Oscars Mandates New Diversity Requirements by 2024

For filmmakers with Oscars aspirations, diversity will soon be a requirement, not simply a desirable goal.

Beginning with the 96th Oscar race, filmmakers who want their pictures to be eligible for Best Picture must make sure that their cast and crew meet diversity representation standards set by the Academy.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced Tuesday, September 8th that, “to encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience,” films will have to meet certain requirements beginning with the 96th Oscar race (which will recognize achievements from 2024 and be held in 2025).

The announcement follows the June introduction of the Academy’s equity and inclusion initiative, Academy Aperature 2025, and just shy of the five year anniversary of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

For the 94th and 95th Oscars, filmmakers must submit an Academy Inclusion Standards form. Filmmakers are not required to meet the new inclusion requirements in order to be considered for the Best Picture category until the 96th Oscars.

“The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them.”
– Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson

“The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them,” Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a joint statement. “The Academy is committed to playing a vital role in helping make this a reality. We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry.”

The new requirements were determined by a task force headed by Academy governors DeVon Franklin and Jim Gianopulos. They are modeled after the British Film Institute (BFI) Diversity Standards. The BFI standards are used to determine certain funding eligibility in the UK, and for qualifying in certain categories of the British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA) Awards.

The diversity groups that the new AMPAS requirement focuses on are:

Racial/Ethnic:

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

Underrepresented

Women
Racial or ethnic group
LGBTQ+
Those with cognitive/physical disabilities, are deaf or hard of hearing.

What are the requirements?

In a nutshell, films must meet at least one criterion in at least two of the four standards.

Standard A: On-screen representation, themes, and narratives
Standard B: Creative leadership and project team
Standard C: Industry access and opportunities (internships, training, etc.
Standard D: Audience development (execs in marketing, publicity, distribution)

How does this impact my film?

The requirements are broad, and filmmakers can satisfy them in a number of ways. Filmmakers desiring to compete for Best Picture can find ways to meet two or more of the four standards without impairing their creative inspiration.

The first, obvious choice is to cast leading and meaningful roles from underrepresented groups. While this is not practical in every case, smart filmmakers have options. Even a story with all white male characters can employ underrepresented groups behind the camera, provide apprenticeships and internships, and practice diversity in hiring for the marketing and distribution of the film.

To read more from AMPAS, see their press release:
https://www.oscars.org/news/academy-establishes-representation-and-inclusion-standards-oscarsr-eligibility

Photo source: Crafted from photos found on Unsplash.com. Hollywood Rainbow by Jordan McDonald on Unsplash and Film Clapper by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

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