oscars1.jpgToday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced new rule changes approved by the governors last night for the 80th Academy Awards. According to Academy President Sid Ganis, the reforms represent “a small number of refinements but no major shift in course” and affect Best Picture producers, animated feature films, art direction, digital cinema qualification standards, as well as documentaries and short films.

The most notable adjustment is a one-sentence addition to the rules for the Best Picture of the Year award. While it continues to state that the nominees will be those “three or fewer producers who have performed the major portion of the producing functions,” the Producers Branch Executive Committee recommended, and the Board approved, wording that allows a possible exception to that limit. The committee has the right, in what it determines to be a rare and extraordinary circumstance, to name any additional qualified producer as a nominee.

ganis11.jpg“The committee and the governors believe strongly that it’s very important to have a limit on the number of producers who can be nominated and potentially receive an Oscar statuette,” explained Ganis. “But we also recognize that a truly unique situation could arise, and we want to have just enough flexibility to allow for that rare occurrence.”

The definition of an animated feature film was altered to further clarify the requirements for that category, in light of the emerging technologies now being used in the production of some movies. An animated feature film is now defined as a motion picture of at least 70 minutes in running time, in which movement and characters’ performances are created using a frame-by-frame technique. In addition, a significant number of the major characters must be animated, and animation must figure in no less than 75 percent of the picture’s running time.

osc1.jpgIn the Art Direction category, an adjustment now allows for the possibility, again only in unusual circumstances, of two production designers or two set decorators receiving nominations for their work on a given film, but not both. In the past, the rule allowed for only one production designer, though two set decorators could be nominated in rare cases.

New language concerning digital cinema qualification standards, necessary to accommodate evolving equipment and formats, was approved earlier this year. Also approved at that time were the rules for the Documentary and Short Film categories: documentary theatrical rollout requirement deadlines were moved up, and all documentary and oscar.jpgshort films may now qualify via the digital cinema requirements as defined for either the 80th or the 79th Academy Awards.

Other modifications of the rules include normal date changes and minor “housekeeping” changes. Complete rules for all categories can be viewed online. The rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees. The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Academy’s Board of Governors for approval. The next Academy Award nominations in all categories will be announced on January 22, 2008. The 80th Academy Awards presentation will be telecast live by the ABC Television Network on Sunday, February 24, 2008.