The devil may work hard, but an Oscar campaigner works even harder.
And they have a much bigger budget.
If you ever thought that political campaigns, fuelled by teams of strategists, extensive advertising budgets and crafty tricks, were dogged in their pursuit of ultimate glory, then you should know they have nothing on what it takes to secure an Academy Award.
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The only difference here is that these Hollywood racegoers are the very epitome of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, with all their dirty dealings swept beneath a table of champagne glasses and talk show appearances.
You see, in order to be nominated for and then win an Oscar you need to do so much more than just turn in a great performance in a well-crafted film. The moment a movie is released to the public is really only signalling the start of the awards season race.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the governing body behind the Academy Awards (more commonly known as the Oscars), and the majority of the award categories are nominated by the members of the corresponding branch to the award. This means that actors nominate actors, film editors nominate film editors and all voting members are then eligible to select the Best Picture nominees.
As with any election, whether it be for Prime Minister or a primary school canteen committee, it all comes down to public perception, overall popularity and how you are viewed by your peers in relation to your competitors.
And since a positive public image can be incredibly difficult to craft and maintain, especially if there are a lot of horses in the race, this is where Oscar campaign managers come in.
Running an Oscar campaign is very big business and it often involves a team of strategists, a sizeable commitment of time from the nominees in question, and an immense cash investment from the movie’s studio.
“People who are voting want to feel that those nominated have some interest in being voted for,” Oscar specialist Cynthia Swartz told Public Relations Tactics in a piece on how Oscar campaigns work.
Dennis Rice, an awards publicist whose clients have included Miramax and Disney, also told the publication, “Any awards process is partially a popularity contest, and if anyone has done anything to alienate people, it’s going to affect the vote.”
In an interesting turn of events, this year’s overall Oscar campaign spend has reached new heights as the competition for the coveted little gold statues increases.
According to Variety, Oscar campaign budgets for movies who were seeking to be nominated in multiple categories in the 2019 race, such as this year’s A Star Is Born and Roma, ran between $20 million to well over $30 million.
Just for the Oscars campaign.
The behind-the-scenes mechanics of a successful Oscar campaign includes sending screeners to voting members, buying digital and print ads in trade publications, and even throwing lavish private parties so the stars can meet and greet with voters (although this last part is not allowed after the nominations are announced).