Have you ever wondered why all of your favorite movies are missing from the Oscars every year? Some of my favorite movies of 2018 have been “snubbed” or only partially recognized at the Oscars when others are being put on this massive pedestal being praised for what I and many others see as formulaic, basic, or safe stories. Oscar-nominated films are hailed as great works of art by The Academy and people flock to see the awarded films. Actors, actresses, directors and cinematographers alike are all nominated by their peers and given awards for their part in making movies. There is a lot to it and this article will teach you everything you need to know about the Oscars, how the nominations are made and what influence marketing and buzz campaigns have on what we see and praise as great work.
I’ve never been one for award shows. I’ve been rolling my eyes at the Grammys for years. But something about the Oscars has caught my attention in recent years. Maybe it was the social media marketing course I took at UTSA or studying for the Google digital ad certification, but now when I look at the Oscars all I see is marketing.
What is The Academy?
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences or AMPAS is an honorary organization comprised of motion picture professionals and filmmakers with the goal of advancing the art and science of movies. The roster of current members of The Academy is a closely guarded secret. Membership is by invitation only. You can either earn your membership by submitting a nominated work or be sponsored by two current members. Currently, there are an estimated 8,000 members worldwide.
How does a movie qualify for the Oscars?
To meet even the basic criteria for the feature film categories at the Oscars a film has to:
- Be over 40 minutes long
- The movie has to publicly premiere at a movie theatre during the appropriate calendar year
- It has to premiere in one of 3 very specific formats: 35mm, 70mm, or 24-frame Progressive Scan Digital Format
- And here is the kicker, it needs to have played in an L.A. County commercial theatre for paid admission, for 7 consecutive days, beginning in the appropriate calendar year.
After a film accomplishes these things, one of the producers or distributors needs to complete an Official Screen Credits form to The Academy to be eligible for consideration. Then the academy votes on who they think should win.
The importance of Marketing and Buzz
These members receive a list of the eligible films and have a couple of weeks to vote on the nominees. That’s a couple of weeks to view and vote on hundreds of films. This is where marketing comes into play. How do you get all of these prestigious secret members to watch your movie and take it seriously? You create buzz of course. I’m sure you’ve heard of Oscar campaigns, these are marketing and buzz campaigns with very interesting rules. The Academy prohibits direct marketing campaigns so what these production studios do is send voters special screeners, host galas, dinners, and luncheons. They sit the actors and directors at a table full of voters and let them schmooze and talk their way into nominations. These studios spend MILLIONS on these Oscar campaigns.
Charisma and marketing can make or break a professionals legacy. Will you be remembered as the greatest of all time or fall to obscurity? These awards give professionals incredible influence over the choice of their next job, how much they will be paid and who they will work with. They can nominate others, bring them up or push them down. Marketing, like it or not, is the name of the game. If you don’t tell people what to think of you and how to perceive your work then they will do it for you. Ignore marketing and others will control your destiny. It can be daunting, it can be overwhelming. That’s why these actors and studios hire professionals to help them with all of this. Luckily, the landscape for marketing is changing, today we have access to the most advanced, targeted, and measurable platforms for marketing and advertising. Social media and Search advertising is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. Large corporations, small businesses and Not for profit organizations alike need to use these powerful tools to be successful in this new climate.
Brian Menard is a founder and contributor to Stickerfridge.com based out of San Antonio, Tx.