For Oscar Best Picture contenders, the time has come to deliver an inventory of the racial/ethnic identity and sexual/gender orientation of those involved with your film.
On Wednesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which presents the Oscars, quietly launched its new RAISE platform, an online system designed to collect identity and content information from the producers of films in the 2021 Best Picture race. Last year, 366 films qualified, so the impact will likely be wide. Responses are required by Nov. 15. The demand for data begins implementation of previously announced Oscar representation and inclusion standards: Films that don’t meet inclusion thresholds won’t be excluded until the 2024 show, but detailed reporting begins now.
“We are pleased to announce the official launch of the Representation and Inclusion Standards Entry platform (RAISE), designed to facilitate the confidential collection of data and information relevant to the Academy’s Representation and Inclusion Standards,” said a Wednesday email, apparently intended for contenders, from the Academy’s Office of Representation, Inclusion and Equity.
Every would-be contender will receive a RAISE identification number on completing the data form. “A RAISE ID will be required in order to complete the submission,” the email said of this year’s Oscar process.
The platform is open only to those who have submitted a film. But a user-provided glimpse at its opening pages and the initial sections connected with its On-Screen Representation, Themes and Narratives Standard—one of four standards, two of which must be met to qualify for future Best Picture awards—reveal an expansive, detailed and insistent approach to data collection.
“All submissions will be monitored and analyzed to identify key trends relevant to the industry,” says in introduction to the platform. “Submitters are encouraged to share as much data as possible across all the standards.”
Total crew size and total cast size are among the initial queries. The introduction adds a caution: “The standards and thresholds for meeting the standards are subject to change and will be reviewed annually.”
From there, the questions become more personal, and producers are “encouraged” to have data “validated by the individual themselves where possible.” Under Standard A, the On-Screen Representation, Themes and Narratives Standard, for instance, Category A1 requires an information sheet on each lead or supporting actor from underrepresented ethnic or racial groups. The actors must be named, and an email address and “social profile” are requested. The sheet further asks for preferred pronouns, gender identity and specifically, “does this individual identify as transgender.”
Next comes a checklist. The first box asks whether the person under review is an Academy member (although membership is not a requirement for Oscar consideration). The status review questions include a checklist of 11 boxes related to ethnicity—from African-American, through Indigenous Peoples and Southeast Asian, to White and Prefer not to say. Qualifying disabilities include Chronic illness or pain, a mental health condition or dyslexia. Sexual orientation—“select all that apply”—may include: Bisexual, Gay, Heterosexual/straight, Lesbian, Pansexual, Queer, Prefer not to say or Prefer to describe.
The checklist includes a box that says, “I am unable to provide data related to this standard.” But it adds a warning: “Beginning with the 96th Academy Awards (2024), the absence of this data may impact eligibility for Best Picture consideration.”
Precisely how the new platform frames questions related to other standards, including those involving story content, the identity of filmmakers and employment or intern and training practices at distribution companies remains unclear. The Academy is expected to provide a more broadly available look at the RAISE platform as early as next week.