and the hairy, bandy-legged guys who turned up dressed in approximations of the same. THAT was pretty funny.

  • Stuntman

    First of all we are talking about the Stunt Coordinator the department head and not the stunt people getting the award. OK folk here is the long and the short of it. Hollywood doesn’t want to recognize the contribution of the Stunt community for monitary reasons. We all know how much an actors quote goes up when they winn an academy award. In the advertising of a film you only see the thing that the producers think will sell the film. One the actors names and credits, two the directors name and their credits, three the Producer and there credits and you never see (and the wardrobe was made by!) You do see the word ACTION and that means come see the amazing stunts our stunt coordinator has arranged. In short do you think a person with a sewing machine has more right to be recoganized by the industry then a Stunt Coordinator that is responcible for the safety of a multi billion dollar star and a 3 or 4 hundred million dollar production? You let me know because I want to know. Signed a pissed off Stunt Coordinator the is right now online looking to buy a sewing machine.

  • Eric Olsen

    excellent points Stuntman, thanks – when in doubt the answer often lies in the direction of money

  • http://blog.stunt-baby.com/ Rich Nigro

    We wholeheartedly support the stunt professionals in their quest for proper recognition.

    Rich N.

  • Eric Olsen

    stunt performers kick ass, often their own

  • Eric Olsen

    it’s a dangerous, dirty, vital job – they should be recognized

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    If the Academy asked me, I’d say give the stunt coordinators an award. Heck, give the stunt performers an award too. They can vote on each other, just like the actors and composers and costume designers all do.

    But for some reason the Academy hasn’t called yet to ask me what they should do.