Awards & Festivals:Academy Awards:What is the Academy?

What is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences?

While watching the annual Academy Awards? you might ask, “What exactly is the Academy?” (You might also ask “Can you move your head? I can’t see the TV!,” but your family seating arrangements are beyond the scope of this article.) Well, since you’ve asked, we’re here to tell you.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a professional honorary organization composed of over 6,000 motion picture craftsmen and women. The purposes of the Academy are to advance the arts and sciences of motion pictures; foster cooperation among creative leaders for cultural, educational and technological progress; recognize outstanding achievements; cooperate on technical research and improvement of methods and equipment; provide a common forum and meeting ground for various branches and crafts; represent the viewpoint of actual creators of the motion picture; and foster educational activities between the professional community and the public-at-large. The Academy’s field of activity does not include economic, labor or political matters.

The Academy was organized in May, 1927, as a non-profit corporation chartered under the laws of California. Its original 36 members included production executives and film luminaries of the time. Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., was the first president. Others have included William deMille, M. C. Levee, Conrad Nagel, J. Theodore Reed, Frank Lloyd, Frank Capra, Walter Wanger, Bette Davis, Jean Hersholt, Charles Brackett, George Seaton, George Stevens, B. B. Kahane, Valentine Davies, Wendell Corey, Arthur Freed, Gregory Peck, Daniel Taradash, Walter Mirisch, Howard W. Koch, Fay Kanin, Gene Allen, Robert E. Wise, Richard Kahn, Karl Malden, Arthur Hiller, Robert Rehme and Frank Pierson. The current president is Sid Ganis.

How does one become a member of the Academy? Membership in the Academy is by invitation of the Board of Governors and is limited to those who have achieved distinction in the arts and sciences of motion pictures. Some of the criteria for admittance are: film credits of a caliber which reflect the high standards of the Academy, receipt of an Academy Award nomination, achievement of unique distinction, earning of special merit, or making of an outstanding contribution to film. Members represent 13 branches: Actors, Art Directors, Cinematographers, Directors, Executives, Film Editors, Music, Producers, Public Relations, Short Films and Feature Animation, Sound, Visual Effects and Writers.

A candidate for membership in the Academy must be sponsored by at least two members of the branch for which the person may qualify. Each proposed member must first receive the favorable endorsement of the appropriate branch executive committee before his or her name is submitted to the Board of Governors for its approval. The Board of Governors also may invite to membership members-at-large and associate members. Members-at-large are those engaged in theatrical film production, but for whose craft there is no separate branch. They have all the privileges of branch membership except for representation on the Board. Associate members are those closely allied to the industry but not actively engaged in motion picture production. They are not represented on the Board and do not vote on Academy Awards. Life members are designated by unanimous vote of the Board of Governors and have full privileges of membership, but pay no dues.

The operating revenues of the Academy are obtained from membership dues, rental of its theater to film companies for press previews and other special screenings, publication of the Players Directory, the sale of rights to telecast the annual Academy Awards? Presentation and from other special programs.

Well, there you have it. Your question has been answered. We’ll have a test tomorrow.

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