EQUAL OPPORTUNITY MOVIES

Since the early part of this calendar year, a lot of things have been changing. Some changes are for the good or better. A few for the worst. And the rest are through current circumstances, just because it can.

Take movies for instance. It’s been some six months since this writer has been inside of a traditional movie house to view a feature. And it’s been since last year when yours truly took a gander of a so-called “traditional” summertime movie that’s full of action, (with loads of special effect generated gunfire and explosions), obnoxious and rather snarky comedies, comic book superheros (the love children of the summer movie going experience), and family friendly animation titles mostly geared and aimed for kids that has enough of the for noted snarky humor that adults with take hard while the same kids may find such humor funny enough to laugh at or to scratch their heads over.

Now that it’s the fall season–in case anybody’s been paying attention to the calendar, newly released feature titles released around this time tend to tone down the overblown special effects and cocky comical antics, and turn towards drama that could be heavy at times. These are the kind of movies that play better on a small video screen than a traditional theater. And thanks to the limited opening of movie houses across the country, many of these same movies are given a chance to be viewed in a setting where the viewer would be safe from catching viruses that could become series. Besides, one can snack on anything far beyond popcorn and soda pop! After all, it’s viewed in one’s home, and they can feast on anything they like! (Netflix and caviar anyone??)

Of course, the movie industry currently has an (almost) anything goes stance when it comes to what can be included and depicted in a feature release. Since the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) first started to use the movie rating system in late 1968, the every lovin’ letters of “G”, “PG”, “PG-13”, “R”, and “X”, has fallen into the American english language lexicon.

For the record, the term “PG”–short of “Parental Guidance” was once known as “M” short for “Mature Audiences”. “M” was later changed to “GP”-”General Audience-Parental”, then later was changed to “PG”. “PG-13”, Parental Guidance for age 13 and up” was later added describing a movie that is too harsh for “PG” but not as bad as an “R” title. “X” later became “NC-17”-Nobody under the age of 17 admitted! The term “X” was later abandon by the MPAA and is the adapted shorthand term for porno movies. (Yeah! We’re just as confused as you are!)

Well, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the group best known for fobbing Oscars each year for the best in movies as voted by their membership groups, recently released new guidelines in what movie can qualify to be eligible as a “Best Picture” entry.

The following is their statement for film titles eligible for the 96th Oscars (2024)
a film must meet two out of four of the following standards to be deemed eligible.
(Note: Any paragraph presented in italics are taken directly from the AMPAS press release.)



STANDARD A:  ON-SCREEN REPRESENTATION, THEMES AND NARRATIVES

To achieve Standard A, the film must meet ONE of the following criteria:
A1. Lead or significant supporting actors

At least one of the lead actors or significant supporting actors is from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.

• Asian
• Hispanic/Latinx
• Black/African American
• Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
• Middle Eastern/North African
• Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
• Other underrepresented race or ethnicity


A2. General ensemble cast

At least 30% of all actors in secondary and more minor roles are from at least two of the following underrepresented groups:

• Women
• Racial or ethnic group
• LGBTQ+
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

A3. Main storyline/subject matter

The main storyline(s), theme or narrative of the film is centered on an underrepresented group(s).

• Women
• Racial or ethnic group
• LGBTQ+
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing


STANDARD B: CREATIVE LEADERSHIP AND PROJECT TEAM


To achieve Standard B, the film must meet ONE of the criteria below:
B1. Creative leadership and department heads 

At least two of the following creative leadership positions and department heads—Casting Director, Cinematographer, Composer, Costume Designer, Director, Editor, Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Producer, Production Designer, Set Decorator, Sound, VFX Supervisor, Writer—are from the following underrepresented groups:

Women
• Racial or ethnic group
• LGBTQ+
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

At least one of those positions must belong to the following underrepresented racial or ethnic group:

• Asian
• Hispanic/Latinx
• Black/African American
• Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
• Middle Eastern/North African
• Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
• Other underrepresented race or ethnicity

B2. Other key roles

At least six other crew/team and technical positions (excluding Production Assistants) are from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group. These positions include but are not limited to First AD, Gaffer, Script Supervisor, etc. 

B3. Overall crew composition

At least 30% of the film’s crew is from the following underrepresented groups:

• Women
• Racial or ethnic group
• LGBTQ+
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing


STANDARD C:  INDUSTRY ACCESS AND OPPORTUNITIES


To achieve Standard C, the film must meet BOTH criteria below:

C1. Paid apprenticeship and internship opportunities
The film’s distribution or financing company has paid apprenticeships or internships that are from the following underrepresented groups and satisfy the criteria below:

Women
• Racial or ethnic group
• LGBTQ+


• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

The major studios/distributors are required to have substantive, ongoing paid apprenticeships/internships inclusive of underrepresented groups (must also include racial or ethnic groups) in most of the following departments: production/development, physical production, post-production, music, VFX, acquisitions, business affairs, distribution, marketing and publicity. 

The mini-major or independent studios/distributors must have a minimum of two apprentices/interns from the above underrepresented groups (at least one from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group) in at least one of the following departments: production/development, physical production, post-production, music, VFX, acquisitions, business affairs, distribution, marketing and publicity.

C2. Training opportunities and skills development (crew) 

The film’s production, distribution and/or financing company offers training and/or work opportunities for below-the-line skill development to people from the following underrepresented groups:

• Women
• Racial or ethnic group
• LGBTQ+
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing


STANDARD D: AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT
To achieve Standard D, the film must meet the criterion below:

D1. Representation in marketing, publicity, and distribution
The studio and/or film company has multiple in-house senior executives from among the following underrepresented groups (must include individuals from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups) on their marketing, publicity, and/or distribution teams.

• Women
• Racial or ethnic group:

Asian
Hispanic/Latinx
Black/African American
Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
Middle Eastern/North African
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
Other underrepresented race or ethnicity
LGBTQ+

• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

All categories other than Best Picture will be held to their current eligibility requirements. Films in the specialty feature categories (Animated Feature Film, Documentary Feature, International Feature Film) submitted for Best Picture/General Entry consideration will be addressed separately.

OK! So what does this all mean? Does this mean that any movie, or at least ones that are American made, but can include titles were its country or origin is outside of the USA, has to include the peoples in question, no matter how or where they stand in their expertise? Will these guidelines force film producers to make their working environments more of an “equal opportunity employer” setting? Will white men a.k.a. causation males show lessor importance? And what about another entry that’s been getting some flack in terms of discrimination–hiring those people over the age of fifty regardless of race, gender, lifestyle preference, etc?

To clarify the above paragraph. Let’s say a producer desire to use a picture editor, and there are two people up for the gig. Both have a year’s worth of experience in picture editing, using the same software program. Both are of the same gender, race, and lifestyle. Person A is in their middle 20’s while the other (Person B) is in their middle 50’s. Who’s really gonna get the gig?

This writer won’t necessarily linger upon further commentary on this proposal. However, it’s indeed important to have some diversity in a work place. Just as long as those eligible to keep an assessment or task are used based upon what they know and how well they can pull off the job verses to what their gender, race, and other factors are that’s outside of their skills and knowledge. In order words, just let the best (wo)man win!

The other notion to keep in mind. Let’s also hope those Academy voting members remember what can be labled as a “best picture”. This is a movie that is entertaining to see, and what people would be willing to pay $10.00 and up for the privilege in seeing the thing in compared to a feature that may be well crafted for what it is where its entertainment worth is only good for a single view, and the opportunity to see the film will not cost the viewer any monetary amount for the privilege! (No “free movies” are allowed!!)

Right now, let’s just attempt to bring things back to normalcy–whatever “normalcy” means!!
———————————————————————————————————————
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2020 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

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