How To Win An Oscar
While award ceremonies aren’t exactly the most important part about filmmaking or art creation in general, there’s no question that the Oscars have become a staple of cinema. Whether it be the celebration of your favorite films, catching a major award upset, or seeing an awe-inspiring speech from Hollywood titans, the Oscars have a little something for everyone. For the hard workers of the film industry, winning an Oscar can create so much potential for future opportunities, that some creators choose to go on advertising campaigns in hopes to seal a victory. Once the list of nominees is released each year, the competitive nature of some film studios are revealed…sometimes to their own detriment.
The Voting Process
Each year, thousands of projects are critiqued by a panel of approximately 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Their selections then reduce the competition down to a handful of nominees per category. Then, the same panel splits up across each category to vote on the winners from the list of Oscar nominations. For instance, the writers vote on the winners for “best screenplay” while the directors on the panel vote for “best director.” Everyone, however, is part of the highly valuable “best picture” vote.
These voting processes all happen before the big show when the winners are revealed, but some impatient nominees try their best to persuade the members. There are stories that come out each year of panel members receiving extravagant gifts from studios such as tickets, books, or other free incentives. While outright bribery of members has been banned, there are agencies of the highest caliber that help studios launch ad campaigns to specifically target member support. With lobbying by email, telephone, and screening receptions are also banned by the academy, studios with Oscar nominations campaigning for the win have to be more creative than ever before.
Methods of Promo
Since the beginning of the ceremony itself, one technique for garnering film support has been magazine advertisements. Though less specific than attempting to reach voting members directly, advertising campaigns designed to push the film or its actors in a positive light have an immense impact on how the public views the piece. Front page adverts during Oscar season for publications like Variety can go for around $72,000. Likewise, billboard advertising campaigns reading “for your consideration” are another easy way to buy attention prior to the big night.
Arguably the most effective way in recent years has been public or online appearances by the creators of the film to discuss the philosophies or behind-the-scene stories from shooting. If the film itself can tie into a national conversation, the chances of overall attention increasing are at max. When director Alejandro González Iñárritu and actor Leonardo DiCaprio were doing a promo for their 2015 film The Revenant, it was fairly clear that they were campaigning for Oscar nominations because we’ve almost never seen Leo so thoroughly involved in a film’s promotion. From one appearance to the next, they skillfully explained the origins of the film, breaking down everything from the epic CGI bear attack scene, to the harsh cold snowy mountains endured along the way (tying in with the national conversation regarding global warming). The creators managed to tell a story through their ad campaigns, revealing so much information that they didn’t even appear to be doing a promo. The result was a resounding victory for The Revenant, with 12 Oscar nominations and 3 wins.
Gaining an Oscar won’t exactly make your film a timeless classic. However, because the benefits are so large for the careers of those involved, unleashing ad campaigns to boost chances of success isn’t an unwise thing to do. Effective promotion across all mediums won’t just help the probability of receiving a nomination, it’ll help more people see the project you’re proud of. Whether your favorite film is chosen by the academy or not, it may yet become a hit in years to come.