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.