Sheridan professor and AMPAS member: Nancy Beiman
BY: LUCAS CASALETTO
As Oscar season heats up, we turned to Animation faculty member Nancy Beiman, who will cast one of the votes on the nominated entries. Nancy has been a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) since 1996. AMPAS members get advanced screenings of films in the Academy theatre in Los Angeles. There are also special screenings in New York, San Francisco, London, England, Vail, Colorado, although none in Toronto. Nancy described the process of being asked to be a member of the AMPAS.
“The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is not a club that one joins—you must be invited. If any filmmaker has a film nominated for an Oscar, they are automatically eligible without any further application. Those of us not in this category must be nominated by a current member of AMPAS,” she said.
“My sponsor was Mark Kausler. When one member objected during my first hearing that ‘he’d never heard of me,’ Kausler stated that not only were there few animators in AMPAS, there were fewer female animators, and this argument won the day.”
Because Nancy lives in Canada, it limits the way she votes. She is not able to attend the screening of the other 300 short films and 26 animated features that are typically entered in the short film and feature category. Since 2012 the finalists for short animated film, short documentary film, and documentary feature have also been mailed to the membership. However, any film released in 2014 is eligible for Best Picture—there is no restriction or omission of animated films, or any other category.
She went on to talk about the voting process along with how other members of the AMPAS who live in other countries place their votes as well.
“I used to receive a paper ballot but again since 2012, we have had online ballots that work well. Many Academy members are located in places like Moscow, Chicago, and Canada and this makes the vote more democratic for all.”
Finally, Nancy raised the three most important rules of being a member, something she herself takes pride in.
“The three things that no Academy member may ever do is post the screeners online, sell them, and tell anyone who or what they voted for in the Oscars. The vote is strictly secret! And I take it very seriously.”