A great deal of energy is expended annually discussing the nominees and winners of the animated short and feature categories of the Academy Awards, yet little is understood about how the awards work. Cartoon Brew is making an effort this year to pull back the curtain on the animation categories of the Oscars, and to help the community understand how nominees and winners are chosen.
With our regularly updated Awards Tracker, you can learn which animated shorts have officially qualified for Oscar consideration by winning an award at an Academy-qualifying festival. This list of qualified films has never been tracked before — though the information is publicly accessible — and amazingly, even Academy members who vote on these films do not usually know which films have qualified until the weekend in October during which they view all the films. Now, with this list, everyone (even voters) can have a clear sense of which films have performed well on the festival circuit, and where they’ve qualified.
The next question though is, Who actually votes on these films?
Yesterday, we announced the names of twenty members of the animation community who have been invited by the Academy to join its Short Films and Feature Animation Branch.
How big is that branch and who else is a member? Sources tell Cartoon Brew that with these new additions, there are now approximately 440 members in the Short Films and Feature Animation branch. Approximately 20% of those members are in the live-action shorts section of the branch, and don’t vote in the animation categories, meaning that there are somewhere in the range of 350 members on the animation side.
Since 2004, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has made public the list of invited Academy members, and in that period, they’ve invited 137 animation artists and executives to join the Short and Feature Animation branch. That means that approximately 39% of the voting members within our group are publicly known.
Cartoon Brew has compiled the names, current studio affiliations, and other data about these members into a publicly accessible spreadsheet:
Among this post-2004 members list, Disney Company employees are, by far, the most well represented, with 30% of the voters working at either Disney Feature Animation, or its subsidiary Pixar. Nearly 15% of the employees currently work at DreamWorks Animation, and another 23% would currently qualify as independent, though they may have worked at major studios in the past. Corrections and updates may be suggested in the comments or by contacting us privately, and we will work to keep the list as up-to-date as possible.
While the voting of the winners is done by the Academy’s entire 7,000-plus body — many of whom are clueless about animation — it’s important to remember that the nominees in the categories are chosen by a relatively small group of industry peers. It is not a monolithic group known as the Academy, but individual people within our community. The major studios have long been aware of and courted these voters, and now, the rest of the animation community knows, too.