As Oscar season heats up, Sheridan Animation faculty member Nancy Beiman prepares to cast a vote on the nominated entries. She has been a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) since 1996. She described the process of being asked to be a member of the AMPAS and what the role entails.
“The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is not a club that one joins, you must be invited” – Nancy Beiman
“The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is not a club that one joins, you must be invited. If any filmmaker has a film nominated for an Oscar, they are automatically eligible without any further application. Those of us not in this category must be nominated by a current member of AMPAS,” Beiman said. “My sponsor was Mark Kausler. When one member objected during my first hearing that ‘he’d never heard of me,’ Kausler stated that not only were there few animators in AMPAS, there were fewer female animators. This argument won the day.”
AMPAS members get advanced screenings of films in the Academy theatre in Los Angeles. There are also special screenings in New York, San Francisco, London, England, Vail and Colorado but none in Toronto. Because of this, Beiman is limited in the way she can vote. She is not able to attend screenings of the 300 animated shorts and 26 animated features that are typically entered in the Best Animated Short Film and Best Animated Feature categories. However, the films that are finalists are mailed to the membership for voting.
Beiman went on to talk about the voting process and how other members of the AMPAS who live in other countries place their votes. “I used to receive a paper ballot but since 2012 we have had online ballots that work well,” she explained. “Many Academy members are located in places like Moscow, Chicago and Canada and this makes the vote more democratic for all.”
“The vote is strictly secret! And I take it very seriously” – Nancy Beiman
Finally, Beiman raised the three most important rules of being a member, something she herself takes pride in: “The three things that no Academy member may ever do is post the screeners online, sell them, and tell anyone who or what they voted for in the Oscars. The vote is strictly secret! And I take it very seriously.”
Pictured at top of page: Sheridan Professor Nancy Beiman