We have written extensively about the various voting methods used by the motion picture academy. And we’ve delved into the math behind the “magic numbers” that guaranteed a nomination. But who got to cast their ballots for the Oscar winners that will be revealed on Sunday?
How do you get to become one of the 6,687 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. As per academy bylaw Article III, Section 1:
Membership shall be by invitation of the Board of Governors. Invitations to active membership shall be limited to those persons active in the motion picture arts and sciences, or credited with screen achievements, or who have otherwise achieved distinction in the motion picture arts and sciences and who, in the opinion of the Board, are qualified for membership.
Applicants need to be sponsored by two members of the branch, approved by the membership committee of that branch and then by the board of governors.
Each of the 17 branches sets out its own criteria for admission. All include a proviso that allows for admission of those who have been nominated for an Oscar. And the executive committee of each branch can deem someone to have “achieved unique distinction, earned special merit or made an outstanding contribution.”
Beyond these two catch-alls, there are varying degrees of experience required. All branches require that the credits submitted be for films “of a caliber that reflect the high standards of the academy.” Below, we break down the rules for each branch. And we detail the various ways in which someone can be admitted as a member-at-large.
Actors Branch: 1,158 members
scripted roles in three films, with at least one of these from the past five years.
Casting Directors Branch: 99 members
screen credit on at least 10 films over a period of no less than eight years.
Cinematographers Branch: 240 members
director of photography on two films, with at least one of these from the past three years (until last year, five credits were needed).
Costume Designers Branch: 117 members
screen credit on at least six films.
Designers Branch: 295 members
screen credit as Production Designer, Art Director or Set Decorator on at least four films over a period of no less than five years; Art Directors working under supervision of Production Designers must have six credits.
Directors Branch: 473 members
director of two films, with at least one of these from the past 10 years.
Documentary Branch: 277 members
director and/or producer of two documentary films, with at least one of these from the past five years.
Executive Branch: 468 members
at least five years experience as a senior executive at an organization producing and/or distributing films, which has been in business at least five years and released three films (or two animated films) in that time. Twenty years of work in the film business guarantees life-time membership.
Film Editors Branch: 274 members
screen credit on four films, at least two of which must be single card credits; shared credits and supervising film editor credits count as 1/2 each.
Makeup & Hairstyling Branch: 157 members
screen credit on at least five films, three of which were within the last seven years.
Members-At-Large: 233 members
encompasses all those who work in fields for which the academy has no branch.
(i) general: eight years experience; or sitting executive director of DGA, SAG, PGA, WGA and IATSE; or two years of distinction with uanimous approval of membership committee.
(ii) creative science & technology: eight years experience; or contribution to creative process; or distinction with 3/4 approval of Creative Science and Technology sub-committee.
(iii) production: eight years experience; or five years as head of production, visual effects production, post-production.
(iv) stunt coordinator: 10 years experience and 10 screen credits.
Music Branch: 279 members
screen credit on at least three films, with at least one of these from the past six years.
Producers Branch: 504 members
screen credit on at least two films, with at least one of these from the past 10 years.
Public Relations Branch: 389 members
distinction in field of publicity, advertising or promotion of film AND at least 10 years experience with at least five of those as head of a department or as chief strategist of a company involved in producing, distributing, marketing or publicizing films (the latter requirement can be waived by a two-third majority of the branch executive committee) OR two years as the most senior marketing executive at a motion picture production/distribution company (again, with two-thirds approval).
Short Films and Feature Animation Branch: 479 members
screen credit in a key creative role on at least three films.
Sound Branch: 456 members
eight years experience with at least five of those as mixer, engineer or supervising sound editor (in the case of the latter, credit on at least five films).
Visual Effects Branch: 383 members
eight years experience in a key creative role.
Writers Branch: 406 members
screen credit on at least two films.
Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films are faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before winners are announced on February 26 at 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.