BAFTA Tightens Voting Eligibility Rules To Make Room For New Members

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is thinning its film award voting ranks so it can bulk them up again with newer, more active members. BAFTA head of membership Jim Bradshaw tells me the impetus for the weeding out process was primarily that the voting membership is capped “and we have a waiting list of people coming into the Academy who we can’t involve and that includes people who have won BAFTAs and are working at a very high level.” There are 6,500 voting members and a further 500 non-voting. A consultation period on voting eligibility began last year and new rules went into effect this week. They stipulate that in order to remain eligible to vote for the BAFTA Film Awards, a member must have worked in the industry in the last five years, or for 20 years or more. The idea is to shed folks who may have left the business after a short period. The term “worked in the industry” is quite broad, encompassing on-screen credit or “evidence of a relevant role” including as a marketer, publicist, specialized journalist, financier, script reader or unproduced screenwriter, among others. People who don’t have the appropriate credits to cast a ballot will be asked to step down from voting, but would still be able to maintain BAFTA membership. Bradshaw says the Academy has vetted many of its members independently, but has also invited others to provide more information. He says the org is “looking in the hundreds” in terms of how many voting slots will open. Not everyone is taking it badly, he contends. “Raising the issue with members has caused some people who are eligible to rethink it and give their place to others.” The allocation will take place in the fall.

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