The Digital Revolution has not come to Hollywood. At least, as far as awards season go.

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As a member of last year’s SAG-AFTRA Nominating Committee, I voted on what I saw and what was offered to me. Because movies such as Selma and Unbroken failed to adequately accommodate screening opportunities (Universal did send out Unbroken screeners but the security features rendered it unplayable on older DVD machines), I, along with the majority of committee members, did not nominate the films’ actors. A noticable omission, the lack of nominations for Selma prompted some to declare racial bias. The truth of the matter, for many, is that we couldn’t nominate something based on reviews and reputation.
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You’d think the studios would have learned their lesson and actively seek nominations rather than rely on goodwill or “sheep mentality” voting. But The Revenant (FOX), Joy (FOX), and Hateful Eight (The Weinstein  Company) were virtually ignored from the approximately 2300 members that comprise the nominating committee. It’s a surprise that TWC didn’t actively promote the Quentin Tarantino film to voters–they’re usually a force to be reckoned with year in and year out. Leonardo DiCaprio did squeeze out a nomination from what was late-arriving screeners, but that may be attributed to the fact that this most likely will be his year to finally take home the Oscar.
Network Nos
Don’t think that the television studios are any better. I haven’t known any NOM COMM member to receive a screener for TV works, and those offered as digital streams are miniscule. Last year, I believe there were two. Even though the SAG awards often mimick what was handed out at September’s Emmy ceremony, the networks can’t pony up a couple of thousand to pay SAG to house the digital versions is pitiful. This is fucking Hollywood, the supposed forefront of technology and entertainment.
Singing the iTunes Boos
Some studios use iTunes to house potential vote-getters. I would think it’s cheaper than FEDEXing watermarked screeners to 2300 people. The problem is that most viewings have to be on a laptop or desktop computer. I tried to play it on a Smart TV and could not log on.
Paychecks
The trickle down effect of awards cannot be overstated. Higher actor salaries and box office gold mining can be the result of a well-devised strategy. Some actors write that the studios must mount an awards campaign into their contract. Even a nomination or a supposed snub can have an enormous effect on the bottom line. But without screeners, digital or in-hand, they’re not even in view.

 

–Ken Choy

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