BAFTAs rules revamped: More diverse members, voting requirements, longlists and campaign restrictions

Fresh off the heels of the motion picture academy releasing new rules and guidelines for the Oscars, BAFTA has followed suit in an effort to address the lack of opportunity and equality in the industry. On September 24 the British Academy of Film and Television Arts announced its board had unanimously approved changes in three key areas: membership, voting and campaigning.

A Future Membership Group comprised of current BAFTA members will be established to recruit upwards of 1,000 new members in the next two years with a heavy focus on under-represented groups. In addition, all current members will be required to respond to a survey which will allow BAFTA to better understand their current membership demographics and those most underrepresented. Further changes include adjusting membership fees to address financial issues and enabling members with disabilities greater access to events and screenings.

Significant changes to film award voting will be implemented across all categories. The main goal is to increase viewership of all entered films which, by default, leads those viewers to consider more films worthy of awards. The voting will now consist of three rounds and allow more time for members to view the films. All films will now be available on an online portal, significantly increasing viewer access and voters will be assigned 15 films to watch.

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In round one of voting, voters will rank their top 15 films. Those with the most votes will be longlisted and all members will be required to watch them in round two. Members then rank their top five films to determine nominations. In round three members will vote for the winners in each category after watching all nominated films.

Acting and directing categories will go through a similar process of voting by rounds. Juries comprised of about a dozen diverse voters drawn from a range of backgrounds will choose the final four entries on the longlists as well as the nominees.

One major change in the acting category is that entrants must now decide whether they are lead or supporting, whereas previously they were entered in both categories. This allows for a broader range of performances to be considered and should provide much needed clarity for voters. And there will be six nominees, up from five. There will also now be six nominees for Best Director and in an effort to address a lack in female representation, the longlist will have 10 men and 10 women.

Finally, big budget films will no longer be able to dominate awards conversations from early on in the campaign season. Distributor communications, Q&As and other campaign events will be limited per title. With this rule BAFTA hopes to ensure smaller films are not ignored and are equally visible to its members.

What do you think of these changes at BAFTA? Will it help them achieve their goal of long-term success and relevance? Comment below, and join the discussion on this and more here with your fellow movie fans.

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