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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 05-Mar-10

 


Tuesday 24-March-09

How to get (but not win) an Oscar

Winning an Oscar is a big deal for the actors, directors and technical people who are awarded by this most iconic of prizes for excellence in movie-making. It can do wonders for your ego and even more for your career to have little gold statuette of uncle Oscar on your mantelpiece. Win one of those little fellas and the offers will come pouring in through the door. You'd think that as motivation enough to do all you can to make efforts to sway hose who give the awards. But for the investors who pour millions into individual movies, it's even a bigger deal.

Take Slumdog Millionaire, the British-Indian blockbuster of 2008. It cost $16m to make and took a healthy $172m. Nice enough. Then it won 8 Oscars, and took an extra $215m. That's money in the bank for the backers, and quite a lot of it too. Which perhaps would make it understandable that studios don't just sit back and keep their fingers crossed they will win. No - they go out on the trail as if it were a big political campaign, literally spending millions of dollars, first to get nominated (which itself is valuable) and then to win as many statuettes as they can.

A recent BBC article spells it all out. If you are one of the hallowed folks who gets to cast a vote, then you can expect to be feted, cajoled and seduced as if you were a God. And for a little while, you have a god-like power to make a few people very happy (and very rich) whilst disappointing a whole bunch more.

There are rules, of course, and The Academy does not want to appear to appear tawdry. It combats badmouthing in particular, though still some over-step the mark. Negative campaigning, whether political or Oscar-based,  is seldom the best way to persuade and is often the last refuge of those who do not understand the psychology of influence.

Yet 'buying an Oscar' still seems feasible. Just listen to Mike Runagall, senior Vice-President at Path?international when he says "First and foremost the film has to deliver to some degree." Deliver to some degree? Is that all?? He then puts the knife in by continuing "I don't believe you can completely buy an Oscar, but you can certainly narrow down the stakes." Completely buy?? The answer seems pretty much that money talks (and the studios wouldn't spend all that much if it didn't) and that once you have jumped over the first hurdles, getting an Oscar is all about persuasion, influence and outspending the other contenders.


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