By Chris Hoshnic
Almost hitting a hundred years, we still got a long way to go to honor campaigns-er, ehm, I mean art.
Here's a little information on tonight's festivities.
The Oscars were created by studio heads back in the early 1900's to commemorate film. Little do people know, it was created at a time when films weren't doing very well. The first few years were just little articles in newspapers and then on radios and eventually televised. Over the years, the Oscars became more prestigious and eventually, when the 90's came around, Award Season became a bloodshed-political campaign season. Starting with The Weinstein Company and other producers, many actors, directors, writers, and more were forced to wine and dine their way to a statuette.
You thought they did this by choice, huh? These people don't eat, sleep or socialize. Imagine being thrown around at your wedding or Bar Mitzvah, forced to socialize and interact with people by your mother, maid of honor/best man and wedding planner in six different directions because they want you to not look ungrateful. Now imagine that, times five for three months.
First woman to win Best Achievement in Directing for The Hurt Locker in 2009, Kathryn told the story of a Sergeant and his Bomb-disposal unit. A powerful war drama told in fast cuts, great sound design and a tight knitted story about values.
The Academy Awards is looked at as fake and overly wasteful. Well, undoubtedly, it's still a form of revenue. Independent production companies/distributors shell out millions of dollars OUTSIDE of the film's marketing and production budget to win, even be nominated for the films they are representing. All for the sake of credibility. Remember that word.
Production companies like Weinstein (RIP), A24, Fox Searchlight and Focus Features spend possibly three times a film's budget.
Here's an example.
If I were to say, make a film, I would direct and write it, the budget being, let's say, $1 Million under Focus Features. Is the budget really $1 million? Let's saying my film was actually made for $300,000 and we just write on paper that it was made for "under a million." That's how they get us.
From there, we make it, sometimes, actors and crew are attached in hopes that it will create Oscar buzz. We make the film, premiere at, let's say within the major trifecta of Venice, Toronto and Telluride Film Festivals where most best picture winners usually premiere. We make $1 million opening weekend, ending it in a $15 million run in December.
First African-American to ever win the Academey Award for Gone With the Wind. With a tragic and untold story, McDaniel made history and her winning still stands as an event that still resonates today. Pick up "Backwards and In Heels" by Alicia Malone to learn more about some of the most inspiring, untold stories of Hollywood's backbone-I mean, women.
Sounds like we made our budget, right? WRONG. Our marketing budget might have been another $30 million, depending on the caliber of the project. Then we get nominated for say, two acting categories, writing and picture. That's four nominations.
Now we get sent out by Focus Features come January to shake a lot of hands, pretend we like people, meet award season voters and win them over. We do this for three months, hitting what I like to call the three phases of award season: CRITICAL, INDUSTRY and GENERAL AUDIENCES.
Swoon the critics (Critics Choice, Golden Globes, etc), shake some hands (SAG, DGA, WGA, Academy Awards, BAFTA, etc) and charm the audiences (AFTER the Oscar nominations release).
First Hispanic to win the Academy Award for West Side Story. The only Hispanic to have an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony).
Upon Oscar night, we sit in the Dolby Theatre, awaiting for the announcement, which at this point, the distributor (Focus Features) will know what awards will be taken home. While all that is happening, Focus has spent another $30-$100 million on our campaign alone. Say, an actor wins an award from our film. Now, Focus has credibility and that box-office flop from last summer was forgiven, people will want to work with us, the cast and crew and it gives our producers their production company, a chance to expand into distribution and do what Focus Features did for us
The first Muslim, believe it or not, won an Oscar just last year for Moonlight.
Now you're thinking, where'd all the money go? The campaign money is not considered a "loss" because it wasn't a part of the film's marketing/production budget to begin with. The money we made back in December? That's a loss, but hey, doesn't that statuette look great on the toilet at home?
The first Asian to ONLY ever be nominated (never won!) OUTSIDE the directing and technical categories.
So you probably think that it's glamorous and fun, but in reality, it's just one giant presidential campaign. You wear the minks and silks as advertisement, you go to the parties for five minutes at a time essentially kissing babies and you give these speeches at events to create yours and your cast and crew's "we are just so grateful to be here" persona.
Now, I find this all fascinating and incredibly genius. You may think differently but every industry has an Oscar season. Even that little medical billing job you go to everyday. It's all in the game of life.