David Rubin, who on Tuesday was elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, sent a note out to members today in one of his first communiqués as head of the Oscar organization.
Rubin, the first casting director to be elected to AMPAS’ top spot, used the letter, obtained by Deadline, to touch on topics that have been front and center at the Academy for some time. Those include the theatrical experience in the face of a streaming world (“I would suggest that we focus on ‘screenings’ over ‘screeners’!”, he wrote) and the A2020 diversity initiative that has seen a welcoming influx of members from underrepresented backgrounds.
“We should all be tremendously proud of our collective efforts to diversify our membership — more women, more people of color, more international representation,” he wrote. “As the Academy becomes more representative of both the full filmmaking community and the world at large, I feel the culture of the Academy is all the better for it. The fact is, we’ve become inclusive, rather than exclusionary, while still holding firmly to our high standards of membership qualification.”
Rubin was elected Tuesday night in a vote by the Academy’s board of governors. He takes over the presidency from John Bailey, who wasn’t eligible to run for another term.
Here is his letter, tied to Saturday’s graduation ceremony for AMPAS’ Academy Gold internship program:
Dear Fellow Academy Member,
On Saturday morning, I will be welcoming the third graduating class of Academy Gold interns to our headquarters in Beverly Hills. There, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, with its two gargantuan Oscar statues flanking our state-of-the-art movie screen, I will compare notes with them as they begin their adventure as newcomers to the world of motion pictures, and as I begin my adventure as the newly elected President of the Motion Picture Academy.
They’ll be graduating from an extraordinary program, in which over the course of the summer they’ve had access to Academy members, industry professionals, screenings, and educational workshops. I’m sure they’ll be filled with both a sense of endless possibility and a certain apprehension about the challenges ahead. I will suggest to them that they look around the theater at all their peers and mentors, and that they dwell less on their own anxieties about the future and focus more on the support and knowledge and inspiration they will gain from this newfound motion picture community that has embraced them.
The very nature of filmmaking is collaborative, and that sense of community is exactly why I became so involved in the Academy and, I think, what ultimately led me to the office I now hold. It’s a love of movies, a sense of kinship with my fellow Governors, and my deep respect for the contributions all our Academy members have made to decades and decades of motion pictures that has inspired me to serve the Academy’s objectives: to honor the present, preserve the past, and shape the future. All this is an extension of the gratifying sense of comradeship I’ve felt with all the movie crews I’ve encountered in my career.
In this spirit, I urge you as an Academy member to engage fully with the Academy’s community, well beyond the delights and convenience of those screeners we get every awards season. In fact, to protect and promote the communal joy of sitting in a crowded theater, staring up at that big screen, I would suggest that we focus on “screenings” over “screeners”!
Here’s my pitch to you…
— Consider participating in the next Academy Gold internship program by mentoring a student, inviting an intern into your workplace, or appearing on a panel.
— Attend as many of the International Feature Film screenings as you possibly can. It’s a chance to travel worldwide and broaden your world view, all from your theater seat.
— Volunteer to read screenplay entries for the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting.
— Become a judge for the Student Academy Awards.
— Attend the Academy’s diversity and inclusion events.
— If you’re based outside of those cities in which many of our activities occur, take advantage of the internet and log on to participate digitally in the many Academy events that are now streamed online. (We’re committed to creating more of these in the future, particularly to engage our international membership.)
— Visit the incomparable Margaret Herrick Library, which is now open to members on Saturdays as well.
— Make arrangements to explore those inspiring Oral and Visual Histories, in which legendary filmmakers recount their life in movies.
Connect. Collaborate. Engage.
In return, I’m committed to promoting more frequent engagement and communication between the Academy’s governing bodies and its membership. It’s vital that members are given background and context for the decisions made by the Academy’s Board and that the Governors receive input regularly from their branch members, to inform those decisions. In short, you’ll be hearing from us.
I also pledge to support and promote the continued efforts of our A2020 diversity initiative. We should all be tremendously proud of our collective efforts to diversify our membership — more women, more people of color, more international representation. As the Academy becomes more representative of both the full filmmaking community and the world at large, I feel the culture of the Academy is all the better for it. The fact is, we’ve become inclusive, rather than exclusionary, while still holding firmly to our high standards of membership qualification.
On Saturday, I’ll be looking into the eyes of those hopeful young Academy Gold filmmakers of all races, ethnicities, genders and backgrounds, and I will assure them there will be a place for them in our Academy, once they’ve made their mark in their respective fields, as all of you have.
I hope my term as president will be marked by greater engagement of members in the Academy’s mission, and by a revitalized sense of community for all members, whether you’re just hitting your creative stride or you’ve reached a point where you’re able to look back proudly at an enormously satisfying career.
I honor and salute you all, and look forward to hearing from you and seeing you soon.