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AnimatorsAwards

Oscars Invite Record 110 Animation People Into Animation/VFX Branches

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences extended invitations this week to 683 individuals in the motion picture industry to join its organization. That record-breaking number is more than double last year’s 322 invites.

Earlier this year, in response the highly public #oscarssowhite debacle, the Academy announced that it would “double the number of diverse members” by 2020. This new round of members is its first opportunity to showcase how the 89-year-old organization is following through with that goal, and as such, the Academy made sure to emphasize the diversity of who it has invited this year. According to the Academy, 46% of this year’s members are female, and 41% are people of color. If all these individuals choose to join the organization, it would boost the Academy’s total female membership from 25% to 27% and its people of color from 8% to 11%. (It should be noted that “people of color” is a subjective classification open to interpretation, and my hunch is that the Academy includes people who would traditionally be labeled white, like those of Middle Eastern descent, under their PoC-classification.)

Now, let’s get to the two branches that we care about—short films/feature animation and visual effects. In these two branches, the Academy’s efforts at diversity are not nearly as impressive as the overall numbers.

Of the 88 individuals who were invited into their Short Films and Feature Animation branch, 76 work in animation (the remaining 12 members are live-action short filmmakers). Here’s the positive: 24 out of those 76 are female (32%). That number represents a significant improvement for the short films/animation branch, which according to previous research conducted by Cartoon Brew, is somewhere between 10-13% female on the animation side.

There is one deeply troubling observation about the 24 female invitees, however, and that’s that the majority of the women (14 of them) are producers or management side. Compare that to the 52 men invited, where by my count just three are producers. This isn’t the Academy’s fault; invited members are sponsored by existing Academy members in the industry. In other words, existing Academy members are simply perpetuating the longstanding (and outdated) stereotype in our industry that women belong in management and men should handle the art.

On the visual effects side, just 3 of the 34 invitees (9%) were women. I don’t want to guess what percentage of that branch is male, but it’s going to be a long time before vfx becomes anything other than a huge sausage party. Between both branches, nearly 25% of this year’s members are female, which is a fivefold increase from last year, when just 5% were female.

While I don’t like the ambiguous “people of color” label, the Academy has certainly added a lot more international diversity to the short film/animation branch than year’s past: I counted three individuals born in Japan, two from Brazil, two from Chile, as well as other artists born in Hong Kong, Mexico, South Korea, and Philippines. Plenty of European-born artists are represented, too. This international mix of artists, combined obviously with dozens of American artists, comes closer to representing the broad group of people who are responsible for all of the the major animated films released by Hollywood.

Again, there is much less diversity in the visual effects branch. Almost all of the 34 invitees are white, though there seems to have been some effort to include more European and Australian artists.

African-American artists continue to be nearly invisible in both branches. Of the 110 animation-related invitees in both branches, there is just one African-American artist. (To account for the fact that I may have missed some people, let’s say two or three people. Still an abysmal figure.) The rate of invited African-Americans into the short/feature animation branch between 2004-2015 was less than 1.5%, so this year’s class continues to send African-American membership downward. I’ve never done research into the vfx branch, but we can assume it’s equally dismal.

After looking at all these numbers, a key question remains: Is the Academy merely reflecting the homogeneity of the animation and visual effects industry, or is it not fully representing the diversity of our community? There’s no easy answer to that question. While animation production is exploding all over the globe, those new voices are not necessarily represented in Hollywood, where the majority of decision-makers and artists in key creative positions remain white. The Academy, like many other institutions, will have to grapple for years to come with the changes in this newly globalized world of Hollywood production. If this year’s invitees in the animation and vfx branches are any indication, they’ve got a long road ahead of them.

Below is the full list of animation-related Academy invites in the animation and visual effects branches:

Short Films and Feature Animation

Alê Abreu – Boy and the World, Cosmic Boy
Line K. Andersen – The Croods, Monsters vs Aliens
Bruce Anderson – Rio 2, Rio
Graham Annable – The Boxtrolls, ParaNorman
Guillaume Aretos – Puss in Boots, Shrek the Third
Sanjay Bakshi – The Good Dinosaur, Monsters University
Maxwell Boas – Kung Fu Panda 3, Rise of the Guardians
Lydia Bottegoni – Hotel Transylvania, Surf’s Up
Rebecca Wilson Bresee – Zootopia, Frozen
Mark Burton – Shaun the Sheep Movie, Gnomeo & Juliet
Chris Butler – ParaNorman, Coraline
Clément Calvet – Cafard, Song of the Sea
Rio 2, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!
Galen Tan Chu – Epic, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Pam Coats – Gnomeo & Juliet, Mulan
Melissa Beth Cobb – Kung Fu Panda 3, Kung Fu Panda 2
Deborah Cook – The Boxtrolls, ParaNorman
Renato Dos Anjos – Wreck-It Ralph, Bolt
Jeff Draheim – Frozen, The Princess and the Frog
Karen Dufilho – Duet, For the Birds
Pato Escala – Bear Story
Katie Fico – Zootopia, Feast
Michael Fong – Inside Out, Toy Story 3
Lori Forte – Epic, Ice Age Continental Drift
Jonathan Gibbs – Turbo, The Croods
Steven Goldberg – Frozen, Tangled
Judith Gruber-Stitzer – Wild Life, When the Day Breaks
Jorge R. Gutierrez – The Book of Life, Carmelo
Jane Hartwell – The Croods, Madagascar
Georgina Hayns – The Boxtrolls, ParaNorman
Janet Healy – Minions, Despicable Me 2
Tang K. Heng – Kung Fu Panda 2, Kung Fu Panda
Raman Hui – Monster Hunt, Shrek the Third
Claire Jennings – Coraline, Father and Daughter
Yong Duk Jhun – The Croods, Shrek Forever After
Scott Kersavage – Zootopia, Wreck-It Ralph
Michael Knapp – Epic, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Robert Kondo – The Dam Keeper, La Luna
Shawn Krause – Inside Out, Cars 2
Max Lang – Room on the Broom, The Gruffalo
Nicolas Marlet – Kung Fu Panda 3, How to Train Your Dragon 2
Steve Martino – The Peanuts Movie, Ice Age Continental Drift
Dale Mayeda – Planes: Fire & Rescue, Frozen
Brian McLean – The Boxtrolls, ParaNorman
Mike Mitchell – Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Shrek Forever After
Joe Moshier – Penguins of Madagascar, How to Train Your Dragon 2
James Ford Murphy – Lava, Cars
Kiel Murray – Up, Cars
Yoshiaki Nishimura – When Marnie Was There, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Kyle Odermatt – Big Hero 6, Paperman
Gabriel Osorio – Bear Story, Residuos
Sanjay Patel – Sanjay’s Super Team, Tokyo Mater
Martin Pope – Room on the Broom, Chico & Rita
Tina Price – Dinosaur, Fantasia/2000
Peter Ramsey – Rise of the Guardians, Monsters vs Aliens
Denise Ream – The Good Dinosaur, Cars 2
Julie Roy – Carface, Kali the Little Vampire
William Salazar – Kung Fu Panda 3, Monsters vs Aliens
Scott Santoro – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Flushed Away
Katherine Sarafian – Brave, Lifted
Kent Seki – Rocky and Bullwinkle, Megamind
Osnat Shurer – One Man Band, Boundin’
Mireille Soria – Home, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Richard Starzak – Shaun the Sheep Movie, A Matter of Loaf and Death
Michael D. Surrey – The Princess and the Frog, The Lion King
Galyn Susman – Ratatouille, Toy Story 2
Imogen Sutton – Prologue, The Thief and the Cobbler
Dice Tsutsumi – The Dam Keeper, Monsters University
Nora Twomey – Song of the Sea, The Secret of Kells
Pablo Valle – How to Train Your Dragon 2, Turbo
Michael Venturini – The Good Dinosaur, Toy Story 3
Pierre-Olivier Vincent – How to Train Your Dragon 2, How to Train Your Dragon
Dan Wagner – Kung Fu Panda 3, Kung Fu Panda 2
Koji Yamamura – Muybridge’s Strings, Mt. Head
Hiromasa Yonebayashi – When Marnie Was There, The Secret World of Arrietty
Raymond Zibach – Kung Fu Panda 3, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas

Visual Effects

Kevin Baillie – The Walk, Transformers: Age of Extinction
Sara Bennett – Ex Machina, Hercules
Theo Bialek – The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Smurfs 2
Richard Bluff – The Big Short, Unbroken
Steve Cremin – Hail, Caesar!, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Parts 1 and 2)
Lindy Wilson De Quattro – Pacific Rim, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Adrian de Wet – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Parts 1 and 2), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Matt Dessero – Jupiter Ascending, Divergent
Deak Ferrand – By the Sea, Lucy
Ronald Frankel – Gods of Egypt, Riddick
John Gibson – X-Men: Days of Future Past, Snow White and the Huntsman
Martin Hill – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, Furious Seven
Bruce L. Holcomb – Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron
Andrew Jackson – Mad Max: Fury Road, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Matthew Jacobs – Gods of Egypt, Deliver Us from Evil
Anders Langlands – The Martian, X-Men: Days of Future Past
Seth Maury – Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, Maleficent
Rich McBride – The Revenant, Gravity
Kelvin McIlwain – Furious Seven, Snow White and the Huntsman
Paul Norris – Ex Machina, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Dan Oliver – Gods of Egypt, Mad Max: Fury Road
Edward M. Pasquarello – Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, Tomorrowland
Betsy Paterson – The Hunger Games, The Incredible Hulk
Matthew Shumway – The Revenant, Life of Pi
Jason Smith – The Revenant, Super 8
Kevin Andrew Smith – Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Krampus
Simone Kraus Townsend – Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron
Stefano Trivelli – Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Pan
Adam Valdez – Maleficent, World War Z
David Vickery – Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Fast & Furious 6
Steven Warner – The Brothers Grimsby, The Martian 
Andrew Whitehurst – Ex Machina, Paddington
Andy Williams – Mad Max: Fury Road, Fury
Tom Wood – Mad Max: Fury Road, The Last Witch Hunter

  • Somewhere_Outside

    Awesome to see Yonebayashi’s name in the Animation field. Maybe more Ghibli or anime films in general will get nominated due to his presence. Also digging Andrew Jackson’s acceptance into the VFX field. In addition to Mad Max, his work co-supervising on Alex Proyas’ Knowing is ace. The compositing in that movie is absolutely god(s of egypt?) tier. (And the Gods of Egypt supervisor is right next to him there, huh; not sure if that really speaks to the integrity of these invitations, but whatever, I’m just glad to see Jackson there at least.)

  • “African-American artists continue to be nearly invisible in both branches.”

    I wouldn’t think think that is a surprise. What is sad is that we still don’t have African American animators leading animated tv shows and films that much. To be honest, when is the last time Cartoon Brew did a feature or an interview of an African American creating a show for a network? Or a film for someone like Pixar?

    I can’t fully fault the Academy for not having many African Amercian artists to select and feature, when the animation industry itself doesn’t do it on its own. Another diversity problem that needs attention and addressing.

    • yotsubafanfan

      I know, the only exception I can think of from now-a-days is Ian Jones Quartey with “Lakewood Plaza Turbo” but I haven’t heard anything about it becoming a TV show since they released the app. Hopefully we’ll get some more in the future!

  • ea

    Hopefully it may lead to a BAF winner that isn’t Disney or Pixar.

    • Lola

      Preach.