The Academy has announced its official rule changes today, on the heels of a release earlier this week that addressed campaign strictures. Key changes have been made in a number of categories, including Best Picture, Best Original Song and the acting fields.
On the latter, production companies must now limit eligibility to a maximum of 10 actors and 10 actresses for each film and must submit those names on the Official Screen Credits form. The annual reminder list sent to members of the Academy will now list actors and actresses separately for each film, and as always, members of the branch will still decide on category placement (lead vs. supporting) themselves.
The Best Picture category has always dealt with the give and take of producer credits. First there was a limit of three producers to be eligible for the nomination, then an approved extension to four in certain instances. Now – to help mitigate some of that, it seems – producer duos may be considered a single “producer.” This is only assuming that the team has had an established partnership covering the previous five years and have produced at least two previous theatrically released feature films as a team. Good news for the likes of, say, Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger, or Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, etc.
In the Best Music (Original Song) category, songwriters from established musical groups may now request that their submission be considered under their group name. So Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen can ditch the formalities now and stick with U2 if they want. This is only noted as a change in the song category, though, so who knows if it extends to bands that might contribute original scores as well.
One of the most exciting changes to me is in the Best Production Design category. We've entered the realm of the digital, and artists responsible for realizing the environment of some films in a design capacity are getting short shrift. Now, when said environment is substantially composed of animation and digital artistry, a digital artist who is primarily responsible for the achievement may be considered in the category alongside the already-recognized production designers and set decorators.
In the animated short film and live action short film categories, films that have received prior nontheatrical public exhibition or distribution may now qualify for Oscar consideration by winning a festival award on the Short Films Qualifying Festival List. Without a festival win, the nontheatrical distribution prior to a theatrical release would still disqualify a short film”s eligibility. But there's one other crucial change for shorts that is rather exciting for student competitors…
For the first time, the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal award-winning films in the alternative, animation, narrative and foreign film categories at the 2014 Student Academy Awards will all be eligible for Oscar consideration in the short film categories. Similarly, the Gold, Silver and Bronze winners in the documentary category at the 2014 Student Academy Awards will be eligible for consideration in the documentary short subject category.
Finally, in the animated feature film category, DVD screeners are now required as part of a film's submission.
The 87th annual Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015. More on all of that next week.